Today I had the honor of kicking off the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools i3 Tech Conference at Salem High School. i3 = Inspire, Innovate, Integrate and the conference hashtag is #PCCSi3

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (PCCS) is in the early stages of a large technology transformation.  A recent passing of a bond has allowed for many exciting 1:1 initiatives (both iPad and Chromebook) a migration to Google Apps for Education and upgrades to labs and new STEM labs.  Now, 1:1 initiative may seem fairly routine in these days, however, if you’re not familiar with PCCS  you need to know that the district is comprised of over 19,000 students, 1020 teachers, 606 support staff and 63 administrators…it is practically its own city!

I was asked to come to kick off the teacher led (yay!) PD days today and tomorrow.  Now, as I told my friend Michelle – I can’t get up in front of a bunch of teachers who are being asked to use Google Apps & Chromebooks and present from my MacBook, I would look like a total j*****s! So, I ordered an Acer C720P Chromebook, it arrived Tuesday and I started delving into the world of Chrome. My dearest MAET students helped me out and pointed me towards some incredible resources (which are embedded in the Google :) presentations below.)  These three in particular led me to extraordinarily helpful resources:

Google the Good Stuff (via Jason Kaiser)
Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts (via Sara Best)
Extensions, Add-Ons and Apps, Oh My! How to Utilize Google in Your Classroom (via Melissa Gorsegner)

I went all in and presented from Google Presentation. I’ve used it for low stakes things, but never for anything this important! I made great use of the free Snag-it plug-in for screenshots.  It all worked wonderfully.  In full disclosure, when I was working on the presentation I was mostly using my MacBook air, but, that’s the beauty of Google Apps right?

I’m not one to use much text on my slides, so, as standalone resources the slides below don’t make much sense – but there are embedded hyperlinks on each page that take you to the resources I was discussing. It was great presenting from the Chromebook and things were very smooth – no discernible difference, a presentation is a presentation! I’m really enjoying learning all the great things Chrome and the Chromebook can do, certainly pushing me out of complacency and reminding me that I have to do a better job at keeping up with all platforms.

BIG thanks to all of the PCCS Elementary teachers for coming today (some MAET students and alums!) Looking forward to kicking off the day for the secondary teachers tomorrow. Though I have the easy job, the sessions delivered by the teachers were phenomenal!

Elementary Group (Thursday):

Secondary Group (Friday):

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Thank you MSU WIC #ald14

On October 14, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

This is my 5th year blogging for Ada Lovelace Day.  It’s a wonderful exercise in celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

This year I would like to celebrate a group of women here on campus at MSU – the MSU Women in Computing (WIC) group.  They are a phenomenal group of young women here on campus (here is their current executive board.) I had an opportunity to work with a member of the MSU WIC community at a hackathon planning meeting a few weeks ago and I was so inspired by her knowledge and drive.  I’m so excited these women are leading the way for MSU and beyond!


Add your story!

On October 14th, write a blog post about your STEM heroine and add it to our collection: Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Write about a woman in science, technology, engineering or maths whose achievements you admire.
  2. Publish your story online.
  3. Add your story to our collection.
  4. Tell your friends!


2013 Post – Thank you Dr. Kyla McMullen
2012 Post – Thank you Mary, Pam & Catherine
2011 Post – Thank you Dr. Caroline Haythornthwaite
2010 Post – Thank you Dr. Catherine Mohr

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Here are a few quick tips to think about as you’re getting online courses ready for fall!

#1 – Use personal videos
If you don’t like the way you look on camera, get over it.  You need to create presence in your online course and a quick and easy way to do so is to fire up your webcam, iPhone or DSLR and get talking. Keep it short. Reiterate a few of the things that are important to you in the course and give the students an idea of who you are and what to expect (more on that in a moment.)

I don’t stop with the videos after the first week, they’re an easy way to create systematic presence. For more, read my post on Video Voicemails from a few years ago.

Please use a tripod and focus on production value (I personally prefer Vimeo over YouTube for posting and embedding). A little setting up and thinking through the production goes a long way!

