Not Just Making but Making a Difference

clmooc kiva
I’m trying to extend the idea of “making” from our Making Learning Connected MOOC into another direction. I’m hoping that the hundreds of people who have been part of the MOOC this summer might consider making a difference in the world, too. One invitation I am putting out there is for folks who are in the micro-lending site, Kiva, or who may want sign up for Kiva, is to join the “CLMOOC Team” that I set up there. Essentially, a team allows you to become part of a collective that lends out money for business owners around the world.

Come join our Team and make a difference in the lives of others. If you are new to Kiva, signing up for a team gives you a gift of $25 to lend right away.

Peace (in the lending),


Book Review: The Spies of Gerander

It’s always a wonderful thing when you stumble on the perfect read-aloud series. Such is the case with author Frances Watts and her The Song of the Winns series. My son and I just finished the second book in the series (which Watts is still writing, so now we wait) called The Spies of Gerander.  The story revolves around four young mice — two brothers, a sister and a friend — who must become spies. One team infiltrates the palace of the monarch bent on destroying their family’s homeland; the other team is off to rescue their parents from a prison island.

Needless to say, treachery abounds everywhere, and danger lurks behind every corner.

The Winns is a river flowing through the country in question, and it is slowly becoming the fulcrum upon which the plot turns and twists.

Watts does a wonderful job of setting two stories in motion, leaving the reader dangling at the edge of chapters, and then tying the stories together by the end while still leaving some larger stories unresolved. She did this with the first book in the series, too (The Secret of the Ginger Mice). She clearly is a master storyteller, and my son and I now wait for the third installment sometime in the future.

Peace (in the reading),



The Augmented Reality #CLMOOC Shoe

Two of my favorite bloggers, Larry Ferlazzo and Richard Byrne, mentioned an augmented reality app this week that I wanted to try out. I’ve been dipping my toes into Augmented Reality this summer as part of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, working with an app called Aurasma. This new one, called ColAR Mix, is pretty cool (and the app premium elements are free for part of this month).

The way it works is you download the app (obviously) and then you go the website, and print out one of the coloring pages they have available. Color the page anyway you like (Notice how I referenced the #clmooc on my shoe). Then, open the app and point the screen at the coloring page, and the object comes to life. Here, the shoes dances. In another one that my son did, a bear walks around and points up at the person holding the device.

What I would really like to see is open coloring, so that a person could draw whatever they wanted and that would come to life. I’m not sure how difficult that would be (probably, a lot) but for me, that would put a lot of more agency and creativity into the hands of the user. Still, for where Augmented Reality is right now, this app is pretty nifty and fun to use.

By the way, I used Vine to capture my coloring, too, as I was working on the shoe. And the video of the Augmented Reality was done by holding a camera above the iPad. The ColAR app does allow you to take screenshots of your creation and save it to the iPad, which is a handy feature to have for sharing.

Peace (in the colors that move),


PS — Richard also shared out a previous post with five possibilities for Augmented Reality in the classroom that is worth checking out.


Hacking/Remixing the Stories of Richard Scarry

Book Hack 1

I’m not sure if he is still alive and if he is, how happy he would be, but yesterday, in my workshop for high school students, we ripped, cut, hacked , shredded and remixed one of Richard Scarry’s picture books. To be frank, I even cringed a little bit, as I watched students go at the pages with scissors, glue, and ideas. Books are still sacred texts in my head. I don’t regret it though.

First of all, the book had seen some solid reading days with my three boys, and the binding was coming apart. And I bought the book, so I figure I own it. We could hack it.

Second, we remixed the book to make a few points in this digital literacies workshop that I am leading with these English Language Learner high school students. We’ve been talking about hacking and remixing as part of the digital culture they live in (referencing Dangermouse’s work with The Beatles and Jay-Z as reference points), and we will move deeper into both concepts today and next week when we jump into Mozilla’s Webmaker Tools. Our discussions yesterday centered on the perceptions of the word “Hacker” and I gave a brief history lesson of the Internet and the origin of the Hacker Movement, as well as touched on the Hack for Change events that are popping up. By the end, we had a nice balance of good/bad hacking.

Then, we moved into hacking and remixing this Nursery Rhyme picture book by Richard Scarry. Their task was to remix some pages of the book, to tell a new story, using three of the 11 digital literacy vocabulary words that have been introduced. We have word walls up, and we do daily activities with the words — such as portfolio, digital literacy, remixing. (I’ll share that work out another day). I shared out the one that I did as a sort of Mentor Text.

Book Hack 2

To be frank, I was sure if the high school kids would dive into it. And it took a few minutes. Then, they were all cutting up the pages and coming up with stories, and very engaged. It was pretty neat to watch.
hackbook collage2
The results is a nice, colorful wall of remixed Richard Scarry characters talking about digital literacies.
Hackbook Collage1
Today, we remix the remix, as I will be giving them sticky notes, and having them add new dialogue or text to someone else’s posters. Should be interesting …

Peace (in the book hack),


Six Word Biographies and the Making Learning Connected MOOC

I was so very pleased when folks in the Making Learning Connected MOOC began to pin themselves to our collaborative map. Partly, I was just intrigued by where my fellow maker/writers were located. Partly, I wanted a visual map (which connected to that week’s activity around mapmaking). And I also wanted to prompt folks to write a six word biography/memoir of themselves. We ended up with 70 or more pins, and such a rich array of six word biographies that I felt like I needed to do something to value all of that sharing and writing.

So, here’s a video of the six word bios.

