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FETC: Building a Steampunk Presentation Manipulation Apparatus with a Raspberry Pi

These are my notes from the “Building a Steampunk Presentation Manipulation Apparatus with a Raspberry Pi” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • Showed his Steampunk conference badge. More information at
  • He is running the presentation from the presentation device.
  • Materials used to create his device.
  • Skills needed:
    • Steampunk spirit.
    • Hands-on fabrication
    • Programming
    • Electronics
  • Software
    • Libre Office
    • guvcview – camera capture UNIX utility.
    • Linux
    • Python is the default Rasperry Pi language.
    • xdotool – imitates key press.

Dr. Torq's Steampunk conference badge running on a Rasperry Pi.

Side view of Dr. Torq's Steampunk presentation device.
Side view of Dr. Torq’s Steampunk presentation device.
Another view of Dr. Torq's Steampunk presentation device.
Another view of Dr. Torq’s Steampunk presentation device.

FETC: One More Thing

These are my notes from the “One More Thing” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • As participants enter, he is playing a Jimmy Kimmel skit on the screen: “Movie: The Movie“.
  • Started as a teacher, then tech director, then did start ups.
  • On a resume, you can say “I have been teaching for x number of phones”. The slide shows a lineup of several dozen smartphones that he has used.
  • Presentation philosophy
    • Slides are free
    • Say it now, you could be dead tomorrow.
  • “Edupreneur”: I make stuff
  • I even bought Applecare for my Kool Aid.
  • Overtime, our personal computers become portable.
  • Reviewed history of release of iPhone, App Store, and the iPad.
  • Portable learning has a long history.
  • Classroom technology misses the point because it puts too much emphasis on presentation devices.
  • We have 1:1 since the chalkPad.
    • Netbooks were not successful.
    • First iPad was not well received.
  • As a tech director, he refused to let a school to have an iPad for each teacher because they weren’t planning to let the kids use them.
  • There are no apps to fix the eduproblems.
  • Districts give technology, but not time.
  • Ed tech is often just digital replication.
  • Innovation is not just iteration. Innovation requires bravery.
  • “Solutions get cooked up in board rooms and fed to us in classrooms.”
  • “Date the device, but marry the abilities.” Don’t get attached to one type of device, but think about how other devices offer similar functions, and be ready to switch platforms.
  • Being an early adopter can be painful, “we are from 5 years in their future”.
  • Consumption vs. creation. Our job is to teach kids to cook, not just to eat.
  • Teach kids to upload apps, not just download them.
  • Learn to code because it gives you the keys to unlock your imagination.
  • Demonstrates apps that allow creation:
    • GarageBand – you can try any instrument.
    • Shows a full functioning CAD program.
    • Floors: draw a Mario level on paper, scan it, and it creates a game you can play.
    • Super Mario Maker for the Wii U.
  • It’s not hour of code, it is hours of code.
  • If you want to build a ship, give people a love of the sea (quote from the Little Prince)
  • Shows video of old man learning to read so he can read his son’s book. It turns out to be a scotch commercial.
  • The worst f-word is “fear of failure”. That is the greatest barrier of success.
  • Old arcade games made you fail every 30 seconds so they could take your money, but you would keep coming back.
  • Uses Tickle app to fly a drone over the audience. Shows journal entry of his son describing the experience in his writers notebook, and merely got a check from his teacher.
  • “The beauty of technology is differentiation of creation.”
  • #edchat and Ed Camp are bringing teachers together.
  • The magic is what students create with the tools.

FETC: Sean McComb Keynote

These are my notes from the Sean McComb keynote at the 2016 FETC conference.

