PETE&C 2016 Reflection

For the entirety of my teacher profession, I have been able to attend the PETE&C conference. It’s an educational technology conference held in Hershey, PA and it has been one of the most rewarding, enlightening, and professionally stimulating conferences that I have ever been to. For the past two years, I have gone solo (previously I went with a group of teachers from my school) and I decided that I should do more to promote this conference to my colleagues and my district.

I will have a bigger debriefing post on here at some point soon, but I wanted to share the video reflection that I created to help remind me of what I learned and discussed with some wonderful educators.

Teaching Electronics with Minecraft: Part 1

I’ve gotten tired of teaching electronics the way that I learned it. Typically you begin somewhere around Ohm’s Law and build up the paper and pencil work until you get to work on actual circuits. Once you are there you can test and see if the stuff you spent the last few weeks learning about actually works or not.

This is probably a decent approach for later high school or college students, but for my middle school students, they see it as one thing; math. For whatever reason, math, not matter how simple, gets a bad rap. As soon as I start talking numbers, I lose them.

So this year I decided to go a different route. Instead of starting with the numbers, I am going to start with raw theory. But around that theory, I want to build an experience for my students. Something that they can see and remember. To do this, I am using Minecraft. In the video above I discuss a few of the basic things I am starting out with to give my students a real experience in electronics. I have lots of plans on how to add things in the near future to help connect the theory to the math and action down the road.

5 Steps to Setting Up a New Mac

I recently was able to purchase a new Mac so that I can work on things on the go a little easier. My “at home” Mac is a Late 2012 Mac Mini and my new “on-the-go” Mac is a Early 2015 MacBook Pro. I know that the MBP line is about to get refreshed (maybe?) with new chips and such in March, but I had a need for a laptop now.

Whenever I get a new computer, Mac, Microsoft, or Chromebook, I got through a little bit of a customization process. A friend of mine got a new Mac shortly after I got mine and wanted to know how I set my computer up. The video below goes through a few things that I do to setup my computer to maximize its uses for me.

Beginning with MinecraftEdu

I’m a pretty lucky Tech Ed teacher in that I have a lot of tools available to me. My classroom is a large computer lab that has plenty of room for my 36 computers and space for soldering irons, drills, and all of the projects that my students make. My school recently allowed me to purchase MinecraftEdu for my lab.

I’ve been looking for a different way to teach some of the topics that I cover. Mainly, I wanted to teach electronics, computer programming, and home design through the lens of Minecraft. My middle schoolers love Minecraft and I am always looking for a new way to engage them and to deliver content in new and interesting ways. (more…)

That’s not a computer

As the semesters switched last week I gained a new group of students and I played an ice breaker game that I use to gauge where they are at on their knowledge of technology. The ice breaker in question I call the “ABC’s of Technology.” The idea is that students write down all of the letters of the alphabet and then are given 3-5 minutes to write a piece of technology that starts with each letter.

I use this for two reasons. 1. It gives me an understanding of what students think technology is and 2. lets me get an idea of what technology they have been exposed to. I usually let the students have a few months to discuss their ideas before beginning the time. I received a question that flabbergasted me but also aligned with a troubling trend that I have seen from my students. The question, “what’s that black box under your computer?” (more…)

Site Footer