Monday, October 27, 2014

Share it JUST in TIME

Distributing resources to your class in a quick and effective way has always been part of a good teacher's skill set.  The quicker you can do this, the more time you and your students have to spend learning. As many of our resources have become digital resources that live in the cloud,  teachers need a a way to organize and distribute  these digital resources as efficiently as they can hand out a pencil, a booklet, or any other classroom resource.

A portal, a class website, or a learning management website  are a great way to organize resources for your students,  but every good teacher "monitors and adjust" lessons quickly and sometimes updating your website or LMS on the fly is not the most fastest way to lead an audience to a web resource.  This is when URL shorteners and QR codes can contribute to AGILE learning.

A URL shortner takes very LONG URLs and makes them SHORT so they can be more easily copied down or take less room to display.  A QR code is one that uses a special app along with your  device's camera to quickly locate a web web resource. 

Adding a SHORT URL or QR code to a poster, a website,  a handout,  a chakboard, or bulletin board, or even on a physical object can not only provide a quick and easy way to give students, parents, and audience quick access to a needed piece of information or to rich multimedia resources that enhance the experience.  One of my favorite tools for creating BOTH  short URL's  and QR codes is   For example the SHORT URL for this we page is

Learn to create both short URL's and QR codes with the Chrome App. 

I can quickly write this SHORTened URL anywhere for anyone to quickly access simply by typing it into their WEB ADDRESS bar.  It is important to use the actual WEB ADDRESS bar and NOT the Google search bar since it was created only minutes ago and a Google search will not find this address.

Or I can save, copy, and/or print the QR code to be used on a handout, a bulletin board, or even a physical object.

A quick and easy way to gain access to this tool is to install the Url Shortner Chrome Apps extension

From this extension you can quickly create and copy a shortened URL in one step or create a QR code.  When properly set up it will even keep track of  the details of this short URL or QR code (added to history) that you can refer to simply by going to  Here you can see all the other short URL's you have made, their QR codes, and more details like how many times they have been clicked on.

QR codes are easily accessible from most mobile devices using a QR scanner app such as  i-Nigma for many other QR reader apps.  But did you know that there are QR apps for your Chromebooks also.  Just search the app store for QR readers and install  ScanQR or other QR readers Chrome Apps so that your students can use their Chromebook cameras to read QR codes in books, on walls, and more.

Simply find your QR reader in your collection of Chrome Apps and click on it to turn your laptop or Chromebook's camera into a QR reader.

One of the most powerful coolest use of a QR code  I've seen is a painting with a QR code that brings you to a time lapsed movie of the piece of art being created.

Put these tools in your student's digital toolkit and you may soon find learners adding QR codes to their finished products that lets the audience view a movie of the process OR of the learners reflecting on the project.

What are your favorite tools for shortening url's or creating and reading QR codes?  What innovative ways have you found to use these tools to support teaching and learning? 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Is a B- okay?

So,  yesterday I caught up with some of my friends who managed to complete the 30 blog post in 30 days challenge by TeachThought.   I started to write (unfortunately, I completed the 30th blog post on day 37, not day 30).   If 30 in 30 is 100% success, I would assume 30 blog post in 37 days is 81%.  So if numbers matter, I give myself a B- on this challenge.  

What stopped me from completing 30 in 30?

Many of my reflections took me down a road that was intriguing and I kept going.  Hours later I took the time to add hyperlinks and look for pictures that would make it more visually attractive.  I remember, a well known education blogger preaching that we all should blog and that it only takes him 10 minutes to whip up a blog post.  Well, it DOESN'T take me 10 minutes!  And sometimes it doesn't take our kids 10 minutes to complete the assignment that we think should only be 10 minutes of homework.

I remember a story my son was writing in 4th grade.  After an hour he still was not done his homework.  He was working from a story map he had created in class, and he was only on the second item of his story map at bedtime, but had 5 pages written.  I tried to convince him that he could hand it in tomorrow and  call it a Chapter of a book.   Frustration and tears were certainly part of our bedtime routine that night, yet when I read through his 'chapter'  my eyes filled with pride at the amazing detail in his writing and and the way his writing lead the reader to visualize the scene.  How many times have the  'parameters' we set resulted in lost opportunity.   Sometimes those parameters are set by others, sometimes by ourselves.

But I think its important to keep an eye out for times when we (or our students)  might be better off extending the deadline parameter to produce something deeper, more inspiring,  or even something different.

Another thing that kept me from completing 30 in 30 is that I am the type of person that takes side trips in my journey and sometimes I get lost in the inspiration of those side trip and don't make it back on the trail quickly.  During this past month,  I have had many of those side trips, and most of them have been so enriching that I would NOT want to have missed any of them.  (Like a sudden inspiration to do a communal 3D printer build at Champlain Maker Faire).    We need to encourage more side trips in our learning journey, and that probably won't happen as we refuse to accept 'late' assignments.

Photo Credit
Recently my friends encouraged me to join them for a 25K cross country ski tour.  It took most people 4 hours;  it took me 6 hours.  I discovered that a very old injury to my lower back was aggravated by the motion my body made going uphills.   At the 20K marker,  some suggested I grab a ride home from the snowmobile taxis that were there to taxi folks.  I refused.  "I made it this far, I'm going to cross that finish line!" I answered stubbornly.

I'm okay with accepting a B- because I understand my own goals and can appreciate my own learning and can move on to the next exciting piece of learning that life's journey will bring.  But to many of our students (and educators)  a B- means you are not 'quite'  where you need to be.    What can we do as educators to keep an eye for those students whose would be discouraged by that B-?  How can we keep an eye out for lost opportunities from the students who will always score an  "A"?

