Teacher Tinker Time Presentation Reflection with Squishy Circuits

Yesterday I presented a short 40 minute session on Teacher Tinker Time. This is something that I have created in my school as an instructional coach. The goal is to create a fun and very stress less challenge every few weeks to get educators thinking like a kid again. More importantly it is to bring various teachers together in hopes that new ideas grow out of the activities and conversations.

I was moved to the Commons area for my session after they realized I was going to have dough and other hands on materials for the attendees to use and play with. I had a fairly nice size turnout. Actually, I had more than I expected and something to note would be to have more supplies on hand next time.

For my setup I had a few slides to get them going, but the projector was not working. For those interested here are the slides, but they won’t make much sense unless I am present because I hate slides with a lot of words.

Because I did not have these I did a very short introduction explaining Teacher Tinker Time and how I operate the system. I realize that most of the teachers do not have this at the elementary and high school. Hopefully, they saw the value in it and will push to have this implemented in their school. I am a firm believer that as teachers we must remember what it is like to think and be a kid. We should have opportunities during our day to do this and not be expected to do so on our own time.

To get them thinking like a kid again, I brought in 7 sets of Squishy Circuits. I had enough batteries, alligator clips, and LED lights to break them into 7 groups. I had over 40 people in the session so the groups were a bit too large, but it worked.

The only rule I gave them as you can see in the slides(which they did not get to see) was to not put the light on the battery. Like every great class we had a teacher test it out and they were able to witness the POP and exploding power of a LED light!

I challenged the teachers to make the light turn on and once they achieved that to go ahead and make a creature or sculpture to challenge their thinking.

I really enjoyed the conversations, questions, and just good old tinkering taking place. Many probably did not realize how much they were learning. If I had more time I would have made them share their creations and explain what went on with each group. The dynamics of the space was not ideal to do this so I let it be and cut it from the session. Lastly, I would have explained the science of the Squishy Circuits so they could see what they actually created and tinkered with.

My goal of this activity was to remind educators a few key things.

1. Play is learning – we need time to play. We need time away from instructions and an end goal. Just let ourselves go. As teachers we forget to give ourselves permission and time to just play. We want answers, answer keys, and as little to do as possible because we are so busy. Don’t forget to craft this time out of your schedule. The best ideas come when you are not thinking about the actual idea/topic.

2. Different Pathways Lead To Success – we had groups of various levels of accomplishment. It took some longer than others to get the lights on. Some claimed defective parts. Some thought they had it figured out to only learn they really did not. Had I just given them the answer zero learning would have taken place. In the end every group had a light turn on. Don’t forget that we as educators as well as our students can chart our own paths in learning and still reached the desired goal. It is okay to be robots and follow the same scripted path. Go out and explore. Don’t be afraid of being wrong which is a mindset many educators and students struggle with.

3. What is next? With a bit more time I would have challenged the teachers to this question to get them thinking about new ways of tinkering in their own classroom                    …and then? (beta – may be improved later) http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3214

Here is the handout from the session. I hope that you consider joining our group of amazing people where we are always in discussion about Play and Tinkering in the Classroom. We run weekly chats and Google Hangouts to challenge our minds and thinking.


Last if you want to know more about Squish Circuits I have added resources to my Play and Tinkering Wiki page where I am slowly documenting and developing a resource center on this very topic. 

With everything I do I hope you add to the wiki and connect with me to make things better. I am always open to connect and chat. The best learning is through sharing ideas with others.

Please let me know what you think. Throw me questions, ideas, suggestions, feedback, etc. If you attended the session I would love to know your thoughts so I can improve and make myself better.

Below are images from the teachers making their works of art as well as videos showing how I made the dough using my Google Glass


Created with flickr slideshow.
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

005: Living on Edge of Chaos – Lisa Van Gemert

This episode is one of my favorite things I have done this year in education. As I challenge myself in the things I do, this is the next step. I challenged myself to work on interviewing educators who are full of passion and living on the edge of chaos. I started big and went with Lisa Van Gemert. If you don’t follow or know of her, then you are seriously missing out and need to listen or watch this podcast and learn from one of the best presenters I have ever witnessed.

Show Notes

All Social Media for Lisa Van Gemert – Please follow and learn from one of the best!





Links to items mentioned in the podcast

Is the Lecture Dead? – Richard Gunderman – The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/is-the-lecture-dead/272578/

Sally Hogshead – Fascinate
Jason Fried – Rework
Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Technology Travels with Coffeechug: Backchannel Notes and Responses #ITEC13

I have finally found time to answer and respond to all comments shared on the backchannel for my second presentation at ITEC13. I have shared the information below, but constructed all responses in Evernote: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s31/sh/e05b6a6c-d282-4ac9-9279-651cb7c27351/c91e2160d8b9ddbc3e1d92d9a1c3e7d1

If you have further questions, resources, or ideas please share. I will continue to add the Evernote page from this point forward.

