29 April 2016

#Lars3ebDoesSF - #100DayProject - Day 029

Today has been amazing and it's not even done yet! I've been able to meet so  many cool people I feel so lucky and happy.

As I mentioned earlier, I was accepted to come to the #Picademy training in Mountain View, CA this weekend and I am still shocked and honored! So I loaded up my car late Thursday night and started driving West towards California for a little weekend of learning and nerdery. Little did I know just how amazing the trip would be in its first 12 hours or so.

Upon arriving in Mountain View, CA I was told I was too early to check-in to my hotel and would have to keep myself busy for roughly 6 hours. Six hours! What was I supposed to do? I jumped to social media and started contacting some ed-tech companies I love and arrange to meet-up and tour their facilities.
Outside the @Voxer HQ.

First up was Voxer. Voxer is an app that turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie, kind of like the old Nextel phones of days past. I LOVE this app because it allows me to actually TALK with others and get to know them better than just typing or texting with them. I use Voxer daily and have found it to be a great tool for personalized professional development. I was able to meet some of the team and have a great chat with them. I want to thank Amanda for helping me find the place and even providing me with a little snack. Thanks Voxer!

Sad face outside the @ClassDojo door.
After Voxer, I tried to go visit the great folks over at Class Dojo, but they weren't there. Now, in all fairness, I didn't give them much warning because I didn't know I'd be in the area, but I know that if they had been around they would have welcomed me with open arms and shown me around their neck of the woods. Class Dojo is a great app that allows me to track my students' behavior in a non-threatening way that allows parents to see what is happening each day. It also allows for messaging between parents and teachers which is always nice. I really love using Class Dojo and my students (and their parents) do too!

The wall of quotes at @RemindHQ.
And now, I'm sitting in one of the amazing conference rooms of Remind while they finish a whole-team meeting. Remind (formerly Remind 101) is another excellent app that I use to send messages out to parents. I mainly use it as a reminder for events or assignments, but there have a built in messaging service as well that is outstanding. I have my parents subscribe to my Remind class and then they can receive my reminders as well as message me questions to answer or even just comments. I realize I have two different places parents are sending me messages, but I feel that they should be able to use whichever is more convenient for them and whichever will have them contact me. The whole point is that they feel comfortable enough to have an open communication with me. While at Remind, I met Brett Kopf, one of the co-founders, face-to-face for the first time. We've been on GHOs together and even chatted, but it was great to meet him and shake his hand. I love the Remind service and am so grateful he started it. Special thanks to Jordan for helping me find the Remind offices, even though she wasn't there to meet face-to-face, she still helped me get to the right location!

I can't believe the day still has more greatness with a tour of the Computer History Museum and a meet-and-greet with the #Picademy crew and then the Raspberry Pi action will begin tomorrow and Sunday. Stay tuned for more on the weekend. If you want to follow my antics in San Francisco, feel free to follow #Lars3ebDoesSF online, it's sure to be crazy!

28 April 2016

Analog Tools - #100DayProject - Day 028

I realize I have already shared one of John Spencer's great Sketchy Video for this #100DayProject, but he's gone and created another one that resonates with me so fully that I have to share it. Don't worry, you'll thank me after watching it.

This one is called Kids Need Vintage Tools and is all about the need to allow kids to use analog tools and NOT just the amazing digital ones. Those long-time readers of ETB will know that the idea of analog tools and taking time to recharge away from digital tools is something I feel very strongly about. Things like taking time at conferences to have discussions, or making room for cursive and handwriting in general. To this day, my most popular post here at ETB is when I wrote about my love of all things analog back in 2014 and the fact that I like going off-grid at times. So, of course, I wold fall in love with this Sketchy Video. I encourage you take some time and watch this excellent video and then, take some time to see if there are ways you can help bring back some analog love to your classroom!

As if the theme of the video wasn't enough, John has infused his sense of humor into the video from the very first line, "I was born in the Ice age," clear to the end. Please watch this video and take it to heart and then share it with everyone you know, especially teachers. Like John, I love all the digital tools, but I still want kids to have a love for analog tools. I hope by the time you finish the Sketchy Video, you too, will be a lover of analog tools for student learning.

27 April 2016

Congrats @LorePodcast! - #100DayProject - Day 027

Image Source: LorePodcast
I am a huge fan of podcasts, as many of you already know, and have even been lucky enough to appear on one or two as a guest. One of my favorite shows of late is called Lore, created by Aaron Mahnke. Lore is a podcast that explains the origins of some of the world's cultures scariest stories in an incredible way that is almost like listening to a really good audiobook, but with an excellent soundtrack that really helps set the tone. You see, Aaron is a writer and an excellent one at that, so of course his podcast would be well written and entertaining.

Last week Mr. Mahnke made a HUGE announcement on Twitter regarding the future of the Lore podcast:
My podcast Lore is currently in development for television, by the producers of The Walking Dead: https://t.co/PencU6ZVZ3— Aaron Mahnke (@amahnke) April 20, 2016

Congrats Aaron, on the amazing news about Lore becoming a TV series and being produced by the same people responsible for The Walking Dead! I am so excited for you and your family. What a crazy ride and yet, probably a little bit of a dream come true. But more than anything, I'm glad the podcast will continue so I can continue enjoying it the way I've always enjoyed it, through listening.

