Raspberry Pi NestCam Project


There is a bird family nesting in a potted palm hanging from a beam in one of the outdoor atriums at our early childhood center. The teachers asked me to set up a web cam so the students could see inside the nest and follow the progress from eggs to hatching to fledging. This was a great opportunity to use a Raspberry Pi camera module I've had sitting on my desk for the last year. I used a Pi...

Catapult Prototype


My 4th grade robotics students are having trouble engineering their catapults so I made this prototype to inspire them.

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Simple Granola


This is my super simple, basic granola recipe. I don't like to add any seeds or dried fruit (because they tend to cook faster than the oats) or nuts (because my spouse has an allergy). I generally sprinkle pumpkin seeds and raisins on top when I eat it but not as part of the recipe.

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Board Game Project


Since the beginning of the pandemic, board game sales have skyrocketed. I thought it would be fun to have 5th graders design and build their own board games.

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Disabling Student Google Workspace Accounts in bulk


When your students graduate, you need to disable their accounts. Doing it one by one in the Google Workspace admin panel can be tedious. I created this BASH script that uses GAM to do all the work for me.

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Wetlands Scratch Games


For our last project in 5th grade Design + Code + Make this year we did an integrated unit with Science. The students learned about the wetlands biome (our school is located near the Ballona Wetlands). Each student was assigned an animal that is found in the wetlands. They researched the animal and created games/animations in scratch featuring their animals. I love the artistry of this...

#SpringCUE Presentation - Creating equitable classrooms for neurodivergent students


Thank you to everyone who attended my session on Saturday! Here is my presentation:

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Pong Breaker


We're doing a Scratch unit with 5th grade right now so I created this game to remind myself how everything works. It's been a while since I did anything in Scratch.

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Yearbook Photos vs. the Pandemic


We haven't had kids on campus to get their school photos taken this year. So, I decided to have parents take yearbook portrait photos themselves and upload them via a Google Form. The problem: the spreadsheet created by the Google form has a link to the uploaded file but doesn't include the actual name of the file, just the Google Drive file ID. In order to upload the photos to our yearbook...

Hippie Waffles


My son loves waffles but I don't love how he acts when his blood sugar plummets an hour after eating them. So, I came up with this high protein, high fiber waffle recipe. We lovingly call them 'hippie waffles' because my wife was raised by hippies and grew up eating homemade tofu.

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EdTech vs. TechEd


I attend a lot of conferences, meetings, and workshops aimed at educational technology professionals as part of my job. Something I see too often is a conflation of these two concepts: educational technology and technology education. I think it's vital to make the distinction. Remembering that these are two separate things helps clarify our goals and objectives.

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Enigma Variations is available now!


Book 2 in the Justin Vincent Series: Master thief Justin Vincent and his computer hacker partner Ashna help people recover stolen items when the authorities can't. This time, their client needs his missing research notes back—notes that could help provide the solution to a century old musical mystery. The trail is cold, but the motive is clear: a £1 million reward offered to anyone...

Airplane Prototype


I'm preparing a 5th grade project where the students will design and laser cut rubber band powered airplanes. This is my first prototype. I definitely need to angle the wings to create more lift and use a lighter material.

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G4 is lost! Text based adventure game.


As a quarantine project, my son and I created this text based adventure game. He designed it and I helped him program. He's 7 so expect weirdness. He got into this via Zork which we played to help with his reading.

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Flossbot


I'm teaching a robotics challenge elective this spring over Zoom. I meet with the students once/week and give them a new challenge. The challenge this week is to make a robot that can 'floss'. This is my attempt:

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Laser Cutting Project


One of our 5th Grade teachers is going out on maternity leave. The other 5th grade faculty wanted to have the students make a present for her in my DCM class and asked for my suggestion. I remembered an amazing mobile my son had when he was a baby and suggested we have each student design a round shape in Gravit Designer that we could laser cut out of wood. Then, I would take all of them and...

Programming a Robot Arm with Python


I’m teaching an intro to Python elective this trimester. The students are learning the basics via the Codecademy intro course and then they get to try programming a robot arm. I used an ArmUno 2.0 kit from Microbot Labs, a Hummingbird Bit from...

Preparing Workers vs. Preparing Leaders


Back in 2015 I wrote about the Economist magazine’s ‘skills of the future’ supplement. Just this morning I got an email from Google about their new ‘future of the classroom’ global report. It seems like little has changed in the past four years. The skills needed to prepare...

Creating a 5th Grade Design + Code + Make Curriculum, Part 1


I’m teaching 5th Grade Design + Code + Make for the first time this year. Previously, 5th Grade was rolled into our lower school for technology classes and the curriculum was not integrated with our middle school arc. In middle school, we focus on design thinking, entrepreneurship, making, and solving real world problems. Classes happen in our FabLab which is outfitted with laser cutters,...

