In this tutorial I will walk you through how I use the Office Lens app to capture business cards, notecards, notes, images, artwork, receipts, and more in a easy to find and navigate digital organizational tool named OneNote.
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
There are plenty of examples to get you started.
You can find more about Todd at the following
I have been asked several times how to split screen on multiple devices. There are several extensions, apps, and more that can help with this. However, I wanted to share how to easily do this task on all platforms with no extra tools.
I cover how to do so on a Mac, Chromebook, and PC.
What other shortcuts, tools, tips, etc. do you use to split screen or to make your productivity flow smoother and easier when you work?
Leave a comment and if you like please subscribe.
Season 3 of Living on the Edge of Chaos podcast is ready to knock your socks off with none other than Tammy Dunbar talking Genius Hour.
It has been a long time since season 2 ended. In that void of episodes I had a series of small side podcasts(all on the same channel) testing things out.
After some learning, revision, and moving into action Living on the Edge of Chaos is here.
I cannot be more excited to start off season 3 with anyone other than Tammy Dunbar. Tammy is a 5th grade teacher from California who also teaches technology and does a ton of trainings for teachers around the world. She is one who not just talks the talk, but walks the walk.
In this episode we discuss Genius Hour. Genius Hour has been covered many times, but this episode looks at the bigger picture of Genius Hour.
Below are the links to all references in the podcast to learn more.
We hope you enjoy. As always please reach out with questions, ideas, thoughts, and reviews by leaving a comment on iTunes or leaving a comment on the blog(coffeeforthebrain.com)
Enjoy this episode and be ready for an amazing season of pushing our thoughts on the status quo of education.
You have three ways to access this podcast episode as well as all previous episodes
3. If you care to watch the video version, then here you go!
Liberating Genius OneNote Journals/Lessons by Tammy
Liberating Genius Into Sways by Tammy
Free eBook “Liberating Genius” By Angela Maiers & Mark Moran
Liberating Genius by Angela Maiers
If looking for a list of pretty much everything Genius Hour, then check out this LiveBinder put together by Joy Kirr
A list of all previous episodes can be found here
I have been super fortunate to be named a Skype Master Teacher. Most of what I do with Skype these days is dependent upon the amazing educators that I work with in my school who constantly challenge the status quo of education and how kids can and should learn. It is also used to connect with educators from around the world to help me learn and improve on a daily basis.
Regardless of how much experience you have with Skype, I think it is important that we continue to share ways in which classrooms around the world are connecting to bring real life connections to our learning.
There is something special about hearing the tones of a Skype call and that moment when the screen showcases a group of students or expert or author on the screen. It is at this moment when everyone involved knows they are part of something special.
I created a Sway to showcase all the ways in which I have used Skype in the past few years. This is just a small sample of ideas, but I hope that it will inspire or ignite new ideas in how we can help foster global classrooms.
What I challenge you, the reader, is two things
We can no longer act like connecting globally is not possible. The world has come together to make it happen. It is easy. Start with a mystery skype and go from there. Check out the October picks and join the Skype-A-Thon, check out a tutorial, or explore the lessons.
Are you a GoNoodle fan? If you are nodding your head yes!, then join the GoNoodle Mystery Skype song and dance event.
Go out there, bust down those four walls in your classroom and get connected with the world. I promise you that once you give it a try you will be hooked.
I am not the best at math(I know, wrong mathematical mindset). Perhaps it was my poor math classes of sitting in rows, copying answers from the homework the night before, listening to a short lecture, and then working on the evens in the textbook.
Repeat process for 6 years.
As I am getting older and wiser(questionable) with STEM, robotics, coding, and more I realize how important math skills are and will continue to be.
I challenged myself to see if I could take a lesson that my son(6th grade) has been learning to see if I could spruce things up, mix up how it was taught without requiring more time.
In the end I used a mixture of LEGO and Minecraft Education to make it happen. Check out the video to see how these two tools can be implemented in a very quick, low entry fashion to help students grasp the concepts.
For this lesson we will focus on
In particular, we will be covering square units and area of rectangles
Enjoy and let me know what else you do.
