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Making Monday & ISTE17 Part 4/6

“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.”  ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

This post is about the rest of Monday, after my presentation, which you can read about in this post.

The halcyon moments after a presentation are filled with reflection and taking stock. And an entire bottle of water to rehydrate while I regrouped in the Presenter’s Lounge. #ISTEspoiled.

Although I had a few poster sessions and interactive workshops selected on my schedule, I took a few moments to regroup before attending a session on Adobe Spark. Unfortunately, it was a how-to session, and I already know how to use the app, and I was hoping for a session about possible applications for the app. This is another thing I love about ISTE, though, there are sessions of all types, from philosophical discussions on learning to these how-to sessions, where presenters boil down the steps in using a certain technology and generously provide ways for the complete novice to learn. These sessions are where you’ll find the foot soldiers – the classroom teachers, technology teachers, and digital coaches. Another great thing about ISTE is you can “decide with your feet”, quietly leaving one session and finding one that is more appropriate to your needs. I ended up wandering among the poster sessions (think science fair) for a while.

Next up was a moment I had been looking forward to – assisting two friends I had met at last year’s ISTE conference, Barbara Liedahl (@bliedahl) and Susan Brown (@SuBrown4h) with their presentation, Bring the Maker Movement to Your School – One Box at a Time. I had participated in this workshop with these two brilliant “maker mavens” at ISTE in Denver last year, so I was looking forward to assisting participants with paper circuits and other fun projects.

It was not a surprise that they did not disappoint! In no time, paper circuits had been used to create light up wearable technology in the form of flower pins. Participants exuberantly exclaimed, “Ta da!” as their pins glowed with light.

After that fun session, the next was about Genius Hour and it included lots of great resources, some of which can be found here: http://www.eddiesclass.com/genius-hour-2-0/.

It was only 2:00 on Monday and my brain was full and overstimulated. We decided to get a burger (and whataburger it was!) and then visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

As I mentioned before, my husband is a cowboy at heart, and the Briscoe is now his favorite museum. For me the standout was seeing a nice collection of George Catlin’s art that I had heard so much about in an American Art class years ago.

The Briscoe is pretty small so we had time to walk around San Antonio for a while.

And spotted this compelling sculpture, which is a monument to Samuel Gompers, founding president of the American Federation of Labor.

Drawn to it by my union sensibilities, I was moved by the idea that when Compers wrote his list of “What labor wants” nearly one hundred years ago, he probably expected the items would have been resolved by now. I was struck by how much we want/need the same things today:

Just as we were considering plans to go to one social event (at the library) we got a text inviting us to another one. this one was hosted by Explain Everything (@explaineverything) and Soundtrap (@soundtrap) and there was to be food and frolic. And there was! Because along with all the other great folks, the art education crew was there. It was a delightful surprise to spend an extra evening with them! Don’t we look like we’re having fun?









We R Makers & ISTE17 Part 3/6

“He no longer cared about anything (as before) but now he also cared about everything in principle; that is to say, it was all the same to him and he belonged to the world and there was nothing he could do about it.”   ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Monday morning = Presentation Day

But first I had a 7:30 am breakfast meeting with TES Teach to which I had been invited a few weeks earlier. I use and recommend their product, Blendspace, as a great tool for organizing links and documents to share with students, colleagues, or to create your own reference file. It was a quick walk from the hotel and when I arrived I was greeted with coffee, a delicious breakfast, friendly faces and the wisdom of Jim Knight (@LordJimKnight). Jim shared his thoughts on the “unbundling of education”, comparing it to record albums being unbundled today as we select single songs rather than whole albums for our playlists. This led to a good discussion on change in schools and the role technology will inevitably play in affecting change. Unfortunately, I had to leave early in order to get to the convention center for my own presentation at 9:00 am.

We R Makers

Go time! I was excited to see my presentation, Educating the Next Generation of Innovators, on the screen outside the door of room 208. And the tech guy was there, too, making sure everything was all set. Although I had my own adapter, it was just like ISTE to even have “dongles” waiting there just in case. 