iWill: Activating Empowered Teachers and Students

  • @Mr_McComb
  • 2014 teacher of the year.
  • He discusses wow far we have come with technology. Imagine a clock representing the last 3,000 years. A minute would last about 50 years.
    • It took 49 minutes until the printing press was invented.
    • 6.5 minutes later the telegraph was invented.
    • 2.5 minutes later came television.
    • 1.5 minutes later the Internet was invented.
    • 30 seconds later came smart phones.
  • The rate of change has quickened!
  • We should reframe the idea that “schools must change” to “how can schools improve?” (and not just change for change sake) to “why should schools improve?” What is the real rationale for why schools have to improve? It is not just because other countries score higher on standardized tests.
    • Student engagement drops off over time.
      • 76% of elementary students report feeling engaged in work.
      • 64% of middle schools are engaged.
      • 44% in high school.
      • Kids feel tired, stressed, bored in school.
      • Kids will face challenges of social inequity (99%) and climate change.
  • Can we use technology to make learning engaging, equitable, empowering, and effective? Is technology disrupting inequity in schools?
  • Education technology vendors should have companies as diverse as their clients.
  • Learning should be interest driven, personal inquiry, and authentic outcomes.
  • He shares a recent unit from his class.
    • Gave students 10 topics and asked what they want to learn about. They choose racial, criminal, refugee, and LGBTQ+ justice.
    • “I am learning with my students because I gave them this choice.”
    • Daily work is small group instruction, writing, Skype/Google interviews, peer revision, and research.
  • Put “hearts before hardware”.
  • Hyperseeing: the ability to see what is not there, but could be. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
  • What can schools do that have the greatest impact: developing student self-expectations.
  • “As a teacher, I need to be in the boat with the students. There might be rough waters”.
  • We are always doing high–5’s in my classroom. The brain is more productive when it is positive.
  • How can we empower teachers, so that they feel that they have the ability to truly care for students.
  • Gallup poll: Teaching is 2nd most stressful job (1st is doctors), 69% of teachers are “not engaged” in their work, and are least likely to agree “my opinions seem to count”.
  • Teachers need to be able to rely on each other for support.
  • Teachers need to feel like they are involved in meaningful work.

FETC: Scratch for High School

These are my notes from the “Scratch for High School” session at the 2016 FETC conference. I did not take very good notes because I was working in Scratch at the same time.


Pen Tool

  • Pen = used to draw paths on the screen.
  • One of the first lessons is to draw basic shapes like a square.
Code to draw a square in Scratch.
Code to draw a square in Scratch.

Creating Interactivity

  • Kids have assignment to write a program with 20 questions.
  • Uses variables and sending/receiving message.
Code to broadcast messages in Scratch.
Code to broadcast messages in Scratch.

Brick Breaker Game

  • When key pressed as an event is slow. Use an if statement instead.
Code to move the paddle in a Block Breaker game.
Code to move the paddle in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a ball in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a ball in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a brick in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a brick in a Block Breaker game.

Math Based Programs

  • He showed how to make a new block, which is like defining a custom method.
Code for creating a custom code block in Scratch.
Code for creating a custom code block in Scratch.

Questions and Answers

  • Do you teach any conventions like how to organize code blocks on screen?
    • You can zoom in and out.
    • You can right-click and select “Clean up”.
    • You can right-click on block to add a comment, which can be expanded and collapsed.
  • How do kids make transition to other coding languages?
    • He has students do the same program first in Scratch, then Python, and then finally Java.

Student Examples

  • He has students do a project where they calculate density by looping through 2 arrays of values.
  • Student did a project where the user could move a putter to hit a ball, which moved with accurate and realistic velocity and angle.
  • He showed a student project that drew fractals.
  • A student made a Street Fighter game where each sprite had 100 costumes.

FETC: Double-Click to Edit: Hacking Keynote

These are my notes from the “Double-Click to Edit: Hacking Keynote” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


Presentation Styles

  • Shows video of Worst Presentation Ever.
  • It is great when people can’t tell you are using Keynote, they think you are using an app they have never seen.
  • Every Keynote has a style.
  • Showed Dick Hardt presentation style video.
  • Showed clip of Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone and comments on the Keynote design style.
    • “Is a widescreen iPod, a phone, and an Internet communication device.” Those are actually 3 bullets points, but each has own slide with a big icon.
    • Then he repeats the slides, but sped up, to create a visual joke.
  • @ambyburvall has a unique style. She draws everything in Paper by FiftyThree and uses white and pink on black background.
  • “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picaso.
  • “I am not the expert. I am a practitioner”

Focus on Keynote for Mac

Designing a theme

  • Think about
    • Colors:
      • Not too many.
      • The desired mood should drive color choices.
      • Have enough contrast.
    • Fonts
      • Serif vs. sans serif.
      • Size: font size should be double the age of the average person in audience.
    • Animation style
      • Don’t distract.
      • Tell a story.
      • Timed events verses programmed animations.
      • Consistency
    • Image type: photos vs. clip art.
    • Aspect ratio: he no longer uses 4:3.
  • Design, content, and delivery all work together. Think about the rate of presentation, such as talking quickly through many simple slides.
  • The Honey Slap: Sweet story to pull in the audience, followed by harsh statement.