There is something about the sight of a life size robot that piques the interest of people of all ages. The metallic build. The LED eyes, the motorized sound and movement that just hypnotizes the brain and makes you want to be a kid again.
Over the last week I have heard this message spoken time and time again as educators wish to be a kid again and during weekend Sciencefests people cannot help but touch the robot.
The robot I am speaking about is none other than Mr. Robot. We were lucky to be able to purchase Mr. Robot a few years ago when our school implemented a new robotics program. We brought in 165 LEGO EV3 kits and an unassembled Mr. Robot.
Over the course of that school year various students came in my room to build Mr. Robot. After 100 hours of building, rebuilding, and rebuilding again we had success and Mr. Robot was a moving machine controlled through a NXT brick. Over time without being able to manipulate code and blowing out the fuses Mr. Robot became part of the background to my room and nothing more.
This had to change.
Over the course of the last two years the robot has lead to conversation and students begging to work on the robot. We finally had to make it happen. And we did.
Mr. Robot is a robot that ignites excitement, passion, and curiosity. What if the robot did this or that or both? We now have goals and answers we are trying to solve. Our end game is to now write our own code to control Mr. Robot to deliver coffee to teachers in our building. How are we going to do this challenge? With a lot of work, documentation, trial and error, and perseverance.
Over the last month we have a group of students who come in early to school every single day and also stay after school for a few hours when available to work on the robot. This robot has fueled an excitement that educators beg for in their own classrooms. We are witnessing students work on their own time, research solutions to issues, work collectively as a team, and not give up when things don’t work. It has been one of the most powerful journeys I have been part of in my teaching career and we are just getting started.
What have we done with Mr. Robot?
The first thing we did was put out an announcement to all students in the building. We wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity. The students that met with me were then given their first task to code their own website as part of the Choose to Code project hosted by Microsoft. I wanted to see that students were serious and could work through some basic coding functions. As students complete this task they are then allowed to come in and work with us on the robot. I had to put in a few barriers as the robot is an expensive piece of equipment.
With the core group who works diligently on the robot we had to go through and test all wires, look for exposed wire, study and understand schematics, and basically understand how the robot operates. For this students had to study on their own. In the mornings we would talk and discuss to make sure we were on the same page.
Next we had to swap out the NXT. We no longer have software or any cables or chargers for NXT. This placed us back at ground zero. We began working to figure out how to control the robot with an EV3. After importing two blocks from Tetrix we had access to the DC motor controllers and the servo controllers. Once this was established we had to process how we would wire the robot to allow us to control. We drew a diagram on the board to keep notes of our wiring. We also began to label parts of the robot as well as keep a detailed log of what we are doing each day.
It was not long before we had the robot moving and controlling all four DC motors. We realized that two motors were installed backwards so we had to swap them around and also reconnect some faulty wires. We were then back in business and had him moving around the room.
We invested in a label maker to indicate key motors and servos. Other things we have discovered is that the loop block works really well to increase reliability. When working to understand how to turn we started by turning one motor, then one leg. We also sampled using degrees and estimating and calculating what data we needed for precise turns. We also experimented with rotations, but we have had trouble going backwards. We still have some glitches in our code that we are working through such as we have moments where the code will stop running, but the robot does not. We need further understanding of the motor controls to command better and more effectively.
Last, we have created a path to move the robot from one side of the room to the doorway. We will continue to understand coding principles until our pieces and controller arrive.
How Mr. Robot Acts Like An Educator
As an educator I treat Mr. Robot like a guest speaker in my Makerspace. He brings in so many questions and ideas to students. Can he do this? Can he do that? The answer to all of their questions are YES if you want to make it happen. What Mr. Robot has done is create an authentic audience in himself by students wanting to bring him alive(so to speak).
Additionally, he is an educator. I don’t have the answers. I am simply a guide. The students are learning so many things on their own as they work to hack the robot. I have watched students spend so much time trying to build a hand that operates with a servo motor. This was the best gear lesson this student could have received. I have students who were once afraid to code studying code and creating commands I did not even know were possible to have him move and operate. He is a big science experiment where we just cannot wait to run a program and see if it works.
