IPad Ideas

These ideas are guaranteed to be random, might not actually work, and ran through my mind today as I watched kids reflecting and researching with their iPads. And my favorite thing?  The chalk tray as an iPad stand was a kid’s idea.  See what happens when we turn them loose to find solutions… they always outthink us. :)

1.) Wouldn’t this setup work for iPads in the classroom?  I came across it on Instructables, and immediately thought– put a little easel or bookstand in there and boom, kids have a private space to reflect.  It’s portable, easy to put in a small space, and it would drastically improve student recording. Win win.  Plus, those bins are easy to find!


2.) Today a kiddo used the chalk tray to set their iPad on.  Why don’t we have spaces like this on our walls where kids can set their device up?  A quick Google search and I see Amazon has plenty of options.  Mount these at different heights and kids can stand, sit, and enjoy a place where their iPad becomes hands free.   NOTE: I totally wouldn’t rely on “Peel and Stick” here.  :) Just sayin.


3.) If you’ve ever helped kids load up an iPad cart, you’ve had that struggle with helping them put it in the right way.  The iPads have to go in facing a particular way, so that they can be charged.  Today I looked over at our Silhouette Cameo and thought, why don’t I make a Vinyl decal for the back that’s a person – like a Lego Minifig.  The kids can always make sure the MiniFig is standing right-side-up, facing the door with the lego on it.  This is more fun than repeating “other way” in a confusing cart loading. :) 


The Journey Just Keeps Getting Better

New is exciting. I get it.  I’m even taken away by it many times.  I remember when I was a kid, I got a new bike and couldn’t wait to get it on it.  There was something about those streamers, the crisp basket with plastic daisies donning the front, and the shiny plaid seat.  It was a new bike.  I couldn’t toss my old bike aside quickly enough.

So, I took it out and rode down the driveway, a gravelly hill in front of our house set back in the woods…  that sense of freedom gliding down the hill, wind in my hair, plastic streamers making a clicking sound as they tap-tap-tapped together.  It was the best bike ever.  Just like my old bike, but in my mind it was better, and c’mon, it had a basket and a plaid seat.  I loved that bike.  I never rode my old bike again.

I also remember my first car. And that feeling of leaving the driveway, then the road to my house, then the streets in my town. Traveling further each time.  My car took me places faster and farther than my bike could.  But the feeling was the same. Going somewhere, over the hills, sun shining, sites to see.   It’s the same feeling when I get a new laptop, a new iPhone, the Apple Watch, or even when I got a remote controlled fan that was voice activated. Try it, explore it, do something new in a better way. Technology takes us places.  It lets me use my voice to set my alarm and my wrist taps me when I need to remember a meeting.

As exciting as that is, I think about going further.  Higher, farther, to see a whole new view. Places beyond my imagination, things I could not have thought of, but discover along the way. Exploring new paths that don’t require roads or paved ways.  That scared feeling of the unknown combined with the excitement of figuring things out along the way,   A place where the only reason the ceiling exists is so we can see how far we’ve come as we blow past it.

RATAnd then I think back to my classroom through the years. I think of how nervous I was when I let students take charge and I chased them like a scared-mom letting go of the bike. Then,  I remember what it was like when I watched them drive the lesson, and I hovered “in the backseat”… probably too much.  Okay, definitely too much. And I watched as they went places I had planned and told them to go – because I was their teacher.  And slowly, I stopped planning so much and started watching as they decided where to go.

It was hard, it still is.  But you know what?

When I’d step away, I’d see them go so much further.  Places I didn’t imagine, but they found.  Things I hadn’t conceived of, but they dreamed up.  Places that were theirs to find. Using devices in new and different ways beyond what I thought of, because they have a playful mind that doesn’t hold back because of experiences. And I got to watch with all the excitement of the world watching the first footsteps on the moon. Watching, listening, not saying a word. Small steps unfolding into a monumental discovery.

