Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our first try using the arduino board

Today we met and began looking at our arduino board and a book entitled "getting started with arduino -Massimo Banzi
we talked about finding things at home that we could take apart, specifically toys that talk.
We also were able to test our arduino board, connect it to a computer and write a sketch (what they call program that controls the board).
we uploaded the sketch to the board. tested it and changed some code to see what else we could make the LED do.
The sketch let us turn on and off an LED right on the circuit-board.
And we only ruined 1 LED today by frying it with 5volts!

We are still waiting for more parts to come in from Hong-Kong. I hope they arrive before our next meeting on Thursday at noon.

Here's a quick reflection from the kids and me today.

Some of our gear is here.....

What do you believe?

Ok so we want to get started with our Maker's club. We have an idea for a first project. Now obviously we need some electronic parts.
So I get online with RadioShack support and they tell me they don't ship to Canada. Oops!

This is where the collaboration piece comes in. I did a project with Jeff Cieszecki a few years ago so I email him. He refers me to Rory Winters and he mentions where he is getting parts these days.

He tells me about:

Digi-key will ship to Canada and cover the brokerage fee.  Best place to buy bulk, if you know what you want.
Solarbotics is out of Alberta. No pst

Robot is in Ontario somewhere

Arduino stuff from Hobby King in Hong Kong that I was very happy with. Shipping is pricey but no extra fee. best price by far.

Manitoba robot games website has some kits that might be pretty cool and easy way to get something going that moves.

Borgfeldt is an educational supplier that has cool tamiya products that are cheap and fun.they will supply schools. They have a website. To get prices you will have phone them or set up an account."

So I order from solarbotics and this is what we recieved:

Were still waiting on the order from Hong Kong.

Today we're going to begin using the book "getting started with Arduino" and talk about what junk we have at home that we can bring in to tear apart.
I'll let you know how it goes.......

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Time to create!!

What do you believe?

In a recent post by Clarence Fisher (@glassbeed) Clarence suggested that we should more often be creating things with our students.

I've been wondering for some time now what an arduino board is for and what I could do with one and some of my students.

I'm thinking that I'm going to go find a few grade 6 students and do this hot/cold LED project to get us started.

I'm also going to get the students to look around these sites for future project ideas.
Radioshacks the great create

Does anyone have any other sources for project ideas we should look at?

Is anyone willing to help mentor us with our learning while we figure this out together?



Friday, August 10, 2012

just about to go dark at unplugd12

I'm at union station in Toronto and just about to go off the grid. As part of some of the activities we are doing this weekend, here is the letter I'm about to edit with some of my international colleagues at unplugd12 

I’m writing this letter to you, my younger, new graduate self, as you are about to begin your teaching career. As I write this letter you are now beginning your 30th year of this great profession we call teaching and in retrospect I thought I should tell you a few things that might be helpful as you begin your professional journey.

Remember the advice aunt Eileen told you last week. Don’t make the mistake of talking too much. Give others, especially your students, a chance to speak and then listen carefully to what they are saying.

Do be aware of the profound impact the things you do has on your students.
Sometimes you will find out how you are positively influencing students lives, many times you will not.

Don’t be such a hard-ass.
That feeling you have from time to time that your students are younger (more fragile, less mature, more vulnerable) than you think is true. In the future when your own children are grade 12 graduates you’ll confirm this belief. Be very careful how you interact with your students. Avoid decisions that are systemically violent. Students, parents, and teachers need your kindness, caring and compassion.

Do listen carefully to people that you disagree with or that you do not understand.
This will broaden your world-view in ways you can’t imagine.

Don’t hesitate when asked, just say yes to doing things with students that you have very little or no idea about.
Begin that yearbook creation project, scan those treaties, do things associated with biotechnology. You will do some of your best teaching when you are learning with your students as you struggle together to figure things out.

Do behave in ways as if you are interacting with your own kids.
Try to see your children in the faces of the students you teach. After you actually have children you will be doing this so start trying to do it now.

Don’t refuse to do a project with your class or school because you are not sure which curricular outcome(s) it covers. 
In the future we will be discussing the decreased importance of content (knowledge) outcomes and the increasing importance of the big ideas of critical and creative thinking. Many of the projects that you are thinking are not a curricular match do in fact get at these big ideas that are most important for your students. No one will ever tell you that a project that makes a difference in the world (in your school, community, or the global community) is a bad idea.