If you were a kid would you not love to bring a 5 foot robot to life? Back in December 2015 we posted our goals for our robot. This was exciting because I have a group of 5-6 students who come in every single morning and often times after school to work on the robot for not other reason than passion, interest, and a willingness to learn. The students have made this happen. Not me. I simply guide and provide an adult presence in the room.
If you were to ask me if we would have completed what we have by now I would have laughed. I am amazed by what these students have done in the few short hours of disrupted work on this robot.
What started off as a poorly built robot that did not work back in 2014 has now turned into one of the greatest and most powerful learning platforms I have been part of as an educator.
The students had to start off by studying the robot and learning how it moved and operated. They jumped into this project with zero experience. The only experience they had was with First Lego League and simple programming with EV3. After a month of learning the wiring, studying schematics, and processing how servo and dc motor controller servers work they began to clean things up. We had to rebuild practically every joint of the robot. Nothing worked. They had to rewire most of the robot and after a month we finally had power.
The next step was to swap out the NXT brick with an EV3 brick. This might not seem like a big deal, but it was huge. This allowed us to move away from Mr. Robot being a toy to a learning platform. At this point we could now begin to program the robot. We soon learned that we had to download some blocks to give us the ability to program and code the robot using EV3 base code.
After about a month we began to understand how to program and how to make the robot move. During this time we also began to think about adding a Raspberry Pi to the robot to achieve our ultimate goal of delivering coffee to teachers. We put in a pretty big order of parts to make this robot respond to the environment(as of this post our parts have still not arrived).
Our next big step was the delivery of a new bluetooth controller. We now have the ability to control the robot. Up until this point all of our experiments were simply to have the robot follow commands. With a controller we can now program the robot to do what we want. We had sample code sent to us from Pitsco and once we studied and learned how the code worked the kids started hacking it right away. They are now adding their own voice outputs, changing how it maneuvers, how he responds, and more. It has been so exciting watching these kids push their learning every single day. They are to the point where I honestly believe they know more than me.
Here is a quick rundown of what they have done the last few weeks.
By April of 2016 we hope to have him fully functioning with the LEGO EV3 coding as well as Python coding with the Raspberry Pi. We have two demonstrations and expos in April where we will be unveiling him to the public for the first time. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but with the inspiration of Mr. Robot and the determination of the students to bring him to life I have no doubt our goals will be met.
I have been working with the students to understand how important it is to document this process online. They need a digital footprint for the work they are doing as 7th graders. The world needs to know about them. They have developed a website, a YouTube channel, worked with another teacher to develop a logo, and soon to have a Twitter account for the robot. The robot has moved from Mr. Robot to Twitch. He has his own personality and brand. There are so many life lessons taking place with this robot. For me, my goal is to help understand how to document their learning, share their learning, and walk out of middle school connected with the experts and companies that can make their dreams a reality.
In another week we will update everyone on the robot. We have a ton planned and once we launch all of our online channels you can follow through these sites.
In the meantime, please follow our journey. This is most impressive story of the power of students, the power of personalized learning, and what can be achieved when you can help students work on something they love. Just wait until our components finally arrive!
One week ago I was flying home from Seattle. I had a red eye flight where I could not sleep. My head was spinning. I had so many thoughts to process that it has taken me over a week to finally be able to process all that I gathered.
To make sure I keep a focus I will be breaking this reflection down into three parts.
Part 1: Overview of Learning
Part 2: Makerspace Summit
Part 3: Workshops and Sessions
For this first part I want to provide a general overview of some thoughts. In the next two posts I will focus specifically on what I learned through my work and the work of others.
To begin, I have never attended NCCE before, but I will tell you that I sure hope I get the chance to attend in the future. This is one well executed conference that provides high quality learning and sessions that really forces the attendees to not only learn, but to actually get started.
I was able to fly in Tuesday, the day before the conference started. After a super long day of travel I was able to connect with some awesome Microsoft Educators and Rockstars (Todd Beard and Robyn Hrivnatz) for dinner and explore the Pike Market. This would be the only real time to actually be outside, explore, and see a bit of Seattle.
I only share this because it was great to talk with them about education and things that are taking shape across the nation. Additionally, I was able to track down the original Starbucks which is a necessity for Coffeechug!
