Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Reaching a High Score #LevelUpBC #edtech

This presentation has gone through several revisions since I first presented it over a year ago. Here’s the current version of it that was presented at this year’s MSET iConnect event on December 1st, 2012.  The event was managed by the incredibly talented Selena Ward.

Presentation’s Google Doc:

Reality is Broken:

Article on Lee Sheldon of Indiana University:,employers-look-to-gaming-to-motivate-staff.aspx

Warcraft in School:

Minecraft in School:

Level Up Book Club: &

(And if you want to know more about me, go to )

Saturday, December 01, 2012

iConnect Presentations

For those of you attending my sessions today, here are my presentations just in case you want to follow along.  Assuming the audio quality of the recordings is acceptable I'll post the video as well.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Good Idea, Bad Idea

This is my reaction to New York City imposes new social media rules for teachers.  Click to read the article, it's worth it.

I agree a set of rules should be established.  Every day I see people of all ages posting things that they really shouldn't.  That stuff doesn't go away, particularly if it's embarrassing.

As for the schools mentioned in the article who ban social networking outright?  I'm waiting for them to ban computers and start teaching how to bang rocks together.  When it comes to technology, you can't TEACH it if you can't USE it. 

Social networking is one of the things that permeates the internet right now.  If I had to ban all social networking tools from my classroom over half my curriculum (including Edmodo, which is a spectacular teaching tool) would be toast.  I'd be back to teaching just MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for 180 school days.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Academic Aesthetic #178: Problems and Solutions

Download .mp3

This is an episode about problems and solutions as I look ahead to next year's curriculum.


9 week curriculum needs revising.  This is a course that can be repeated every year.  Even if I didn't need to change the lessons to keep it interesting to ME, I would still need to change the lessons to keep it interesting to my students.


Change the "plot" of most projects.  Instead of building a tree using 3D Tin, build a flower (or something else)!  Projects too simple for a "plot" change can be retired, replaced by new assignments.


Major curriculum needs a large overhaul.  There were many projects that worked well, but others that did not.  Some were based on specific time-sensitive events, like our school's Fall Drama production.  In addition, the majority of the class (I have 7 students moving on to High School) will be in the course next year.  This can't just be a repeat, I need a full year's worth of new projects.


Don't reset points, levels, or projects completed.  Incoming majors will still be Level 1.  Returning majors (7th and 8th grade) will be whatever level they were in June. This will require more levels to be added (Current cap is Level 5) with more complex assignments to accommodate returning students.  Current thought is to include assignments that involve more than one media file.  Instead of "Record an .mp3" they may have to "Create a podcast series with no fewer than 5 episodes."


Film Festival projects are cutting it close - very close - to our deadline.  With 5 weeks to go many students still have not finished their scripts.


Spread Film Festival projects out through the entire year.  Script/Storyboard due Q1, Final Movie due Q3, Trailer due Q4, and a new "Making of..." project due Q2.  These projects will reside OUTSIDE of the Levels format existing for the other projects, and can be handed in regardless of the level of the student.


5th Grade curriculum relates to the 9 week curriculum much more than it does to the Major curriculum.  Incoming Majors have experience with technology but there is much room for improvement.


Redo 5th grade curriculum to follow gaming model.  Move some "retired" 9 week lessons to 5th grade to give them a feel for the program, then simplify some Major lessons and introduce them has higher level 5th grade projects.


Site design could use an overhaul.  (This seems to change every year.)  I used MediaWiki for Middle School's class sites because I wanted to teach myself how to use MediaWiki.  Now that the challenge is gone I am seeing MediaWiki's shortcomings.  My options are to install plugins to give MediaWiki the functionality that it lacks OR to move on to something else.

Solution ... ?

Hand coding, Google Sites, WordPress, Drupal, Wikispaces, Tumblr, ... something else?  I am still looking into all of my options.


Many of my tutorials must be redone.  Some are no longer relevant as better techniques have been developed, others need to redone now that websites and or apps have been upgraded.


Nothing to it but to do it.  The kinks for this have already been worked out, the rest is just time management.


Technology can be lacking.  We have more cameras this year than any previous year, yet I do not have enough cameras to provide one to each student.  Many students do not have technology at home needed to complete assignments.  This has been partially solved by creating "low tech" projects that relate to technology but don't require it for an A.  More can and should be done.


Donors Choose for cameras?  Create a "recommended purchases" page on the class site?  (I cannot "require" anything more than a flash drive, but I can "recommend" anything.)  Provide weekly lab time after school to any students that wish to work on something.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Common Ground Maryland 2012 Twitter Digest Day 2

2nd verse, same as the first.