#2 – Tell students what NOT to expect
We spend a lot of time crafting syllabi that tell students what to expect over the semester. Online students in particular come to the course with a set of a priori expectations and assumptions that may not be a part of your course.  Now, this is all very vague and takes an experienced online instructor to know these norms, however, there is one easy place to start – and that is with feedback.  This is the most important piece I have learned and improved upon over the years.   There are unrealistic or undefined expectations in the student-professor relationship when it comes to feedback.  Students say they want more, professors think they’re giving it.  The problem (I have found) in online classes is that the conditions of feedback are unstated.  Once I started to say “You will receive cursory feedback on this, in this format, within this # of days” or “You will NOT be receiving feedback on X, because” things improved dramatically. Students reported high levels of satisfaction with the feedback in end of semester evaluations, even though it hadn’t changed! I was setting realistic expectations.

This is a learning process for me that is under constant evolution.  In one course I supervised last semester the TA spent copious amount of time writing incredibly helpful feedback to students in the Google Docs comments.  He would pose questions to the students in the feedback, which often went unanswered.  Seeing feedback as a dialogue is a wacky idea to many, SO, as an improvement this semester, we are making responding to feedback an explicit part of participation and evaluation.

#3 –  Make sure you have clear deadlines and due dates
I unfortunately have seen one to many confusing online courses.  In all of the courses I teach, each online unit has a “road map” – this is a simple checklist of what is to be read/watched and what is to be turned in.  If you’re not an expert instructional designer, it’s NOT easy to convey this in a CMS or on a syllabus. Make a checklist and everyone is on the same page.

#4 – Clarify communication channels
Be explicit on how you prefer students to contact you (email, tweets, texts, etc) and state your standard turn-around for email.  (During the semester I promise a 24-hour turnaround on course questions.) If you’re working with a TA, clarify if students should email both of you, or, if you prefer to have one point of contact.

That’s it – there is so much more, but, these 4 quick tips will give your online course a level up!

Do you have any quick tips and tricks? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Throwback Thursday: Mr. Michaels

On June 12, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

I was listening to CBC while running errands this evening and they were playing jazz piano tunes, which, made me think of my last piano teacher, Matt Michaels.

I had been playing piano since 4th grade and when I hit high school I was ready to give up, but, my mom wouldn’t let me. I did love Harry Connick Jr. and I would only continue if I could leave classical behind and play like Harry. I’m not sure how she found Matt Michaels, but, she did and I continued playing (for just a bit longer.)

When I got home I googled “Matt Michaels” and sadly found out he passed away a few years ago.  Mitch Album wrote this wonderful article about him and his influence on Detroit jazz musicians. While I never played like Harry – I did appreciate the time Matt spent with me and he sure did teach me the basics of improvisation and fantastic chords.

I went downstairs and sure enough in my old piano music stacks I found a few pieces of sheet music that Matt wrote out.  I loved that we didn’t have books – he just had a stack of sheet music on top of the piano and would pull off a blank sheet and start writing out the tunes. Thank you Mr. Michaels.

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Six Things I Know About Travel (So Far)

On June 2, 2014, in Travel, by Leigh Graves Wolf

I never had the opportunity or finances to travel on a study abroad as an undergraduate. When I met my husband we put a lot of miles on our car driving from Michigan to Nova Scotia & back through the states one summer, then the following summer, from Michigan to Jasper to Vancouver and then back through the states via countless National Parks.  I didn’t have the opportunity to travel overseas until I was 30. I had started my PhD program and began teaching with the MAET program and had the opportunity to teach in Plymouth, England in the summer of 2006.  Since then, I have had the opportunity to circumnavigate the globe.  As director of the MAET program, I also have the opportunity to provide this chance to others via our MAET overseas program.

