Thursday, January 28, 2016


I have an idea for a project. I just saw this adorable Valentine's Day activity: It sparked an idea! Would anyone be willing to swap a say 12 inch piece of ribbon or yarn (could be either and any color you have)? I don't think the postage would be too much since it's light. Wouldn't this be a great way to demonstrate to our students the power of our connected threads aka a network / PLN / The DEN? If you are willing to send me one, I'll be glad to send you one in return. Anyone interested?

As I try to model good digital citizenship for my students, I won't include our mailing address here. But if you comment, tweet (@neene), or email me, I'll be glad to swap addresses with you. As we receive threads/strings/ribbons classes can utilize them in any creative way they wish. But please share out a photo or two or three. Let's use the hashtags #DENln, #ConnectTheThreads, and #OurSTEAMCafe.

*Update: In discussing this with members of my #DENln, we decided to create a Digital Sign up. This way interested teachers can sign up and share their mailing address safely. Your mailing information will not be shared unless you agree to receive threads. This will hopefully make the process of connecting easier. 

Feel free to sign up at:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Right Stuff

Recently, I purchased a littleBits keyboard module ( for enhancing our Art, Technology and Engineering components in #OurSTEAMCafe. Went to test the module. All that it did was make one single deep tone. It didn't matter which "key" on the keyboard you pressed. The tone was the same. This didn't seem logical. I looked at it again. I disconnected. I reconnected. Same thing. I altered the pitch. Different tone but still only one single tone emited.

Frustration level reached. I then reached for my computer and began searching compilations using the Keyboard module. My research lead me to this post:   "The keyboard doesn't generate it's own signal that you can adjust and hear on the speaker on its own, but instead puts out a steady voltage that affects the pitch of the sound wave generated by the oscillator."

Love professional learning through inquiry and research. So then a few days later, I was able to purchase a littleBits oscilator ( Interesting how much better things work when you have the right stuff. Here is a video I created of a correctly functioning littleBits keyboard circuit. I look forward to using this with students soon. All the discussions that are possible swirl in my head. Hope this helps someone else in the journey of simple computer science projects.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sketchnoting Local History

Invited a fourth grade class to #OurSTEAMCafe this past week. I introduced the idea of Sketchnoting. A quick visual note-taking process to our students. I shared a sample that I found on the internet. We analyzed what the student must have been experiencing to create the sketch note that they had. Conversations centered around image choice, word choice, lists vs no lists, etc. Then we took those ideas and applied them to reading a personal experience piece.

Last Spring, I discovered that not far from our school there use to be a trainstation. It is no more. A bagel store is now in its place. But how amazing to think back to a time gone by. Oh and did I mention this falls into our 4th grade social studies framework. So together we read a passage. Paused. Students took sketchnotes. We also learned that the metal from the rails was removed during the war when metal was at a premium. How fascinating!

The intended lesson had expected to have students then write their own piece discussing what they learned from the article. However, some classroom disruptions put us a bit behind schedule. Students did not have much time with the chromebooks. However, the nice thing about sketch notes is now the next time we return to this work, the visual notes will help students expand their thinking in written form. I look forward to working with this class again soon.