  1. A little slow getting ready this morning, but now I'm all set to head out to Day 2 of #CGMD12.

  2. Blog: I know where I’ll be Session 8!

  3. So apparently @UnhelpfulTeachr is following me. Wonder if she checks Twitter on her phone during class while confiscating student phones.

  4. Looking forward to Camp ITC in Rm 345, presented by fellow @pgcps employee Tia Simmons!

  5. Oh there's a lot more than 2 of us! :) RT @msreneescience: I'm at Baltimore Convention Center (Baltimore, MD) w/ 2 others.


  1. Camp ITC presentation resources:

  2. "I have a PhD in ADHD."

  3. Follow Tia Simmons @techtia#CGMD12 #campitc

  4. Free online chat, participants don't need to register.

  5. When building your own CampITC, Plan the Who, What, Where, When, Why, & How first. Set guidelines to narrow things down.

  6. "Scout out" your tools ahead of time. Google Apps, Elluminate, etc. Start early to help people adjust to the format.

  7. @misteryork1 That's an issue with any conference. I always check what organization the speaker represents in the schedule. (In reply to Mr. York complaining about sales pitches disguised as sessions.)

  8. "Chat & Chew" sessions - time for discussion vs. lecture.

  9. Establish "Camp Rules." Guidelines so that participants know what is expected from them and from the "Camp Counselor."

  10. One of the #CampITC rules: "Reflect & implement new strategies." THIS CANNOT BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH! (Emphasis mine.)

  11. #CampITC Schedule: Session 1: Getting to know your camping guide (Pedagogy)

  12. #CampITC Schedule: Session 2: Take a Hike (Prep/Planning)

  13. #CampITC Schedule: Session 3: From Camping to Classroom (Putting it together/Reflecting)

  14. #CampITC use a variety of tools for communication/evaluation - Email, wikis, "corkboard" sites, etc.

  15. #CampITC Give stuff at the end. Certificates, raffles, door prizes, etc.

  16. I really like the idea of doing a #CampITC. Thinking of setting one up for my building.


  1. Ready for the session on screencasting to start in rm 318. What's this about a web based screencasting app?

  2. Many people here have already made screencasts. Starting off by bringing the rest up to speed.

  3. Screencast: Recording of whatever is seen on the screen + voice, often for making tutorials.

  4. (Screencasting is also often used when creating machinima or streaming video games.)

  5. Web based screen casting tool:

  6. is Java based, which means it's cross-platform.

  7. allows you to post videos to YouTube or sort them into "channels" on their site.

  8. allows video downloads as well, including .mp4 .avi .flv and .gif

  9. Paid version and free version. Free limited to 15 minutes. (If yours is longer than that it should be broken into parts anyway.)

  10. This session has already "paid" for itself. is as good as QuickTime for short recordings.

  11. 3 Steps to Screencasting: Plan, Create, Publish. (Good for any media creation!)

  12. "Develop a narration" - avoid "Ums," "Uhs," and long pauses when recording. Scripts are great.

  13. Set up a website (wikispaces suggested) to showcase recorded videos.

  14. YouTube hosting is good and free. (I still reccomend having an additional site to showcase/sort videos.)

  15. Use Screencasts to teach/present to parents. (Great way to show the SchoolMax Parent Portal?)

  16. I really like this screencasting session, alas, I must be somewhere else shortly. Was definitely worth my time.


  1. Hm, is the #cgmd12 Flash Mob upstairs or downstairs?#WeveHadThisProblemBefore

  2. @harbeckc It was at the Pratt St. Lobby. @thetechtiger had me record video.


  1. Not sure if the people in this room are waiting for my #CGMD12 session or holdovers from the last one. We'll see if they leave when I start.

  2. Reaching A High Score Presentation:

  3. Thanks! RT @APPliedClub: It's a PACKED full house at the Reaching a High Score session. I'm sitting on the floor. WTG @theartguy

  4. Not sure how I got that crowd... RT @Jennzer#CGMD12 @theartguyalready has a the crowd rolling... Reaching a High Score room 324

  5. RT: APPlied Club ‏ @APPliedClub "One student not passing is too many." - @theartguy So true!

  6. RT: APPlied Club ‏ @APPliedClub Those who suggest blocking everything as a solution to distraction problems have no idea how to teach technology. @theartguy

  7. RT: Jennifer Weaver ‏ @Jennzer "Are we teaching students to get things right the first time or are we teaching them mastery?" #CGMD12 @theartguy

  8. RT: Selena Ward ‏ @thetechtiger Ok. 1st recommendation for next year: give @theartguy a bigger room.

  9. RT: APPlied Club ‏ @APPliedClub Tons of enthusiasm about meeting students where they already are, take the learning to them. So awesome and inspiring! @theartguy (NOTE: Not sure we were in the same presentation.)

