I’m incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to travel the world to work with awesome educators. As much as possible, I try to make my workshops hands-on and interactive. In some cases, that means I’m bringing a lot of stuff with me. A lot of EXPENSIVE and FRAGILE stuff. For a while, I was lugging everything around in a hard-shell suitcase, but it wasn’t really giving it the protection my stuff needed.
So I did some research and asked around and was repeatedly directed to Pelican cases. It’s the same company that makes the Cadillac of coolers, but they are also known for their protective travel cases. Unfortunately they’re also hella expensive.
This short post is to share how I created my own “Pelican” case for less than $80.
Jennifer LaGarde posted a picture on Facebook of her lugging around this case from Husky and I knew it would make a perfect solution!
Note: this is NOT carry-on size. You will need to check this. But you have the added security of knowing that even if the airline staff aren’t gentle with your luggage, that your tech will still be in tact.
Click the image to the left to view on Amazon, but you can also snag it at Home Depot for $60.
Holds up to 100lb of gear
All terrain wheels (much better than my suitcase)
Has a hole for a cord so you can charge your stuff without unlocking the case.
Padlock eye so you can keep your stuff secured.
Removable tray great for small items.
First thing I did was line the inside with foam. I used some leftover foam my from Makey Makey workshop and had some foam from a twin mattress topper which I used to make a bed for my dog (which, of course, he doesn’t use).
If you don’t have a stash of E6000 glue laying around, you’re missing out. It’s potent, but it’s stronger than any glue I’ve ever used. I used this glue to adhere the foam to the inside of the case.
The only thing I didn’t love about this case was it didn’t have a handle on the side. So I found a file on Thingiverse and 3D printed them in PLA on my Monoprice Maker Select Plus printer.
Okay I lied, there was one more thing I didn’t love and that was the foam on the extendable handle. It was soft, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I had it worn away. So I put some of this Friction tape.
So as you’ve already discovered, I’m an awful blogger.
Or I WAS an awful blogger 😉
I’m in the midst of a pretty significant career change and I’ll be dedicating much more time to sharing via my blog and social media. I promise I’ll post something next week with all that info.
Anyway… a part of my transition involved switching computers. While most of my files were already on Google Drive, I had a lot stored on the hard drive. At first my plan was to create a folder and just dump everything on there to organize later, but some of the stuff I wasn’t even certain I really needed to keep. I knew I wouldn’t need it anytime soon. But perhaps there was still a chance I might need it? Or maybe someone else would? Ah the dilemma.
I assumed Google Drive would have an Archive option, just as Gmail does – but it doesn’t. But in my search, I found this handy post on Google Forum that shows a roundabout way to create an Archive folder.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to create a folder on your main Google Drive account. I creatively called it “Archive”. With the help of my tech-savvy BFF’s Nancy Jo Lambert and Sherry Gick, I even added an emoji to my folder name. (yeah yeah, I live under a rock I know)
This is where you’ll move all of those documents that you probably haven’t looked at in years and are really only holding on to in the slight chance you might want them.
Maybe you were an elementary librarian and are now in high school? Maybe you don’t have plans to go back to elementary but you don’t want to throw all of those goodies away…just in case. This is a great solution for you.
Just moving the items into a separate folder was helpful. The only problem I had was that those files still appeared in my Search. I really want to make sure that the results that appear are timely, so when I search something like “Standards”, I’m not finding stuff from 2011.
The way to do this is to make your Archive folder owned by another account. Now, in order to do this, you will need to have another Google account. While I have multiple Gmail accounts, I really only use one account for my Google Drive. Since my other Gmail accounts give me 15GB of free Google Drive Storage, I decided to tap into that for my Archive.
Right click on the Folder and open the Sharing settings.
In the lower right corner, click ADVANCED.
Type in the email address of the account you want to share it with and click “DONE.”
Once you’ve shared it, you’ll need to go back into sharing settings.
Now when you reopen your sharing settings, you’ll have the option to make that account the Owner.
After making the new account the owner of the folder, you can Remove it from your Drive. Removing it from your Drive will ensure that those documents don’t appear in your search results.
I know it can be scary hitting the Trash Can. But remember – they aren’t actually being deleted. You’re just removing this folder from your main account. If you ever need some lesson plan you did in 2007, just login to your other Google account and you’ll find all you files there.
So there ya have it, folks. This trick was probably already known by 97% of you, but whatever. I think it’s awesome.
Many of you know that I love MakeyMakey! (Although, I don’t know anyone that has used MakeyMakey and feels otherwise).