I, for sure, will always miss hearing the tap-tap-tap of the streamers in the wind and the exhilarating glide down a bumpy gravel hill.   But I’m also careful that even though I miss that, I don’t take it from others.  Sometimes it’s not mine to experience, as I’m just running communication and support while they take the ride.   It’s their journey and I’m just lucky enough to watch them go, or be there to help fix a tire when it’s needed.

I know not every moment is a new bike, or a new car, or even a launch to an entirely new dimension.  But I also know that those moments are what it’s all about.  That makes things messy and un-uniform.  It causes our planned grids and posted objectives to need adjustment.   I used to look at a technology scale like the R-A-T or the SAMR and think I needed to create that transformation, and by create, I’m pretty sure I meant force it.   But, that’s just not how launches happen.  Organically, authentically, with the right mix of experiences, learning just explodes.  The launch breaks the chains, literally, off the pad.  If you hold it too tight, you’ll squish it.  And if you give it too much hydrogen at the wrong time, you’ll keep it from launching.

So, it’s beyond bikes, cars, and rockets.  It’s about a conscience effort to provide the tools, choices, opportunities, and be there, just like folks manning mission control.  Be there to support guide, in whatever way each student needs.  Because if you step back as just the right moment, even you will be surprised by what happens.  That iPad will be the wings taking them through the atmosphere.  The laptop they share will enhance their collaboration and help them discover a solution.  And you’ll realize, that even though you’ve gone to a place where you can no longer hear the streamers on your bike tapping in the wind, you’ve got all that and more.  And the journey just keeps getting better.


Another Dress To Argue About?

This week was a crazy one.  If you’ve been on social media, um, at all, you’ve seen the story of the Texas boy who was handcuffed for making a clock and bringing it to school.  It sparked a firestorm of #IStandWithAhmed all over social media.  It needed to.  And that night I saw that he had invites to the White House, MIT, and SpaceCamp.  I smiled from ear to ear knowing that after being handcuffed in his own school, he was going to receive some pretty amazing connections.

But this morning I woke up and realized that I hope that people who tweeted, posted, shared, and blogged about this story did more than just share the story.

Our society loves a cause.  We love to post rants about politics, get angry about the color of a dress, and even share fake stories about cake mixes.  We tweet, blog, and share… a lot.  Sometimes, without thought, and many times without action.   Posting is easy and it can feel like we are doing something… raising awareness.  But, are we doing enough?  Are we looking at how to make real change, even if that means changing ourselves as educators?

I think of that boy, being handcuffed in his own school and I realize that I’ve known many kids who were “handcuffed” in their schools… not physically, but mentally.  Told to stop asking so many questions.  Ideas and passions that went unrecognized, unvalidated, and even treated as though they were “getting in the way” for not following the scripted curriculum.   There are kids who think differently and many times, we decide the best way to treat them is to try to get them to think like everyone else.  And when we do that, we are wrong.

And I just hope that we realize being wrong about a dress color is one thing, but being wrong about kids?  The cost is far too great.weareallmakers2

I Stand With Ahmed


Here’s to the kids,  restless and dreaming,

to create something new, their sparkling eyes gleaming.

The kids who will think outside of the book,

In a place curiosity keeps making them look.

Deeper and farther, thoughts big and small,

beyond just a grade, ideas from them all.

Build and design, remix and revamp,

Their passions deserve an approval stamp.

The kids who build clocks of wires and parts,

The kids for who making beats in their hearts.

School for all kids, no matter the learning they love,

Whether it’s deep in the ocean, or the stars high above.

We can’t wait any longer to change what we do,

There are kids who are waiting, and counting on you.

Dreaming and doing, and thinking and more,

Engineering designs, and innovation galore.

Let’s make the space where they all can thrive,

One where creating means coming alive,

For every kid with ideas, let it be said,

For the love of all learning, I stand with Ahmed.

For the record, I Stand With Ahmed.  And it’s time for schools to become the places we know they can and they need to be.  Kids ARE waiting.