  10. RT: Matthew C. Winner ‏ @MatthewWinner “@theartguy: Reaching A High Score Presentation: #CGMD12” watch this guy! His gaming vision for education is AMAZING!

  11. RT: Justin Eames ‏ @Techucation Can't wait to implement the ideas I heard about in presentation by@theartguy. Always engaging.

  12. OK, that's enough with over-inflating my ego. Now to hang out in rm 320 for presentations by @thetechtiger & @MatthewWinner


  1. Lights, Learning, Action is starting in rm 320! There's still room, come on in!

  2. @thetechtiger tell me more about that webinar thing. I'm interested.

  3. "You can't just say you want the next version of Shakespeare." Start simple. (via @thetechtiger)

  4. 1st example: 3 word video (via @thetechtiger)

  5. Find @thetechtiger's resources online at

  6. Six word memoir: "Old too soon, young too late." (via @thetechtiger)

  7. My 6 word memoir: "Uh oh, was that thing on?"

  8. Google Search Stories: No acting needed, all typing.

  9. To make a Google Search Story you also need good search skills in addition to story writing skills. (via @thetechtiger)

  10. Paper Slide videos: Very much like the "In Plain English" videos. (via@thetechtiger)

  11. Paper Slide Videos: Need Camera Person, Narrator, & Paper Slider (via @thetechtiger)

  12. Shoutout for AFI's curriculum. It's FREE! (Via @thetechtiger)

  13. Next Vista "Teach a project in 90 seconds." (Via @thetechtiger)

  14. I inturrupted @thetechtiger. I'm sorry!

  15. On Air Free - makes iDevice into a teleprompter (via @thetechtiger)

  16. "If you crash and burn take a deep breath and try again." (Via@thetechtiger)

  17. Another AWESOME presentation by @thetechtiger at #CGMD12 - She rocks!


  1. Getting ready for @matthewwinner's presentation in room 320! Game on!

  2. @atruger OK I am now in love with - THANK YOU for this resource!

  3. Thrilled to be in this session - @matthewwinner and his co presenter (twitter unknown) are doing a great job!

  4. "They already have math in [the Wii] but they're not telling anyone about it, which is really stupid." (via @matthewwinner)

  5. Full mix of Wii experience levels here. (I've never used one.)

  6. "When I walk into a math room, I want to hear a healthy math buzz."

  7. Watching video of students playing a skiing game while others record scores & find mean & average. (via @matthewwinner)

  8. "Who's doing the thinking/talking in your room?"

  9. Digital handouts for @matthewwinner's session:

  10. Using a Wii bowling game to teach decimal places. Game lets you bowl with 100 pins. (via @matthewwinner)

  11. During @thetechtiger's session @matthewwinner pointed out "Could not connect to the internet." is a 6 word story.

  12. "While we play I have my phone out and have a student take pictures." (via @matthewwinner)

  13. "We need to use these tools to connect to THEIR world." (via@matthewwinner)

  14. The Wii seems to mostly be used as an engaging way to gather relevant data. My challenge will be how to do something similar.

  15. Their high score is held by a 2nd grader. (via @matthewwinner)


  1. I hope we can afford it - if I can I'll be there! RT @sbeducator: Really liked #CGMD12! I will be there next year...and will bring others!

  2. RT: Charity Harbeck ‏ @harbeckc @theartguy Art of Video games exhibit link.

I have company at #cgmd12

I have company at #cgmd12

I have company at #cgmd12,
originally uploaded by TheArtGuy.

I know where I'll be Session 8! #cgmd12

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reaching a High Score Presentation

You can also click this link to see the presentation.

Common Ground Maryland 2012 Twitter Digest Day 1

Because someone might want to look at this and before long going back through Twitter will make it too hard to see these posts, here's a (not so) brief summary of my observations. I've placed gaps to show where I went from one session to another.

  1. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="320" caption="My hat's seen better days."][/caption]

    Up early for a full day of #CGMD12 ... As soon as the caffiene kicks in.

  2. @MatthewWinner Not today, no. I look forward to seeing you in my session tomorrow! (That means I'll have at least one person there.)

  3. It begins! My presentation has remained largely unchanged for weeks, and I just thought of something new to add.

  4. Not 10 minutes after getting here I was recognized twice and high-fived once. I <3 #cgmd12.

  5. A little worried - apparently my #CGMD12 session is at the same time as tomorrow's keynotes. Might have a room to myself.


