Trekker from Google Street View Takes You to #PureMichigan

Take a deeper look at some of Michigan’s most breathtaking spots.

Trekker is new in Street View and takes you to places the Street View cars just can’t maneuver. has compiled links to all of the spots in Michigan like this trek across the Grand Hotel’s famous porch.

This video is a great look at what goes into capturing all of the amazing images provided by Google Trekker and a link to what’s available around Michigan.

Explore Amazing Michigan Locations With Google Trekker’s Stunning Street View – YouTube.

Students excel at spoken word project | Thanks PLN and

This past Thursday culminated a great project I facilitated with our Pioneer Tech High School students. In their Character Development and Leadership hour I teamed with teacher Amber Lugten to help students pursue what perseverance means to them and then express it in a unique way.

This really turned out to be a tale of the connected educator. Building upon the concepts of the Rock Our World Project founded by fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Carol Anne McGuire, I set off to have students create some type of collaborative music project…probably in Garage Band. Right about the same time I opened Rushton Hurley’s newsletter and he was telling of a similar cloud-based site called and discovered it would probably fit our needs better being web based and built for more for sharing than Garage Band. The kids took to the site like a white t-shirt to hot wings and I happily tweeted some of our successes. One of the first people to respond to my tweet was Soundtrap developer Frederik Posse. He liked the project so much that he offered to upgrade all of our accounts, student ones included to premium accounts. This type of extreme project evolution and upgrade doesn’t happen for the educator that isn’t deeply immersed in a personal learning network.

The kids worked hard and made seemingly thousands of revisions. I was so proud to accompany them on Maranda’s Where you Live TV program that highlights all of the great things happening in West Michigan for kids and families.

Here is our segment and below that you’ll find a link to Casey and Josh’s project and the full write up from WOTV.

Perseverance Soundtrap Project

Students excel at spoken word project |

Check out all of the #cuerockstar Saugatuck awesomeness presenting at #MACUL15

We said last year that Rock Star Saugatuck Teacher Camp was all about launching the awesomeness within all of our attendees. On Day 1 last summer many were quietly questioning themselves as to whether they had bitten off more than they could chew. By the end of Day 3 we all were listening to and witnessing amazing transformations in so many of them. It wasn’t that they had attended some magical session. They realized that they do indeed have a lot of insight into powerful teaching and a lot to share. Now six months later, 1/6 of Saugatuck campers are presenting at this year’s big MACUL conference in Detroit from March 18-20.

Check out the great list of sessions below from last year’s attendees and faculty. Then visit to register for this summer’s July 7-9 camp presented by MACUL and Saugatuck Public Schools.


Explore the Power of iPhoto – Dave Tchozewski (hands-on session, additional charge)

Blogging, It’s Elementary – Heidi Gascon
Make a Presentation that will Wow your Students – Nicole Bauman, AnnMarie Willette

Creating Digital Books with iTunes Author – Dave Tchozewski (hands-on session, additional charge)

If you’re Appy and you Know it, Come Smash with Us – Kristen Gavlas, Johnna Kline
Collaborate and Connect with Google Apps and Drive – Heidi Gascon
Inquiring Minds want to Know – Erin Mastin

These ARE the Droids you are Looking For – Andy Losik
Bring a new Dimension to Learning with Augmented Reality – Drew Minock
Going Paperless with Google – Kevin Kacel, Sam Sicilia

Create and Innovate with iTunes U – Rebecca Wildman (hands-on session, additional charge)

Beyond Paper and Pencil: Supporting Writing with Technology – Heidi Gascon, Stacey Schuh
No Tech to Lots of Tech – Keith Tramper
Student Data and Information Privacy in the App Era: A Panel Conversation – featuring Ben Rimes


If you can’t Build it in Keynote, you don’t Need It – Andy Losik (hands-on session, additional charge)

Needle in a Haystack: Internet Search Tips and Tricks – Colleen Robison
It Takes just a S.E.C. – Leveraging Schoology, Edmodo, or Classroom to Engage Learning – Nicole Bauman, AnnMarie Willette

Inspire Innovation by Fostering Collaboration and Creativity – Drew Minock
Teach Like a Transformer – Keith Tramper

Engage English Language Learners through Technology – Cheryl Prindle (hands-on session, additional charge)

Revitalizing Research in the Digital Age – Katie Aquino
The iPad’s Killer App – Ben Rimes

Why Connect as an Educator? – Erin Mastin
Engage your Students with Free Web Tools – Dave Tchozewski
I’ve got a Brain to Pick with You – Jennifer Gwilt
The Battle for your Class: Google Classroom vs. Edmodo – Josh Hubbard

Closing Keynote: Culture, Innovation, and Learning: A 21st Century Paradigm Shift – Drew Minock

Wow! After the opening keynote you can do the whole conference front to back and you’ve got Rock Stars leading every time slot.

See you in Detroit. See you in Saugatuck this summer.

Detroit Pistons finally do something right – teaching kids literacy concepts

As a long-time Detroit Pistons fan I have shaken my head at many of their recent management decisions and recent woeful seasons on the court.

The franchise got something exceptionally right recently though. Broadcaster Greg Kelser hosts a couple of videos aimed at improving literacy, specifically students’ abilities to stake and back up claims and understanding that every writer brings a different point of view.