Here is the link to my slides – http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/2013/10/itec13-conference-presentations.html

Here is the link to my backchannel notes from my Speedgeeking Session – http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/2013/10/speedgeeking-notes-from-itec13-via.html

Here is the link to my reflections on the two presentations – http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/2013/10/reflecting-on-my-presentations-from.html

A lot of my students don’t have access to technology outside the classroom.
My thought is what are you doing within the classroom to help have a chance to use technology in ways that challenge their thinking?
Is there a link for this presentation somewhere?

Blocking programs and websites creates more fear for teachers–especially for teachers who know little about the programs. “Blocked”=”Bad”
Could not agree more. It is time to bring in freedom and allow teachers and students to have real conversations and teaching opportunities about how to handle all the information and issues that come with so much information at our fingertips.

Best advise: Do not care what the person down the hall thinks about what you are doing.
YES! It is all about what YOU are doing. Are you developing an atmosphere for learning, freedom to fail, and challenge new thoughts.
maturity of a group of students helps teachers trust students more which helps alleviate fear
Maturity plays a huge role in things. We are currently dealing with students who lack of maturity hinders what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully we can provide guidance and sometimes more structure and limitations that allow them to have some success. When dealing with immaturity and/or younger kids they need confines to have creativity develop. Wide open range with no parameters will just make them spin in circles.

Fearful of losing precious time trouble shooting problems
This is a valid concern. I think that overtime if more and more classrooms and schools provide this environment for learning through failure, then students will need less “me” time and try to solve problems on their own. We are dealing with this right now. They will just sit and wait forever instead of trying to problem solve. What this statement alludes to is the notion of changing mindset and the culture of learning in schools. Until that happens this troubleshooting concept is an issue.

Fear comes from the fact that I can’t control everything, but am still held responsible by parents, admin, etc.
It is not our job to control everything. We are one person. A powerful person with an amazing job, but at the end of the day one person. We have to begin to expand this conversation to the bigger idea that what we are talking about here and in previous questions is that this shift in thought and education is a community effort. We need to bring not only students on board, but educators, admin, parents, community members, etc. While the fear is relevant the conversations need to start happening about how we ALL play a role and the teacher is one part of this much larger puzzle.

I have had to help teachers overcome fear of learning new technology. So what if the kids know more about it than you do?
AWESOME! Create a genius/dream team board where kids declare what they are an expert in so people know who to go to whether it is an adult or student. Student voice is so powerful. If students get a chance to share their knowledge that that provokes more incentive to learn more and develop those skills. I love it when I learn from my students.

Never feared – my teacher parents taught me to embrace!

State of fear – the “what ifs” win too much.
The “what ifs” are something we all deal with in all aspects of life. Sometimes we just gotta take the plunge to see what happens. Scary, but when something clicks there is not a better feeling.

Teachers are fearful of giving up losing/control
The day has arrived that we are no longer in control. Education is a process not a place. Our jobs today are to guide, motivate, and provide the next challenge to the students. Our jobs are not to run the show and prove our knowledge. 

As a high school teacher, I have the same fear as that student…
Which is what? I would love to know more!
PLNs help with digital interaction
My PLN is the greatest resource of EVERYTHING that I need. I am so glad I have taken time to develop a strong PLN because I am becoming better every single day learning from others.

Besides fear, teachers also have a problem with letting a student take control. Sometimes a kid knows more than the teacher.
Valid point. Please see answer above

If a student shares a file with me, I can project it from my PC, & he can work on it from his while explaining to the class what he’s doing.
How cool is this that technology allows this happen. We can now be a facilitator and give students more chances to share their wisdom

Atomic Learning to help differentiate!
Another great resource shared. Thanks for mentioning this.
Explaining your thinking and thought process out loud.
Perfect! We need to share how we think and process. How cool would it be to go back from this conference and share with students all the things we did. How we took notes, talked with others, wrote blog posts, made lists, experimented, etc. Students need to see how we are constantly learning as adults. We don’t share that enough.

What are other examples of modeling?
We should model how we develop lesson plans. Have you ever taken time to show students what goes into preparing for a lesson. They would be amazed. I think so many still believe we just read a book from somewhere that is hidden from plain sight that tells us exactly what to do. Show them how you use your PLN, develop ideas, brainstorm with others, make a million drafts, adapt lessons throughout the day, change ideas for next year. They need to see how we work and operate.

I use the Promethean Board to create an example in real time. I also have a finished product ready to share…like a cooking show!
I love this and would love to see an example of this!