If you don't already subscribe to Lore, please open your podcast player of choice and download it now, you won't be disappointed!

26 April 2016

#CSforAll - Computer Science in K-12 Classrooms

I am a huge proponent of teaching kids about computer science and coding even if they don't really have an interest in learning about it. We live in a digital world and the more kids learn about how that digital aspect works the better. Plus, I feel that learning how to program a computer can teach you how to think because you have to be very specific and intentional about how you tell the computer what to do.

Today, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, The Computer Science Education Coalition, and one of its members, Code.org, are releasing an open letter to Congress calling on them to make an investment in K-12 computer science education. This is a big deal because we live in a digital world and we need our students prepared to take us to the next level.

There were a number of incredible statistics to come out of the Press Release, including:
Today, 11% of all job openings and 16% of all new wages in the U.S. are in computing fields. And aside from the jobs, Americans broadly realize that computer science is increasingly foundational to all 21st century careers.
“Ninety percent of parents want their children to have access to computer science education at school, and teachers agree,” the letter states. “Despite this groundswell, three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer meaningful computer science courses. This bipartisan issue can be addressed without growing the Federal budget.”
I am a teacher who proudly teaches coding to my students every year to help them get familiar with the concepts of computer science and hopefully pique their interest in studying it a little further. I have signed the Change.org petition being sent to Congress and hope you will choose to do as well! Join with America’s leading CEOs, governors and educators as we all come together to make a difference for computer science in the K-12 classroom!

Nimble, The 1 Finger Wonder Tool - #100DayProject - Day 026

I have just come across a new product that looks great and may even keep packaging nightmares at a minimum. While floating around Facebook, I found out about Nimble, The 1 Finger Wonder Tool! Wath the video below and tell me this doesn't look like the most amazing product of the week, if not year.

Now that you are totally in love with this product, go to its Kickstarter page and back it. One thing to keep in mind, this is a UK product, so the price of one Nimble being 7 Pounds is actually closer to $10 here in the USA. And if you want more than one, there is an option to buy three Nimbles for about $27, so go crazy.

If you are new to Kickstarter, realize this, these products aren't always available because they need to meet their production goals first and then they only have a certain number of days to make the project work or else it doesn't happen. With that said, it looks like the Nimble will be okay because it's already hit its goal.

How does this apply to schools and education? Do you not get mail at school? Do you not open packages and other products? I think having a Nimble would be great to help me open mail, but also to cut out things in magazines (yes I still have paper magazine subscriptions, leave me alone!) or even cutting out laminated items. I know teachers LOVE laminating items so they'll last better, so why not order a Nimble and see if it doesn't make your life easier with these tasks.

So get out there and help support indy creators by backing and sharing their projects.

25 April 2016

Katch & Copy Closing Shop - #100DayProject - Day 025

Image Source: Sad Clyde via @KatchHQ
I hate when a particular technology tool or service I have come to rely on and love decides it has to shut down. The only thing worse than losing one well-loved tool is losing multiple tools and that's exactly what's happening within the first few days in May!

The excellent Katch, which was designed to allow you to "catch" your Periscope and/or Meerkat live stream videos so they could be watched later than the 24-hour limit, will be closing shop on Wednesday, May 4th. Although I was still new to using Katch to save my Periscope videos, I was really looking forward to creating a nice backlog of some excellent experiences. I do have a couple of videos uploaded there so I'll have to do something about them soon!

If you go to the Katch.me homepage you are greeted with the announcement as well as a link to the Medium article they wrote explaining the reason for the shutdown. There is also a timeline of when you need to take care of your videos currently stored on their site. The team has created two options for you to either export your videos to YouTube or just download them to your hard drive. Either option just makes me more and more sad, especially with the start of the #PassTheScopeEDU event that I was part of last week and hope to continue with into the future. We'll have to find some other way to save our videos now.

So why are they shutting down? According to the Medium Post:
We always saw Katch as a Hulu for live streaming. But if we were going to get there, we would need more resources (money, people, servers, time) that would enable us to move quickly to adapt to the increasingly competitive landscape and to mature the features for a wider group of users. We simply haven’t been able to secure the capital to do that.

And if losing Katch wasn't enough, I will also be losing the excellent Copy sync tool on Sunday, May 1st! I've known about the ending of Copy for a while longer than that of Katch, but I think Copy closing is hitting me harder because I have been using it for longer. Copy was a great syncing tool similar to Dropbox except that it offered more initial space for free. For example, I had 25 GB for free simply because I followed their onboarding tips. Such a waste!

The tear-inducing pop-up Copy users have been seeing for weeks!

According to the Copy.com homepage, the reason for the shutdown has to do with the need to reallocate resources to other areas of the company.
Copy and CudaDrive have provided easy-to-use cloud file services and sharing functionality to millions of users the past 4+ years. However, as our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere.

If you have been to any of my trainings, you will know that I have been a proponent of using Copy for a while and now I will have to look elsewhere for recommendations. While I do you Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, I liked that I had another great service that offered a free-tier to recommend to educators. I guess it's back to the drawing board for what other tools can I use.

I guess the moral of the story here is that if you love a service or tool then you need to find a way to send them money to help support the developers or else this is a possible fate. That's why I try to pay for services I find absolutely imperative to my workflow. Would I have paid for both Katch and Copy if given the chance? Possibly, but I guess I'll never know now.