After you have been a principal for some time and worked in the district office, get back into the classroom and be a full time teacher for a couple of years. This will remind you how difficult it is to be a teacher. You’ll think you remember what its like to be a teacher, you don’t!

Here are some suggestions from a few people at a conference I’m at today wanted to suggest to you:

Rob Fisher 
August 12, 2012

p.s. the lotto 649 numbers for July 28th, 2012 are 6, 10, 22, 30, 35, and 49

pps. Definition hard-ass noun Slang: Vulgar .
a person who follows rules and regulations meticulously and enforces them without exceptions.

What suggestions would you tell your younger self?
Do the suggestions differ depending on the length of time you have been a teacher?
Maybe after the conference I'll unpack each of these points and share some of the discussions with everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Technology mismatch: wrong tool for the job?

image "my desk" By Drpoulette

At a recent staff mtg I distributed our provincial report card drafts that are scheduled to be implemented next year province wide in Manitoba.

The next agenda item was a division wide electronic grade book that our school division was asking individual schools to consider piloting.

Only 2 people on our k-8 staff are currenty using an electronic grade book (1 teacher ease 1 e-class) to help them with assessing their students.

Considering that we are striving towards non toxic grading practices as suggested in communicating student learning and more specifically not averaging marks and rather using the most recent evidence of student's learning to assign summative grades......

Has anyone read a blogpost elsewhere of any of the following titles or something similar?

Electronic grade books no longer appropriate assessment practice?
Averaging marks unfair to students?
Technology mismatch: wrong tool for the job?

I wanted to say "you shouldn't use an electronic grade book to assess our students!"
Am I wrong?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Geeky Friends! Thoughts from Unplugd11

photo by flickr user charbeck10

When I left Thompson, Manitoba, to go to this past weekends Unplugd Canadian Education Summit to be with these people from across Canada, my wife said to me "have fun with your geeky friends!"

Now that Unplugd has concluded, I'm thinking how interesting it was that with 36 other people who are trying to figure out ways to infuse technology and as part of their work achieve Literacy with ICT with their students, that our 3 days spent together really wasn't spent talking much about the technology.

Sure most of us that attended can make technology dance when we need it to but it was the passion about education that was most evident and stood out for me and not our ability to use, or our knowledge about technology.

Sure there was a bit of how do you do this, and what app do you use for that? Most of our discussions however seemed to be about kids and learning and teaching.

We talked about what we thought was excellent about what we do.
We talked about what we thought wasn't so excellent about what we do.
We talked about what we thought education could be like in Canada.

For those who don't already know, we unplugged from the Internet but of course used technology to capture our collective experience and create a few artifacts through collaborative authorship. A book we all co-authored will be released in the next few days one chapter at a time. I invite people to take a look at it to get some idea about our thoughts and join us in the ongoing conversation.

When I begin to try and explain to others what happened and who I was with at #unplugd11 I think I will begin my part of the conversation by saying "I spent 3 days in Algonquin park at the Northern Edge with 37 people that care so much about education that it hurts."

Are you like us?

Watch for the essays and stories coming soon.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

iPads are on their way

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to organize things with our soon to arrive iPads. We're about to do an administrator use iPad pilot in our school. James (our Vice Principal) and I have ordered an iPad each, and are trying to figure out how we'll use an iPad to transform how we work as school administrators.

Right now I'm wondering what Apps to begin with. I think I'm going to transfer all my current iPod apps to the iPad and go from there. I've also been following tweets for the last month or so and some blog posts.

Thanks to the always valuable tweets from @joevans I'm going to begin with suggested "ipad resources for administrators" at

JRobinson at "the 21st century principal" blog suggested news apps like (ABC CNN) and I'll substitute a CBC news app. He also suggests:
Flipboard (like feedly?)
The Onion
Weather channel

docs to go
go docs - to access to google docs
prezi viewer

friendly - facebook for ipad
mobile RSS to read google reader feeds

Twitter for ipad


susan berden also added:
voice2note - which is an evernote add-on
ithoughts HD - a concept mapper

I've also come across soundnote- that lets you record meetings and make notes.

Organizing the apps
I've already created multiple users on my computer. One account that I use all the time, a 2nd user that I use to manage our ipod touch apps for our Ipod lab in our school and now a 3rd account to manage the apps on our admin ipads.

Ongoing sharing with others
As suggested to me by @dkuropatwa I've created an appolicous account that shares what apps I have on my devices with anyone that wants to know.

Are there any apps that you feel might help us on this journey. Please let us know or hook up with us on appolicious.