I have a blog. I show kids how it works and teach them to make blogs for journaling and linking sites that help learn the lesson
Love it! Also, would love to see an example.

Real, active (invisible) audience – we just talked about this in class! 
What else did you learn? It is such an interesting topic that I want to know more about personally.

Is there a link for that video? I’d love to show my students.
Check the link above for the slides. The link is in the notes.
I love coffee.
Me too!

Can a person really chug coffee? #notacoffeedrinker
Yes, but I am guessing it is not enjoyable!

coffeechug…, not sure what this session is about, but I love the name.
And I hope you enjoyed it!
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Reflecting on my presentations from #ITEC13

I always take time to reflect on everything I do. I reflect on teaching ideas, current thoughts, experiments, and presentations.

I have found that the one thing that has helped since I started presenting is to write down my reflections.

For ITEC13 I really struggled to form my thoughts into a proper presentation. I had so many ideas in my head that I could not really establish a flow to my delivery. I did not want to just go through a million ideas with no purpose. I wanted to connect the tools to a much larger idea.

I developed at least 5 slide decks for each presentation and was never really happy with any of them.

Finally, I did what I know how to do best…..

I went to my PLN and started asking for help. I received great insight from many.

Scott McLeod was SUPER AWESOME and talked with me for about a half hour one day that really was the turning point. He helped to guide me to a clearer focus. In many ways I felt like he was in my head because each question he posed lead me to the answer that I knew I had in my head but could not get out.

My slide decks continued to develop late into Sunday night. By the end I developed about 73 slides for one and 82 for the other. When I started both had about 40 slides.

I was fortunate enough to have both sessions full of people. Perhaps it was the clever nerdy titles, but I hope that I delivered and left them happy. I felt blessed to have a crowd.

I tried out several new things.

1. I brought props to show. This was a huge success. Next time I will bring more and do more hands on and get the crowd to use the tools as we go.

2. I used a backchannel. This is something I always wanted to do. This was the most beneficial piece for me. I will never present without this again. It is too valuable.

I was able to generate more help and answer questions online that the 50 minutes did not allow for. It is amazing how fast 50 minutes goes by.

For my first session I went back and created a note guide from the backchannel. You can see an example here – Speedgeeking with Coffeechug.

One of the cool things was feedback about my presentation. You never gain any real feedback about how things go. I felt good about things when I read comments like

Fabulous session; wish I’d been there for the whole thing! Thanks for all your info!

Great job! Best session yet!

Best session I’ve been to today. Inspiring!

Great session. Lots of good information in a short period of time. Kids are lucky to have you.

This is what it is all about. Not the patting on my back, but spreading a message, ideas, tools, etc. that others take back with them to change their teaching. I don’t present because I like to be up front and center of attention. I present because it challenges me and my thinking. It allows me to share what I am learning. I want to help others. I want to share. I want to be a resource. Even better than all of the above is the networking that develops. I am having conversations on Twitter with other amazing educators that I was not connected with prior. I am now challenged to help them while staying on top of my game. It is a circle of positive challenges that does nothing but enhance more people and teaching across the globe.

I was nervous about these sessions. In the end I feel like they were two of my best presentations that I have delivered. Thank you again to everyone who attended and look forward to Speed Geeking my thoughts again in the future.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Speedgeeking Notes from #ITEC13 via Evernote

Here is the link to all notes from my first session Speedgeeking with Coffeechug.

I went through all the information and notes from our backchannel during the session.

I tried to answer all the questions that were posed. If I did not clarify things enough please let me know. I want to make sure I am as helpful as I can be.

If there are other things you would like for me to add please let me know as well. I have no problem sharing out whatever I have.

Here is my blog post from yesterday where I shared all my slides and information. Feel free to use whatever you like. I only ask that you let me know so I see how the ideas are spreading. Fair enough?


So let me know what you think and what else you would like added. If you want more clarification on anything seriously ask!

I am working on the notes from my afternoon session as well. I just need an extra 10 hours to my day.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

#ITEC13 Conference Presentations by Coffeechug #coffeechugPLN

Here are my two slide decks for my presentations today.

Thank you to everyone who attended. If you did not attend, take a look and feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas thoughts, or concerns.

Here are my slides – https://www.dropbox.com/sh/60qet2ahrctv6zi/Kb5XCk1PW6

Here they are via Slideshare.net

Here is my contact info

Aaron Maurer

I will share all resources via Evernote soon. I will post the links when they are ready.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

3 Ideas on How NOT To Present Great Ideas #coffeechugPLN

Want to get your kids off the iPad? Release a quail in your backyard!
Be a novelty and stand out like a quail in your backyard!

This post has been a long time coming. I am not here to offend anyone, but this is something that I need to share and get off my chest.