24 April 2016

@Washk12 Turns 100 - #100DayProject - Day 024

Image Source: WCSD Schools
I work in a pretty cool school district with some talented people. One such person is my buddy Cody Plumhof who wears a lot of different hats in the school district, but his official title is Web, Media, & Design Developer. He designed the all the logos for the school district, the website, and a whole lot of other stuff, but my favorite thing he designed is the 100 Year commemorative logo. It's amazing!

Something else that Cody has done, that seems a little strange, especially given his title, he executive produced a documentary about the Washington County School District and its 100-year history. The documentary titled, "On Dreams of Dixie" tells the story of the formation of the school district 100 years ago and tells the story of some of its more famous pupils.

From the official "On Dreams of Dixie" website:
It was 1861 when tattered pioneers began arriving in southern Utah's red, barren desert. Amid sacrifice and loss, many had traveled across wide oceans and unforgiving plains for a place they could call their own. 
Committed to education, school classes were first held in the back of covered wagons and in the areas first church houses. In 1915, the state of Utah issued an order for the area's scattered schools to join together as one and Washington County School District was formed with 1,833 registered students.
Through heartfelt interviews and stories found in the archives of county history, 'On Dreams of Dixie' gives viewers a multi-dimensional experience and character-driven look at what it was like attending school in southern Utah's early settlement communities.

The school district recently uploaded the complete documentary to YouTube, but if you'd like to buy a copy, they are for sale at the Washington County School District offices. Please take a moment and watch the amazing documentary which is narrated by the talented Wilford Brimley, who is also a Utah local.

23 April 2016

Kite Festival - #100DayProject - Day 023

Image Source: My amazing wife Lisa Larson
Today was a pretty good day. We spent time as a family at our local Kite Festival and had a blast! Every year my school district's foundation coordinates a huge festival that is centered on reading and helping to motivate students to read every day. The students are asked to read a certain amount of minutes each day depending on their grade level and if they succeed they are rewarded with their choice of either a kite, a book, or tickets to play in the inflatable activities. Since I have a daughter in 1st grade we have now attended this festival twice for her, but we've been many times for me as well.

The other fun part of the kite festival is that there is a stage where different performing groups can take part and share their talents. My daughter was in one such group and she performed in her first every dance recital. It is her first year taking dance lessons and she has loved it! Thanks to Grandma (my Mom) for helping to make sure she was able to be part of the dance company; one of the best Christmas gifts ever, the opportunity to take part in something and learn a new skill.

Image Source: My amazing wife Lisa Larson

I hope your day was a great one because mine was excellent!

22 April 2016

Goodbye Gary - #100DayProject - Day 022

I was shocked my tux still fit. Wait, not every man has his own tuxedo?
Tonight was amazing! I was able to play at Dixie State University with the excellent Symphonic Band and Alumni tonight and loved every minute. We played some great music, but most of all, we played our hearts out because the talented Gary Caldwell is now officially done as director of bands at DSU. I wish you the best Gary and hope you take a little more time to fish and rest with your retirement from teaching. I am still very excited to see you conduct the Southwest Symphony and hope you continue in that role for some time still.

Playing tonight was also bittersweet. I played the massively fun Contrabass Clarinet, and in case you've forgotten, I wrote about the sheer size earlier this week. But playing tonight made me realize just how much I miss performing. Before this week, it had been close to 10 years since I played a symphonic instrument and I really miss that experience. Although buying a Bass or Contrabass Clarinet is out of the question, maybe I need to invest in a B-flat Clarinet to bring back a little bit of the lost love of playing.

21 April 2016

#PassTheScopeEDU - #100DayProject - Day 021

I am so excited to take part in a new event calling #PassTheScopeEDU along with some amazing educators today. It will happen on Periscope and use multiple people's accounts to share some awesome educational ideas.

How does a #PassTheScope event work? It starts with one person starting a Periscope live stream where they share out some ideas or an event for a set amount of time. For our #PassTheScopeEDU event today, we're gonna keep each "scope" live stream to about 5 minutes or so. When the first person finishes their "scope" they will tell you who is next and what their Periscope user information is so you can go watch the next part. This continues until the last person finishes and the event ends. We didn't invent the idea of #PassTheScope, but we are very excited to do one today and share out some great educational ideas.

Who is involved today and when are the times? Often a #PassTheScope event happens all at once, back-to-back, but we are going to do it a little different and have people throughout the day so feel free to jump in whenever you have time. The schedule and lineup is below:

12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST:

Toutoule Ntoya
Twitter: @ToutouleNtoya
Periscope: @ToutouleNtoya 

12:30pm EST / 9:30am PST:

Knikole Taylor
Twitter: @Knikole
Periscope: @Knikole

4:10pm EST / 1:10pm PST:

Sarah Thomas
Twitter: @SarahdaTeechur
Periscope: @SarahdaTeechur

7:00pm EST / 4:00pm PST:

Derek Larson ( That's ME! )
Twitter: @lars3eb
Periscope: @lars3eb

7:30pm EST / 4:30pm PST:

Valerie Lewis
Twitter: @iamVLewis
Periscope: @iamVLewis

Come join us for #PassTheScopeEDU and don't forget to follow each of these amazing educators! And if you watch, feel free to give lots of hearts because we love you!

