Saturday, April 30, 2016

Comic Book Cover

This morning I created a cover for my collection of infographics: Super Teacher How-Toons, A Visual Guide for Integrating Technology in the Classroom.

The teachers seem to respond better to illustrated instructions. I smile whenever I see they have printed and posted one of my graphics next to their computer. New concepts seem less daunting when explained by clip art characters.

I've been making the illustrations in Google slides then exporting them out as jpeg images. Google slides gives me the freedom to float and layer graphics just like Google Drawings with the added benefit of sequencing or reordering pages.

The graphics come from Google's Creative Commons search. I also layer shapes, WordArt and text boxes to create the effects. It's been two years since I worked with a yearbook staff, so this has become a way for me to keep practicing my publication graphic design skills.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How To: AirServer Setup Guide

  1. Password - Open SETTINGS from the menu. Choose how you want users to access your AirServer connection, then click Apply.
  2. Download the AirServer Connect App.
  3. Connect your iPad.
Right-click the AirServer icon in the taskbar to locate all the menu items needed.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Movie Review: God's Not Dead 2

Our 8th grade class had the opportunity to view the movie God's Not Dead 2 today. It is a courtroom drama about a teacher defending her response to a student's question comparing Jesus and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Since I had not seen the first movie, I looked up a couple reviews beforehand.

Common Sense Media gave an accurate review of the movie synopsis and content. The Common Sense age rating of 10+ may be a bit generous. I would suggest that children have a good understanding of the legal system and be able to process arguments beyond emotional reaction.

I also read an entertaining review by Mennoknight that does a good job of sighting some of the movie's theological shortcomings. Of course the movie is not intended to be a sermon or replace studying the historical or biblical teachings of Jesus.

The movie is an artistic presentation of cultural Christianity and its tensions with our postmodern American ideals, despite a few Christian tropes. Overall, I found the movie to be an enjoyable, heartwarming story that would sit comfortably on the shelf in any Christian bookstore. The legal arguments were not above our 8th graders (how many middle school students cheer when Lee Strobel appears on screen?), but they have also been well taught about government and US history.

Personally I would have preferred that the gospel include references to sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus. But the movie stays true to the current evangelical missional mindset that modern man would be convinced of the truth if they could only hear all the facts. Several subplots remained unexplored, such as the freedom of speech exercised by the blogger lady and the roles of teachers in our society.

Overall I would recommend this movie to my Christian friends, but do not take nonbeliever friends in the hope of changing their opinions on Christ. Families should definitely engage their older children in discussion on the topics. While the concert scene is an emotionally exciting finish to the movie, for those who would stand firm in their faith, there are still difficult realities to be faced everyday. Sadly, life is a lot messier than any two hour movie would lead us to believe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Scratch Programming: More Than Games

Displaying more biblical integration in the classroom, that was one thing I was challenged on during my last classroom evaluation. So I took down the winter bulletin board and wondered how I could do it.

In 6th grade Creative Computing we are creating Scratch games. I had already talked to them about biblical concepts that relate to the games, so that seemed like an easy place to start.

First I printed off the game worksheets from the ScratchEd Student Workbook. Then I made sheets for the concepts of Creation (generating score), Destination (purpose or goals), Consequence (if/then structures) and Cloning. You are welcome to follow the links and reuse my sheets.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Exploring The Henry Ford

I recently had the privilege of visiting The Henry Ford museum and factory tour in Dearborn, Michigan. The museum is so much more than cars, encompassing innovations in transportation, technology, and history. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it.

In addition to the onsite displays, they also curate a large digital collection. This could be a great resource for students to interact with primary source documents and media. Experts have collected resources into specific sets such as: The Indy 500, Lincoln's Chair, and American Democracy and Civil Rights.

I would also suggest browsing through their large collection of Educational Resources​. The unit plans can be sorted by subject, grade, and time period.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Manufacturing Complexity

The Ford Rouge factory is a complex manufacturing facility, complete with green initiatives, ergonomic considerations and vision. Yesterday my son (who is a die-hard Ford fan) and I had the privilege of touring the automotive plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

The robotics were fascinating to watch. Armatures would pick up and place window glass while lasers ensured accurate placement. It reminded me of the old adage, measure twice and cut once.

Hydrolic lifts would raise the body to a comfortable working height. When not in use, tools were suspended at waist level for easy access. Jigs allowed for quick and accurate decal placement. Workers were able to function quickly and efficiently without added physical strain. Frank Gilbreth would have been proud.

We noted the careful planning of electrical grids that would allow for quicker retooling of the assembly line for different models. We also observed the supply chain flow and communication process that allowed the correct color doors and bed to be matched with the cab. And I chuckled at hearing someone testing every horn, at least I think they were testing and not just annoying a co-worker!

If you are ever in the Detroit metropolitan area, I recommend taking the self guided tour of the Ford Rouge Plant. Ask questions of the tour staff, and don't hurry through the plant floor. There really is a lot to see if you watch the processes.