In keeping with their awesomeness, they announced a brand new educator guide for 2018.
Download the guide at bit.ly/makeyguide
One of the reasons I love Makey Makey is because it’s so versatile. You don’t have to install software, and it’s very open-ended allowing for so much more creativity than some other products. I also love Makey Makey’s philosophy of makerspaces in school.
"We believe the maker movement is more than just robots, 3D printing, or even building things. The Maker Movement allows learners to become hardware engineers and solve real-world design challenges by providing a landscape that fosters curiosity and creates vibrant learners."
With Banned Books Week just around the corner, I thought it would help to curate some of my favorite resources around the topic.
BANNED BOOKS WEEK IS SEPTEMBER 24-30TH
There are many resources out there to help you have meaningful discussions with your students (and teachers) about this issue. I operated on a flexible schedule, so most of my programming was passive in the terms of displays and morning announcement information.
Here is a picture of our display a few years ago. The students did not discuss BBW in the elementary school so they were very confused to see this display of books they couldn’t read (especially since many were so popular).
You can most definitely do Banned Books Week programming at the elementary level – and I strongly believe you should!
This year they’re doing a really cool “Rebel Reader” Twitter Tournament. Be sure to sign up to be a participant and be sure to follow the hashtag #rebelreader during BBW. ALA also has lots of links to promotional materials and lots of “Top Ten” lists. Be sure to check out the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom‘s page for past year activities and other advocacy resources, including this awesome infographic:
Every year I look forward to the Virtual Read-Out. There is a dedicated YouTube channel and you can participate any time throughout the year. This site also has resources for artists, booksellers, kids, librarians, publishers, students, teachers, and writers!
The Freedom to Read Foundation is a great resource year-long. In addition to resources on Banned Books Week, the FTRF has resources on many other hot issues in the library world including, collection personal data, labeling of books, and patron privacy.
SHARING WITH STUDENTS AND STAFF USING MACKINVIA
Something I love about Groups is the ability to Activate/Deactivate groups without deleting. This makes it so easy to use groups from previous years without having to recreate each year.
Don’t forget – MackinVIA is COMPLETELY FREE. Not only is it free, but we actually GIVE YOU FREE BOOKS! You get 10 free eBooks in your account and you can claim loads of free promotional books throughout the school year. With MackinVIA, I can put eBooks, audiobooks, database articles, websites, and videos all in one location – without signing in again. That’s right people – SINGLE SIGN ON TO YOUR DATABASES. I repeat – its free. If you want to learn more about MackinVIA, just shoot me a message or visit this page.
As you’re getting ready to head back to school, I’m sure there are tons of tools you’ve discovered this summer that you’re excited to try with your students.
Well here’s another one that you don’t want to miss.
Campfire App is a free app that is available on the App Store (iOS devices only). Once you enable the microphone, it will listen to the words of the story (similar to if you were using text to speech to send a message) and as you read certain words or phrases in the story, music, sound effects, and lights will surround you (and your students). The music and sounds will play from your phone or a speaker you connect and certain smart bulbs (such as the Phillips Hue bulbs) for an even more amazing experience!
While there are many apps that try to make popular picture books more engaging, I love that the kids don’t need a single piece of technology to enjoy this tool. In fact, if you can manage to set up your iPhone or iPad in a position where your students can’t see it – they may not even realize that you’re using technology either! 🙂
Campfire App works with a number of Bluetooth speakers, but you can also connect it to a speaker with a traditional headphone jack.
Another helpful feature of the app is the ability to manually trigger the sounds. This is helpful if you want to have a student do the read aloud that might not have the precise pronunciation needed to trigger the sounds in the app. This is also great if you have an accent 😉
The app has a catalog of about 50 books but they’re taking recommendations constantly. My favorite is Where the Wild Things Are and my four-year-old is a fan of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
I see so many great ways to use this app in the classroom and library. Imagine – projecting your MackinVIA eBooks onto your whiteboard and doing a read-aloud with this app. With just a few simple tools, you can turn a typical story time into an immersive, magical experience!
Add it to your list and share this app with a friend.
See that bad boy up there? Well that bike up there looks just like the one I learned to ride on. I remember I rode that bike so hard that the wheels started to disintegrate (because they weren’t filled with air – they were some foam-type material). I had a matching helmet and since my dad was a biker, I would wear a pair of magic gloves to try to look like him. The point is, I’ve always been this cool. (Actually no, that’s definitely not the point I’m trying to make.)