20 April 2016

Are Grades Failing Kids -->


One of my educational heroes is Kerry Gallagher, better known by her Twitter name KerryHawk02. Before I go any further, please take a minute and both follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her website Start with a Question because she is THAT amazing! Okay, done? Good, now I can continue.

Kerry is an excellent writer and she recently posted something that really hit me. She wrote about the experience of her first grader coming home and telling her that her stomach ached because she got a 90. What? Why is a first grader worried about grades?

Here's my favorite line in the whole post:
"The thing is, I have an expertise at being a mother of two little girls who are just starting school–one is in first grade and the other is in preschool. My daughters’ game of choice is "playing school" with a little easel and some books and paper and a class made up of dolls and stuffed animals. They teach through singing, drawing, and encouragement. They build in rest time and quick chats with the pretend parents who pick up their stuffed animal students at the end of the day. It's funny how my 4 and 7 year olds have intuitively picked up the parts of a learner's day that have the greatest impact. They know that music, hands-on activities, and positive interpersonal connections help create an environment where learners can thrive."

I love that her daughters just know instinctively which parts of a school day are the most effective for learning. And yet, how many of us professional teachers forget those simple, yet effective pieces to the puzzle? Do yourself a favor and go read the rest of this great post by Kerry.

The Pen Addict Turns 200 - #100DayProject - Day 020

Image Source: Relay.fm/PenAddict
One of my favorite forms of both entertainment and education is podcasts. I have been listening to them for years (even being lucky enough to appear as a guest on a couple) and yet, I keep finding more and more to listen to and love. I wrote about my love of podcasts a while ago so maybe at some point, I'll update my list of current subscriptions, but today is not that day. Today I want to spotlight one of my favorites, The Pen Addict Podcast!

The last time I wrote about TPA it was a part of the 70Decibels podcast network, way back in 2012. Since then, it's moved to the 5by5 network and now lives as part of Relay.fm, my favorite podcast network.

Something pretty amazing recently happened for Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley, they recorded Episode 200 Live from the Atlanta Pen Show! I am so excited for these fellas because they create what is possibly my favorite podcast ever and they are so fun to listen to. When I started listening to TPA four years ago, I wasn't even a pen addict yet, but I certainly am one now!

For this live show, just like last year, the fellas decided to have it both audio and video recorded and I'm so excited to SEE this episode! I have already listened and it was great. Now I just need to have the video finished with the edits to fully enjoy the show. Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels author and Relay.fm co-founder, was there to help with the recording and wrote an excellent post about it, which you should totally go read even if you have never heard of TPA because it's an excellent post.

My favorite line from Stephen's post:
"Obviously, the setup for this was more complicated than what we normally use to record a show like this, so I thought it would be fun to share how we did it."
If you want to listen to an incredibly geeky show with two buddies who thoroughly enjoy what they do, then I can't recommend The Pen Addict Podcast highly enough! Although listener beware, you may find yourself suddenly buying an excessive amount of analog tools, but that's just part of the experience of becoming a Pen Addict. Congrats Brad and Myke on another excellent show and here's to another 100+ more.

19 April 2016

Intro to Raspberry Pi -->


In my excitement to share the good news about taking part in the #Picademy, I maybe didn't explain what a Raspberry Pi computer was. I was just reminded of an excellent intro to Raspberry Pi written by the amazing Alice Keeler and thought I'd pass you that way.

"Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive computer, as low as $5. It runs Linux as the operating system. Students can play Minecraft and access the internet on a Raspberry Pi computer."
So if you are looking for more info, check out either Alice's post or go the Raspberry Pi website and learn more about the amazingly powerful little computer. 

Music - #100DayProject - Day 019

I am a believer in music. I have played instruments since age 8 and continue to play instruments to this day. I have played in many different bands ranging from jazz ensembles and symphonic bands in schools to rock bands trying to live the dream. In fact, I will be performing this coming Friday in a very special concert for a dear friend and former collegiate level band director at his final symphonic band concert as director of bands at Dixie State University here in Southern Utah. Maestro Gary Caldwell will be retiring from his position as director of bands at DSU after 37 years and he has invited back as many alumni to join in the fun as possible, hence my involvement.

Jud Burkett at The Spectrum wrote an excellent piece about Caldwell's retirement and I love the following quote from Gary:

“We’re doing one big final blowout,” Caldwell said. “We’re bringing back a bunch of alumni -- we’ll feature student music compositions and soloists and we’ll be putting the emphasis on present and former students.”

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
I really am excited to be taking part in this amazing opportunity, but I am a little hesitant because I haven't played in a high-quality symphonic band since I was in college back in the early 2000s. Plus, there will definitely be something different about this coming experience as I will be playing an instrument I have NEVER played before; I will be playing the Contra Bass Clarinet. What, you're not familiar with the Contra Bass Clarinet? Here's an image to help you out. Notice just how large that instrument is. Now imagine what it's like to try and transport it from DSU to my home in my Nissan Sentra. Can you imagine it yet? No. How about a few pictures to help you out.

My trusty Nissan Sentra
View from the trunk.

Notice the passenger seat is all the way forward!
The back seat had to come down and it barely made it through the gap.
Looking back from the drivers seat.
The case standing on end. I'm 6 feet tall.