There is a common agreement that it takes 10 years to become an expert…so…I’m getting close to having this travel thing somewhat down pat.  I still learn and hone my strategies, but I feel I’ve come a long way over the past 8 years.  This year in our MAET Overseas program, we have a handful of students who like me years ago, are venturing out for the first time. I thought it would be helpful to articulate a few things I’ve been told and learned over the years of travel that I either did very well, or, wish I would have known on that first trip. Experienced travelers coming across this post – please add your wisdom to the discussion!

Here’s what I know:

1. You, and only you, are responsible for getting yourself from point A to point B

My very first time setting foot on foreign soil was on June 20, 2006.  I flew from Detroit Metro to London Heathrow. I had to rent a car and drive four hours from London to Plymouth, England.  In 2006, it was not common to have a GPS unit – it was something silly like over 200 pounds to rent one.  Thus, I had to rely on a road atlas and a print out of MapQuest directions along with hand-written tips from someone who had driven the route before.  Before setting foot over in London I thoroughly researched the route.  I read the atlas every night (ok, not every night, but a lot) before bed so I could build a mental map in my head.  These were the days before international cell phone plans or easy to procure SIM cards. I really had to know where I was going and what to do if I got stuck.  I think this experience set me up for future travel success. Everywhere I have gone, I do the same thing. Now, with international data on cell phones or unlocked phones + a SIM card, it’s easier, but, I never assume that I’ll be able to get online.  I always have a good mental map of roads or transport systems I’m going to encounter on my way to the airport, to the hotel, or wherever I am headed.

I re-learned this lesson last year. I was traveling to India for the first time, and another first, I was going to be met at the airport by a driver. You know the people you see holding up signs? My name was going to be on a sign! It was very exciting – I thought to myself, for the first time I don’t have to worry about where I’m going – the driver will take me right there and I can relax.  WRONG. As we got closer to the area where I was staying I started to notice that we kept circling the same block, several times.  The driver didn’t have the exact address and didn’t know where to drop me off.  Because I was being lax, I didn’t have a print out of the address or the address stored offline on my phone. ALWAYS KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. Have it on your phone, on a back up piece of paper, and in your mental map. This leads me to my next point…

2. Don’t Panic
There is a good chance you’ll get lost. You may get on the wrong train or find yourself circling the same block in a city.  The worst thing you can do is begin to panic.  I recently had lunch with my friend Andy. We were discussing travel advice for newbies (in preparation for this post!) and he said “You can get anywhere with a passport and a credit card.” That is very solid advice.  If you get on the wrong train, you’ll have to pay to get on the right train. If you miss your flight, you may have to pay to get on another one.  Knowing that in advance takes away some of the stress (and also a tip to prepare a cushion for emergencies.)

Additionally, delays will happen.  Getting angry isn’t going to make your connection happen.  My advice here – be on top of alternate plans and have several ways of contacting your airline.  Get those ducks in a row BEFORE you travel.  Follow the twitter handle of the airline you’re flying.  Social media is quickly becoming the go-to tool for customer service.  Program the airline customer service number into your phone.  If you miss a connection – chances are there is a plane full of people that also missed the flight. This means the counter is going to be busy, busy with angry people.  You should be pro-active.  Fire up your laptop (if you have one with you) or browse on your phone and look for alternate flights.  If you’re flying to Europe, main hubs are LHR, AMS and CDG.  A LOT of inter-Europe flights go in and out of there. See if you can find a route that may not come up automatically (you can do this by selecting multi-segment flights) and bring that to the table. They may not honor your request, but, at least you’re trying to get yourself from point A to point B.

If you get lost, completely lost, ask for help.  If you’re in a country where English is not the primary language, very kindly ask for help. It may be advisable to search out a tourist office (if there is one close by) or at the very minimum, have a map out and show that you know where you are and point to where you want to go (another tip from Andy!) I make it a rule to always learn the words “thank you,” “sorry” and “do you speak English” everywhere I go. I do not make assumptions and always do my best to make first contact in the native language.  I’m very happy that I have a working knowledge of French and wish more than anything that I could speak more than two languages.

