MIT Workshop Day #2

Today, I completed the second and final day of the sewable circuits and accelerometer workshop at the High Low Tech Group at MIT. It was great. I got into programming in Java to make the movement of my decorated glove control the action of an object on my computer screen.

I also spent some time decorating the glove with felt strips. There were two major troubleshooting opportunities; these are where the biggest learning occurs. First, I had a very flaky reading from my glove that was finally diagnosed as a loose connection on the – pin on both the accelerometer and the LilyPad board. After sewing those both tighter with conductive thread, that problem was history.

The next problem arose when I started tweaking the base program given to us to control the object. Of course I wanted to make it my own, but I knew no syntax for Java. I have plenty of mathematical logic and some programming in Pascal and Basic, but I have not really played with Java, C, or any of the modern languages. This was a crash course in coding for me, but the tangible results and workshop atmosphere were perfect conditions for me to dive in.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. I met some very amazing people, I got to play with electronics and coding while also doing crafts, and I spent two days just focusing on learning and playing. It was a much needed mental refresher.

Sewable Circuits

Today was the first of two days at a workshop hosted by the High-Low Tech Group at MIT. The objectives of this event for educators it to explore sewable circuits, accelerometers, and the LilyPad Adrduino controller.

My first project was a simple circuit with a batter holder and an LED. I decorated it to look like a flower.

My next project that will be continued tomorrow is a glove with an accelerometer attached to an arduino processor. I am loving this workshop!

Tech Integration in a Steampunk Musical

The Peace Ray above and the audience dancing to the sounds of Walter Sickert and the ARmy of BRoken TOys after the show.

I just saw the closing show of 28 Seeds, a steampunk musical. Telling the story of how the apocalypse happened, 28 Seeds had great music from Walter Sickert and the ARmy of BRoken TOys. Besides being lots of fun, the production did a very nice job of using tech. From the QR codes on the many monitors facing the audience and a live twitter feed that featured actors during the performance, there was quite a bit of modern tech sprinkled amongst the the more recognizable steampunk accents. Loved the brain in the tank!

Last MEMSET for the year and perhaps forever!

Well, that is a bit dramatic, but true on one level. The Massachusetts Elementary and Middle School Educators using Technology (or Educational Technologists) met for the last time today at BB&N Middle School. It is amazing to sit in a room of teachers and tech specialists talking about independent elementary and middle school technology topics.

One thing we recently ran up against was that the acronym MEMSET has been taken, so we can not get the com or org domain. We need to rebrand to move forward. Thus, MEMSET will be no more. We will be another group next year–the group formerly known as MEMSET.

Tonight’s discussion covered benchmarks/standards, how they are integrated in the classrooms, how they are reported, and how different constituents are held accountable for them. Then over dinner, we had presentations from different members on tech integration projects. One particular one struck me. A third grade project using conductive thread to create circuits on a quilt echoed the many articles I have been seeing on wearable electronics.

I look forward to this group, under its new name, continuing the great work next year.

Reflection, Stepping Back at #131

This is blog post #131 of an almost daily habit I started over winter break. My original purposes for this and my parenting blog was to carve out space in my day, daily, for writing. I also wanted to use the time to grow as a technology teacher and to be held accountable for reflective practice in my parenting. All of these things have happened, and I am pretty proud of the accomplishment of getting two blog posts completed daily.

However, my writing is not what I really wanted from this time. Now that I have wrested it from the TV and other distractions, I want to refocus my writing. I have a children’s novel that has languished for over a decade and other book ideas I want to see if I can take a swing at.

With the two blogs, I find that my freshest writing is happening in my parenting one, and this one is running on fumes. I have lit a charge in my growth as a technology educator, and that is going well. I am, however, deeply engrossed in several big projects at school, and they are not the type of daily update material I was hoping to use in this blog. So, I will scale this blog back a bit. I will write when I am excited about some technology growth I have made. I imagine that this will happen roughly weekly, but I am not going to hold myself to a rigid schedule. This way, I hope to just convey thing about which I am truly enthusiastic and that might be more relevant for the followers of this blog.

Until the next big thing, then.

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is teacher appreciation week, and I am very fortunate to be in a place where teachers are really appreciated. This has not been the case in every teaching job I have had. I started my career in Philly where new teachers were human resources and not much more. After teaching four grade levels in three buildings in two years, I decided to take a break.

When showing appreciation for your teachers, your children’s teachers, your former teachers, technology can play a role. From finding people on Facebook or person finders to email and skype, tech can serve as a link and communication tool.

However, I vastly prefer the hand-made cards and heartfelt conversations I have had over the years.

I have now found an email for my AP physics teacher in high school. I hope it is current and finds him. What an amazing teacher.

Cultivating Evernote

I didn’t plan on getting back to Evernote so quickly, but I have found a worthy long-term project for it–my garden. I am slowly getting into gardening. Last year, I planted a few veggies with my daughter, and this year we are trying a few more. Meanwhile I am getting up and running on composting and other related topics.

To assist this, I have created an Evernote notebook about gardening in which to collect my findings. I hope to get a few things grown this year, but mostly I am learning. Part of the learning happens outside with my hands in the dirt, and part of it happens with my nose in a book or looking up info.

My goal is to find a good garden planner, a source of info about when to plant different veggies, resources for improving my soil and using containers for gardening. I hope to make next year’s garden much better, and part of that is the experimentation that happens this year. Let me know if you have good garden resources, digital or otherwise.