Pretty big, huh? Now it shouldn't be totally new for me since I have actually played the Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, and Alto Clarinet in my time as a musician, not to mention Bass Guitar and even Tenor and Baritone Saxophone. But even though all of those instruments, minus the bass guitar, are played using the same fingerings, they are all played differently in the mouth. I'll be sure to report back after the concert on Friday night and may even be able to post a link to the audio or video of the concert.

I want to wish Maestro Caldwell a happy retirement as well as thank him for the many years of mentorship and friendship. Gary is an incredible musician and I'm glad he'll stick around as the conductor of the Southwest Symphony for a few more years yet.

18 April 2016

Financial Literacy Giveaway -->


Time for a little something extra during my #100DayProject. How about a chance to win an awesome prize just because you're a teacher? I'm all about prizes and I recently heard about this one being sponsored by Dave Ramsey. It's called Teacher Appreciation Giveaway and it looks awesome! It's being offered as a way to celebrate teachers and because April is Financial Literacy Month.

From the site:
Teachers, you are unsung heroes, and we want to change that! April is Financial Literacy Month, and we're celebrating in a HUGE way! You impact the lives of students every day, and we want to thank you in a fun and practical way.

What can you win? How about an all-inclusive trip for 2 to a tropical paradise, a school assembly with Ramsey personality Anthony ONeal, or a $500 gift card for use in your classroom? I think any of the options would be great so why not enter to win? No purchase is necessary and you don't have to do anything more than entering. I know I just did and I'm hoping to win.

This opportunity ends April 30th, so don't delay! And if you win, let me know so I can help you celebrate!

#Picademy - #100DayProject - Day 018

Image Source: Raspberry Pi
I am starting to get very excited because, at the end of the month, I will be traveling to Mountain View, CA to attend Picademy! What is Picademy you ask? I wondered the same thing when I started seeing the hashtag #Picademy showing up in my social media timelines back in late February 2016.

So what is Picademy then? According to the Raspberry Pi website,
Picademy is the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s FREE teacher training initiative. Our goal is to give educators the experience and tools they need to teach computing with confidence.
Doesn't that sound so cool! I was immediately hooked on the idea as soon as I started seeing pictures of the February event and had to know how I could get involved. So I reached out to my friend Rafranz Davis, who was lucky enough to attend the February event and she pointed me to their website and sign-up form so I could try my hand at joining in the fun. I submitted my information with very little confidence that I would be selected since there would be so many applying for so few spots but still, I had just a glimmer of hope. Imagine my surprise when I received an email on March 29th telling me I have been accepted! It was so amazing and yet, so surreal!

Image Source: Raspberry Pi
What does it all mean then? I will be taking part in a two-day training event for how to utilize the Raspberry Pi system in helping students become more confident in their computing abilities. I will also be allowed to take a tour of the Computer History Museum which is also where the training will be taking place. I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn more about the Raspberry Pi system as well as learn from the trainers and fellow participants.

How can you be involved with this amazing opportunity as well? First, follow along on social media using the #Picademy hashtag and see what awesome things are going on. Then, if you decide that #Picademy is something you are interesting in attending, go to the Picademy USA page and fill out the form to be updated of when the next US training will be held. Once you find out about the next training, enter as quickly as possible so you too can take part in the Picademy!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a little preparation to do. I need to familiarize myself with Scratch from MIT and the Python programming language. If you have any helpful hints on either, please feel free to let me know either via the comments below or via Twitter - @lars3eb.

17 April 2016

Movement - #100DayProject - Day 017

I am a huge fan of The Minimalists because I have a slight obsession with minimalism and maybe an even slighter desire to join their ranks. The other day they tweeted out a link to an article about the benefits of walking to improve creativity. The article reminds us that many of the great minds of the past were walkers in order to improve their skills and create their masterpieces. And yet, we are now part of a society who has "become increasingly sedentary."

But in recent years, as lives have become increasingly sedentary, the idea has been put to the test. The precise physiology is unknown, but professors and therapists are turning what was once an unquestioned instinct into a certainty: Walking influences our thinking, and somehow improves creativity.

I believe that the above part about our society becoming more and more sedentary is an awful truth that we must all recognize. I know that even though I teach elementary kids, I tend to sit more than I thought I would, especially since I love to watch movies and TV to relax. But I have also noticed something about myself that has me thinking I need to replicate the idea with my students. Whenever I am thinking, talking on the phone (yes, some of us still do use our phones for their original intended use case), or just needing to clear my head, I tend to pace around. At first, I thought I was crazy until a friend of mine, yes you Amy, told me her husband does the same thing. Then I started hearing it from others and suddenly it dawned on me that I wasn't actually crazy, but more normal than I thought.

Even though I don't yet have my students pace around as they are coming up with ideas for their writing, part of me wants to try it while the other part reminds me that idea could be absolute chaos so why not try it, I do try to make sure we stand up throughout the day to stretch out and move our limbs a little so we don't become all stiff and sore. Another way I keep my kids moving is through the use of GoNoodle.com, an excellent website where you watch short videos that get kids moving and grooving to some awesomely crazy creative videos. If you haven't yet tried out GoNoodle please do so because it's so much fun and your students will thank you later!

No matter what you use to get yourself and your students moving, use it so you can get those creative juices going and become a better you!