Time for a quick selfie with the group before starting

The We R Makers presentation is about using empathy and systems thinking to help our students arrive at ideas for making. With Makerspaces readily available in many schools, students have the tools they need to make whatever they want, but often need structure and support in developing ideas for projects that will sustain their interest and engage them from initial efforts through revision and ultimately, completion. This approach involves product design or redesign as a result of looking closely, considering systems, and the user experience. After going over the basics, participants formed groups of four or five and began with close looking and sketching very inexpensive and simple pencil sharpeners. I love the hum of participants working together:

When I polled the group about the roles they have in their schools, there were only three art educators, and one of them was me. The other two were my beloved art education friends, Laura Grundler (@grundlerArt) and Chris Parker (@kreyus) who came and jumped in to document the session for me. Best. Friends. Ever.

Everyone jumped in and followed the steps of sketching the pencil sharpeners intact, then deconstructing them and sketching the parts, all the while considering the systems around the lowly sharpener. Systems considered included manufacturing, mining and refining raw materials (I recommend www.sourcemap.com), distribution, transportation, the consumer, and the eventual disposal of the sharpener.

Once participants had chosen a system on which to focus, they generated a list of people within their chosen system. The next step was to choose one person and to use empathy to consider how the product may be redesigned to be more effective, more efficient, more ethical, or more beautiful for that specific person. This is where the design process begins.

This exercise is taken from the Thinking Routines developed by Agency by Design (@agencybydesign) at Project Zero Classroom (@ProjectZeroHGSE) of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (@hgse).

Once participants had redesigned the pencil sharpener to better the experience of the user they had chosen, they shared their products with the group. Here are a couple of examples:

Throughout and at the conclusion of the session, participants shared their work on a Padlet sharing wall here: http://tinyurl.com/ISTEweRmakers

This post on the wall cracked me up:

Bringing out the big guns

Presenting at ISTE 2017 was fantastic! They take presenting seriously and staff the space with attentive tech help. I have had disappointments at other venues before with insufficient wifi or lack of microphones or speakers – at ISTE, everything was there and in top-notch condition. Also, ISTE gets a bad rap in some circles for being too commercialized and all about product and technology gadgets. There is a lot of talk about education and learning at ISTE, perhaps some miss it because of the large Expo hall. The 150 people who participated in my session were engaged in discussions about learning, process, and innovation. They were sincere and a pleasure to work with. A joy, in fact, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if asked.

Another supporter in the room was Sophia Georgiou, developer of the Morphi App which my students use for designing models for 3D printing.




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Remember the Alamo & ISTE17 Part 2/6

“Why think about that when all the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”   –  Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Upon awaking on Sunday, our second day in Texas, I was excited to visit the Convention Center to check in at registration and pick up our badges and the ISTE tote bags full of program info.

The place was empty and as I walked around with my husband I kept saying, “You just wait until later today when the 20,000 people arrive, this place will be packed!” In fact, the hallways were so clear you could see the decals on the floor.

And the pro-inclusion signs outside the bathroom (we gave these two thumbs-up):

After picking up the tote bags and checking in, we strolled around to get the lay of the land. Knowing I would be presenting at 9:00 am the next day, I was curious what the room was like and of course wanted to get a glimpse at the technology I’d be using. The layout of the San Antonio convention center is easily understood and we found the room without any trouble. Not only that, one of the technology technicians was there setting up surge protectors at every table. So we chatted. He let me know that he was in charge of two rooms (just two rooms!) and would be outside in a chair while I was using the room if I needed help with the projector, microphone or DEDICATED WIFI. This is one of the things I love about ISTE. They spare no expense in ensuring the technology needs are met. Technology is taken seriously!

As we left the area and passed the Presenters Lounge, and I couldn’t help taking a little #presenterpride selfie with the sign. Come on, you would have, too!