Skipping Wednesday of the Makerspace Summit(that is part 2) and really most of the sessions(part 3) I had the most powerful learning experiences of any conference I have attended. Once again, I have come to the conclusion that conferences are really designed to interact and hold conversations with people and not material. If you can do this with people who will challenge your thoughts, push back, and question your ideas, then you will walk away a better person and educator.
I was very lucky to be pushed to the brink of my mental stamina.
The first keynote, Kevin Honeycutt, provided one of the best keynotes I have been part of in a long time. This man has a way to craft a story, challenge the audience without them realizing it by mixing in a dose of humor, tears, and music to mask how powerful of a message he is delivering.
My biggest takeaway from his speech was that the world can no longer afford to have “secret geniuses”. This has been something I have been working on for quite some time, but he said it way better than I ever have. This mindset and challenge has come in quite handy in the week following as I spoke to high school students and teachers. He also had some real zingers mixed in that I had to write down to process
“Do we bend schools to meet the kids instead of bending kids to meet the needs of schools?”
“We are killing kids by the process of lamination”
Two very strong ideas. It is time to challenge our teaching. Can we toss our file cabinets and create new to meet the needs of our current generation of students?
As I watched this keynote I was really impressed and after being at several conferences it is tough to be impressive. Afterwards I sat with Ginger Lewman who is one of the best thinkers and doers in education. She has incredible intelligence, provides so many deep thoughts to process, and knows how to push buttons in a way that just makes you a better person. I owe a great deal to her for helping me find my niche and voice over the years. I sat with her and we chatted about the keynote, ideas, education, and more. It was here that things started to shift for me. It was here that I knew I had to really think about who am I?
Later, I would have dinner with her and Kevin and over the course of those few hours I have never been so transformed. I walked away with more questions than answers and realized that I indeed had some things to process. I wish there was a mic that night so I could go back and capture all the incredible insights, but I know that from this moment I would never be the same. I called my wife the next day and told her that coming to Seattle was the best choice I could have made. I told her we had lots to discuss and I needed her to help me find the path to find answers.
It is these moments that conferences are worth more than any registration fee. I often worry that many attendees don’t experience this. Not that you have to be super lucky as I was to connect with a keynote and rockstar, but how many people reach out to people they cannot access on a regular basis and sit over coffee or food and just push ideas back and forth across the table? This is the best luxury of attending conferences.
I had this experience time and time again. Talking with members of NCCE, engaging with Microsoft Educators, chatting with people who attended my sessions, and more. You must put yourself out there to make it happen.
Additionally, the second keynote was Cheryl Strayed who everyone was pumped for. I was losing ground with her until she dropped a few powerful words and suddenly I was hooked. She was good. I connected with her when she stated, “I didn’t wait(to write her book, Wild). I wrote the book when it was time to be written. Art takes something else. It takes something from us.” I really connected with this as I have struggled for about 4 years to write a book. I realized right then and there that indeed I was not ready. I did not have something that was worthy to be written. As I have stressed time and time again, I finally realized that perhaps it was not time. However, I do believe that after NCCE and a recent event my AHA moment has struck and my story is ready to be told.
Finally, the power of NCCE was that I was able to finally meet so many great people in person. Social media allows us to connect with so many people, but there is something special about talking in person. I spent more time talking with some fellow MIE’s in person as well as a few other educators who I connected with due to this person or that event, but because we know our stories and platforms we picked up like we were long lost friends.
During this conference I pushed my own boundaries. I had my first keynote. I had my first full day workshop(thanks to an amazing team that pretty much did 90% of it), ran a two hour workshop, and few sessions. I forced myself to talk to people at random. I forced myself to be engaged in the moment and not on my phone. I forced myself to not sit in my hotel room and write blog posts and work, but to get out and explore, talk, and engage(amazingly the world moved on when I did not respond to every single email and request).
Because of these things I learned more about myself as a person. I did little things that seem silly, but were big moments like ride my first public train to a hotel, use Uber, walk without GPS, and study how people spoke and presented to become better. I basically was in student mode most of the time so I could walk away a better learner and person.