The parameters of this challenge kept me going at a pace that I would not have kept up with, had it not been for wanting to cross the finish line.  But the ability to balance other's expectations and your own expectations for when and how to make it across the finish line is an important part of learning!  Let's help learners cross their personal finish lines!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

If I Were Not Afraid

The last prompt of the 30 day Blogging Challenge from TeachThought "What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?"

After several false starts in reflecting on this prompt,  I realize that I'm already doing lots of what I would do if I were not afraid.  I have given up my apartment, left the security of the K12 education system,  moved into a vintage 1983 BlueBird Wanderlodge and given myself a new title "free-lance educator".  I'm letting my passion, curiosity, and interest lure me to my next adventure.

However, I realize that if I were NOT afraid.. I would just "LEARN"  all the time and "GIVE away my LEARNING" to anyone who was interested in having me help them Learn.   The part of me that keeps me from doing that is a certain degree of FEAR that as I get older I will have financial needs that I won't be able to meet.  We just celebrated my husband's grandmother's 100th birthday.  The day after she turned 100 she got a letter from the president and an eviction notice because she had run out of money.  Haunted by fear that I don't want to be a burden to my children, and the desire to be independent, I still charge for some of the things I do -  but because I'm MOSTLY unafraid,  was able to let go of the constraints of a 180 day teaching contract and the constraints of living in a house and gain the freedom to do lots of things because they are fun - thus the term "free-lance".  

For example,  this weekend I had a vision to lead a communal 3D printer build.  I tried for a little bit to find some sponsors, but then decided to not be afraid and JUST DO IT and ordered the kit.  And because I was unafraid,  lots of people learned and were empowered.   They weren't necessarily empowered "to build a 3D printer" - they were empowered because they had a chance to help "MAKE" something that would really be used.  Many left thinking... "wow if people make 3D printers,  what else can we make -- what do I want to make?"

Speaking of challenges, this post completes the Te@ch Thought's 30 day blogging challenge .

I must admit, I'm about a week late in completing the challenge, but I decided that completing all 30 prompts should count!  Part of not being afraid is making up your own rules, right! ;-)

The Day EVERYTHING Changed in my Classroom


Teach Thought Blogging Challenge #29 How have you changed as an educator.

I feel like this prompt could easily turn into a memoir. My whole career is a trail of change. I have always called myself a change agent and I could right chapters about each change and how it has changed me.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”. ― Heraclitus. 

So I'm going to select ONE of many ways I have changed as an educator and identify the the one event that was the catalyst to that change -


  • That fall I stopped being the person who decided what my students would learn, carefully planned the curriculum and designed each lesson. 

  • That fall, my students came back to school filled with ideas about what they wanted to know about because it had been a summer of inquiry for them. 

  • That fall, I put most everything I had planned aside and followed their passions and saw the most wonderful learning happen in my classroom. 

I say I put MOST everything aside - because I still had a "invisible hand" in what we learned. I knew what I wanted them to learn, but I also knew that I would be able to engage them in ways previously unimaginable. My classroom would never be the same again.

It's Not About the Tools, but......

TeachThought Blogging Challenge Prompt #28
Your thoughts: Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?

Technology should definitely not DRIVE the curriculum,  but Technology can make some curriculum possible or even imaginable.  

For example  Michael Hathorn's course,  Recreating Vermont History in 3D is not a course about technology, but the technology does play a significant role in driving this curriculum.   3D printing makes this course possible, but this course leverages 3D printing towards a much broader curriculum goal.  

Certain technologies make some things possible.  

For example,  Google tools makes certain types of collaboration possible that you could not imagine without without the technology.    So when I offer my course Google Tools For Schools, many people think its about the technology, but soon find out that it's not.  Amazing teacher designed curricular projects come from this course.   It's about  the type of  teaching and learning that  is possible with the use of Google Tools.  So in this case, you might say that the technology drives the curriculum,  because the goal is to introduce the power of amazing tools that have the power to change the culture of your school to one of collaborative learning.   But if you offered a curriculum in collaborative learning, many people would assume they know what that looks like.  Few would  imagine that they would need such a class because they had no idea what is possible using today's technology. As you can see the answer to this question can be quite circular in nature. 

When I discuss  the REDEFINITION level of Ruben Puntedera's SAMR model,   I think that if we did not have some technology driven curriculum in the mix, most of us would never reach redefinition level because we would not be able to imagine what could be possible. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Holidays and Weekends

TEACHTOUGHT Blogging Challenge Prompt #27

I made it through 26 of the 30 day blogging challenge post in September, but still plan to make it through the last 4 post (in early October).   What I learned about my blogging is that it's like the rest of my life -  I tend to over-estimate how much I can get done in a day and therefore I need holidays and weekends to catch up so that I don't limit my weekdays to the actual number of things that can actually FIT into a workweek.    But those of you who get regular emails from me will not be surprised for this reflection certainly matches the the signature block on my email:

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.
  - James M. Barrie

So... what do my holidays and weekends look like..  well perhaps a look at this past weekend confirms that "LEARNING WITH LUCIE" doesn't take a holiday. 

This weekend I organized a 3D communal printer build at the Champlain Maker Mini Faire.
The printer build started at the beginning of the Faire (10:00 Saturday morning and was successfully completed ten minutes before the end of the faire at 4:00 Sunday afternoon).   Many folks from Create Make Learn Summer Institute helped facilitate the exhibit where showed off some of the fun ways making is happening in K12 education  and the printer was completely assembled by Vermont educators, students, and 

And oh what fun!

Here is the timelapse video we made from Day 1 and Day 2 of the build