At this point in the morning there was nothing on my schedule for a few hours, so we hit the streets on San Antonio to explore. Of course we remembered the Alamo.

The Alamo

San Antonio is a city full of flags:

The Alamo with Texas flag

Note the gargoyles on this building

We walked some of the San Antonio Riverwalk and admired this gem of a landscape architecture project:

ISTE Begins

Before I knew it the time for my first official ISTE session had come. First up on Sunday was: The Devil’s in the Details: How to Turn Your Curriculum into an Authentic Learning Experience with these fine educators:

Please note: The surge protector plugged in and ready for participants to plug in devices at most tables – this is another thing I LOVE about ISTE!

This session focused on outlining the structure, processes, and tools for successful project-based learning. Here are a few of the slides:

This was a well organized presentation. They even gave us candy (which I left in Bandera, but that’s another story).

I have always liked and understood the TPACK scale the most – it was good to see it being used

I could add to this list, as I’m sure most edtech enthusiasts could.

This was a great way to officially begin the ISTE conference as it got my mind working to apply these tools to my own classroom and the project-based learning units I’m designing.

Next up was the session with Adam Bellow (@adambellow) and Steve Dembo (@teach42): Open the Curiosity Door which was an interactive session about how mindset and framing can have a huge impact on student outcomes, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The auditorium was packed for this session and the energy was good:


STEAM With A Really Big A

Walking around with all of those possibilities for further exploration in my head, I went to one of the hotels to attend the New England ISTE San Antonio Mixer, where I hoped to network with educators from New England. (I know, I had to go to Texas to network with New England  people?)

At the mixer I met Gaby Richard-Harrington (@gaby13rh) and I’m really glad I did. Gaby asked me about my presentation (she saw the ribbon on my badge) while I was telling her about it, she suddenly said, “Oh! STEAM with a really big A!” I liked that. I like that so much I decided right then and there to use it as a way to express STEAM with Art as the springboard. If someone else is using this, I’m hope you don’t mind if I use it, too!

It was at this mixer that I was asked “What do you do?” and when I replied “I teach art at the middle school level”, and the questioner responded, “Oh, why are you at ISTE?” and I responded, “Our middle school art curriculum is infused with technology of all types. I’m here to learn from others, to learn about new things, and to share what we’re doing in my classes.” And then I asked her, “What do you do?” and she responded, “I teach social studies.” Of course I asked, “Why are you at ISTE?”. Honestly, I don’t even remember what her answer was. Whoops.

ISTE Opening Keynote

Another thing I love about ISTE are the inspirational keynote speakers for whom we are warmed up by jamming’ musicians and bands. The first keynote session band was The Tiarra Girls (@tiarragirls), a band of young women from a high school in Austin. They were terrific and here is a sampling:

The keynote speaker was introduced by ISTE CEO Richard Culatta (@rec54) whose focus in his speech was Shifts in Education:

Shift 1: From delivery to exploration

Shift 2: From one-size-fits-all to personalized

Shift 3: Using tech to close the equity gap

Richard also made the announcement that the ISTE Standards for Educators had been released and are available for download at: www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-educators  

Richard Culatta

When Jad Abumrad, the host and creator of the popular public radio program “Radiolab,” which is broadcast on 524 stations across the United States, took the stage, we didn’t quite know what to expect. I’m a big fan of radio shows (especially while working in the studio), loving This American Life, Prairie Home Companion, Sez You, etc, but have not listened to many Radiolab shows. Jad Abumrad was fantastic!

Here is the ISTE writeup by Julie Sturgeon:

“For everyone who worries they’ll feel sick at the idea of rocking the boat, Jad Abumrad has an uplifting message: Yes, you will.

The creator and host of Radiolab told the packed keynote audience at ISTE 2017 that he calls this feeling the gut churn.

It’s the place where you are uncomfortable.

Where you feel hopeless.

A void where you aren’t good enough, and mistakes are dogging your heels…

Jad Abumrad – Gut Churn

…Abumrad knows it well. As a radio journalist, his career success revolved around how to build his own voice rather than imitate others. It was a test that required looking at things his way, creating his path and filling the emptiness before other voices rushed into his head to crowd out his own.