As I got more comfortable riding, my dad adjusted the training wheels so they were more or less there “just in case”. But at some point, the training wheels had to go and I had to get a “real” bike.
No training wheels.
No foam tires.
A real Huffy bike.
And despite riding for months on my training wheels, I didn’t quite know how to start. How will I keep my balance? How do I brake? How do I turn? All important questions, but ones I didn’t really need to think about when I had the support of training wheels and no hand brakes.
So it took a few tries and some frustration, but eventually I got it (#win). Having younger siblings, I would hop on my kid brother or sister’s training wheel bike and would be entertained for a hot minute and then be bored. Why did I want training wheels when I knew how to ride a real bike?
I went through a similar cycle when learning to adjust to a road bike. But again – I eventually mastered it.
So why do you care about my adventure in biking?
As enthusiastic as I am about makerspaces in education, at some point, we have to take the training wheels off. There are thousands of maker products on the market that come with project guides, activity kits, and curriculum guides. And that is wonderful! But we’re forgetting that those guides and kits are just TRAINING WHEELS. They were just meant to give you the foundation skills and confidence needed to take it to the next level. So what is the next level, you ask? YOU TELL ME.
That is the whole idea of the maker movement and sometimes I feel we are totally missing it.
The maker movement is designed to produce the worlds next inventors and innovators. Not the worlds best replicators.
So who knows what they’re going to do with the smoke alarm they just took apart. I attended a conference a few months ago and I overheard a conversation about MakeyMakey. A woman (with the best intentions, I’m sure), was explaining to her colleague that MakeyMakeys are used to make banana pianos and PlayDoh controllers.
No. No. No. No. No.
There is a time and a place for step by step project guides. I’m not saying I hate Instructables or the project suggestions that come with littleBits (or any other product for that matter). However, when Instructables and How-To books are becoming the only “options” in our makerspace, despite having thousands of “options”, we’re limiting our students. Which is so anti-maker.
So what is the time and the place for how-to guides?
When we first began our makerspace, my kids weren’t familiar with even the basics of circuitry. If I said “robot” they envisioned an android shelving library books. So I had to do some teaching of the skills and show kids how certain things can be used.
And this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I didn’t want to “teach littleBits” or “teach Snap Circuits”. I wanted to teach electronics. And that is why we need to teach things that are transferable. Teach things in terms of “input” and “output” rather than “pink” and “green”. I don’t want to teach Dash and Sphero. I want to teach coding.
If you’re teaching your kids the SKILL and not the PRODUCT, they will be able to transfer those skills and build something new.
So how do I let go?
Just do it. There isn’t a guide on letting go. Or a process. Or an outline. Or an Instructable. (there are, however, some amazing self help books on letting go and an incredibly annoying song on letting go).
But for those of you that NEED something, here are some tips.
When you design “challenges”, make them open ended. For example, “make something that moves” is a LOT different than saying “build a robot with 4 Cubelets”
Beware of circulating kits or stations. Again – there is a time and a place for these. But also keep in mind that a lot of makerspace products were meant to interact. If kids at the littleBits table are only allowed to play with littleBits, how are they supposed to learn how the skills transfer? I remember when my kids took littleBits, Legos, K’Nex and some LEDs and made an old Justin Beiber poster light up and talk. That was cool and there was no Instructable on that.
If you’re just starting a makerspace, consider skipping the “how-to” guides altogether. I promise kids will figure it out. Going back to my bike analogy, the new research suggests that skipping tricycles and training wheels is better for kids and they suggest starting kids with balance bikes.
Seriously people, Henry Ford didn’t invent the Model T with a how-to guide.
Things have been so busy with conferences coming up (and kids, and work, and life), I haven’t had much time to blog. But this opportunity was too good not to share!
Finding this was pure luck (or fate). I was streaming my twitter feed (when I should have probably been doing something else), when I found this post:
Some of you are aware, but this is my first year not in the classroom. While I absolutely LOVE my job, there are days when I miss my kiddos so much. The day I first learned about this challenge was DEFINITELY one of those days.
This would be such an amazing opportunity for them to let their genius shine.
We’ll get to the grand prize in a minute, but 100 other teams will also be winners. With cash prizes ranging from $200 to $100,000 (yes, ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND), I know my kids would be interested.
So…what’s the grand prize?