3. Be Aware

If you read travel forums you will read lots of warnings that pickpockets are everywhere.  And, they are. It doesn’t mean you should freak out and look over your shoulder every 5 minutes.  It DOES mean that you should be very aware of where and HOW you keep your passport & money.  I personally have a messenger bag that goes over my shoulder and I keep the bag towards my front.  It’s really hard for anyone to get their hand in that messenger bag.  If you use a backpack, do not, under any circumstances, put valuable items in the outer pockets.  If you have a backpack I suggest a lock or twist-tie for the large zipper pocket as some one could come by and unzip and spill the contents of your bag.  While you’re trying to pick everything up, the pickpocket team will be there waiting to pick your things up too.

You should only need your passport a few times when you travel. You will need to show your passport at the airport coming to and from your adventure.  Also, you frequently have to show your passport at a hotel.  At all other times, your passport should be in a place that is hard to reach. Do not let anyone keep or take your passport.  Once I’m done showing my passport, it goes in an inner pocket of my bag that is not easy to reach.

As far as carrying money/credit cards – I keep those in my wallet, also in the messenger bag.  However, when I’m in a train or bus station – I keep the small amount of money I need to pay for the ticket, or my single credit card if I’m paying with a card, in my front pocket. (I know how much to expect because I research ahead of time.) This way, I’m not fumbling around taking money out. When I get to the ticket window or machine I take the small amount money out of my pocket, pay, and get on the bus/train.  I can put the change away later when I’m safely in my seat.  If someone is sitting next to you, it’s wise not to flash your money or wallet there either. It’s the moments of vulnerability that the pickpockets are watching for – just be confident and know where your money is AND how to use the machine.  If you’ve never used a ticket machine, google it! (Here’s an example of all of the amazing help at your disposal.) Even better, look up the transportation site for the country or system you want to use – they all have FAQ/help guides. Get those in your head BEFORE you leave so you don’t have to stress, you’ll have an idea of what to look for as you encounter new systems.

4. Do Your Research
As you’re preparing ask yourself, what questions should I be asking myself? When you formulate those questions, Google them! What type of power adapters do they use in X country? How much is my overseas data plan? Just like you need to get yourself from point A to point B, a lot of your preparation can be done with research. You can certainly ask others for help, but, a wise man once said “Don’t ask me questions that can be answered by Google.” This is not meant to be off-putting. A lot of travel advice is just that, advice…you shouldn’t just take my word from this blog post – Google around, what do other people say? There are lots of people with lots of opinions – triangulate them to make your own rules of the road.

5.  Pack Light & Pack Smart
It’s almost a challenge for me now to see how light I can pack. It’s liberating.  Just travel with a carry on if you can, however, for my summer travel where I’m staying in a country for over a month, this just isn’t possible.  I still try to pack as light as possible, making sure I have climate appropriate clothing (Google it if you don’t know what to expect) and lightweight layers. I use the bundle wrapping method for my clothes. If you’re staying for a long time that means you’ll have access to coin laundry or a laundromat.  I have recently found it less expensive to use a laundromat, especially in Europe as the washers just don’t seem to dry things out.  If you do send your clothes away, understand that they may not take the same care and attention that you do – so any special garments that you don’t want to shrink, hand wash those. I purchased a very inexpensive hairdryer for Europe since voltage conversion can be messy with devices like hair dryers or curling irons.

I’m a techie traveler – and this is where the “pack smart” comes into play.  I make sure I have the cables to charge all the devices.  Also, since technology is the core reason I often travel, I make sure to have a few back-up cables. (Since it’s super high stakes, I even have a back up laptop for my summer work.)  I keep everything as neat and tidy as possible, so, if I need to go into my laptop bag when traveling I don’t have junk falling out all over the place (see “be aware”). I love to look at “what’s in my bag” posts (like this one I always learn a new tip or trick.

6. Document Your Journey
I have found it extremely valuable to use social media to document my journeys – it started with Flickr and has moved on to twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. Here too, use common sense – I don’t publish the name of the hotel where I’m staying (at least not while I’m there.) I frequently contribute to TripAdvisor and Yelp because I find those sites very valuable when I travel, so, I’m giving back and offering my opinion as well. Plus, by documenting all of my trips, I can help others who are going there as well and fondly reminisce about all of the incredible adventures I’ve been able to experience.