Along the way, he asked the wrong questions, stumbled in his research, slammed into some dead ends and hit the self-doubt gap — the same frustrations many educators experience when designing new approaches to their classrooms.

He offered these four encouraging tips:

Negativity is your catalyst to reach your goals. Uncertainty is like the dark German forest from fairy tales: It’s frightening every time you find yourself there, but after you survive six or seven times, you realize you can navigate your way out.

Allow the question to become your whole being. When Abumrad is stuck in a problem, he asks, “Am I putting all my nerve endings into this?” Because if you commit to pursuing the question, he adds, “you will probably not get where you think you want to go, but you’ll get somewhere else, and it could be beautiful.”

Do not accept anyone else’s fear. Others are always willing to add cautions or warnings disguised as advice. Kill that sucker. If you stick with your crazy idea, you might let someone down or your end result might not be perfect. But the outcome is not your purpose. It’s to ask the questions.

You will find your voice. While pursuing the seemingly impossible task of trying to describe to a radio audience how different animals would see a rainbow, Abumrad eventually decided to attempt to work with a choir to marry colors and notes.

Conducting that choir was an epiphany. “I thought this was something I couldn’t do; I thought it was something that would never work, and suddenly here we are and it’s working,” he said. “It was a little bit like if you were living in a house and suddenly you opened the door and you realize you have a whole wing of the house you never explored.”

This is the clip Jad showed during his keynote:

But while he encouraged educators to dream big, the reality is that the world has its limitations. Abumrad uses the scientific theory of “adjacent possible” as his way to keep the balance: You don’t have to solve the world’s problems. Just find that one little move you can make right now that will open up myriad possibilities.

And that is the reason educators, in the end, don’t mind the upset stomach.” – Julie Sturgeon

Being an art educator at ISTE, I was thrilled to hear and see Jad’s inclusion of his broadcast on color. With all of the broadcasts he has to choose from, he chose one about a concept that art educators attempt to explain to their students (even though our understanding is somewhat murky – speaking for myself). How absolutely fortuitous.

For the other art educators out there and anyone else who is interested, here is a link to the color/rainbow broadcast, Rippin’ the Rainbow a New One from Radiolab – it’s fantastic211178-rip-rainbow

Feeling inspired and mentally prepared to take on ISTE, we left the convention center with only Tex-Mex food as a goal, and walked off into the evening.





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Tending Gardens & ISTE17 Part 1/6

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”    ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tending Gardens

I’ve spent the last three hours or so outside tending the gardens where morning glories grow along the decks in our front and back yards. It is hot here in Massachusetts, especially in the sun, yet nowhere near as hot as it was in Texas last week. I kept thinking about that as I plucked the wayward grass and clover plants that had sprung up while we were away. I hated leaving the gardens during this prime growing season we had waited for all winter and spring. I had planted around Memorial Day and all the plants had a strong footing by the time we left on June 24. I was worried that they wouldn’t get enough water in our absence as they would be dependent on rain. Yet they did well – the annuals were bigger than we had left them, some perennials had gone by, while others were blooming or still yet to bloom. I am grateful for the rain that I never saw. 


About a month after sowing the morning glory seeds, the beds require thinning and weeding in order to have enough room to grow. It’s often hard to judge which sprout to remove and which one to nurture in this Darwinian effort; fortunately they are just plants.  The process reminded me of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, which was held from Sunday, June 25 – Wednesday, June 28, in San Antonio, Texas. With 20,000 educators in attendance and what seems like an equal amount of offerings, sessions including lectures, panels, or BYOD how-tos, to poster sessions, playgrounds for hands-on exploration, and the massive expo hall, it his hard to choose which to attend, especially knowing when choosing that one must skip something else.

