038: Living On The Edge Of Chaos 2nd Roundtable Insanity Talk

We are back. Another Friday. Another crazy week. It was perfect to get together and make this episode happen. It was so fun and great way to end the week. Once again we had a blast with some crazy topics that will lead to great thinking, discussion, and further questions. Take a listen, and let us know what your answers are by leaving a comment. We would love to hear from you as well as what you thought about our ideas.

We would love to know two things

  1. What is your favorite topic of discussion this week?

  2. What questions do you want us to discuss? We are creating a random topic generator and need your ideas.

Please remember to leave a rating and feedback. We would love it if you took 3 minutes to leave us a rating.

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The image you see above was one of many paintings done on the Original Buddha Board.(buy one if you don’t own one). This has been a room favorite the last two weeks and during this show many paintings were created.


Topic 1: If you could pull one object out of any movie, then what would you pick and why? Here are our answers. Which one do you like best?

  1. Harry Potter Magic Wand
  2. Dr. Who Screwdriver
  3. Pulp Fiction briefcase
  4. Avenger Spaceship





Sidenote chat

  • Government plans for alien discovery

Topic 2: Is inspiration useful?

  • different from ambition
  • does it actually lead to action?
  • goals of education conferences to inspire – is this enough?
  • personal stories of inspiration and how they have carved a path for our current jobs and future goals

Topic 3: Are rappers modern day poets?

Topic 4: Mandela Effect


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2 Essential Books To Read on Learning

I have not blogged about books in a very long time. It is weird how one goes through phases in their learning journey. It was not that long ago when I blogged about books I read on an almost daily basis.


Recently, I have read two books that I believe are really important to help educators and schools revisit some key ideas about learning as well as pushing the thinking forward.

First and foremost I have not forgotten that most teachers barely have any time to read anymore and if they do it is for pleasure and getting away from the grind of teaching. These two books are short reads, easy to process, and neither one really has to be read from front to back. You pick a topic and explore.

The first one is Lessons for LifePractice Learning by Ginger Lewman. I recently had her on my podcast. This book focuses and centers around project based learning, but in essence it is all about how to be practical and moving education and learning to the real world, right now. The ideas in the book don’t require a monumental shift. Your admin won’t go crazy and you won’t lose your job. However, what you will do is begin to change your classroom where kids are excited to learn even more than they are now.

I recently read her latest book and after reading the book, scribbling mass notes in the margins, and being reminded about the key things we must be doing in schools I want to make sure more people know about this book.


I won’t go into great detail about the book as I really think you should read it yourself. She even mentioned on the podcast that it was written to be processed small doses.

Here a list of my favorite ideas from the book

  1. A one full school day project that is started and finished in one day. I want to do this so bad that I almost wet myself thinking about it.
  2. The importance of soft and hard deadlines
  3. The topic of assessment and when to do it and whether it is always the best method
  4. The importance of the launch of a project and what are you going to do with the students who are not impressed?
  5. How to group students?
  6. The power of a midpoint regrouping of the project
  7. Wow’s, How’s, and Bow’s – my favorite idea of the whole book

If you are just experimenting with project based learning or if you feel as if your projects have grown stagnant then I would highly encourage you to read this book.

My second required reading suggestion is STEAM Makers by Jacie Maslyk. I believe I have more words highlighted in green than non highlighted. This book really helped me to frame what I needed to think about when it comes to makerspaces and STEM. It helped me grapple with some of the practical ideas that are hard for teachers to put into place with all the expectations on their plates.


What I love about this book is how she acknowledges the accountability and pressures of teachers, but helps to push them forward by not using it as an excuse to do nothing. We know the world is changing along with the job market. It is time we push more and more to do the things we know in our hearts are best for kids.

Some of the key ideas that really stood out to me

  1. The importance of leadership from administration. If we want change makers in our students and teachers, then we need leaders who are willing to support this. If you have an admin that is not supportive, then I recommend sending them this book or Innovator’s Mindset as a Christmas present
  2. Role of Facilitator – this idea is not new but exploring how to shift our teaching practice to make sure we are actually doing so.
  3. All the practical examples of how schools are actually doing all of this. It is great to scan and check the resources to see that not only is she talking about it, but people are actually doing it. I have already implemented like three ideas and will continue to add more.
  4. Failure – don’t cringe. The way she addresses failure is spot on.
  5. The scale up process about how a school started small and continued to build. These stories are important.