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We are excited to announce a new instructional role on Team MAET – Content Curator.

Michelle Schira Hagerman and I were chatting (as we often do!) about all of the great work that is being generated by MAET students.   Our Educational Technology Certificate courses run year round – every 8 weeks – with 3 courses running during those 8 weeks. That’s a tremendous amount of content being generated – in just 3 of our courses!  Our instructors do a fabulous job providing feedback and support to our students, but, that takes up a lot of time and doesn’t leave much (if any) room for viewing the content with a wide lens, over time. As program directors, Michelle and I keep a close eye on the great work being shared on twitter and other social media, however, we have not had the time to collect and analyze the work as closely as we would like.  That’s when it hit me – just like a library, museum or archive – we too need a curator!

This had my mind buzzing – I dug out my Clifford Geerz, Margaret Mead & Caroline Haythornthwaite! The possibilities are endless. In researching, I came across this spectacular resource from The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) in the UK. They have a very comprehensive website filled with tools and how-to guides. They have created this beautiful workflow & visualization for digital curation:

They articulate the following aspects of the curation cycle:

Conceptualise: conceive and plan the creation of digital objects, including data capture methods and storage options.
Create: produce digital objects and assign administrative, descriptive, structural and technical archival metadata.
Access and use: ensure that designated users can easily access digital objects on a day-to-day basis. Some digital objects may be publicly available, whilst others may be password protected.
Appraise and select: evaluate digital objects and select those requiring long-term curation and preservation. Adhere to documented guidance, policies and legal requirements.
Dispose: rid systems of digital objects not selected for long-term curation and preservation. Documented guidance, policies and legal requirements may require the secure destruction of these objects.
Ingest: transfer digital objects to an archive, trusted digital repository, data centre or similar, again adhering to documented guidance, policies and legal requirements.
Preservation action: undertake actions to ensure the long-term preservation and retention of the authoritative nature of digital objects.
Reappraise: return digital objects that fail validation procedures for further appraisal and reselection.
Store: keep the data in a secure manner as outlined by relevant standards.
Access and reuse: ensure that data are accessible to designated users for first time use and reuse. Some material may be publicly available, whilst other data may be password protected.
Transform: create new digital objects from the original, for example, by migration into a different form.
- See more at:

In googling “content curator” you will come across quite a few interesting resources – many of them from the marketing and journalism world. One that struck a connection to the work we’re trying to do is this TED talk from Steven Rosenbaum author of Curation Nation.

MAET is bringing content curation to the classroom – as Rosenbaum articulates in his TED talk – “to bring clarity and connections” to the content generated by our incredible students.  Michelle expands on this by saying - “our content curators are curating content that serves an important pedagogical purpose. They’re certainly evaluating and preserving…but also drawing connections among the selected pieces in ways that our instructional team can leverage for important teaching. This is the real power in the curation role. The archive is critical…but the curation also adds value to students’ learning in our online classes. It feeds back into their work by exposing common themes, highlighting exemplary work, and raising questions that emerge within and among courses.”

This is new territory for all of us and we’re very excited to introduce our first MAET Curator Team – Chessi Oetjens, Steven Book, Mary Wever, and Wheatley Davis.  Chessi, Steven, Mary and Wheatley will be pioneering and shaping this role over the 2014-2015 academic year. Our initial goals are to collect, connect and amplify.  You can watch our experiment grow by following:

We would love to hear your ideas on the shape and direction of this new initiative.  Do you see a place for a curator in the classroom? How would you conceptualize this role in your educational space?



What is digital curation?. (n.d.). Digital Curation Centre. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from

Geertz, C. (1983). Local knowledge: further essays in interpretive anthropology. New York: Basic Books.

Horst, H. A. (2012). Digital anthropology. London: Berg.

Mead, M., & Métraux, R. (1970). A way of seeing. New York: McCall Pub. Co..