All I did was copy/paste the text that folks left on the map and popped it into Keynote, using a theme that seemed to give a postcard-ish aura. It took me a few days, since it is sort of boring copy/pasting 70 or so stories. Then, I exported out of Keynote into a video file, uploaded that file into Youtube, and used the YouTube music option to add a little soundtrack.

I hope you like it.

Peace (in the sharing),


Thimble-izing the Making Learning Connected MOOC Reflections

MOOC Movie poster

I used two Thimble Projects from Mozilla’s Webmaker Kits to begin to reflect a bit on being part of this summer’s Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration. I still need to do a bit more writing – that’s how I get my head around ideas — but both of these Thimble projects intrigued me.

The first one, shared by Christina Cantrill, is one that I did use with my students at the end of the year. It allows you to make your own movie poster. You can view the movie poster as a website here: and you can make your own.

Go to the Thimble to Remix the Movie Poster

While I liked the idea of getting at a reflection creatively, I found the movie poster’s options sort of limited, so maybe this is just one piece of a reflective stance. Plus, I could not resist having some fun with the movie poster idea. (names, etc.)

The second reflection is another in a series of hackable Thimble projects that Chad Sansing has been putting together all summer. Every time I turn to Twitter or Google Plus, Chad’s sharing out yet another amazing Thimble template. And all of them invite you in to make something new. In this case, he created a template for a Postcard (when you go the site, and hover the mouse over the page, the card flips to the back side. Neat.)

(Update: Now I realize that Chad’s was a remix of another postcard project that Kim W. shared in the MOOC but she had taken it from someone else on the Mozilla site, and remixed,  and … yikes …. love the complexity of remixing culture. So, hats off to anyone and everyone whose remix led me to my remix.)

You can check out my version of Chad’s project or go to his original remixable template. Actually, every webpage in Thimble is remixable, but you may want to work off the original (or not, as I think about it – maybe remixing a remixing is what you want to explore)

Dino Postcard


Peace (in the reflection),


Considering Usernames, Avatars and Identity


We’re exploring the way that usernames and avatars in online space connect to issues of identity in our Digital Literacies workshop program for high school students. Yesterday, as part of their “writing into the day,” students mulled over and wrote about the usernames they invented for themselves in Gamestar Mechanic. I popped their usernames into a Word Cloud (including my own) as a visual way to show the names.

Our questions were:

  • What username did you choose?
  • Why did you choose it?
  • How does your username “represent” you as a game designer/game player in this space?

This writing connected to discussions we have been having about avatars, as visual representations, and how choices we make in regards to how we present ourselves to the world have implications around identity. Yeah, this is heady stuff for this group of English Language Learners, and while the class discussions come and go, the writing they are doing is pretty deep and thoughtful.

Here, for example, are some Lego Avatars they created before we went into our Bitstrips for Schools and worked with more realistic avatars:
lego collage
Again, we had them reflect in writing some of the choices they made, trying to make visible some of the thought process that we often take for granted. This all connects to digital identity, and digital literacies.

Peace (in the identity),

Hacking Our Own Website

Today, in our Digital Literacies/Game Design workshop for high school English Language Learners, we are moving into the world of remixing and hacking, with a bent on hacking for good and hacking for change, while also acknowledging both sides of the coin. Yesterday, we started this discussion a bit around privacy issues, and how they can begin to protect their privacy online. It was a deep conversation and it became clear early on that they had not ever really been asked to think about issues of privacy, data mining, Snowdebn/NSA, and more. They were intrigued and involved. I shared with them a few strategies:

Today, we begin to make the shift into hacking and remixing, and I am going to have them use the tool from Mozilla — XRay Goggles — to remix our workshop website. Honestly, I am not sure how it will go. These are not kids who can code, but part of the reason for using the tool is to show the underlying structure of websites — to make the world more visible — and to give them tools to mess around with the world, and learn from that experience.

Here is a screenshot of our homepage:

Here is my “mentor text” after I hacked the site:

Peace (in the hack),


Making Music with Soundation

I wanted to add a way to make music to the Making Learning Connected MOOC Make Bank, and I wanted to share out an online tool for music creation. This one — Soundation — feels familiar to anyone who has used Garageband or other loop-based music creating tools. You can even play around without an account, just to get a sense. Basically, you drag and drop loops from the library bank (lots of free loops and then lots more premium loops), and mix the song that way.

You can publish online, too, or download the files (if you have an account).

Here is a song I wrote for the MOOC:

Peace (in the tracks),


Teachers, Meet the Technologists; and Vice Versa

I’m not sure if you follow Audrey Watters at her various Hack Education spaces, but you should. You definitely should. She is insightful, probing and opinionated about a lot of things related to education, particularly of the way school districts and for-profit companies seem to be in a dance together more often than we would like to admit (Common Core Approved!) .

In short, she’s a great read (and writing a new book, so that’s cool). Her recent newsletter pointed readers to a series of posts she is developing around teachers and technology coordinators, and the divide between them (if you are unlucky to be in a district where that happens).

She writes:

“..all sorts of chasms remain between the realms of education and technology, between teachers and technologists. If we’re to bridge that (and recognize that there may well be places where we can’t, where missions and methods are irreconcilable) we should probably start by learning a bit more about one another — a little bit more about the education and the technology components, as well as the business and politics, of ed-tech.” — from

Check out the two collection she has up already and then come back in the future for the third (What Learners Should Know About Ed-Tech). As with everything she writes, there is a lot to digest here, and a lot to consider, and all of it is important.

An Ed-Tech Guide for Teachers and Technologists

Part 1:  What Technologists Need to Know About Education

Part 2:  What Educators Need to Know About Technology

Peace (in the connections),