Both books have so much more to offer, but you have to read them. I encourage you track these books down and give them a try. If you read them and want to chat let me know. I love talking books. Heck, we could chat as a podcast.

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Accountability of Learning #makergoals

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to present at the Georgia Education Technology Conference(GaETC). I was able to share my message on the importance of the makerspace culture where the emphasis is on building a culture of learning and not a emphasis on tools(check the resources here)


At the end of the presentation I challenged the audience to write themselves a postcard stating what they were going to do accomplish to enhance the learning environment of their school/classroom in the month of November. I collected all the postcards and promised to send them out at the end of the month as a gentle reminder. I also had those who did not get a LEGO set make a note so I could send them one because I felt terrible that I ran out of sets.

This is something I have never done before. I was nervous about how everyone would respond. Obviously, it is a reflection on the session. If the audience was not inspired by the session, then the results would show. If I did my job to lead to action and changing for the better, then the results would also show.

I feel inspired, motivated, and almost moved to tears of joy when I read some of their goals. Each person had their own unique flavor, goal, and approach to creating their goal. It is awesome and I am reminded by how passionate educators are in striving to get better all the time. These powerful positive moments are not expressed, shared, and celebrated enough.

I have linked all the goals here in this photo album for you to be inspired. I made sure their names were not attached to protect their privacy. I encourage you to check them out. Leave a comment to this post about what you think as I hope many of the writers themselves will see the feedback.

As I write this I am preparing all the packages. I purchased mail packages for the LEGO sets that need to be delivered. They are being mailed out this week in hopes to arrive before the week ends.



I also created a sticker using my Brother QL-720NW Professional, High-speed Label Printer  that I learned about from Tony Vincent. This allowed me to add a personal touch to the postcards. It also allows them to share their follow through of their goal to the following page.



I attached the sticker to the postcard. When I mail them out they will read their goal and see the note. My goal is that they will head over the to Maker Goal page and share what they have done. Be sure to check this page as the educators begin to share. As I share over on the page I want the goal to be a development of yeasayers instead of naysayers.

Think to yourself……how are you holding yourself accountable? Have you written down a goal? What are you doing to make sure you reach the goal? These are things we all work on and also struggle with. I hope by investing in creating this presentation and follow through that costs me time, money, materials, and follow through that we can move the needle. More importantly it has helped me to realize that I need to do more to myself accountable.

I cannot wait to share with you my goals for 2017, but in the meantime enjoy all that these educators have shared and demonstrated.


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037: Living On The Edge Of Chaos Roundtable Talk of Insanity

This episode has been an idea I have had with some fellow teachers for quite some time. Have you ever that moment where you get going into a deep conversation with fellow teachers during a prep or after school or whenever you can carve out time and afterwards you wish you had those ideas recorded for others to hear and respond to?


After talking about doing a podcast focused on a group of teachers just talking to showcase that we are more than just a Mr. or Mrs. whoever, we finally made it happen.

To keep it authentic we all agreed to bring a topic to the table for us to discuss, but we were not allowed to share the topic until the microphones were turned on. This kept the conversation authentic and fresh.

What you are about to listen to is a podcast that I think is not only awesome, but powerful, funny, and natural. It will hopefully give you something to think about and more importantly we hope you engage with us. Leave a comment, tell us what you agree with or what your answer is to the question.

Enjoy! And we hope you enjoy enough that we get to do this again.