3 Big Tips

  • Magic move
  • Instant Alpha: remove background of image
  • Layering animation: he demonstrated how he made a couple of slides, such as an elevator door opening. He keeps saying each animation takes many hours.

Recommendations for Presentation Tips

FETC: Amp Up Differentiated Instruction Digitally

These are my notes from the “Amp Up Differentiated Instruction Digitally” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • Technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge.
  • Overlapping from three areas of knowledge that teachers need to use technology effectively.
  • Not all students from other languages have a paradigm for written language.
  • Text-dependent skills and strategies, such as using text structures.


  • TodaysMeet
  • Students can post messages to the screen, similar to functionality within Nearpod.
  • Appears to have very limited functionality. Users can’t reply to each other.
  • The teacher can create rooms for discussion.

Benchmark Universe

  • She demonstrated an ebook with voiceover that highlighted the words as they were read aloud.
  • ebooks can be modified for specific needs.
  • Filters for product type (ebook, eposter, ), language (Englis or Spanish), and subject area.
  • Readings can be narrowed by lexile level.

More Resources

FETC: Leland Melvin Keynote

These are my notes from the Leland Melvin keynote at the 2016 FETC conference.


They are playing David Bowie before the keynote starts!

STEM Excellence Awards

Before the speaker begins, they are giving away the FETC STEM awards. Several nominees are from Washington! More information in both 1805 in the Expo Hall.


  • Played for the Lions and the Cowboys.
  • BS in chemistry and MS in material design.
  • Flew on Space Shuttle Atlantis.
  • 24 years with NASA.

Keynote Adress

Leland Melvin delivering a keynote address.

  • The right stuff is the never give up stuff.
  • Everyone literally had a hand in my development, makes smacking gesture with hand:)
  • Parents were both middle school teachers.
  • Was 4 for moon landing in 1969.
  • Talking about actress Grace Nichols who played Uhura on Star Trek, and influence on race and gender in 1960’s. She met MLK and he told her not to quit the show. NASA later hired her to recruit women and minorities.
  • Made his own skateboard, example of childhood engineering.
  • Tells a story of the Merita Bread truck his dad bought to use as an RV. They re-engineered it over the summer. “Anything we do can be a teaching moment”. “That is when I became an engineer”.
  • Got a chemistry set was age inappropriate. “I blew things up in the living room”, “that is when I became a scientist”.
  • Played high school football. He dropped the ball during the homecoming game. Coach told him to try again, ran the same play and he caught the ball to make a touchdown. This led to him receiving scholarship for University of Richmond.
  • Played for the Lions and then the Cowboys, then went back to college after an injury prevented him from playing.
  • Worked on a design for a replacement to the Space Shuttle, eventually applied for astronaut program.
  • Shows picture in which he was the only black astronaut in his class.
  • Lost hearing during EVA suit training in a pool. It s lowly came back, but was medically disqualified from flying space.
  • Became a recruiter to get kids interested in space.
  • After the Columbia disaster, was sent to talk to David Brown’s parents. They tell him “we must keep flying”.
  • Gets a medical waiver to be allowed to fly.
  • Path from blue flight suit to orange pumpkin suit was full of mistakes.
  • 2008 and 2009 went to ISS. Job was to work on the robotics. He had to use the big robot arm first flight. Added a module for the German program.
  • The orbital perspective, or orbital shift: seeing a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes, seeing all of humanity below, and working with an international family.
  • Shows video of Space Shuttle launch.
  • “Only possible because I had a team that believed in me.”
  • Stupid astronaut tricks get kids stoked to be astronauts.
  • Shows picture of sketch notes with 3 questions:
    • How to prepare students for jobs we can’t image?
    • How to ensure all students can meet level of rigor?
    • How to build learning experiences that spark passion?
  • Parents taught him empathy, to care about others.

FETC: Key Ingredients for Blended Learning

These are my notes from the “Key Ingredients for Blended Learning” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


  • Marcia Kish, blended learning coach
  • Taught 2nd grade, then took job with Apple after iPad came out.
  • Started a high school titled “Learning without Limits” in Ohio.
  • Success is not a straight line, it is a squiggly path.
  • Great full color Blended Learning Cookbook handout.

The Four C’s

  • Collaboration.
  • Creation.
  • Creativity.
  • Critical thinking.


  • Screen has mnemonic for password: urban figs part doubtful mice.
  • Requires a Google authentication.
  • Like Nearpod, but presenter says this one is way better.
    Slide had map of US, have students drag hearts, stars, and flags about places where you were born, currently live, or would like to visit.
  • Insert how miles from here you were born, which creates a graph.
  • Multiple choice: what subject do you teach, which creates a realtime graph, used for group creation.