Rosenbaum, S. C. (2011). Curation nation: how to win in a world where consumers are creators. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Wellman, B., & Haythornthwaite, C. (2002). The Internet in everyday life. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell Pub..

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If you are an educator in Ireland (or if your summer travel plans include Ireland) be sure to attend the free 7th annual MAET/ICT/Educational Technology Conference (#GREAT14) on the campus of NUI Galway in Galway, Ireland on July 15, 2014 from 1pm-4pm (IST).

Last year’s #GREAT13 conference exceed our expectations. Several of our #edchatie friends made it to Galway for the conference (despite the competition of glorious weather!) – it was an amazing day and we are looking forward to reconnecting and making new friends at #GREAT14.

The conference is organized and presented by the Year 2 Overseas MSU MAET students as a requirement for their CEP 815: Technology and Leadership course (see the assignment here), and is targeted towards anyone who works in the field of education (K12, higher ed, and beyond).


Below you will find archives of the past 6 conferences to give you an idea of the spirit of the conference:

2013 #GREAT13:
2012 #GREAT12:
2011 RELATe:
2010 RELATe
2009 PLATE
2008 PLATE

If you’re interested in coming, fill out this simple form to register your interest. We will send more updates as the schedule emerges:

One more opportunity to connect:

If you’re an educator or maker in, or around, Galway I would love to talk to you about the possibility of visiting your classroom/learning/making space! Our students are eager to not only visit classrooms, but potentially collaborate with you on an activity. We will be in Galway June 30 – July 25, 2014.  I know this is close to the end of the school year (which is a tricky time) but we are very interested in connecting with you! Just tweet me (@gravesle) if you’re interested!

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I had the opportunity to present with several colleagues at SITE2014 (the annual conference of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education.)

Here is the abstract of our presentation along with the associated paper.


Teachers are the single most important factor when it comes to adding value to student learning (Sanders & Horn, 1998) and teacher effectiveness, demonstrated to be paramount in face-to-face classrooms (Darling-Hammond, 2000), likely plays a large role in online and blended classrooms as well. Given the steady growth in online learning in the last decade, 1.8 million enrollments in the 2009-10 school year up from 600,000 in 2006 (Queen, Lewis, & Coopersmith, 2011), and an estimated 740,000 enrollments served by state virtual schools and over 300,000 students served by fully online schools in the 2012-13 school year (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2013), it is somewhat surprising that so few states currently offer formal avenues of additional training and preparation of online and blended K-12 teachers. Only seven states (Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah) have online or distance education endorsements.

The paper can be found here: <paper_3060_41819-1 SITE2014_Panel>

Kristen DeBruler, Michigan Virtual University, United States
Kathryn Kennedy, Michigan Virtual University, United States
Leanna Archambault, Arizona State University, United States
Stein Brunvand, University of Michigan Dearborn, United States
Leigh Wolf, Michigan State University, United States
Leah Breen, Michigan Department of Education, United States
Susan Lowes, Teachers College Columbia University, United States

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At the Master’s in Educational Technology Booth at the MACUL14 conference, we created a mini Maker Faire, inspired by the larger maker movement that challenges us, as a program, to imagine technology integration in creative, authentic and meaningful ways. As a program, we embrace the idea of creating, not just consuming and encourage our students to think of ways to repurpose the world around them for their curricular and pedagogical goals.

We have purposefully integrated the maker mindset into one of our classes — CEP 811 — and today, we discovered that MACUL attendees LOVE to make things. Over 160 teachers and technology integration professionals joined the maker magic!


(Full picture set at:

We featured two “maker” activities today, a simple paper-based circuit and a more complex sewn circuit. Below, we’ve included lists of materials, estimated costs, and recommended how-to information for both of these activities. We have also embedded .pdfs below that highlight curricular connections to electrical circuits for content-area teachers who would not typically integrate electrical circuits into their curriculum — English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, and Visual Arts. We’ve also written a set of curricular connections for teachers of ANY discipline.

