Creative Output | Creative Constraints

In an effort to improve output and cultivate my creativity, I'm going to push myself to post to the blog on a regular basis. Many of the posts will be short, and will likely read more as a stream of consciousness rather than final draft. However, it's important that I begin to exercise that mussel, and stop making excuses. 

Each day of the week will have some fun alliterative theme, where I'll be able to reflect on a the past week and make some goals for the next. This will serve as both my journal and drafting table.  By placing creative constraints on the project the hope is that I'll be able to produce more. 


  • Moonshot Monday: Where I'm reflecting on big goals and projects and the progress. 
  • Tinker Tuesday: This is the wacky lab portion of the blog. No idea too out there. Sharing ideas for future projects and examining other awesome stuff in the universe. 
  • Wellness Wednesday: My effort to get back into shape and live a more mindful life. 
  • Tube Thursday: A weekly video reflection. I love video and have always wanted to push myself to create a video blog--epecially as I've been traveling more and not keeping a journal.
  • Featured Friday: Featuring all the great stuff that I've stumbled upon in my web travels. This could be people, videos, blogs, or fun new products. 


Doing as if no one is watching.

It frustrates me how many false starts I've had with blogging and getting back into a healthy exercise routine. Those are the first two things to go whenever I get busy or am on the road for work. When I'm working from home, it's easy for me to develop a healthy routine and set aside time for exercise and sharing my ideas. Unfortunately, I'm on the road more often than not. 

Moreover, I never feel like what I have is good enough to share. I'm concerned that there will be some typo that causes someone to think less of me. Scared that some idea that I have will offend someone I don't know. 

I need to push through those doubts and work from within. Too often I will be thinking about how my writing will be perceived. Will my viewpoint offend some reader. 

It's a censorship trap and it's preventing  me from being the best version of me. 

It's time to write, create, share, produce as if no one was watching. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself, and I don't want to look back on this time of my life as a series of "what if?" questions... 



Showing My Work!

It's time to practice what I preach. In my keynote I talk about the importance of take small steps each day, failing, and repeating.  I believe I work hard, and I love tinkering on new ideas, however, I do a terrible job of showing my work.  Life is flying by so quickly and I'm not creating a digital achieve.  

In the past I would wait until I had a (what I thought was) good idea, a point that I wanted to make, before I would come to my blog.  For some reason I was concerned what others might think, whether my thoughts were "good enough" to be published. That's no way of going about my business. 

That's why, starting today, February 5, 2015, I'm going to do a better job of showing my work.  Some days it may be a stream of consciousness. Others, it might be a formal post that attempts to make some bigger point. Regardless, it's time to stop sitting around and start shipping.  

The author Austin Kleon talks about the importance of showing your work and illustrates how a small amount of work each day can lead to something much larger. 

The author Austin Kleon talks about the importance of showing your work and illustrates how a small amount of work each day can lead to something much larger. 

Winter Break Project Idea: White House Film Festival

Looking for the perfect project to challenge your students as they head off for the holiday break? The White House [student] Film Festival is just the ticket.  This year's theme is "service" and K-12 students from the United States are eligible to submit a short video (3 minutes or less) on the theme of giving back. 

Send your students to to learn more! All submissions are due January 20. 

Here are some of my favorite videos from last year's competition: 

How (and why) to Create Interactive YouTube Videos

As we begin to understand the strengths and limitations of online and video instruction, it is important that teachers are equipped with the skills necessary to create their own high quality educational videos. A transition to digital classroom models should not mean a reduced role for the teacher. By leveraging digital tools, teachers can augment their role and extend their instructional voices beyond the classroom walls. 

Here are ways you can use interactive YouTube videos: 

Create interactive books: In this video I've taken the traditional read aloud and broken it into four separate videos. When the student arrives at the end of the first segment they are required to make a make a decision. Once they select their answer, the second video in the playlist will load. 

Curate great resources: With iPads and smartphones, the days of a list of blue links are limited. In this video I've linked off to four other videos that help students learn about types of chemical reactions. 


Review critical questions:  In this video I've taken a single exam question and turned it into an interactive experience for the students. Anytime they get the answer incorrect, there will be a video of me explaining why it's incorrect before they try again. The entire experience is four videos. 


Here is a video tutorial on how to make your own interactive YouTube videos

The Dung Ball - Progress Through Failure

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet with teachers in Frederick Maryland and Manchester Connecticut.  I love doing these talks. It's an incredible rush to know that because of your message a teacher is ready to put him or herself out there and try something new in their classroom. Maybe it's finding an alternative to a worksheet they've used for ten years, or creating a video so that students can access the material at home. 

The topic of failure is often preached at our events, and there are fantastic examples of people who have taken a risk and it hasn't worked out.  However, that doesn't make it any easier. Anytime I fail I get incredibly nervous and fear what others may think.  So much so that I will begin thinking of ways to frame the mistake so that it lessens the blow.   What I've started to do, however, is start with the cold hard truth. I made a mistake. This didn't work. In other words, I failed. 

When I was in the classroom, I had times where my test scores were lower than they were supposed to be.  I've forgotten critical deadlines that led to missed opportunities. I've empowered students to publish online, only later discovering that what they posted was very inappropriate and potentially damaging to the school's reputation. 

I now believe that those failures help us discover who we are. Every time a mistake happens, we are forced to look in the mirror and realize that we're not as good as we would like to be. Over time, we begin amassing a huge collection of mistakes, or as I like to call it, a dung ball.  This ball of "*@*@" is who we are, and it motivates us to be better next time; to continue searching for the correct path forward. 

Don't try to hide your dung ball. Own it. It's who you are. You will be surprised how relieving it is to know that even the worst about us is out. There's something to be said about not giving others the chance to hold something against you. Because you're so up front with pointing out your failures it can no longer sit in the back of your mind and keep you for taking the next big risk. 

I've cross-posted this blog on our company's blog. I hope to see you at the next EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google Apps for Education in your area. 


5 places to find great (EDU) videos

I love me some good educational video.  With more than 72 hours of new content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, finding great videos to use in class is a daunting task.  Here are the resources I use for finding great videos. 

As always, remember to watch every minute of the video you plan on showing in class!  

1. Devour is a website where they curate a handful of videos every day. Not all the videos shared here are educational.  I like to drop by the site a few times a week to see if something catches my attention. 

2. The Kids Should See This is the creation of a mom and her two kids. The blog site features great videos that you (and your kids!) should see.  The curation skills here are top notch

3. ShowYou is the Swiss Army Knife of video aggregator tools, pulling in videos from all over the web. The best feature is that you can add your Twitter and Facebook accounts and quickly see all the videos people in your PLN are sharing.

4. Vimeo Staff Picks is a great place to discover high quality, usually artistic videos. The staff frequently feature animated shorts created by students in digital arts schools. These videos are perfect or language arts classes. 

5. YouTube Trends is the official YouTube blog where Googlers discuss the latest video trends around the world.  It's a fantastic place to get the story behind a viral video or the latest internet meme.