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My Challenge to You... Go Make Something!

Having just returned from the MACUL conference, I was struck by the number of educators who don't identify themselves as makers.  A maker by definition is "a person or thing that makes or produces something." (Google) It seems to me that by that definition that all humans are makers.

Perhaps the reason that many of the educators that I met at the MACUL conference don't identify as makers is that they have had the creative spirit educated out of them. This theory is based on an amazing TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. (Included below)

To summarize he posits that schools educate students into compliance which defeats the creative ability of kids.  Do you agree with this statement?  In an environment based on standardized testing and high stakes performance is there time to be creative?

The maker movement is catching fire nationwide and I believe it is a direct response to try to counteract the loss of creativity. Students should be empowered to be creative in their daily …
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MicroBit: Coding Made Simple

On Friday, Joe and I had the privilege of working with 5th grade students in Mattawan. We figured this was a great time to break out our micro:bit's to see what could be done with them in only 30 minutes. 

One of the main perks of the micro:bit is the simplicity and complexity that it can offer. Many of the 5th graders found that they could make an image appear on the LED screen with very little code. This often lead them to explore what they could do if they added more images. For some of them, it turned into animated versions of hearts scrolling across the screen. For others, it was their names or messages to other students.  Given that Joe and I gave very few directions, this was AMAZING!

A couple of the projects that were tackled by the students that astounded us were a coded game of rock, paper, scissors on the micro:bit and another code set that turned the micro:bit into a fully functional compass.  Now I must give a small caveat.  The students were using tutorials from make…

Spreading Holiday Cheer!

In partnership with Cornerstone Alliance, and through the generous support of the Bosch Corporation, the season of giving has started a little early here at the Berrien RESA technology department.  What this means for Berrien County teachers is more items available to checkout in their classrooms ... a lot more!
In speaking with our area technology coaches and other instructional technologists around the state, coding would inevitably enter the conversation.  We knew we needed to add something to specifically support coding in the younger grades.  Meet Dash!  
Dash is controlled with your choice of several free apps.  Programming a robot like Dash allows students immediate feedback to their code.  The apps are available for both iOS and Android.  (If you are planning to connect with iPads, you will need something newer than iPad 2's)  There are prebuilt challenges, a curriculum, and accessories that enable to Dash to do things like launch light objects or bulldoze the floor or eve…

Teachable Moments

Some of you may have been aware that this past weekend the Pontiac Silverdome was scheduled to be imploded.  I say scheduled, because while there was a loud noise, the building definitely remained standing.  I couldn't help but chuckle as I followed along, joining plenty of others who quickly attached the failed attempt with the myriad other disappointments that are my Detroit Lions.Then I came across this article on MLive 'Failed Silverdome Implosion - 'A Really Good Mistake,' science teacher says.  That science teacher is Todd Bloch.  On his blog Sweat to Inspire he posted about how the upcoming implosion was a great teachable moment.  He was even taking his son to see the event.  Turns out it was a bit anticlimactic. Though probably not quite as comical as the Weather Channel bus blocking cameras of the recent Georgia Dome implosion.
Rather than being completely disheartened, and being the educator he is, I think Todd actually got MORE ideas from the 'mistake,…

Cardboard Creation Extravaganza!

"Cardboard is the gateway for all makers!" - Adam Savage

On Saturday October 7th, Joe and I took a pallet of cardboard, Makedo connectors, and some markers and crayons and invaded the gymnasium at Lincoln Elementary in St. Joe.  This event was inspired by the Global Cardboard Challenge which stemmed from the inspiration of Caine's Arcade.

We had approximately 40 students and parents show up for this day of creativity. The best part was being able to see the students eyes light up when they saw the pile of cardboard and were told that they could make anything that they wanted.  Even the parents loved this instruction! After about 2 hours, we had a lighthouse, multiple houses, a geodesic dome, and a rocket with launchpad. 

In terms of event planning, this is one of the easiest that you can pull off at your school. Joe and I have a source for cardboard that we can connect you with and help you gather the tools that make the day easier.  Check out some of the photos to see …

Free Online Resources For Back to School in Michigan (Michigan E-Library)

September 2017

Dear Michigan Teachers, Parents, and Students:

Welcome to the 2017-18 school year! As everyone heads back to school, the Michigan
eLibrary (MeL) wants to remind everyone that MeL is your go-to resource! Students of all ages
can go to to find eBooks and articles to read, conduct research, prepare for high
stakes tests like the SAT®, or maintain/improve basic skills. Watch our Back to School video at

MeL provides all Michigan residents free access to quality, vetted subscription databases that
can be used all year. Resources are available 24/7 and are mobile compatible. Quality
resources and weblinks are organized in convenient portals. For children from birth to 5th
grade, MeL Kids ( has four centers that will help support and build basic skills
such as reading and math. For the older students in grades 6 through 12, MeL Teens
( offers a wealth of resources to not only maintain and build basic skills, but also

Use Google Slides to Create a Digital Notebook

Like many of you I was school shopping this past week and purchasing requested supplies.  One of those requested was a pack of reinforced paper.  Yep, there is such a thing.  I taught for 15 years and did not even realize this was a thing!  

Apparently this is paper that has a reinforced margin surrounding the three hole punch to help it last longer.  This longer life is useful when students take notes throughout the year.  But I think if your school, like many, has devices for students and uses Google Apps for Education then I have a better way - Google Slides.

The key to using Google slides to create a digital notebook is to resize the slide dimensions to 8.5 x 11 to mimic conventional paper.  This can be completed under the 'file' menu and selecting page setup.  The default size of the slides is 'widescreen 16:9' but if you select custom you can resize the slides to any size you would like.

Once completed, the template is set.  Each slide that you add will also be this…