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes


If you want to watch the first 25 minutes(ran out of battery) in 360 Virtual Reality video go here


Shownotes, Topics, and Resources

  1. Dual consciousness – in case you don’t understand this topic(like me!) start here in Wikipedia
  2. Corpus callosotomy – 8:00 minute mark
  3. Idle Hands – 8:30 minute mark
  4. When you write something with a pencil and then erase it…..where does it go? – 9:00 minute mark
  5. Inside Out
  6. Would you wait in line physically for 2.5 hours for an object or experience?
    1. Is the wait worth it?
    2. The bonding of strangers in line around you
    3. Is it a follower mentality?
    4. Being in line is such a major part of your life
    5. Cutting in line
  7. Would you rather….
    1. do something somewhat important and get credit? OR
    2. do something completely revolutionary such as cure cancer and never get credit?
    3. Hard part is this question has a socially accepted answer!
    4. Into the Badlands
    5. Fever 1793
  8. Could it be possible that Apple has their own hackers that create virus for Windows machines AND is ethical?
    1. Ethics is a category in Billy Madison
    2.  Does this even happen?
    3. Why is it that Macs never have a virus?

Games and Distraction

  1. One Night Ultimate Werewolf by Bezier Games
  2. Kanyezone.com
  3. Reddit Thread – explain it like I am 5
  4. Reddit Thread – change my view
  5. Giphy Tab

How to pronounce gif?



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Hololens: Unboxing and Getting Started

I am beyond grateful for a grant I recently wrote. This grant has allowed us to purchase a Microsoft Hololens. The grant has been designed to pilot a new programming challenge for students to write code and games for content classes in our school. The grant awarded us one pair of Microsoft Hololens as we hope to develop AR learning tools.


I am not going to lie. We have no idea what we are doing. At this point I have not even brought this to the hands of our students as they are wrapping up a few projects that are in URGENCY mode. Once they finish their current projects we will be moving into this journey and I cannot wait.

As a nerd I could not wait. I have created a video of unboxing and my journey with simply wearing the device and exploring the games. The video also shows a short glimpse of my 5 year old daughter using Hololens.

All I can say is MINDBLOWN. This is going to change everything. Mark my word. It may not always look like a Hololens, but the concept of AR is going to be the future.

We will be documenting our entire journey here on the blog. For now it will be a matter of understanding the layout of Hololens and what it has to offer. From there we will begin to learn to code with Unity and the other tools that we have started downloading. If there are things you want to know, then please leave us a comment and we will be sure to cover them in future episodes.

Until our next episode enjoy


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036: Living On The Edge Of Chaos with Sarah Loomis

I am so pumped to share this episode with everyone. Sarah Loomis is an educator that has inspired so many people to be great. I was lucky to meet her this past summer in Colorado and her presentation on Makerspaces and Literacy has motivated me to create these experiences myself by using her ideas and testing out some new ones.


You can find Sarah on Twitter at @dodeastoy2015FOLLOWS She is a Department of Defense Instructional Tech Coach working in Germany. She is also a DoDEA Teacher of the Year, MIE Expert #mieexpert, MIE Surface Expert #surfaceEdu, Microsoft Cert. Ed, and SMART Exemplary Ed #see

My favorite part of this podcast is when she talks about a student who says

and the one question that has stuck with me

In this podcast you will learn about

  • Makerspaces and how to make it work with limited supplies
  • How to connect books to making
  • The power of the lightbulb moment
  • How to help students see the world in a new way
  • If we don’t limit students, then they will soar
  • The importance of wanting students to be creators, not just consumers.
  • Two important rules to have in your space

Check out her resources on how to get started

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

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Is Social Media a Prison of Fake Smiles?

My latest Facebook Live video addresses this question based on the Black Mirror Episode 1: Nosedive. I promise no spoilers! I also mix in the thoughts swirling in my head with Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and a social media project I am working on with 7th grade students.


Check this video out and let me know your thoughts. It is a topic I am dealing with as a parent, educator, and coach and what I believe in role may not be the same in another role!

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Where is the $ for Makerspace, STEM, and Learning?

Recently, I have been asked several times about where in the world do I find money to get materials, tools, and resources to do the projects that we are very fortunate to do with students and teachers in our school. This question is always one I avoid(sorry) because it is difficult. Finding money to fund programs is never easy.


I wish I could give everyone a nice little cheat sheet of directions to a magical money tree, but I can’t. However, I realized that perhaps I could stop avoiding the question and actually do the next best thing and provide outlets and places to get started.

While I preach and educate about the building the culture of making and learning as being the first and foremost essential ingredient to creating positive change in schools, I also realize having money can help to move the needle a bit. Here is what I have for you.