To the committee that put this together I say thank you. It was as great few days and I cannot wait to experience this learning environment again next year. To everyone I met in person, thank you for connecting and being awesome. To everyone who pushed my thinking you get an extra high five. To everyone that has continued to reach and ask more questions, keep pushing forward!
Part 2 I will go over in detail our Makerspace Summit and the amazing learning that took place.
By this point in time almost every single person has heard of Skype and video calls. Some have used it to connect with friends and family. Some educators have dabbled with connecting online with other classrooms whether it be a Mystery Skype or sharing of learning. Some have connected with experts(like professional editors for a language arts project). Some have not dabbled at all, but are intrigued.
Regardless of your ability and experience this is story to showcase the power of connections. Many would agree that face to face is always the best method to build connections. However, in this day and age that is not always possible and yet some of our most influential people in our lives are ones we only meet online.
I would like to share a story to promote the use of Skype and work to build those connections with all the amazing people around the world.
Recently, Microsoft hosted a Skypeathon where classrooms connected with others from all over the world to try and reach 1,000,000 virtual miles of interaction. It was a 24 hour event that reached over 3,000,000 miles.
There was one Skype session that we were lucky to schedule with Margo Day, VP of Microsoft Education. This was a session where instead of figuring out locations we talked about embracing student voice and empowering our voices to lead by example. We were not real sure what to expect, but we gathered members from our Iowa High Five student voice group and allowed them to ask questions and learn from someone who has made an impact on so many people.
As an adult and educator I learned a great deal from the message Margo provided. It was one of the best Skype calls we have ever had(and we have had many this year). Here are couple notes I jotted down.
Besides my learning, there was something even more powerful than a tall, bald, ugly guy sharing his insights. An amazing 6th grade student, Isabelle, shared the following reflection that showcases the power of learning from others, flattening our classrooms walls, and doing all we can in schools to help connect students with amazing people like Margo. Check it out below and if you want to watch the session you can click the recording here.
Isabelle, 6th grader at Bettendorf Middle School
I feel that the Skype call really helped me think about my voice. There were answers from Margo that really helped me. When she was talking about exploring, and trying to find out what she can’t do it made me think, “What is so bad about failing?” For some reason I’ve been afraid to fail my whole life, but why? I just didn’t know the answer to this question, and still don’t know the answer to it. Also, when she was talking about our teachers picking us for Student Voice because they think we have a voice made me feel good on the inside. It actually made me feel more confident with my voice, like I have something special out of 7 billion people in the world that I didn’t know about. When Margo was talking about kids all over the world not having a voice made me upset. There are so many missed opportunities that our education is missing out on because the children who do have a voice are looked down upon. Some people think that kids are just little humans that are always in their own little world. The truth is we’re not.
I really like Sammy’s answer to Margo’s question which was, “ What does student voice mean to you and how do you apply that to school?” Sammy answered that question by talking about listening to other people’s opinions before immediately just auguring back. It really just shows how much of a voice students can really have. Also, Margo was talking about college, and how we need to find ourselves before going to college. This made me think about what new things I should start exploring to help me figure that out. My mother told me that I need to start thinking about what I want to do for college. Of course my answer was, “Mom! I’m only twelve I have six more years until I go to college.” This video helped me realize that I should start exploring now because there are so many things out there that are out of my comfort zone. I have always been into drawing, so I might try and do that for college. There are also a lot of possibilities in this world and I might like something better than drawing. If Margo never explored science and technology then everything would be different. The students who Skyped with Margo listening to her message might be doing something different now or in the future.
The message that I got from this Skype call was very uplifting and made me think a lot. The answers that I got from this call will stick with me for awhile. It helped me think about my voice in a very different way and even think about myself in a different way. This is something I help will pass on to other students in the future.
How have you used Skype? What are ways you have flattened your classroom walls? In what ways have you leveraged technology to enhance student learning? I would to learn from you and hear stories like Isabelle to showcase and share with other educators who need examples of the power to connect with others. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement to push our comfort zones.
I made a short video explaining why more educators should apply to be a Microsoft Innovative Expert. I wish I could have spoken for 30 minutes, but realize attention spans don’t last that long anymore.
Enjoy and let me know if you have questions.