Maker Activity #1: Paper Circuit Name Badge
(Inspired by

In this activity, MACUL participants added an LED light to their conference name tag.


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Decide where you would like to place the light for meaningful effect. Do you want to light up the “i” in your name on your name badge? The “M” in MACUL? Punch a hole in that place with the paper punch.

  2. Plan out your circuit. Based on where the light will go, decide where to place the battery and how long your copper tape will need to be. For this project, most people cut a length that is about 10 cm or 5 inches.

  3. Cut the adhesive copper tape in half, lengthwise. You’ll need two skinny strips of copper tape, placed very closely together to make the circuit work. Plan the placement of the two pieces of tape on your name badge so that the LED light, which you will place between the two strips, will shine through the hole you punched in the paper. Generally, this means that you have to place each piece of copper tape so that it partially covers the hole you’ve cut and that the end of the tape strip adheres to the paper beyond on both sides of the punched hole.

  1. To make the circuit, stick down the first length of copper tape. Lay the coin battery on top of the tape, positive side up. Position the other piece of tape so it connects with the positive side of the battery (the top). Stick this second piece of tape down on the paper so that it runs parallel to the first but so that there is a 1 mm space between them. Use Scotch tape to fasten the battery to your name badge.

  2. Place the LED light across the copper strips so that each teeny diode of light touches one copper strip. Test the circuit by pressing the LED against the strips of copper tape with the tweezers. Does it light up? If not, flip the diodes.

  3. Stick the LED light down onto the copper tape using the double-sized Scotch.

  4. Voilà! You have a paper circuit and a very fancy MACUL name badge!


  • Be sure you have a good connection between the battery and the copper tape. Stick it down with scotch tape — a couple of pieces might be required.
  • Be sure the strips of copper tape do not touch. This will short out the circuit.
  • Be sure the LED light is positioned properly. There are positive and negative diodes on the light — you have to position the LED so that the electrons will flow! Flip the LED light around if it doesn’t work at first.
  • Be sure the light is securely connected to the copper tape. You might need a few pieces of tape to do the trick.

Maker Activity #2 How to Sew a Circuit into a Felt Badge


  • Two pieces of felt (Green and White, preferably)
  • An LED light [$8.88 for 100]
  • A coin cell battery [$29.72 for 100]
  • A coin cell battery holder [$.95 each OR $.76 each when you buy 100 or more]
  • Conductive thread [$39.95 for 360 yards] length per project will vary depending on your ambitions
  • Scissors for cutting thread [classroom scissors will work!]
  • A needle [check your sewing kit!]
  • Garden variety white thread [check your sewing kit!]
  • [long enough to sew around the badge]

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Put the battery in the battery holder. The “plus” side should be facing up.

2. Cut two lines of conductive thread, each one about 20 cm in length.

3. Thread the conductive thread through one of the battery holder diodes (there are small holes at each end). Tie a knot to connect the thread to the diode. Important: Leave enough conductive thread trailing from the diode for sewing.

3. Thread a second piece of conductive thread through the other end of the diode on the battery holder. Tie a second knot.

4. Puncture the felt with the ends of the LED light. The light bulb will be on the outside of the badge. The two ends of the LED will be on the inside of the badge, attached with conductive thread to the battery holder.

5. Once punctured through the felt, bend the ends of the LED so that they’re flat against the felt — you’ll have to bend them down too so that they don’t stick out the sides of your badge. They’ll make a “u” shape.

6. Before you sew, check to make sure the positive end of the battery holder is connected to the positive end of the light; the negative to negative. Test this by seeing if your light illuminates when you touch the ends to the trails of conductive thread. If it doesn’t work, switch the thread. Remember which way this worked so that you sew the correct thread to the correct end of the light.

7. Position your Battery Holder below the ends of the LED light so that you can sew the conductive thread through the felt and around the ends of the LED light. You only have one strand of thread for each end. Threading the needle with the conductive thread can be a bit tricky…but don’t lose patience!

8. Once you have both ends of your LED light sewn into the felt with the conductive thread, you should have an electrical circuit and the light should be shining!