Blended Learning Rotations

  1. My group – has used blended learning before.
    • Two grids sets of 4 squares, we discussed two questions and filled out the grids.
  2. 2nd rotation: in packet, read page 1 and then fill out chart on page 10.
    • My answers for page 10:
      • What is blended learning?: students work at their own pace, work in separate places, and are grouped using data.
      • What blended learning is not: students in rows, all doing busy work.
  3. 3rd rotation: go to Blended Learning and watch the videos. Videos are created using Zaption.

Blended Learning Rounds

  • Picture on screen shows a grid of student jobs.
  • Unlink “blended learning rotations”, this time there is no timer.
  • Had participants sort ourselves by tech savyness.

My group (rated ourselves as a 10 as tech savyness)

  • We got to pick a topic to work on, so I looked at Peardeck. I was very disappointed in how expensive it was, and it seems very limited.
    • It flattened PowerPoints as images.
    • Coolest features were really expensive.
  • I then looked at Nearpod and it worked much better.


  • She recommends Educannon and Zaption, which allow you to add questions to YouTube to stop students at key points in the video to answer questions.
  • Go Formative, looks like another way to collect data from students.
  • During tech projects, she has designated students run a Genius Bar to help other students.
  • Power My Learning – federal program for finding projects.
  • No Red Ink – help students with grammar.
  • Quizizz, like Kahoot, but students go at their own pace. It ranks students as they answer questions and they watch their avatar move up and down.

FETC: Build your Grant Writing Toolkit

These are my notes from the “Build your Grant Writing Toolkit” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


Creating the Dream

  • Grant writing is the same as fiction writing.
  • Elevator pitch – short abstract of the proposal.
  • Think about who benefits.
  • Don’t write just an equipment list. Think about what is going to change.
  • Draft your dream in a few sentences:
    Students will use mobile technology as a daily part of their education. Teachers will take advantage of the equipment to not only augment the learning, but also to transform the way that students learn. Students would have a high enough access to technology that obtaining devices for a lesson or project poses an insignificant obstacle to the teacher. Technology would be accessible in a manner that students can pull out devices on short notice.
  • Build a dream team.
    • Find a critical friend to help edit.
    • Work with community partners, such as a local business that will provide food during meetings.
  • Find research to support your dream.
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Develop a rough budget.
  • Check in with principal or district office.
  • Think about indirect costs. There may be requirements to include this.
  • You might be able to find an organization that will match costs.


  • Think about student population
    • Racial %
    • Gender %
    • ELL %
    • Free/reduced lunch %
    • What is unique about your population?
  • Get photos of the reality that needs to change.
  • You might need to do the math to convert raw numbers to percentages.
  • If demographic numbers are atypical for a particular year, it should be explained within the grant.
  • Is state data up to date? Maybe someone will double-check your work, but they are using out of date data.


  • Why you can do it.
  • Resume: 1-2 pages
  • Biography: 100-250 words, written as a narrative. Have 3 versions, {72, 130 340} word versions
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): detailed, multiple pages. Might need a table of contents. There might be rules that the CV has to be customized for every grant.
  • Prove that you handled money and didn’t go to jail.
  • Write your 100-word biography.

Finding Funding

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do: read closely what you can pay for an how much, especially funds for meals.
  • Don’t: spend grant money on alcohol.
  • Do: find out if training requirements meet contract. Do you need union approval?

After a Grant

  • How many students benefitted?
  • What were the barriers to success?
  • Keep detailed records of spending.
  • Set up an evaluation timeline.
  • Write thank you letters, and get students to write them to!
  • Share what you learned with others.

FETC: Makerspace-in-a-Box

These are my notes from the “Makerspace-in-a-Box” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • We have always been makers.
  • Build your inner-duck. No too are alike!
  • If all projects are the same, you have taught your students a recipe. This comes from telling students exactly how many slides to have in their PowerPoint.
  • They created a series of boxes. Each one has materials for 1 or 2 challenges. Directions in included in each box, or students can access online with a QR code.

Paper Circuits

Activating a paper circuit
Activating a paper circuit.

Squishy Circuits

Lighting up a squishy circuit.
Lighting up a squishy circuit.

Makey Makey

Making a fruit piano with a Makey Makey
Making a fruit piano with a Makey Makey


A wearable LED button
A wearable LED button