  6. In room 321, ready to see Doug Johnson present on using personal devices for education. I'm in the seat next to the outlet. :)

  7. All of Doug Johnson's session notes are online at

  8. Note to self, look for book called Disrupting Class.

  9. @KatrinaStevens1 Your session was already on my short list. Hall is awesome but I've seen him before.

  10. Talking about distractions in class - all of which are low tech.

  11. "I don't think they're looking for entertainment as much as they are looking for engagement."

  12. "You can't disregard the entertainment factor. ... Engagement can't JUST be entertainment."

  13. "I don't have all the answers but I hope to leave you confused at a higher level."I am so glad I picked this session.

  14. "If I could give my grandkids a gift, it would be to give them a life full of interesting problems."

  15. Update: Disrupting Class is available on Google Play note: The Kindle version is cheaper.)

  16. Don't forget to have your edtech conference bingo cards at the ready.

  17. YES! Speaker is using all the arguments against personal devices to explain why pencils shouldn't be used in class.

  18. Doug Johnson is in Rm 321 all day today. From everything I've seen so far everyone should see at least one of his sessions.

  19. RE: Devices in school "It's easier to steer the camel in the direction it's already going."

  20. When allowing personal devices, set clear rules and expectations - AUP

  21. "You can use [it], but first explain [how it will help you learn more]."

  22. MP3 player used to 1) Record instructor, 2) listen to language lessons 3) Tune out distractions when doing solo work. FOCUS

  23. Essentially: it's not the tool, it's how the tool is used.

  24. "[Personal devices] can be used to facilitate TRUE differentiated instruction."

  25. Out of time! I'll have to catch up on #BYOD in another session.

  26. Teaching to the test creates governed citizens, not governing citizens.


  27. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="320" caption="I won a duck. I named it Frog."][/caption]

    At @msreneescience & @carmelitadd's session on mashups

  28. When making mashups, make sure you're allowed. (Creative Commons, etc.)

  29. @msreneescience & @carmelitadd Don't forget and for mashup resources!

  30. and are more awesome resources for mashups.

  31. Audience is giving tons of resources. Awesome. (Also:

  32. for creating "mixtapes in minutes."

  33. @willrich45 As tech changes required skills change too, so I'd say learning dispositions are more important.

  34. Showing how to embed (YouTube) videos into other sites.

  35. When embedding/linking YouTube vids, you can have them start at specific points by selecting minutes and seconds.

  36. Request for next year: Print the schedule on cheaper paper. My pen won't write well on this stuff.

  37. Wouldn't be a session on mashups without mentioning Glogster.


  38. @HallDavidson's Keynote Handouts:


  39. In the session about @lessoncast

  40. 50% of graduates of Teacher Prep programs leave the teaching field within 5 years. :(

  41. Oh wow they have the Unhelpful High School Teacher Meme pic (unedited) in their presentation.

  42. I have achieved buzzword bingo in this session.(The point was that buzzwords are overemphasized.)

  43. Still discussing the problems in this session. I think we're ready to listen to solutions, now.

  44. Aaand as soon as I sent that last one, they switched to talking abut a solution.

  45. So @Lessoncast seems to have a nice interface for creating short videos, including space for your script.

  46. "Just because you're not a good designer does not mean you're a bad teacher." ... but it helps.


  47. In @harryhanna's session on Twitter "Going to the Dogs!" Also, I'm using one of the only outlets in the room.

  48. This session is apparently about @GUESStheDog. Should prove interesting.

  49. I am very amused that the majority of people who say hi to me at #CGMD12 call me "The Art Guy" instead of "Aaron," including @runkles1.

  50. Starting with "Twitter in Plain English" video.

  51. Now moving into the "A lot of people use Twitter" phase of the presentation. East Coast Earthquake, Beyonce, SuperBowl

  52. Gary's Social Media Counter:

  53. Relevant to this Twitter discussion:

  54. Elementary teachers follow @GUESStheDog, who in turn follows the teachers. Guess answers questions.

  55. "Can the kids use their cell phones?" Their policy is "Yes.*" (So is ours.) (The * is important.)

  56. "Txt tlk is ok" ... but only when using Twitter, not persuasive writing afterward.

  57. Don't make a lot of teacher accounts from the same IP address at once, they'll think you're making spam accounts.

  58. Parents encouraged to make Twitter accounts to follow teacher accounts. Teacher accounts are protected.

  59. Preview EVERYTHING. (And use the Block button liberally.)

  60. @harryhanna @mrh21727 has a web interface in addition to their app. Good way to bypass seeing trending topics.