9. Put the back on your badge by sewing it together with the other felt square using the regular white thread. The battery should be on the inside. The light will be on the outside.

10. Once you’ve sewn it, together, attach an MAET button under the light. Voilá! A felt badge that glows with an LED light!


Remember that you’re making an electrical circuit. If bits of thread from one side of your circuit touch the other side, the circuit will short out and the light will not work. Trim the ends of the conductive thread before you seal up the backing. You don’t want the circuit to short out after all of your hard work!

(cross posted at

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MAET @ MACUL 2014 – Maker Space Activity &#038; Curriculuar Connections by Leigh Graves Wolf is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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#IPDX14 Quickfire Follow up

On February 27, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Thanks to all who attended the session today! If you were not able to attend, participants took notes in this collaborative google doc. Simply open the doc and search for “Quickfire” – that’s the easiest way to get to our notes!

As promised, here are the slides from today:

I have blogged quite a bit about quickfire challenges, here are a few posts you may find useful (they all have additional examples of quickfires for you!)

Here is our “explore.create.share” database of PD activities we use in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program at Michigan State (it has more than just quickfires in there!):

Below, you will find a recap of the Quickfires we experienced today. Thanks again to all who came and engaged! If you take this idea into your own classroom/PD please share and let me know! I love to see all of the creative ways this activity can be repurposed!

IPDX14 participants were presented with 2 challenges today – one, was a 15 second video challenge (explained in the embedded slides above) and one was a Quickfire Quickfire were participants had 20 minutes to design – here is what they came up with!

Challenge #1 – the 15 second videos (as an archive for the participants, it’s one of those “you had to be there” things ;)

Challenge #2 Quickfire Quickfire

Tag Team Programming

Students are given a desired outcome by teacher.  They are put into teams of 2. Using Scratch, have student A begin the activity.  Student B is not allowed to watch or talk with student A.  After 5 minutes, the bell rings and student B takes over. The partners are not allowed to communicate with one another, but every partner A can brainstorm and discuss strategies quietly with the other partner As.  After 5 minutes the bell rings again, and the switch occurs again.  Time limit and task description would vary based on the age/ability/task.

Your Rights?

Each group of three is given the following challenge: Create a visual representation of how the Civil Rights Movement impacted your life. Be sure to demonstrate an understanding of a key Civil Rights event. You have 40 minutes. You have two minutes to share your visual representation (twist– have them share another group’s visual representation and interpret or apply their understanding of it)

“Mute the Acronyms” Professional Development

  • Use current educational terminology

    • TPACK

    • SAMR

    • Webb’s DOK

    • CIPA

    • COPPA

    • FERPA

    • CCSS

    • NGSS

  • Small groups of 4 or more

  • Using pictures or videos to explain the terms without actually use the acronym nor the words that make up the acronym (i.e. act out, draw pictures)

  • 20 minutes to create

  • End product must be no longer than one minute long.

  • End product must be digital to share

  • Collect responses in a way where they can be cataloged for reference later

Research: Finding Reliable Sources

The Challenge: Student teams are asked to find web resources for a research project.

Half of the group is asked to find examples of bad resources and the other group finds good resources in 10 minutes. Students have a list of criteria that define bad vs. good. In the last 10 minutes, each group presents the resources they have found and compare or contrast what makes them good or bad. The good resources could be shared on a website or collaborative doc.

From Green to Great

Freshman in groups of 3 use any technology to create and share a 2 min video  creating a collective story of who you are. It should highlight you as individuals and also who you are as a group. You have 30 min and may share any way you like as long as the instructor has a url into this Google form. We will Fruit machine 5 videos today to watch and over the course of the year, load your videos to our Youtube Channel and play your videos over our closed network tv’s during break over the course of the year.  Part of your graduation requirements for your senior project will be to reconnect and create a video that follows the same format and reflect on how you have changed.

Chopped to the Core

The Dynamic Universe



Creative Commons License
#IPDX14 Quickfire Follow up by Leigh Graves Wolf is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at