Muddling through the blogosphere

November 14, 2016
by blogwalker

CETPA 2016 Student Showcase

If you are looking for a antidote to post-election blues, I highly recommend pulling together a student showcase of elementary, middle, and high school students excited to demonstrate innovative uses of technology. To that end, last week I was tasked by my district’s Technology Services Director to bring a team of students to the Sacramento Convention Center for the 2016 CETPA Conference. This was my first time to attend the CETPA Conference. It was also CETPA’s first time to dedicate a section of the convention lobby for a two-hour Student Showcase. What an enjoyable, inspiring morning!

Our youngest presenters, a team of four 2nd graders from Elliot Ranch Elementary School, introduced conference goers to  They were joined by Herman Leimbach Elementary School’s team of 5th and 6th graders, who were eager to share how to create a digital story through MIT’s Scratch coding program.

The video production team from Toby Johnson Middle School alternated between talking with visitors to their table and making the rounds to gather interviews for upcoming school-wide news broadcasts.


Toby Johnson Media Team member interviews CDW Educational Rep Eric Patnoudes.

Sheldon High School’s K9 Studios’ team dazzled conference goers, including vendors, with their virtual reality (VR) projects. I loved watching the teams interact with – and impress the heck out of – technology directors and visionaries from across the state.


Sheldon High School team introduces conference goers to virtual reality (VR).

This morning I received an email from Shawn Sullivan, who is featured with his students in the above photo. He wanted me to know that his students were interviewed by Google and that “Google was interested in sharing VR and how to use it in the classroom. They were excited to hear we already are using it. They gave a challenge to the students on creating educational content for the classroom. At lunch, that day, the students started planning what to do for that challenge!”

And CETPA rewarded the students with t-shirts and pizza. Nice combo! Wonderful event!

If I had had any idea of how amazing Dr. Robert Ballard’s keynote would be, I would have tried to persuade the student teams to extend their stay. Ballard is a brilliant + hilarious presenter (another nice combo). Although his keynote was not filmed, the TEDX Talk below and a visit to his website will give you an idea of why I was swept away by his keynote.

I came to CETPA incorrectly assuming that the conference sessions would be more for those who support districts’ technology infrastructures rather than classroom practices. I ended my CETPA experience with three great teacher/TOSA presentations:

  • Is Drive Driving You Crazy? – Rebecca Maas’s session was a reminder of why it’s a good idea to introduce teachers to Google Drive before jumping into Docs/Slides/Sheets/Forms/Drawings. When she mentioned color coding folders, for instance, a teacher shared that he has students color any shared folders red. Great tip!
  • Make Writing: 3D Printing to Teach Literacy and Writing – Teacher/TOSA/Edutopia columnist Heather Wolpert-Gawron and Principal Matt Arnold made visible an often missing component of the “maker movement”: writing. They shared their excitement over a significant transition (in attitude and learning) they witnessed with a group of disengaged LTELLs (Long Term English Language Learners), sparked by opportunities to explore what they could do with a 3D printer that happened to be housed in their English class. The slideshow provides a window into the depth, breadth, and awesomeness of the project.
  • Beyond the Classroom Walls: Developing Globally Aware Youth – I didn’t actually attend Karen Larson’s session, as it was during the Student Showcase, but I was able to connect with her before the keynote. My big takeaway from Karen’s slideshow and our conversation was the Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s K-12 Global Competence Guide, which provides teachers with a structure (via “indicators”) for viewing Common Core Standards and typical grade-level projects through a global lens.

The CETPA Conference switches locations each year, with next year’s event in San Diego. Based on my first impression, when CETPA returns to Sacramento, I plan to attend all four days.

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Scratch Community

Mitch Resnick, from MIT, is leading the Scratch session. Scratch is all about creating, building, and inventing – to be makers of things. You can’t be fluent in digital media just by interacting; you need to also be able to create.

Bridging Divides:

  • making and interacting
  • art and engineering
  • creativity and systematicity
  • individual and community
  • inside and outside school: Reading, for example
  • physical virtual

Scratch initiative – allows you to create interactive media – and share – via YouTube type website. Everyday an average of one new project a minute is posted (12 -13 year olds the highest users, but extends from age 7-50.) Program allows you to download existing projects and adapt to make personal. Remixing has become a cornerstone. Lots of shared expertise.

My Red Neptune -This young Scratch developer is thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively. Probably 3 most important skills for succeeding in 21st century.

Scratch kids are becoming computational thinkers.The Scratch team wants to promote possibilities for everyone to think computationally. To be a computational thinker, you need to be a computational creator. Sample: Rapa Nui – science fair project measuring response times. Tons of cross-curricular ways. Checkout Expo Elementary gallery!

Scratch broadens the range of participatory storytelling. Oh, wow, so many possibilities for engaging and stretching learners…and Scratch is free! So how do we get the word out to more educators? Join the Scratch community of educators at

May 16, 2009
by blogwalker

Favorite Sites for the Week

  1. Over the last 24 hours, a ton of Tweeters are referencing WolframAlpha . Stephen Wolfram’s opening phrase Making the World’s Knowledge Computable sort of explains it. But you really need to listen to his introduction to get a feel for how mind-blowing this application is.  If you’ve been looking for an example to show administrators and colleagues about why for our students’ sake, it’s no longer about finding information (which the Internet makes easy-peasy); it should be about applying information. For a more extensive post on WolframAlpha visit Karl Fisch’s recent post (Sorry, Karl, I’m  not commenting directly on your blog because, due to your settings, I can only use my Blogger URL, which is actually my dog Nola’s blog)
  2. ScratchNWP colleague Kevin posted this resource. Wow!

    “Scratch is a free download (for Mac or Windows) that lets children build their own interactive games, animations, and digital stories. After building their creations, children can share their Scratch creations via the Web. Children can learn from each other, be inspired by one another, and build upon each others’ creations.”

    Designed by the “good folks at the Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT’s Media Lab,” Scratch “puts children in the driver’s seat. They become actors upon the world rather than acted upon by the world.” What a great resource for elementary computer lab teachers! Classroom 2.0 colleague Zack Dowell just Tweeted that “Scratch is a really excellent program – I know some 12 year olds that are obsessed with it!”

  3. From the DEN Diigo group via Tim Childers100 Incredibly Inspiring Blog Posts for Educators – Great range of articles!
  4. From NWP mentor Elyse E-ADrape’s Takes: The Educator’s Guide to Creative Commons. If you’re looking for an easy way to explain the CC concept, this is it!
  5. Also from Elyse E-A – We cannot have too many copyright friendly resources for educators like this recent post by Making Teachers NerdyBest sites to find Public Domain Images.

This weekend ends an exhausting week (daughter in bicycle accident and needs chauffeuring; son’s car vandalized and needs chauffeuring), so I’m taking a virtual trip to Verana, Mexico (near Puerta Vallarta), via this stunning photo tour.  Yep, it’s a commercial, but, oh my, what beautiful camera shots and angles!

Verana 2009 – The Houses from Heinz Legler on Vimeo.

Happy weekend to all!

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