16 April 2016

#Crazy4Christie - #100DayProject - Day 016

Image Source: Crazy4Christie.org
I am trying to be a little healthier and exercise more frequently, although I think I'm kind of failing thanks to my love of eating even more, and my wife is very supportive of this goal. In fact, she also is trying to be healthier so we are working together toward this common goal. We also love to support friends and family who are struggling with illness and other issues. We have been known to travel for and run in fundraiser races, although we don't do it for times, but more to spend time together.

Today happened to be one of those opportunities to run in a fundraiser race for a high school friend of my wife's. This friend is suffering with cancer for the second time and we felt that we needed to be there to support her and her family during this difficult time. So we loaded up the family and headed north to stay with my in-laws and then run in a 5K to support a friend. It was nice that we were able to stay with my in-laws because they love seeing the grandkids and my mother-in-law wanted to run with us as well.

Me, my wife, and our daughter pre-race.
We made it to the event and it was a cold morning! We were freezing but it felt good knowing we were there to help a friend and ourselves in a quest to get healthy. The best part, though, was that our whole family was there together and we were able to have a fun time doing something we don't do enough of. I really got a kick out of watching my 6-year-old daughter run ahead of us and act as our trainer because she kept telling us to hurry and go faster. What a tough girl!

It was really nice to see all the support Christie and her family received with the runners, but it was even better to see a lot of other support via drawings, auctions, breakfast, bake sale, and an online store to help alleviate some massive medical bills. We did our part with my amazing mother-in-law buying a number of goodies from the bake sale, but I thought I'd share a link in case anyone else would like to donate to this amazing family. Christie's husband is a 3rd-grade teacher so he's part of our community and if you can spare anything, please don't hesitate to donate a little to their cause.

I have a long past with cancer and hate what it does to families. I have lost three of my four grandparents to the disease as well as many other family members. I hope that one day we will be able to solve the riddle of cancer and find a way to beat it once and for all. I think that is one of my goals as an educator, to help get my students excited about school in the hopes that one of them may be the doctor to help destroy that family tragedy machine for good! But until that day, I'll keep teaching my students and keep hoping someone beats me to the goal!

15 April 2016

Unfamiliar - #100DayProject - Day 015

Image Source: peasap on Flickr
One of the worst things a father has to deal with is a screaming baby when she should be sleeping. My daughter decided to teach me that very lesson tonight. As I was trying to console her I had a thought. While sometimes kids cry because they are either tired or many other reasons, I think my daughter was crying partially due to the fact we aren't at home tonight. We are staying with my in-laws for the night and my baby girl was in a different location where she isn't as comfortable. And yet, I know she's safe and will be okay, but she doesn't. 

Is this situation any different than when we as educators are asked to do something that we are unfamiliar with and scared to try? I have been asked to do things by my district office that I don't always understand or necessarily want to try, but once I give it a shot it ends up being very different than what I initially thought. And just like that, we end up finding that there is very little to really worry about if we are willing to try it. 

So what happened with my daughter? After a short bout of crying, my sweet girl fell asleep. Will we always end up perfectly content like my daughter? No, but more often than not we will end up okay.

14 April 2016

#MakingADifference - #100DayProject - Day 014

Yesterday was an amazing day for basketball fans as two big events occurred. First, it was the last game for Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant who led his team to a 4th quarter victory over my home state team, the Utah Jazz, by scoring an impressive 60 points! And if that wasn't enough excitement, the Golden State Warriors broke an NBA record for best record in a regular season when they beat the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104. Congrats to both the Black Mamba and the Warriors on their amazing athletic feats!

While both of the above events are incredible, it made me think of how different the world of sports is to the world of teaching. Wouldn't it be cool if teachers were treated in the same manner as athletes? Having their retirement make headlines and even be partially to blame for a massive Twitter outage during their last lesson in class? I guess I'm not the only one to wonder about this alternate universe because popular comedy sketch duo Key & Peele created an amazing sketch called TeachingCenter back in July 2015 to address such ideas. If you haven't already contributed to more than 6.4 million views, then do so now.

As funny as the above sketch is, I kind of wish the actual teaching career had even just a smidge more similarities because those teachers in the video were worshipped! Not that I need to be worshipped, but I wish the profession was more respected. So even if you don't have the salaries mentioned in the video ($80 Million guaranteed over 6 years with $40 Million in testing incentives!), have press conferences to announce your pending transfer of schools, or were "drafted" out of college becoming an instant millionaire, know that you matter and that you make a difference!

Thanks for being a teacher and changing the world one child at a time!

13 April 2016

Reflection - #100DayProject - Day 013

We recently took our kids to the library to help get through a rainy day and it made me realize I hadn't been to a library other than my school's library for far too long. I used to go to the library a lot more but haven't been in a while. It might be because I have a strange relationship with books in that I like to own them but don't need to own every book I read. I have always wanted to have a really cool personal library with the cool track ladders, but I think I need to first have a separate room.

Image Source: Wikimedia
© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.arCC-BY-SA-3.0

Going back to the library made me think how often do we have great tools at our disposal that we don't take advantage of? How many of us go to conferences or training sessions and learn about free tools that would help us be better educators and yet, as soon as we return home, we return to our same old thing? I know that I am guilty of this and yet, how do we stop the trend? I think the best way is to take time at the conference or training and write down what we want to do when we return to our classroom. Whether we write it with analog or digital tools doesn't really matter so long as we actually write it down to help us remember what we want to do to change.