  61. Just saw @gwynethjones' tweets as they flipped between Twitter pages. She's a super star.

  62. Going over Twitter vocabulary. Not sure I need to bother summarizing those here.

  63. "Why did you use Explorer?" Oh I like @mrh21727.

  64. Looked up how long I've been using Twitter. here's the video I made when I started in 2007:

  65. More Twitter resources:


  66. Ready to see what MacGyver would do in regards to edtech. Rm 327

  67. MacGyver preso is run by @scottkotarides, resources are on

  68. A lot of tool implementation is "Ready, Fire, Aim!"Yeah, I've seen that.

  69. "Teachers do not get creative with technology." How many teachers make students make PowerPoint reports?

  70. "You have to use what you have. ... Creativity can take you a long way."

  71. I'm enjoying this presentation, but oh the horrid color choices for this slide. Needs more contrast!

  72. "What if you could buy a few iPads (or insert device here) per year?" Might not be a class set, but it could work.


  73. Upstairs at the #CGMD12 Tweetup, wondering if everyone else is downstairs.

  74. Home from #CGMD12 and the Tweetup. Lots of awesome people there, but parties (and bars, even nice ones) aren't my thing.

I won a duck #cgmd12

I won a frog #cgmd12

I won a duck #cgmd12,
originally uploaded by TheArtGuy.


@ #cgmd12

@ #cgmd12

@ #cgmd12,
originally uploaded by TheArtGuy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Front facing camera test

Front facing camera test

Front facing camera test,
originally uploaded by TheArtGuy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So I bought a tablet.  A 16 GB Toshiba Thrive, to be precise.

Some would find this purchase to be somewhat odd.  Indeed it is, somewhat.  Those who know me have heard my rants about needing a "real" keyboard.  My typing skills are not the best by any means but I seem to be able to do it faster and with fewer mistakes if I can get a tactile response that's more than the whole device vibrating.

It's why my last computer purchase was a tablet PC - and mind you, I don't regret that purchase.  That computer does almost everything I intended for it to do.  I enjoyed the challenge it gave me to install and configure Linux on a computer with a touch screen, and for times that I need to use Windows (they do occur) I have to say Win 7 is the nicest version of that OS that I've ever seen.

But here I am, now owning a tablet.  I use it for the following things:


It has a 10.1" screen, which is large enough for anything I don't intend to use at more than an arm's length away.  To that end I'll often go through a Dirty Jobs (or other show) marathon while grading student work on my main computer.


I love Audible for many of the same reasons I love podcasts.  I spend a decent amount of time commuting, and good audio content keeps my mind active.  My mind also tends to wander when trying to read nonfiction, so it's a good way for me to digest that information if I have someone reading it to me.  The only downside is that since I refuse to pay for a 3G tablet I have to download the books before I head to the car, but that's not hard to do.


The first school day after I purchased my tablet I decided to see if I could leave my main computer at home.  As it turns out SchoolMax (our content management system for grades, attendance, and other student records) works just fine with any Android browser, as does Edmodo.  Edmodo even has an app for that, which I recommend.  For an intense "grade everything and grade it all now" session I still prefer a more powerful computer, but for what I normally do it works quite well.


Google Books, the Kindle App, and more are available for most tablets.  My tablet weighs about the same as some books I've read and much less than others.  One of the biggest selling points I can see for schools switching to a 1:1 ratio is the replacement of dead tree textbooks with digital equivalents.  Are there more reasons? Of course!  But the biggest complaint I hear about moving to a 1:1 ratio is the cost.  Tablets are cheaper than most computers, and the more $50+ textbooks they replace, the better.

Beyond that, there are several apps that make browsing online content very convenient.  I particularly like Feedly, though there are others with the same functionality.  It has the ability to sink up with my Google Reader feeds and display them in an almost magazine style format that allows me to skim through content without the usual feeling of being overwhelmed.


I fully admit it, I'm a gamer.  Puzzle games, adventure games, MMORPGs, I like most categories.  There are a wide variety of games available for whatever tablet OS you care to use.  My favorite, currently, is Robo Defense.  It's one of the few apps I have that wasn't free, and it was totally worth it.

Next up, I'll make a post about the things I don't like about tablets.

Monday, January 09, 2012


No, I have not gone into the business of selling recreational pharmaceuticals.  One way or another, a malicious entity got access to both my MySQL database as well as FTP access to my server.  The links have been removed, the files restored, and (with luck), this will not happen again.

Should you encounter anything wonky or suspicious, please let me know by mailing theartguy [at]

(For the curious, I actually used this post by another victim to help fix my problem.)