Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Flick: A Look at Gen Z

With a young Millennial and an older Gen Z in our house, it's interesting to note how my own children compare to their generational trends. And that's the key. These are just trends, observations and opinions. Every child is an individual and deserves to be treated as such.

Read more on Goldman Sachs' website.

Meeting Mobi

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Munchies: Curate Content with Feedly

I do a lot of reading and watching informative videos, always have. Monday Munchies are a way for me to share the best articles and video clips I've seen from the previous week.

I use an RSS service called Feedly to collect subscriptions to blogs and news articles. It's a good way to curate content that is delivered to me rather than wandering the web aimlessly searching for meaning.

Here are a few things you can munch on this week.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Book Review: The Stone Heart

The Stone Heart The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent middle story to a quick paced and engaging trilogy. Because it had been so long since reading the first book, it took me a while to remember all the secondary characters and their role in the story. I appreciated the careful patience in bringing the reader back up to speed without making the first chapters feel like a review.

Hicks does a fabulous job of allowing the illustrations to move the story along. She provides a good balance between visual and written story telling. It's fun to read through the author's notes at the end and see the character development with in her sketches. I think it is also inspiring to hear about an author's passion for the story and their dedication to their craft carrying them through the moments when it seems the story will never be told.

The Stone Heart has some darker moments (as does every trilogy's middle book) but nothing too shocking for middle school readers. I appreciate the clean dialogue and innocent friendship between friends caught in a socio-political war. Overall an excellent continuation of a compelling story, and I'm looking forward to the release of the final book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Easy Offline Lesson Plans

My lesson was on search engines, but the Internet was down. Learn how to have great offline backup plans.

So I had a room full of fifth grade students with a lesson plan on search engines. We were going to compare search results from different engines. We were going to learn how to refine our searches. We were not going anywhere because the Internet connection had gone down.

So I quickly checked with the librarian and moved my lesson offline. We selected books from the reference cart: dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias and records books. I then gave students the same search queries from the lesson. We still compared results and discussed why some sources provided better results. We even contemplated if other libraries would have better selections or unique resources.

The trick to any offline lesson plan is understanding what concepts digital tools are built upon. Digital search is still the search for and analysis of information. For centuries, people have dug through catalogs of information in analog format. If students can perform the task analog, then transfer the concept to a digital platform, they will have a better understanding of the process.

So the next time the Internet goes down, don't panic. Demonstrate to students it isn't the electronic tool that impacts the quality of the work, but the skill of the person wielding the tool.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Planning and Prepping to Paint

The new muffler arrived this week and I'm prepping it for installation #VWBug

The old muffler rusted through in places and one of the tailpipes fell off somewhere along the way. A replacement kit arrived from California this week. The vendor recommends removing the factory paint and refinishing the muffler with a heat resistant paint.

As you can see in the photo, I started removing the paint with a drill grinder and sand paper. While effective, I think it will take too long and it will be difficult for me to remove the paint in the joints. So I went to the hardware store and picked up a can of indoor rated paint remover and latex gloves.

It's important to read (and follow) the directions on any chemical product, especially something that is eating away a finish. I've sprayed the remover onto one end of the muffler and will wait to see how long it takes before the paint is ready to come off. Once the test area proves successful, I'll move on to the rest of the muffler.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Create A Custom Mobile Experience with Microsoft PowerApps

I recently dabbled with Microsoft PowerApps, creating a custom mobile experience for my own data collection process. PowerApps comes packaged with our Office 365 tenant so there was no additional cost. Overall it was fairly straightforward and easy to get up and running quickly.

Like so many things, the actual interface was quick to construct, most of it pulling from templates. Where most people will struggle is in the construction of the data management tools behind the app. I already had a working Excel spreadsheet for collecting data so that part was already done.

PowerApps quickly pulled together a mobile experience where I could sort, filter and search through spreadsheet data. I can also create additional lines in the spreadsheet using mobile form fields. I liked being able to make two separate apps for different sheets in the same workbook, helping to keep my data organized.

Now I already had the same Excel spreadsheet pinned to the home screen of my Android phone. So the PowerApp did not provide any additional functionality, but the form based fields are much easier to use on a phone than the native spreadsheet mechanisms in the mobile Excel app.

If you have access to Microsoft PowerApps and use your mobile device frequently, I highly recommend exploring the possibilities of streamlining data collection and documentation through custom apps. To learn more or to get started, check out Microsoft's Introduction to PowerApps tutorial.