A list. A starting point of places I have used over the years. I write a ton of grants each year. Upwards of 10-20. I have a pretty solid rejection rate of about 95%. I don’t give up because all it takes is that one or two acceptance applications to keep things going.

This requires grit, determination, patience, and tough skin.

I have built a form. This form is something that I hope we all contribute to. I hope that as educators we can crowdsource funding opportunities. Let us help each other and spread the wealth. If you know of a source please take the few minutes to fill out this form in hopes that others could gain something positive for their students.

Best of luck! If you have success please leave a comment and reach out because sometimes all we need is a bit of positive reinforcement to know that things do turn out for the best.

Form to submit funding sources

Responses of Funding Sources – this will self populate as people enter information


While we wait for this to populate here are some general sites

  1. LEGO Education has created a Funding and Grant page that is helpful 
  2. STEMfinity – search by state. Thousands of grants listed
  3. Grants for Teachers
  4. After School Alliance
  5. Reach out to your local companies and business that are in the STEM field. I am blown away by how often I reach out to these companies and they have either grants, checks, resources, or volunteers begging to be used. They just don’t have it advertised very well. This is a great activity for students to make calls and build connections in developing ownership into the spaces they want to create.
  6. Donation list – Don’t be afraid to compile a “junk” list of things you need and share out to parents, churches, and community bulletin boards. You will be surprised at how many people will donate if you provide specifics. Be ready sure to have a deadline because if you don’t you will end up with more junk than you want.
  7. Back to School Night – you can put money tiles on a wall that parents could grab and write a check to donate. Each dollar amount can be linked to a material that you plan on buying so they know where the money is going. Simple construction paper laminated with dollar amount, image of material, and asking for contact to show them how it is being used works really well.
  8. Back to School Supply List – each classroom can ask for one item that supplies the whole school. Kindergarten teacher 1 can add cotton balls. Kindergarten teacher 2 can ask for glue. 4th grade teacher asks for cardboard. You get the idea. Each set of students brings in a material that goes into the makerspace. Sort and organized accordingly.
  9. Win the Powerball although you will probably bounce out of teaching at the same time!
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035: Living on the Edge of Chaos with Todd Flory

In this episode I have the pleasure to chat with Todd Flory. Todd is a 4th grade teacher from Kansas. He is doing some amazing work in regards to global education.


This was a fun episode as we explore the ins and outs of expanding your classroom beyond the four walls. This topic has been covered many times, but Todd brings a new level to the conversation as we discuss

  • How do you find another classroom to connect with?
  • How do you go about finding experts to speak to your students?
  • The benefits of mystery skype
  • What happens when a global learning moment ignites a spark for a student?
  • His latest project of doing a Skype BreakoutEDU
  • How to connect global projects to the standards

There are plenty of examples to get you started.

You can find more about Todd at the following


Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

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Change. Improvement. Technology. Productivity.

Change. Improvement. Technology. Productivity.

These are the words that seem to be a common theme in educational conferences as of late. We are in a point in time where we now have powerful enough technology to pretty much solve any issue that educators have outside of extending the amount of hours in a day.


I had the luxury and privilege to be able to travel to Georgia for the GaETC conference. This was a wonderful conference and one that I really hope to be able to attend again. This will sound a bit conceited, but I have hit a point where I rarely learn new things at conferences anymore. You feel like you sit in a few sessions that continue to be cycled through time and time again.

GaETC was different. I have a boatload of tips, tricks, ideas, and thoughts that I cannot wait to bring back to my school. I cannot wait to process through my thoughts to further develop my ideas. I feel like I was challenged all day long for 48 hours. I have several pages of thoughts, ideas, projects, and more to develop into action.

As I was sitting in the airport I was thinking about why this happened? What was it about GaETC that provided me so many great new things to be better as an educator?

I came up with two reasons

Reason 1: Delivery

You need to be a great presenter. This is an art. I will be honest here. I fully support and work like crazy to get teachers to share their messages. We need more teachers sharing what they are doing in the classroom. With that comes preparation. I did attend two presentations where the topic and idea being shared was powerful and great, but the delivery was poor. It kills the mood. It kills the investment of trying out the idea. Presenting and teaching adults is much different than teaching children. So, this leads to the bigger concept of the need for quality presenters that are great at entertaining and delivery that are not in the school systems vs. a poor presentation from someone in the trenches. What is more important?