Over the next few days, I hope to write a recap of my ISTE experience in a few posts on this blog. Last year I attended ISTE 2016 in Denver, CO. I sketch-noted during and after the sessions I attended. Those sketch-notes can be found here: SketchNotes ISTE 2016

I had expected to sketch-note this year, too, and I still may draw them up as after-notes, but didn’t have time this year because my husband traveled to Texas with me and after and between sessions, we explored San Antonio and surrounds. My husband is a cowboy at heart, so while in Texas we planned a short vacation to follow the ISTE conference. And we rented this car: 

I swear it was the same price as a Toyota Corolla for the week…

Art Educators at ISTE

Our first order of business was a meet-up of the art educators from the K12ArtChat professional learning network – a network that thrives on Twitter, especially during the Thursday night chats, but at all times for support, feedback, and encouragement. When I attended ISTE in 2016, I found only one other art educator among all of the attendees I encountered. I was thrilled to know other art educators would be there and I expect there will be more next year. It’s funny (not funny) that with all the technology infused in my middle school art curriculum, I never questioned my participation at ISTE, yet this year, not once (by a social studies teacher), but twice ( by a well-respected prominent change agent for education) after being asked what I did for work and upon my reply “I’m an art teacher”, I was asked, “Why are YOU at ISTE?”, (not in a philosophical way) with identical quizzical looks on the questioners’ faces. Really?

K12ArtChat meet-up at the Emma Hotel – L to R after me in this photo: Chris Parker, Tim Needles, Melissa Bellefiore, Samantha Melvin, Cathy Hunt, Laura Grundler, Matthew Grundler

My friends in this group are 1. well-respected art educators 2. edtech enthusiasts. Chris Parker (@kreyus) and I first connected over 3D printing. Chris is from the San Antonio area and was our un-official concierge for what to do and where to eat in the city. Next to Chris is Tim Needles (@TimNeedles), who was the 2016 recipient of the Art Education and Technology Outstanding Teacher award. His film and media posts are always worth watching. To Tim’s left (viewer’s right) is art educator and art advocate, Samantha Melvin (@smelvin), who is as talented and kind as she is tall. Samantha has given a lot of herself to grateful art educators (like me) over the years. Standing in front and to the right of Samantha is Cathy Hunt (@art_cathyhunt), our Australian art educator friend of inspirational talent and insight, especially in her role as an Apple Distinguished Educator. Cathy is a fantastic presenter and you can see her ISTE Ignite session here: Cathy Hunt Ignite at ISTE. On the far right are Laura (@GrundlerArt) and Matthew (@ArtGuy6)) Grundler, who are the brains, talent, and dedication behind #K12ArtChat. As you can see, this is a potent group of art educators to have spent time with to kick off our week in Texas!

Anyway, to be asked why I was at ISTE came as a shock to me. I’ll tell you how I answered that question in one of the next few posts about ISTE 2017. Until then, I’ll be busy tending gardens.



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End of Year Art Clearance

Hello parents/guardians of grades 5 & 6 artists –

As each class has left my room over the past two days, they have taken with them:

  • Art Folders containing artwork from the past two terms
  • Sketchbooks
  • Clay pieces

The clay pieces have been wrapped and hopefully will return home in one piece. In the event there is a crack or break, I recommend this glue: 

Although my cupboards are nearly empty, my head is full with the wonderful memories we have generated this year, and my camera roll is full of photos of students’ creative artwork, such as these photos of the clay projects traveling home today:

Animal faces

Coil pots

Thank you for a terrific school year. My best wishes to the 6th grade students who will have Mr. Hansen for 7th grade art. I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s 5th graders as they return to art for 6th grade. Happy summer!


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New Art On Artsonia

Long after our in-house art show is over, our online gallery continues to display new artwork. Today, three new projects have been uploaded to Artsonia.


For this project, students divided the 2 dimensional paper plane of a still life using an abstraction technique called Contour Continuation. Once divided, they filled the positive space with warm or cool colors and the negative space with the opposite family of colors. These are painted with watercolor. The abstraction gallery is at this link.

