Three Questions and A Statement (Or, How I Frame My Social Studies Instruction)

I’ve always loved history. Some of my favorite memories are of looking through old photo albums with my grandparents and imagining what life was like for them when they were young. I can spend hours poring over collections of historical photographs and my podcasting selections have an obvious bias towards the past. I even spent the first year of college as a double major in history and art. But despite my personal affection for the subject, I wasn’t sure how to go about teaching it to others.

Many moons ago, I was an apprentice teacher at a small independent school in Cape Ann, MA. For half a year, I had the opportunity to work alongside a remarkable fifth-grade teacher who had – and still has – an uncanny ability to forge simplicity out of complexity. She shared with me an incredibly simple, but very powerful framework for teaching history that I have used in my classrooms ever since. I don’t know where it came from, or if it has a name, but I call it Three Questions and A Statement. Not a very catchy title, I know. But it goes something like this: 

ZOINKS! My blog is missing!

It came to my attention earlier this week that my entire blog has gone missing! I’m in the process of trying to restore it as quickly as possible, and have made some headway this afternoon. That being said, it may be a few days before the full archive is back up and running as it should. In the meantime, if you are looking for a particular post, I’d recommend checking out this most recent Wayback Machine capture of the blog. If you have any questions, or if there’s anything at all I can do to help, please feel free to hit me up on any of the social media networks linked in the header.

Thanks for understanding! I’m looking forward to getting this site back up on its feet ASAP.

Updating Textbooks with Augmented Reality

NOTE: This post is an expansion on an iBook I published a while back. I’ve used the AR app Aurasma to build and access the augmented reality layers in the Labrary for the last few years. To learn more about how to use Aurasma, check out their overview tutorial

The publishing world is struggling to develop a textbook distribution model that works well for schools. A quick survey of the digital textbook catalog shows that many titles are still not available. And when they are available, it’s often difficult to access and manage student access with logins and purchase codes.  As a result, some schools are hesitant to make a full transition to digital textbooks. This creates an enormous gap, as the primary mode of instruction remains years behind the student in whose hands the textbook resides!

The development of augmented reality (AR) apps has presented an incredible opportunity to elevate the state of the textbook without completely pushing them aside. In short, augmented reality allows you to easily create digital content that makes traditional textbooks more timely, informative, and engaging for your students.

With augmented textbooks, you can now have the best of analog and digital resources!

There’s No “I” in Labrary!

We built the Labrary to be a community space for students and faculty to pursue interests, explore ideas, and experiment with new tools and materials.

Every day, the Labrary is filled with the frenetic (some would say chaotic!) energy of self-directed learning and discovery as students throw themselves feet-first into discovering something new. This is not a place of passivity. And while it’s amazing to watch how fearlessly they tackle the unknown, my favorite part of the whole thing is how it’s organically become a center of spontaneous collaboration. Whether it’s recess, Labrary class, or study hall, students are naturally and seamlessly supporting each others’ learning. Questions are directed not at me, but at each other. And, boy, do they have questions! Free from the expectations of what they “should” know, students are empowered to voice their questions without feeling judged.

Updated Retro Gaming Console with Raspberry Pi

In a recent post, I described how I built a retro video game console using Raspberry Pi, Emulation Station, RetroPie, some components from Adafruit, and a 3D printer. When all was said and done, I realized that my 3D printed box was not tall enough to accommodate the underside of the joystick and the Raspberry Pi. So I went back to my TinkerCAD file and increased the height and, while I was at it, I also added a third button!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
I still need to sand the front emblem…

Building a Retro Gaming Console with Raspberry Pi

I’d been wanting to build an old-school video game console for quite a while but had never blocked out the time to do so. But with winter break fast approaching, I recently ordered all of the components and, with two weeks to spare, finally got down to brass tacks.

Collecting materials to build a retro game console with my son over break.

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