So is it more a matter of allowing time for reflection after growth so we can remember what we want to do? I don't know for sure, but I do know that taking the time to write during this #100DayProject has been amazing for me because it has helped me get into a routine of writing. Now it seems that I need to take the time to start reflecting on my teaching. So here's to taking the time to write down our thoughts, learning, and goals to become better educators!

12 April 2016

National Licorice Day - #100DayProject - Day 012

Image Source: arbyreed
Today's post is going out a little early so my friends on the East coast can still have time to stop by the store on their way to school. Why do they need to stop by the store on their way to school? Because today is National Licorice Day and they may need to pick up some delicious licorice to share with their students.

According to the National Day Calendar website:
National Licorice Day is celebrated each year on April 12.  This day was originated to celebrate black licorice, it’s history, health benefits and world renown.  Black licorice can be enjoyed in licorice twists, stem shaped candies, licorice ropes, jelly beans, jewels and others.
Of course, the designation has evolved as people consign all types and flavors of licorice to celebrate the day.
I love licorice because it's a delicious treat. Although I'm not a fan of the black variety, I do love the red ones. I think my favorite brand of licorice would have to be Red Vines and I especially love buying the tubs because they make it more fun than a boring bag! I have already bought my tub and plan to share with my students later today. I hope you plan to also celebrate this very tasty holiday as well! If you do, take some photos and be sure to tag @EdTechBabble online!

11 April 2016

CODEGIRL - #100DayProject - Day 011

I came across an amazing documentary called CODEGIRL back in October 2015 and instantly fell in love! It was showing in its complete form on YouTube for a short amount of time and even though I was frantically finishing my keynote for EdCampUT I was drawn in and couldn't stop watching. Watch the trailer below and you should see what I mean.

Why am I so excited for and writing about CODEGIRL if it's been out since late 2015 and available for purchase or rental on many different platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and their own site? I'm excited because it was recently added to Netflix so even if you aren't sure about purchasing or renting it you can watch it there. If you haven't already watched this amazing documentary, then find yourself a comfy couch to sit down, relax, and enjoy the show!

10 April 2016

Sunday - #100DayProject - Day 010

With today being Sunday, I thought I'd share something a little more on the spiritual side. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka, the Mormons) and am currently serving as a teacher for one of the Sunday School classes for the adults called Gospel Principles. Today I taught a great lesson on Our Heavenly Father and how we as His spirit children need to know who He is and have an understanding of what He's like. 

It was brought up that if we are to have a relationship with God then we have to know who He is and how to be near Him since He isn't physically here with us. The lesson taught four key principles that I wanted to share here. 
We can know God if we will:
1. Believe that He exists and that He loves us (see Mosiah 4:9).
2. Study the scriptures (see 2 Timothy 3:14–17).
3. Pray to Him (see James 1:5).
4. Obey all His commandments as best we can (see John 14:21–23).
I really appreciate the fact that I am able to gather together each Sunday and spend time with members of my congregation and learn more about God and His plan of happiness for us. But I have found another great group of friends who help me to remember God and His love for me. I belong to an amazing Voxer group called Daily Inspiration where I am able to have spiritual conversations with others not of my faith but who help me be a better person spiritually nonetheless. I am so grateful for these amazing people for helping me share my feelings and not feel awkward.

I invite you all to take some time to devote towards your own spiritual learning. Regardless of which religion you ascribe to, take some time to be calm and think of your Creator and thank them for all the amazing things you have. And if you would like to know more about my faith, feel free to contact me or visit Mormon.org to learn more.

09 April 2016

Thunderspaces - #100DayProject - Day 009

I love the rain and the sound it makes. I'm not sure if that's because I live in the 2nd driest state in the country or what, but listening to the sound of the rain is so great. I love it so much that I even downloaded an app recently that simulates the feeling of being in a thunderstorm. The app called Thunderspaces by Taptanium was recommended to me via one of my current favorite podcasts Cortex which is part of the Relay.FM network. Thunderspaces is an incredible app that was created by using audio recorded in something called "stereoscopic 3D" that when listened with headphones makes you feel like you are in the middle of an actual storm. Watch the promo video below to see what I mean. If the video won't load for you, click here to see it on Vimeo.

Pretty amazing, huh? The app comes with two soundscapes for free, "Roof Garden" and "Waterscape," but includes 13 additional rainstorms that you can buy for $1.99 each or get all of them for $19.99 and that includes any future storms the creators release. I haven't splurged for all of the storms yet, but I did go ahead and buy the "Desert" storm since it was my favorite.

If you also love the sound of rain and storms you should look into Thunderspaces.

Note: I was not compensated for this post. I am merely a very happy customer who wanted to share out an awesome app.

08 April 2016

Relaxation - #100DayProject - Day 008

One of my favorite ways to relax after a long week of school is to throw on a movie and enjoy some down time. I love watching everything but I especially science fiction and fantasy movies. Maybe that makes me a nerd, but I don't care, I love me some fiction movies. 

On Thursday, the Internet blew up when Disney released the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie and I was shocked as well. I am a huge Star Wars fan and this was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. A stand-alone Star Wars movie? I never thought I would have lived to see the day. If you haven't seen it then you need to take a minute and watch it below. 

