Smart Home AND Smart Classrooms

I have been experimenting with both Google Home and Amazon Echo for a while now. I love them. My kids each have a Dot and I think that this is just the start to smarter homes and more productive lives.

I was thinking the other day about Smart Homes and more importantly Smart Classrooms……

Are we creating a learning environment that challenges students in the correct way? If every classroom was equipped with a Google Home or Amazon Echo for students and teachers to use during class, during tests, and basically at any point in the learning, then are the challenges we are working to solve challenging enough?

My 5 year old daughter will hammer these devices with questions of curiosity. Do we entice the same curiosity in our classrooms where we can allow machines to do the low level work so we can dig deeper into thought, problem solving, and learning?

I challenge you to take out a test or assessment and ask one of these devices the questions you are posing. If they can answer, then what will you change? If they cannot answer them, then how will you take this opportunity to push to new levels of exciting learning?

Let us make sure we are not simply giving answers, but giving great problems to solve. Enough of the tech police, banning the use of cell phones, computers, and whatever tool is the choice at the moment and instead develop situations that these tools are simply tools to push to new levels of thought. Perhaps our fear of tech lies more in the idea that we fear our work is not good enough as opposed to tech actually being bad.

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January Bullet Journal Walkthrough

Video Notes

This is my walkthrough to the setup of my 2017 bullet journal to help me stay focused and productive in 2017. My goal is to take all I have learned from doing this last year to streamlining the system to make it work for me.

Moleskine Two-Go Notebook Medium Ruled by Moleskine for $19.32

AmazaPens Fineliner Coloring Pens Premium by AmazaPens

Crazy Aaron’s – Super Magnetic Tidal Wave by Crazy Aaron’s for $16.50

Patterned Washi Tape Set by Fun Express for $8.49

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Christmas Puzzles, Riddles, Games and More to Survive the Week!

The week before Christmas is always a tough one. It is a week when kids don’t want to learn and teachers hold on for dear life. The cold weather, the coughs, the sugar buzz, the excitement, and a nice break in the future make it hard to get much done.

School must go on. The bells will ring, the bus routes continue, and we must not lose our minds completely.

Over years I have gathered many puzzles, riddles, logic, puzzles, and more that have allowed me to survive when I was in the classroom.

Recently, on the Iowa gifted listserv a huge file was posted of many of these items. As I clicked on them all I was taken back to memory lane doing many of these in the classroom to break up the day.

I have decided to compile them into one document and add a few more that I used to use back in the day.

I hope you find them helpful, fun, and a nice way to enjoy these days with your students and maybe even your family. If you have others that you use that others could benefit from please reach out to me and I will add them to the document.

Enjoy and happy holidays. We are close!

Document of goodies

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Hour of Code: Where to Go?

Hour of Code is a global movement to make computer programming fun and accessible to everyone around the world. You and your students can learn to code! Many of your students have already dabbled in code and know how to code. Why not join the millions of others to code and push your brain into some new learning.

Below  are a bunch of resources to get started. Many of these have come through my inbox via newsletters and subscriptions I have. To be clear, these links and how they are describe are not my words. I have pulled them from the many emails I receive. I just wanted to curate it all into one place to help everyone out. Leave a comment if there are other resources.



  • Code the News: Videos and graphics are all about tech, diversity, kids and coding! Finished projects can be added to your school’s website as the report on Hour of Code itself.
  • Bestie Greeting Card: Make a holiday-themed greeting card with code! Created in partnership with Girl Scouts of Greater New York.
  • Climate Science & Code: Research and record a video focused on a single fact about Earth’s climate. Code effects for emphasis.

Khan Academy

  • Drawing with code: Learn to program using JavaScript, one of the world’s most popular programming languages (ages 8+).
  • Creating webpages: Learn to make your own webpages using the basics of HTML and CSS (ages 10+).
  • Creating SQL databases: Learn the fundamentals of databases using SQL to create data tables and query the data (ages 12+).

Let’s join Microsoft, Google, Apple, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Malala, and millions of others around the world to make history. Have your child start their Hour of Code today!

Skype in the Classroom

Get involved today and invite one of our Technology Guest Speakers to your classroom or one of the Microsofties they will give your students a glimpse into what it’s like to work in tech! You can also connect your classrooms to discuss on their participation in the Hour of Code.

For 2016,, Microsoft and Mojang are announcing the all-new Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, a tutorial that lets students code their own Minecraft rules. This year, students can use code to control how animals and other Minecraft creatures behave—they can create a totally unique Minecraft experience, and then share it with friends or play it on their phones!

The new tutorial begins in a Minecraft world where sheep don’t move, the chickens don’t cluck, and nothing attacks: it’s a blank slate without movement or defined action. Over the course of an hour, students will bring this world to life using computer science. At the final level, they get to define the rules of Minecraft however they wish. If they want, the cows can lay eggs, sheep can explode, and zombies can run away from players!

If you used last year’s Minecraft activity, the new one provides a perfect way to expand your students’ knowledge of computer science. For new teachers, we are pleased to offer both tutorials, which require no experience to teach.

We’re thrilled to add Minecraft Hour of Code Designer to our list of activities for this year’s Hour of Code. If you haven’t checked out the expanded list yet, there are tons of new activities that you can filter on our site based on grade level, experience level, subject area, and more. Find the perfect activity for your class at


Learn to Code with the Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial

Help! The Minecraft developers have all gone on break and the mobs have forgotten what to do. We need you to save the day by programming the Minecraft mobs how to behave!

Last year, over 30 million students completed the Minecraft Hour of CodeTutorial. Beginning with Computer Science Education week in December and continuing, students were introduced to coding using loops, if statements, and low level programming that allowed them to move Steve or Alex around the Minecraft world.

This year brings a new Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial, where learners of all ages will tackle basic programming concepts such as randomness, entities, sequencing, loops, and events to program Minecraft mobs how to behave. No previous coding experience is required. Students of all abilities can enjoy the tutorial.

To learn bring the Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial to your classroom, start

Raspberry Pi

Hour of Code – What could YOU do in one hour?

As part of our CSEd Week celebrations, we would love it if you took part in our annual Hour of Code. Visit our specially curated page that contains lots of cool resources, including two new ones specially written for the event!

All the resources on the page are designed to only take one hour, so they’re perfect to get you started.

Visit our Hour of Code page.

We’re also holding a live Hour of Code session here at Pi Towers, run by our Communities Manager Ben Nuttall. You’ll be able to catch a live stream of this on Wednesday 7 December on the Raspberry Pi Facebook page.

Other Links

Here’s Why I’m Going To Teach My Math Students To Code 

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) boots up Monday, December 5. More than 50 self-guided tutorials that emphasize math, such as:
  • Frozen’s Anna and Elsa in an exploration of snowflakes
  • 10 minutes of code for the TI-Nspire CX
  • a Python exploration of the four quadrants of the coordinate plane
  • drawing flags of the world with JavaScript to learn about shapes and coordinates
Join in the fun. Advocating “an hour of code for every student,” CSEdWeek occurs annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. This year, students all over the world over have registered to participate in nearly 100,000 events, many as part of their entire school hosting an “Hour of Code.”

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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.

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

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
  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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