Sadie Moore: Artist Statement (what Sadie2875 said this about his/her artwork)
I used water color, pencil, and sharpie to create my drawing. The color difference between my negative and positive space is, for the positive space I used warm colors like red,orange,yellow,and pink and in the nagative space I used cool colors like purple,blue,and green. You can tell the negative and positive space apart because the are the oppisite color from each other and also because the cooler colors are darker and fit for the negative space. A different shape I would use is a triangle because I think it will look really pretty, what I would to differently is subtract some lines because I had to many lines. I really liked painting with water colors because it was easier to wash off or change mistakes because there are very lite colors.

Digital Abstraction:

Once the watercolor abstractions were complete, some students had a chance to extend their learning to create artwork on their iPad using the same technique for abstraction, and incorporating layers, outlining, and flood fill in the Sketchbook Express app. The Digital Abstraction gallery can be found here.

Tia Wright – Artist Statement (what Tia1091 said this about his/her artwork) In my opinion, the digital one was easier to make than the watercolor one. You could get more colors, and easier shapes/lines. Although this is true, watercolor was more fun because painting is more fun than just tapping to fill.


Fifth grade students have been working with Abstraction as well, using a technique called “Painting with Scissors”, which is a term coined by artist Henri Matisse (there is an amazing show of Matisse work at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts right now). We also explored the Japanese concept of Notan, which is the dynamic of Light and Dark (opposites, contrasts, etc) and positive space and negative space with this project. Students used scissors to cut both organic and geometric shapes out of paper and then glued the base on sheet of paper in a complementary color. The pieces that had been cut out were then flipped rather than turned or slid and placed around the perimeter of the base shape. This project is a great way to reinforce math concepts as well as make dazzling art.

Once the four required compositions were finished, students used the Pic Collage app on their iPads to create a four-square collage. This was saved to the camera roll and uploaded to Artsonia. The Notan gallery can be found at this link.

Andrew Lindquist – Artist Statement (what Andrew33482 said this about his/her artwork)
Notan is a Japanese art. Complementary Colors- Purple and Yellow, Green and Red, Black and White, and Orange and Blue. Why I used complementary colors- I used complementary colors because they created great colors and patterns. Process of cutting my shapes- I first folded the piece of paper into fourths and then I cut out a geometric or an organic shape in each fourth. It was difficult to line the shapes up exactly the opposite of the cut-out, but every other step was fun and easy! What I would do if I did it again- If I did it again I would try more, and more complex patterns and cut-outs

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Flat Stanley’s Adventures on the East Coast

My middle level art education friend, September, who lives in Michigan, asked over social media for volunteers to take a Flat Stanley for her daughter, Lennie, who is in first grade. Of course, ever since my son was in first grade and had a Flat Stanley returned by President Clinton along with a packet of photos and a signed letter from the President, I’ve been a Flat Stanley fan and will be for life. Flat Stanley is a book by Jeff Brown and has featured illustrations by a few different artists over time, including Tomi Ungerer, Macky Pamintuan, and Scott Nash. Here’s the overview:

Meet Stanley Lambchop.

He’s an ordinary boy with an extraordinary problem.

He’s four feet tall, about a foot wide . . . oh, and half an inch thick.

At first being flat is fine.

It’s fun going in and out of rooms simply by sliding under the door.

And it’s exciting being mailed to your friends in California for a visit.

But it’s not always easy being different, and soon Stanley wishes he could be just like everybody else.

Will he ever be normal again?

And so the adventures of Flat Stanley begin. We had Flat Stanley with us for just about a month. We showed him around Boston (of course), Providence, Rhode Island, and Panama City Beach, Florida, where we traveled for our grandson’s wedding. We remembered to take his picture sometimes, other times we relied on the magic of Photoshop (when you give a Flat Stanley to an art teacher). All the photographs, with or without the little flat man, are mine. Here is a slideshow of the book we are sending Lennie. The photos follow the slideshow. Enjoy!

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