This is not a knock on teachers. I know it is a generalization as I also sat in on a few sessions of teachers who were amazing. However, the featured and keynote speakers entertain. They know how to deliver many do this work as a job. There is a reason they have large groups. It is not by chance.

My point with all of this is that you must have something worthwhile to share and you must know how to deliver. I just finished reading Ted Talks by Chris Anderson and his idea of pushing for Presentation Literacy is spot on. We must learn how to deliver words. ( TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson).

I was super impressed by the delivery of Chris Craft @crafty184 and how he put the audience at ease. Leslie Fisher does the same but through sarcastic comments and jokes that people love @lesliefisher. Alice Keeler spins her ideas with her high energy @alicekeeler. I even witnessed a presentation lead by Don Wettrick @donwettrick, Doug Bergman @dougbergmanUSA , and Lou Zulli @lzulli where all three had very different styles, but it worked because they each connected with different people in the audience.

The point here is that everyone has a style, but it is essential that you understand how to read a crowd and deliver. When the delivery is good, the ideas feel even better. When deliver is bad, the best idea can be lost in translation.

This was an important lesson I learned to bring back to students. It was also an important lesson for myself as I continue to figure out how to engage and empower teachers through PD, conferences, and workshops.

Reason 2: Relationships

Social media allows us to develop friendships and connections without ever seeing people in person. When you have the chance to actually connect in person with someone you have been in contact with via social media you already have a sense of who they are and where they stand. You can now break the time suck of getting to know one another and instead dive right into quality conversation. Due to social media I know that there were certain people I wanted to learn from because I knew they had something to offer.

I was so pumped to actually hear Chris Craft speak. I follow his work online and to finally attend a session and later have a short conversation was amazing. I had a few minutes chatting with Vicki Davis after her long day of several presentations, but due to an online friendship and connection we were able to dive right into a conversation about our children that might have been one of the most needed talks I needed to have. This does not happen without relationships.

Many of us fear social media. This is not a plea to get you to use every channel. I am simply suggesting that reaching out online leads to a more powerful personal experience where your conference experience level can rise to new heights.

Let me give you an example. I have been chatting and talking back and forth with Don Wettrick for years. We connect on Facebook and Twitter. He has been a great sounding board for me with ideas over the years. I consider him a friend and yet we have never met in person.

At GaETC we finally connected. It was awesome. We attempted to solve the world problems one night over baseball and it was outstanding. The conversation with him, Doug Bergman, and Lou Zulli(who I have never met in person either) was good. I was pushed in my thinking and beliefs, yet it felt like connecting with long lost friends.

This would have never happened without building a PLN. I would have walked by them in the halls had I not known them from online. I would not have had my beliefs challenged. I would not have grown as a person.

The point here is that often times the greatest growth comes from relationships with the people.

Sandi Adams, an educator who I hold near and dear to my heart helped me at the conference. She made sure I was good to go. She supported me in my session along with many other amazing educators. She included me in a gathering of other outstanding MIE’s. She introduced me to other teachers that I would have never met otherwise(like the @edumigos). Because of her I felt more comfortable, met more people that I would have done myself(surprisingly I am quite an introvert when it comes to that), and I was able to learn more. She is one of the greatest educators I know and because of her I was able to grow as a person and educator. It lead to some good conversation with Lisa Lougheed and Suzy Lolley as a result.

While conferences like these are good to learn the latest technology, apps, extensions, and more, it is not the real power. Over time all of these ideas go away(Prezi anyone?). Technology will change, but being able to deliver content and build relationships do not. These are vital skills that help us stay ahead of the curve and allow us to grow together. Without these skills of speaking and learning how to connect with others we simply fall prey to sitting in our comfort bubble of the same people where we will never grow.

The emphasis of technology in many conferences will never go away because that is what draws people to them. That we cannot change. However, the real power is in people. Learning to communicate and learning to build relationships. That is where you get your bang for your buck.


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