Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm Speaking at #MACUL15

SpeakingMACUL15The 2015 MACUL Conference is three weeks away and my excitement for what I often call my most inspiring teaching week of the year is starting to build.

I will be sharing and engaging during three different sessions this year.

Thursday - March 19
•Google Certified Teacher/Trainer Panel  Discussion, 10:00 AM, Room 111 A/B
•These ARE the Droids you're looking for, 2:30 PM, Room 110 A/B

Friday - March 20
•If you can't make it in Keynote, You don't need it, 8:00 AM, Room 259 - This two hour hands-on session requires additional payment at registration.

Please stop by and be part of the conversations. I always leave MACUL amped for the remainder of the year primarily because of the great people with whom I get to spend the time.

Macul 2015.001

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pharrell Williams, the essence of professional development, and #cuerockstar

"Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right." ~ The Grateful Dead "Scarlet Begonias"

Last night while watching The Voice on NBC, I witnessed a couple of special minutes. After 17 year-old Bryce Sherlow's audition didn't make the cut, she graciously accepted the feedback and encouragement from the celebrity judges. When Bryce mentioned to Pharrell Williams that she had sung his hit "Happy" at the a cappella nationals, he asked her to sing a little.

"Get up there and sing it with her," instructed fellow judge Christina Aguilera...and he did.

This is the essence of what professional learning should be. Pharrell the mega star gave this young start-up a thrill of a lifetime by leaving his pedestal and putting himself on the same level as her. By him taking a step down so to speak, he lifted her up. The good educational presenters do that. They may have tens of thousands or Twitter followers and receive thousands per day from school districts to present, but to have lasting impact they have to meet their workshop attendees on a common level. That is how you move the craft of teaching forward. That is how you inspire the next wave to join you in moving the craft of teaching forward. That is also how any teacher inspires and moves their students forward.

The "Faculty members aren't the rock stars. Attendees are the rock stars." mantra of the CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps is the core value that has made them so impactful and why people attend multiple camps each year. It is why I have gotten so involved with them. When I watched Pharrell get on stage, I told my wife, "That is Rock Star to a tee. That is exactly what it is all about."


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tackling Technical Text with Paper Airplanes at Instructables com

Tackling Technical Text with Paper Airplanes at 

 I was recently searching with my wife for go to technical texts that she could use with her fourth graders as they tackle how directions are written and strategies for comprehending them.

I decided to take a deeper look at I've had the app for years but always thought of it as this way-out set of instructions for building things like charcoal powered generators or a suit of armor made from pop can tabs.

The site is actually loaded with easy to build, fun stuff like paper airplanes...some simple, some complex. Many of the instructions are written by kids too.

The second-graders dove right in to the many offerings. Some had to overcome the fact the task would take some thinking, trial and error, and perseverance. Overall, we ended up experiencing a lot of learning and having a lot of fun as this relentless winter raged on.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easily find GMail sent and received between custom dates

Here is a quick way to see all of your sent and received email from a specific time period.

In the search bar type after:YEAR/MONTH/DATE before:YEAR/MONTH/DATE with your custom dates. See my example below from searching for mail during this past November.

Screenshot 2015-02-19 11.10.58

For more advanced search techniques, check out Google's list of commands.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Easter Egg! Hidden T-Rex Adventure in Chrome

Here is another great reason to have children. They teach you cool stuff they learn from their friends at school. We're not talking a new way to spit or armpit farts here. We're talking an Easter egg hidden in Google Chrome. My daughter came home from sixth grade with this little nugget today.

If you have ever lost wifi while browsing in Chrome you have likely encountered this critter and message.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 9.19.08 PM

Next time, tap your space bar and you will find yourself in a ridiculously simple and ridiculously addictive video game. It's a great way to pass the time until wifi comes back.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 9.14.49 PMOf course you don't have to wait for the Internet to go down. Just turn off your wifi and hit reload on this page. You will connect to nothing and soon be jumping cactus and neglecting whatever it was you were supposed to be doing in the first place.

I am going on record right now that I won't be held responsible for the amount of time you waste on this little trick. But like John Lennon said, "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."


Let your kids build the ultimate flying machine at Instructables

There are all kinds of things waiting to be built at

Check out all of the different paper airplane plans and make the ultimate flying machine today.

Instructables: Paper Airplanes

Our second graders are digging in and next week we'll let them soar in the gym. That is one way to make it through the Michigan winter.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chrome Extension Pic2Pixlr Cuts the Workflow

I use Pixlr a lot for photo editing and design. I have always appreciated the ability to open images to edit by pasting in their URLs. That process is a lot quicker once you install the Chrome extension Pic2Pixlr.

Now instead of having to open Pixlr editor in a separate tab and then pasting in an address of an online image, all I have to do now is right-click that image and get the "Open with pic2pixlr" option. From there I can left click on the general editor or designer apps Pixlr-O-matic or Pixlr Express.

Find Pic2Pixlr in the Chrome Web Store.

Screenshot 2015-02-16 12.45.14

MACUL 2015: Get to the MichShift Idea Slam!

Check out this great event for Thursday March 18 at MACUL in Detroit.

ShiftMich Idea Slam

What better place than here? What better time than now?

A unique event during MACUL week

Are you a Michigan educator who is....


Are you ready to...

connect with others/start something/tell your story?

If you are passionate about innovation in education...

Meet in Detroit!

The Idea Slam is a fast paced "pitch fest" and networking event for educators. Selected projects will be presented and attendees will vote on their favorite ideas. Winning projects will receive up to $1,000 towards their innovative educational idea. The rest of the evening is an informal meet-up with fun conversations and delicious offerings from Detroit Beer Company.

The concept of the Idea Slam was inspired by the Detroit Soup and TED Conference formats.


200 tickets available- Sellout anticipated

All proceeds given back to the winning educators who pitch their impactful idea!

Detroit Beer Company


Thursday, March 19th, 7:30-11pm


1529 Broadway Street - Detroit


Detroit Beer Co. is located just a few steps off of the Detroit People Mover! Exit at the Broadway Street Station.

Driving? Your best bet is the Opera House Garage located at

1426 Broadway St

Detroit, MI 48226

Get Directions

Great city

Great space

Great people 

7:30pm- Doors open

8:00pm- Opening remarks

8:15pm- Idea Slam pitches

9:00pm- Voting

9:15pm- Winners announced

9:15-11:00pm: Networking and idea sharing

Have an innovative Idea that could make a positive Shift in your school or education in general? Pitch it and you could walk away with money to get it off the ground! (Use the above link to apply for one of five pitch spots at the event. Organizers want to ensure presenters are organized and ready to SLAM. Only the top five selected will get a chance to pitch.)

Event flier on SMORE

Friday, February 13, 2015

Canva: 23-second Intro - YouTube

Check out, a free graphic design site that offers premium features in a pay as you go format.

Below is their "23 Second Into" that effectively shows you the site's main features. New users can also complete a quick tutorial to get the feel of navigating and accessing features.

Personally I like that you can upload your own images and if you connect your Facebook account, you can access all of those images as well.


Canva: 23 Second Intro - YouTube.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Learn to Love Google Drive with Rob Lowe

Here is the slide deck for Wednesday Morning's session on embracing Google Drive. We'll have a little help from Rob Lowe who uses Google Drive and from Creepy Rob Lowe, Meathead Rob Lowe, and Peaked in High School Rob Lowe as well.