Choosing successful educational technologies


I have been working as a technologist and teacher in independent schools for twelve years. I respected teachers before I started working in education but I really respect them now. I teach a maximum of about 3.5 hours per day. Most days are less than that. Teachers who are in the classroom for seven or eight hours per day are heroes. I have no idea how they do it. It reminds me of my previous...

Preparing Workers vs. Preparing Leaders


Back in 2015 I wrote about the Economist magazine's 'skills of the future' supplement. Just this morning I got an email from Google about their new 'future of the classroom' global report. It seems like little has changed in the past four years. The skills needed to prepare students for the unknowable...

Rethinking Books


I ran across a fascinating article by Andy Matuschak about how hard it is to learn much of anything from a non-fiction book. The basic premise is that the cognitive model of the non-fiction book is busted. People don't learn well by simply reading...

LED Circuits with 1st Graders


I recently did an LED circuit project with a group of first graders. It was challenging to figure out a way to make it easy enough for their limited fine motor skills and attention spans but also engaging and fun. I experimented with my own first grader and came up with a good compromise.

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Virtual Reality, Education, Net States, and Behavior Modification


"...life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."

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Teaching Technology the Steve Wozniak Way


I love this essay by Syambra Moitozo about what it was like to have Steve Wozniak teach her computer class in 1995. Some great quotes from Woz:

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Matching Bias and Education


This is an interesting article. If Daniel Kahneman's 'dual-process' theory is correct, it could be a useful way to think about technology education (and maybe even education in general). Maybe what teachers should be consciously focusing on is helping students develop their ability to access and use...

Great Essay Laying Out Rationale for 'Unschooling'


On the Wildness of Children. I'm not sure 'unschooling' is the answer but the more time I spend working in schools the more I am convinced that a greater proportion of the school day should be devoted to free play and exploration. I can imagine a school that would strike a better balance between traditional instruction and the state...

Children in a Digital World


I recently gave a presentation to parents at our school titled Children in a Digital World. The focus was current research on screen time, educational technology, and helping kids stay safe online. Here is the slideshow in PDF format. Some of the slides will not be that informative without the context of what I said when presenting but I'm posting it here in case it could be useful to...

Good Editorial on Teaching Computer Science in K-12 Schools


I agree pretty strongly with the viewpoint of this article. When I contrast the computer science education I received in public High School (writing programs in BASIC and FORTRAN to solve real problems) vs. what I see a lot of now (drag and drop block programming environments like Scratch, Mindstorms,...

Educational Technology Philosophy Statement


I was asked recently to write an Ed Tech Philosophy Statement. Here is what I came up with:

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When _Not_ to Use Technology


I'm co-teaching the journalism/yearbook class this year. My part of the class focuses on graphic design and page layout. When I was studying design I had a grumpy old teacher who learned his craft from some of the original Bauhaus people in Chicago. Of course, all modern design work is done on computers but he didn't let us touch a computer for the entire first semester. Instead we practiced...

Creating a Field Guide with iNaturalist


Our Lower School science teacher recently asked me to help her find a good system for creating a field guide for our campus. Our school is located in a semi-rural area on about 10.5 acres. There are lots of trees, flowers, bugs, and woodland creatures. I did some research and found a great site called iNaturalist. The have good

Inventory Management System for School Tech Departments


I created this inventory management system because I couldn't find one with features specific to schools and without a lot of other unnecessary features cluttering up the UI.

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Interesting new report on 'Skills of the Future' from the Economist Intelligence Unit


The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has published a report that attempts to identify key skills students need to learn now in order to be well prepared when they enter the workforce. The report was

Teaching Python with Codecademy's intro curriculum


I taught a beginning Python programming class this Spring using the Codecademy intro to Python curriculum (http://www.codecademy.com/en/tracks/python). The class went well and the students seemed to enjoy it. Here are a few things I would do differently next time though:

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OS X command line tool for batch resizing images: sips


This OS X command line tool is very handy. Every time I need it though I have to google it to remember what it’s called. So, I’m making a blog post to remind myself. Hopefully it will be useful to others who happen across this post.

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The 'Factory Model' of Education


This is a great article. It offers some (much needed) historical context to the claims often made by school reform advocates that our education system is structurally analogous to the factory system as it existed over one hundred years ago.

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Student Evaluation Cards


Our teachers have a system of passing on information about students when they move up a grade. They use 5 x 8 cards with four sections (Social, Academic, Parents, Developmental) where they can enter notes and draw a circle with four quadrants filled with red, green, or yellow to indicate how a student is doing.

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