07 April 2016

Headlights - #100DayProject - Day 007

Do you have dirty car headlights? Do you know how to clean them? I didn't, but I had seen a bunch of ideas online that I wasn't sure I wanted to try out because they all seemed either too good to be true or too involved. I had confined myself to just waiting until they had to be replaced. I mean, I could still see when driving, right?

Well, I decided I'd try one of the methods I saw online that involved spraying some OFF! Deep Woods Sportsman spray and then wiping it off. It seemed too easy but I tried it anyway. How did it turn out? You be the judge. Below are two photos, one before and the other after the spray.

Before the spray.

After the spray.

Are you as shocked as I was? I was astonished that it worked so well. Why had I waited so long to clean these awful headlights? 

Why did I finally decide to try something here when I had waited and waited for months? Simple, I was told by someone I actually knew in real life about the trick. I knew this person and trusted them. I was able to see an actual example of what it looked like after they had done it to their car. I was told that it worked great, but that it wasn't the end-all-be-all and that I'd have to do it again later on. I made the choice to actually try it because I was recommended it by someone trusted.

How often are we told ideas for how to be successful in the classroom that we just brush off as "whatever" because we don't actually believe that it's possible How often do we have people come into our schools and tell us we should do this or that and that it's totally possible but yet we sit back and think there's no way? They don't know what they're saying because of this or that? And yet, what happens if we see something cool from a trusted friend? We are much more likely to try it out or at least think about it because the recommendation is coming from an actual person we know. 

As fun as it is to read about other people's ideas online via blogs or social media, don't forget to occasionally walk around your own school and see what the people down the hall are doing. You may just surprise yourself to learn how much cool stuff is happening within walking distance that may not seem so unrealistic. You may not find the silver bullet you're looking for, but you may find something even better, an actual working idea to help you do one thing better in your classroom. 

06 April 2016

Autism Awareness Month - #100DayProject - Day 006

Have you seen the new video Apple, Inc. published on April 2, 2016, titled Dillan's Path? If not, watch it below and be prepared to shed a few tears.

Now that I've brought some tears to your eyes (consider it a test of your tear ducts and that everything is working great!) can you imagine anything more beautiful than a child being given a voice? I don't have a lot of personal experience with autistic children, but I have many friends who are living with this scenario. I know they love their children but I also know that this is a difficult life for them. They aren't able to many things that most of us take for granted. 

Source: Autism Society
I'm not writing this as a way to bash on autism, but to help bring a little more light on the subject. People with autism are just that, people. We need to remember when we see people who are different or act differently that we should take an extra bit of care and love for them. It turns out April is Autism Awareness month and a great time to learn more about living with autism. Take some time to familiarize yourself with ways you can help those around you living with autism as well as ways you can support the Autism Society. Of course, the best way you can support those living with autism is to be a decent human being. Be kind to them and show them the same love and patience you would show others and then maybe a little bit more.

05 April 2016

Health - #100DayProject - Day 005

Image Source: Pixabay.com
I love Twitter and the opportunity it allows me to connect with others across the globe. I have had many amazing opportunities to learn and grow due to my being on Twitter and I will forever be grateful for them. I also love that it allows me to learn from people who I choose to follow as well as people who I don't follow.
Just today I saw the above tweet by P Ottley-O'Connor, someone who I don't know at all, but was retweeted by Kat Howard, an educator who I do follow. I love that I don't have to know or follow someone to still be able to learn from them and their ideas.

The above tweet has an idea that I have been struggling with and haven't been able to work out a solution to yet. We need to be careful and look after ourselves if we are going to be able to look after others. What a profound statement and yet, how many of us actually take advantage of it and truly look after ourselves? I know it's something I'm desperately lacking and need to find a solution to fast before I totally burn out and can't be effective in my many duties as a husband, father, teacher, and friend.

Thanks Kat for retweeting such an important message that helped me learn today!

04 April 2016

#OpeningDay - #100DayProject - Day004

Me sporting my "End-of-Season Pitcher's Beard".

I'm not the biggest sports fan, but I do enjoy both participating and watching sports at times. Yesterday was Opening Day for baseball and my 5th-grade team decided to celebrate by wearing baseball gear and inviting our students to do the same. We did baseball-themed work and really had a great time. We watched some awesome baseball videos on Youtube like Abbot & Costello's classic Who's on First as well as the Jimmy Fallon version he did back in 2012.

Of all the baseball things we did, the part that I enjoyed most was having the Dixie State University Baseball Team come and share some time with us. They visited each of the five 5th-grade classrooms and spent some time reading and sharing experiences of being college athletes. My students really enjoyed it and I liked that they would come in and spend some time with elementary kids.

So what book did we have the baseball team read, Casey at Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 by Ernest L. Thayer and illustrated by Christopher Bing. Then after the players left we went ahead and watched the Walt Disney animated short from 1946, Casey at the Bat, which my students LOVED and I enjoyed because I was reminded of my own childhood.
We really enjoyed having the DSU Baseball team with us to celebrate #OpeningDay!

I should also share the great website we used for Math today because it was perfect for the baseball theme as well. We used www.math-play.com/baseball-math.html and the students LOVED it! There are a number of possible baseball games you can play, but we focused on the "Simplifying Fractions" one since we are currently working on fractions right now. You should go try the games because they are actually pretty fun.

So even if you don't love something, don't be afraid to do it for the sake of your students. I'm not the biggest baseball fan, but a number of my students are and it was fun to see them really have a blast today.

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