Well, in addition to the ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS, your entire team will receive a 4-day/3-night trip to Los Angeles to attend the prize ceremony. You’ll also get escorted to the limo in a fabulous dress/tuxedo in a LIMO. You’ll also receive some spending cash and tickets to cool stuff to do while you’re in town. (Remember guys, that’s where Disney Land and Universal Studios is!)
And what is that $100,000 for exactly? Well – it’s up to you and your team. Want to invest it? Want to donate it? Want to set it aside for college? Want to launch your own business? Go for it. Chase those dreams and don’t stop chasing.
And how could I forget! TEACHERS ARE ALSO ELIGIBLE FOR CASH PRIZES. Support the winning team and you could snag yourself a $5,000 educator grant?
But really, the biggest prize is so much more than trips and money. It’s inspiring others to try and make the world a better place. It’s inspiring kids to try and fail and try again. It’s helping kids find their passions. Of course that’s the real grand prize. And everyone can win that one.
So what is the challenge?
The Paradigm Challenge is an annual competition that inspires youth to use STEM skills plus kindness, creativity, and collaboration to make a difference. The 2016-17 Challenge aims to generate new ideas to reduce waste in homes, schools, communities, and around the world.
Here is a great video overview for you and to show your students!
I love the theme of this challenge. It’s not just about making something. It’s about making something that has an impact. That solves a problem. That helps someone (or lots of people). As a librarian, I love that it requires students to do research. And think about the rich discussion surrounding intellectual property and copyright. Wow. (is my librarian showing?)
Students need to find a problem (and not just any old problem, but one they’re passionate about). Get them fired up!
Once they find a problem, they need to research what is causing the problem, what (if any) solutions are out there, AND if there are any solutions already out there, WHY is the problem not solved?
As a maker, I love the idea of working through the entire design process AND working collaboratively to solve a problem. This project requires both!
The challenge is open to anyone ages 4-18 (by May 1, 2017). You must have parent permission to participate. There are three divisions for cash prizes (4-8, 9-13, and 14-18)
There is no minimum or maximum team size.
How do my students enter the challenge?
Once your students create an account, they’ll get access to a dashboard. In their dashboard, they’ll see the 10 steps they need to complete the challenge.
As you can see, I only have 20% of the challenge completed because I’ve only done one task (choose my avatar).
As I mentioned before, I love how the Paradigm Challenge incorporates so much research. Some of the activities require kids to read about the current state of the environment, and others require kids to learn about methods to reduce waste (composting, solar energy, and others).
Once you get to the part where you’re “creating”, keep the following judging criteria in mind.
a. Efficacy : How effective is the idea?
b. Feasibility: How possible is the idea?
c. Originality: How innovative is the idea?
d. Presentation: How clear is the idea?
e. Collaboration: How well did the team members work together with each other and with other persons.
Support for Teachers!
Don’t worry teachers -The Paradigm Project doesn’t want you going at this alone. They’ve created an entire portal just for educators. Complete with lesson plans, inspirational videos, flyers, letters for parents, posters, and so much more.
And if you have a question, just reach out. They are support responsive and will help you and your students in any and every way possible.
Michelle Lewis is the Outreach Coordinator and you can contact her directly at michelle at projectparadigm.org
I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do a guest blog for Demco’s Ideas and Inspiration blog. It’s an absolute wonderful resource and there is an abundance of information about makerspaces and space design on this blog.
Most of you know that I am incredibly passionate about low-tech makerspaces and I am so happy to be able to share my passion in this post. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Unless you live under a rock or are completely off the grid when it comes to technology, you’re probably aware of the maker movement. However, if you need a refresher, I made an infographic. The maker movement is such an exciting time for students and teachers alike! Yet, while a part of you is excited, the other part of you is flooded with the reasons why you just can’t start a makerspace right now.
“I have no money.”
“I’m just not super comfortable with technology.”
“We don’t have devices at my school.”
“I don’t have the space.”
“I don’t have the schedule that allows me to teach the kids how to do the stuff.”
I know it’s summer and it’s cruel for me to make you read.
But I don’t care. Suck it up. Read it.
I’ve actually been writing this letter since the day I accepted a position at Hershey.
Because I knew I was going to leave sooner or later. I always do. I want to be everything and do everything. Therefore, I never plant myself in one place for too long. Perhaps it’s bravery, perhaps it’s cowardice. But it’s me. And after the 3rd job change before my 25th birthday, I knew it was how it was always going to be.
