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Teacher Pep Talk

My friend Alaina Sharp has started a podcast called Teacher Pep Talk.  Alaina is a high school chemistry teacher at Western High School in Parma, Michigan and it is her desire for teachers everywhere to start their day out on a positive note.  I submitted my pep talk (the audio and text are both below) and I hope you find it worth a quick listen, but mostly I'm hopeful you will share yours as well.   First, record your audio message of about five minutes (multiple ways to do this, the easiest probably being using a voice notes app on your phone, reach out if you'd like assistance). Second, send a link of your recording to .   Third, there is no third step.  That's all there is to it!  So what are you waiting for?!  My name is Joe Rommel and I’ve been thinking a lot about bubbles lately.  As the father of four children we spent a lot of time this summer playing with bu
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Tech Tip - Change the Ownership of a Google Calendar Event

Situation:   An administrative assistant creates all of the calendar invites for IEP meetings. Problem: The administrative assistant, as the creator / owner of the calendar event, must attend all meetings to allow entry for anyone outside the school domain. Solution: Change the ownership of the calendar event to someone attending the meeting, (perhaps the building principal).  Read on to discover how!   1. Start out by creating a new event.  This can be done by clicking the +Create button near the top left, or by clicking on the calendar on the date and time you would like the event to occur. 2.  Add a title, guests, video conferencing with Google Meet, and any other details you would like and click ‘save.’  Your event is on the calendar and now we can edit the ownership. 3. Now that the calendar invite is visible you will need to click on the invite one time so the panel to the right launches and then click on the three dots.  This will allow you to change the owner of the meeting.

The Real Challenge of MOMO

I am beginning to think that the challenge portion of the MOMO challenge is really directed at parents and teachers.  It is a challenge for parents to not fall for a hoax, and not overreact to their child’s technology use.  For teachers it is a challenge to develop student’s digital literacy and critical thinking skills. The energy and fervor with which the challenge spread through the interwebs and into mainstream media is testament to the basic parental desire of keeping their kids safe. The MOMO challenge supposedly began with texting a number to WhatsApp or other messaging platforms.  A set of tasks would then be sent to the ‘player,’ one per day, becoming increasingly dark, eventually promoting self-harm and even suicide.  What is most upsetting about hoaxes such as this to me, is that it trivializes the reality of teen suicide and mental health. It means that instead of directing attention and resources to where they can most make a difference the medi

Start the New Year with a Plan for Screen Time

Few word combinations provide a sinking feeling for parents quite so quickly as ‘screen time’.  Maybe college tuition, but if your house is anything like mine, screen time is the more pressing issue.  With two elementary and two middle school children, along with my own technology habits, dealing with screen time can seem overwhelming.  Here’s a few strategies to make 2019 the year YOU control the screen! In May 2018 the American Academy of Pediatrics provided ‘Children and Media Tips.’  There are several practical reminders such as establishing limits, being a positive example and establishing tech- free zones in the house .  The point that really resonated with me was to not use the technology as an emotional pacifier; that tech time should not equal alone time.  Young children learn and develop through social interactions and play. Play is much more complex than just a swipe and a tap! In an updated position statement the National Association for the Education of

Everybody Can Have a Maker Space!

Maker Space... Many of you think that immediately means that you need money to make it happen. Well, I am here to tell you that there are many ways to get started with a maker space that don't require different materials than you already have, just a different mindset! 3D Printing, lasers, robots, and drones are all REALLY fun ways to work as a maker but they aren't the most accessible tools out there. (Unless you are in REMC 11 and we have all of those things for checkout here.) Adam Savage, from Mythbusters, likes to mention that to be a maker is to create regardless of medium. Additionally he is noted for calling corrugated cardboard the gateway drug for all makers! Look around your school, how many of you have more cardboard than your students could possibly use? To get your students started, I recommend doing a quick bit of reading on the design cycle or as AJ Juliani calls it, t he Launch Cycle . Both basically boil down to these steps.  1. Identify you

A Mythbuster Takes Down Failure

This week in the Michiana area there have been (and will continue to be) a number of fantastic, free learning opportunities all under that coordinated efforts of  IDEA week  .  The South Bend Mini Maker Faire was one of the first events and along the way Adam Savage, Daymond John, and others will have shared their thoughts on entrepreneurship and creativity.   Individual sessions and panels on topics such as autonomous vehicles, advanced manufacturing processes and 'smart cities' are offered daily.  The week concludes with a TedX event featuring students from the University of Notre Dame.   I headed down Monday evening to listen to the ultimate Maker - Adam Savage.  He shared his passion for inventory, love of all things Stanley Kubrick, and how his obsessiveness has lead him to painstakingly make all manner of items.  During the question and answer period he fielded a question about infusing creativity in the classroom and his response was enlightening.   Savage

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