It is something that has bothered me for quite some time.


Let me explain some of my observations from conferences and speakers I have sat through lately.

1. Slides

  • Declutter – you don’t need 35 items on a slide. It is too much to take in at once and audience cannot process it all.
  • Too many words – we have heard this for years and yet so many still cram their slides with words, sentences, and paragraphs. If you want to share a paper, then share the paper. Don’t write it up on slides.
  • Clip art – the time has come to stop using generic clip art. With so many great resources for enhanced images, stock photos, and editing tools there is no need to use these old school clip art images that are nothing but a slap in the face to the audience.
2. Presentation
  • Know your content – If all you are doing is reading off your slides, then simply sit down, hand out a copy of the slides, and let us read it on our own. Don’t waste our time. We can read on our own.
  • Read your research paper/script – I would rather have a speaker falter by trying to engage than simply reading a script. I want to connect and hear stories. I don’t want to be read to. We don’t allow this from our students, so why do we do it?
  • Let us see your slides – Please don’t stand in front of the projector and block your slides or presentation. Enough said.
  • Know your room – if you are a keynote, please don’t apologize for blurry images or having a hard time seeing the images. If you know you are speaking to a large room, then adjust slides accordingly. Less is more and bigger is better.
3. Overall
  • If you are passionate about your topic, then why would you choose to bore us to death? If you are going to speak on the topic of creativity, then develop a creative platform. Don’t just speak in a monotone voice with monotone slides. We are marketer so celebrate your ideas. Obviously, you have chosen to speak so you want to get the word out. So deliver!
  • Reflect and change – I am far from perfect, but after every presentation I reflect and make necessary changes. Don’t use the same exact presentation over and over. We have constantly change, adapt, and modify as you continue to learn and grow as a person.
Alright, I feel much better getting this off my chest. If you have other thoughts, ideas, or suggestions please leave a comment. I would love to take this further and hear from you.
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Check out awesome digital version of the Passion Driven Handout. #coffeechugPLN

For those of you who cannot make the World Council of Gifted and Talented Conference I have made my handout digital.

This postcard is one piece of the Passion Toolkit that I am creating for this presentation(toolkit will be shared shortly).

I used the website Thinglink which is an amazing tool if you have not yet experimented with it yet.

Above is the postcard. I took images of the front and back of the postcard. I then merged them together using Keynote and then did a screen capture to make it one image.

From there I uploaded the image to Thinglink and then added the hyperlinks accordingly.

You can hover over the sections and a button will appear to take you to the sites and links.

In case the buttons do not show up on the image above here is the link to go to it directly.


I would love to hear your feedback as well as have you take time to answer the questions on passion posted on the handout.

In a few days I will share the Passion Toolkit. I am assembling them as we speak and waiting for one more item to arrive in the mail.


What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Coffeechug requesting crowdsourcing help for presentations #coffeechugPLN


I am about 90% done with both of my presentations for the World Council of Gifted and Talented Conference coming up in a little over a week.

I think it is imperative that I have multiple perspectives, examples, and stories for both of my presentations.

Here are a few links where I could use some more examples and voices to help empower my presentations and in return give you recognition for the awesome things you are doing as well.

Going Global with Coffeechug presentation

1. I am working on a resource where teachers can share upcoming global projects for the upcoming school year. Please consider adding your projects to the Google Presentation. This will be a resource for teachers looking for projects to get started going global.

Passion Driven Presentation

1. I have created a new website that I really believe will be a powerful tool for teachers to use, reflect, and learn from as it will showcase passion from educators from around the world. I would love to have a few examples on the site before I present to get the ball rolling. I would love your chalk idea or passion designs. I don’ t have it on the website yet, but also looking for teachers to leave Post It notes messages in public locations with quotes and images showcasing passion. Check the link and consider emailing your work. This will be a work in progress as I continue to present on this topic all year. j.mp/12To1YQ

I am working on mine as we speak and yes it will involved coffee and robots!

Thanks for considering and look forward to all the amazing ideas, artwork, projects, and quotes.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

"The three rules of presentations Levity, Brevity, and Repetition. Let me repeat that…" – Daniel Pink

This quote has been ingrained in my head the last few days as I piece together my presentations for the World Council of Gifted and Talented Conference.

I am feeling stressed trying to connect my key ideas into a 25 minute format.

I don’t want to be a talking head. I want action and want to spark my audience into DOING.

Working on finalizing one presentation and then condensing another one down to fit parameters.

Simplicity and brevity should be easy, but I find it to be much more difficult to achieve.

This has proved challenging and makes me think about applying this idea to my classroom as well. Let us just get to the point, deliver, and move on. If we need more we can always do a follow up.

What are your tricks to levity, brevity, and repetition?

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)