Merlin John Online Post

November 8th, 2013

You can see Adobe Generation (and me!) featured on this Merlin John Online post, as John talks about how totally awesome #AdobeGen is.

Experience the Inquiry and Design Cycle with Technology

January 7th, 2013

This Friday, January 4th, Dr. Jennifer Banas and I presented “Experience the Inquiry and Design Cycle with Technology” to education students at Northeastern Illinois University. The idea of the session is to use the Inquiry Cycle in the classroom with the aid of tools like, Diigo, Google Forms, Google Drawing, Google Sites, and Blogger.

Merlin John Online Post

November 8th, 2012

You can see Adobe Generation (and me!) featured on this Merlin John Online post, as John talks about how totally awesome #AdobeGen is.

Chicago Ideas Week - Indoor Recess

October 12th, 2012


Yesterday, as part of Chicago Ideas Week, I went to the Chicago office of IDEO to work on an exciting brief: “How can we design for indoor recess? Chicago Public schools don’t have a lot of space for indoor recess and it could be used more efficiently. Students don’t have a lot of time so activities and space needs to be directed and accessible for group break-outs.” We went through the entire design process in 10 hours, using Mitchell Elementary School as a prototype, and came up with some great solutions for fun and safe indoor recess.

FLW stencil in the WC

September 18th, 2011

Bathroom stencil

Pretty much done (aside from some paint goofs) stenciling Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana House Butterfly pattern in the bathroom.

Department of Education comes to CTC

September 10th, 2011

Yesterday, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Eduardo Ochoa came to visit us at CTC. He and his staff were interested in highlighting the work we do in connecting students to STEM education and careers. Invited guests included members from organizations across the Chicagoland area that are investing in getting underrepresented populations into the quickly growing STEM careers like healthcare and engineering. The event was a great success as measured not only by the fact that my presentation went smoothly without me tripping or messing up my lines, but by the collaborative energy that emerged from the room.

You can see the Prezi we made for the occasion here.

STEAM 2011

May 21st, 2011


UBMS@NEIU hosted its first Science Technology Engineering Art/Architecture/Agriculture and Math (STEAM) Conference today. I taught how to make a maze videogame using Scratch (in an hour!) to about 40 middle and high school students. The kids were great. One kid who came in the morning session wanted to come back and make the game again. Another kid who could not have been more than 11 asked me, “What is this place?” When I told him it was a university, he said, “Can I go here one day?” and I was like, “TOTALLY,” and he was like “AWESOME!” That’s what it’s all about: Exposing first-generation college-bound students to math and science and the opportunity to go to college and getting them excited about it. Solid.

Panda Rates It!

April 9th, 2011


Check it out! The creators of MercuryApp have made Panda Rates It, a site that gives businesses feedback on their site or services by incorporating the  pandometer I drew! You can see an example of how it works here.

The lights in Chicago

March 31st, 2011


Tonight I went to an event sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation: Re-imagining Learning in the 21st Century. It was at the Spertus Institute, which if you’ve never been, is nothing short of incredible. None of the floors touch the front, which faces Lake Michigan, so every floor has an incredible expansive view of the lake. Everything is glass and white and lovely. Even the food that they served was amazing. I’m still thinking about the cucumber slices with salmon roe and wasabi peas. Well done! It was the perfect setting for the event, which featured innovation in education. Big hitters like Karen Cator and Chicago’s very own mayor-elect, Rahm Emmanuel, spoke. Specifically, they featured what Jenkins (a MacArthur grantee) calls “participatory learning”, peer-based education that is shaped around individual interests that are shared and consumed. The buzz was mostly around ChicagoQuest, which “applies the principles of game design and systems thinking to teaching and learning.”

I was invited to the event by my good friend James, and afterward, his wife, Kami, picked us up. She asked us if we could drive by the Cabrini-Green housing project, which was on our way home anyway, and we agreed. Most people have heard of Cabrini Green, but for a lot of really bad reasons. It was built with a lot of hope for lower-income residents, but because of neglect and gang violence, it deteriorated into a difficult place for a lot of kids to grow up. Yet, it was still their home and community and it was a blow when the Chicago Housing Authority decided to demolish them and replace them with mixed income housing. The residents complained that the temporary housing they were placed in until they could be relocated was substandard and that there wasn’t enough housing for everyone who was displaced. Most tragic for me were the surrounding schools: as of now, only three of the five elementary schools that existed in the area are in use. One of the ones that closed down, Byrd Academy, used our Collaboratory Project while I was at Northwestern to fight their school closing. The kids showed the poor conditions in which they were supposed to learn, which included the lack of a lunchroom (they ate on the floor of the hallway), no gym (it was heartbreaking to see the first graders having to cross a busy street in the cold to use another school’s gym), and windows broken and dirty.  In the winter, I saw the students work with gloves and hats on (because the heat didn’t work) and in the summer, scream over the old industrial fans that were in their classroom (because their was no air conditioning). The building was a mess, but the soul of it was was strong and the students fought to keep their community in tact, but with a new school. They received lots of national media attention, but to no avail. Byrd was shut down and the kids were transferred to other schools.

And now, Cabrini-Green was getting torn down. Kami wanted us to see an art project commemorating the buildings. It was amazing, and somewhat creepy. It brought the building to eerie life, and I couldn’t help but think back to the lights that illuminated the floor in the Spertus Institute earlier in the night.

ICE 2011

February 25th, 2011


If you didn’t make it to ICE 2011 in St. Charles at Pheasant Run this week, then you probably missed our presentation on Increasing STEM Knowledge Using Real-World Practitioners in Blended Communities.  You also missed Greg’s birthday. You can see the recording of it, here, though!