I was having a lot of fun and we were doing some incredible things in the library. My professional career was growing and expanding and I was speaking all over the country about our awesome library. I had a ton of other projects I was going to do this year. We were going to do some serious rearranging and expand the makerspace. I was going to teach makerspace classes during flex and we were going to have our own MakerFaire. The school administrators were awesome at supporting us and so were the parents. Best of all, the students (you guys) were great.
(Don’t let that go to your head. Only MOST of you were great. The rest of you were just okay.)
Note: A part of me considered writing this letter as if I was absolutely positive I made the right choice. I considered emphasizing all of the benefits and perks of this new job. I considered repeatedly telling you how “excited I am for this marvelous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. If I make this new job seem “irresistable”, no one will question why I left, right? No one will think my decision was stupid, right?
But I decided to just be honest. I’m scared to death and I’m not sure I made the right choice.
So why did I leave?
Well…it’s hard to explain (even to myself)
Have you ever seen the show “Let’s Make a Deal”?
At the end of the show, anyone that has won a prize is given the opportunity to go for the “BIG DEAL”. These people have already won hundreds of dollars, electronics, or vacations. Why would they risk losing that – especially since they literally won it just minutes ago? (And if you’ve ever seen Let’s Make a Deal, these people could seriously be trading their car for a box of cereal).
But there is a chance that something bigger and better is hiding behind that curtain. There is a chance that it is a life-changing amount of money.
And yes – there is still the chance that it could be a box of cereal. And there is a chance that this new job is a box of cereal.
But if I didn’t see what was behind the curtain, I would forever ask myself “what if”?
By far this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. And unlike the contestants on “Let’s Make a Deal”, I had more than 30 seconds to think it over (thank heaven). So I thought, talked with family, and talked with friends. One of my friends absolutely refused to give me her advice. No matter how many times or how many different ways I asked, she simply refused. And I hated that. But I get it now. I needed to make the decision on my own. I couldn’t do what most people thought I should do. I would always place the blame on them if things didn’t turn out the way I expected. Another friend asked me “what do you think will you regret more? Leaving or staying?”
Obviously you know my decision.
Unfortunately, I still don’t know what’s behind the “curtain” as I’m just officially starting my new position this week.
And I’m scared.
And it’s okay. Everything will be okay.
Somehow. Someday. I may not be resolved in my decision for a long time (or ever), but eventually it will be okay.
So why the heck am I telling you this? Shouldn’t I just say, “Hey guys – you were great – read some books – peace” and be on my way? In my last piece of advice to you, I want you to know that it’s going to be okay.
I know two years isn’t a long time, but I hope it was long enough for you to learn how much I genuinely care about you. Teachers aren’t supposed to be “friends” with their students. But I did. I definitely considered some of you friends. I confided in some of you. I cried with some of you. And leaving Hershey means so much more than leaving a library job – it’s leaving a family of teachers and students that I loved (and still do).
So here I am – on this emotional rollercoaster.
P.S. IT’S THE WORST RIDE EVER. Perhaps you’ve ridden it before? Unfortunately, you’ll most definitely have to endure it again. And it will suck. Hard. (I promise)
But I want you to know that it’s going to be okay.
Middle school was one of the worst times in my life. Every memory I have of middle school is like a scene from a horror movie (with Lisa Frank everything, Trapper Keepers, and Hanson posters). You will question your identity. You will be miserable. You will have your heart broken. You will break someone elses heart. You will lose friends. You will make mistakes. You will fail. You will work really hard, and fail again. It will hurt.
They say people never change – that’s crap. People change. Including you.
I can promise you these things:
You are not alone.
You will feel alone.
It will be okay.
It will feel like it will never be okay.
I wish I could be there to support you on your rollercoaster rides. They will be scary. Terrifying. There will be tears.
But you don’t need to swallow your tears and put on a smile (see #1). It’s actually very therapeutic to explain how you’re feeling (hence this four page letter).
And despite the misery that is associated with middle school (and unfortunately, high school too), there is an abundance of joy that can be had if you just let it happen. So, in addition to all of those awful things I listed earlier, there will be instances of beauty. You will find your identity. You will fall in love. You will save someone. You will be the reason for someone’s smile. You will make friends. You will succeed. You will try again, and you will win. You will feel beautiful.
And when those things happen, savor it. Celebrate it. Celebrate the moments of others.
We live in a world flooded with ugly and mean. Please do not add to it. We certainly have enough. Surround yourself with people that make you happy.
Do me a favor and watch this video. It’s called “Wear Sunscreen”. Watch ALL of it. Look up the lyrics.
Be you. Be amazing. Be happy. And when you’re not, just remember – it will be okay.