The videos were produced as part of the team’s outreach into public education for schools in Oakland County, Michigan – the area surrounding the Piston’s Auburn Hills arena and headquarters.


Discovery Communications cans “Bad Teachers”

Designed to expose shocking facts about educators, “Bad Teachers” premiered last week on the Investigation Discovery network. Its run lasted one week after parent company Discovery Communications pulled the plug on the series today.

Steve Dembo, writing for Discovery Education posted the following statement on the organization’s blog today.

“Discovery Education’s mission is to celebrate and support the millions of dedicated professionals around the world who have made teaching their life’s work.
As such, we share your concerns with the ID program “Bad Teacher.”
Discovery Communications operates over 200 channels worldwide and 14 in the US, including the entertainment channel ID. The program “Bad Teacher” on ID is not associated with, nor does it reflect the beliefs of, Discovery Education.
We appreciate the support of the educational community for bringing this to our attention and we are pleased to share that Discovery Communications has decided to immediately cancel this program, removing it from ID’s on-air and online schedule.
At Discovery Education, we hold teachers and the teaching profession in the highest regard. We remain committed to supporting educators around the world in their tireless efforts to enhance the culture of learning for every child, every day.”

Thank you Discovery Communications and Discovery Education for all you do.

Okay CBS, it is time for you to do the same with your new sitcom with a similar name.

Everything we need to know about teaching is in an 80s movie

On Saturday I was honored to present the keynote address at the Michigan Connected Educators Un/Conference. Here are my thoughts I shared with the group.


I started teaching in January of 1995. This is who I thought I needed to be in the classroom and to some extent it was required. I took over a fourth grade classroom for a retiring teacher who had taken every Monday and Friday off the entire first semester. When I had been there eight days, it was the longest stretch of consistency these kids had had all year.

If I wasn’t being Sergeant Hulka from Stripes I was coaching like Bo Schembechler. I had high expectations. I was loud with very low tolerance. I expected my students to be exactly like I had been. Do what I ask when I ask it with few questions…It wasn’t very fun. I wondered how I would ever endure 30 more years of this.


In 1998 I faced what I figured would be a “make or break” task. I would be teaching a 5-6 split.  I would have six 6th graders who all were academically gifted in one way or the other and seventeen fifth graders who hadn’t been selected for the previous year’s 4-5 split, primarily due to academics. How was I going to tackle this?


This is what I discovered when I started using project based learning with the sixth graders….primarily to keep them occupied while I tried to get my 5th graders ready for the state assessment….MEAP test. That approach overtook my teaching that year and by June all kids were working on all kinds of projects and learning together in so many ways. It also became one of my favorite years of my career. You can smile and cheer instead of bark and gripe when your kids are constantly engaged.


I have also discovered that everything we need to know about engaging learners is in an 80s movie somewhere.

I present to you the ultimate piece of educational technology. Just watch this trailer and think about how this phone booth does exactly what we want our technology to do.  These guys have incredible access to primary sources and get to witness history.  It is total immersion in content. 

If you remember how the film ends, these two put on an amazing rock concert-like oral report. They had the tools to gather information and then presented in a way that expressed the learning through their skills as rock and rollers.


The next step is to value the time together. We can not monopolize the time.  Jeff Spicoli actually makes a great point in the following clip from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Mr. Hand shouldn’t be the only one having all of the fun…if we can call it that.

There is probably a better way to set up a “feast on our time” though.


Kids love to the make stuff. It’s our job though to channel that energy into the right opportunities. Gary and Wyatt learned the hard way about being  responsible with tools. Okay….this 3d printer might trump the phone booth for top tech honors but we are still talking about technology being used educationally!  Weird Science brings one more thought to mind. Did these “two guys” grow up to the “Two Guys and some iPads” that host a fabulous Google Hangout on Tuesday nights and are augmented reality ninjas?


Kids love to mess with stuff…even back in 1983 they were monkeying with NORAD and its super sophisticated computer the WOPR. Then in 1986 a kid who looked a lot like the War Games kid was hacking his high school attendance computer so he could go to the museum and a Cubs game. Poor Ferris. He asked for car and got a computer. Talk about being born under a bad sign. But….he had Internet in 1986. That’s not all bad. I wonder if David Jakes ever bumped into Ferris’ principal Ed Rooney in any Suburban Chicago educational circles. Rooney could have learned a lot from Jakes. 

One of the hardest concepts for me to get my head around was the idea everything cannot be the same for every kid. Adam Bellow mentioned it at MACUL, the idea of an IEP, or individualized plan for every kid.


So, here is your opportunity to do just that. Pick one character from the Breakfast Club: Bender the Criminal, Andrew the athlete, Allison the basket case, Claire the Princess, or Brian the Brain and design some engaging learning activities for them. 

Here is the form:

Here are the responses readers are creating. Some are pretty awesome. Please pardon the ones from aspiring comedians.

The principal in Breakfast Club, Mr. Vernon, had required them to each write a 1000 word essay about who they thought they were. Here is the essay Brian ended up writing for all of them.


He is exactly right. Let us never forget that every student is a complex human being and we need to foster development of their whole being.

In closing….

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Get in there and dig around with the kids. Dean Shareski told at MACUL, “It’s not good enough to be the guide on the side anymore. Be the meddler in the middle.”

Make your teaching an excellent adventure and not a bogus journey.