Today, I’m celebrating a milestone, my 400th Stick Around Puzzle. Yes, its true I have made 400 Stick Around Puzzles since December of 2013. From PK all the way to a college class on ways to use the SAMR model for pre-service teachers. I’ve done so many Stick Around Puzzle and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. Stick Around is my favorite App and every day I find new ideas to to create ways to learn and teach with it and when I bring it up with my students on the classroom Apple Tvs they immediately go: “All right!” “Stick Around!” I even had one student create several Stick Around Puzzles on baby animals and then put them in a Thinglink which is at the bottom of this post. My students love creating puzzles and when I show them another way to use Stick Around they immediately start looking to other Apps they can Smash it with and create new projects, especially during Genius Hour. Above is my 400th puzzle, I decided to create a timeline of educators who have really inspired me in the last five years since I switched from health care into education.
2011: The stickers are of my wife, Melissa, our son Tyler and my mother-in-law, Diane (former teacher). My mother, Mary Lou and my brother Trevor (my stepfather was missing from a family photo or he be in there too). In 2011 as I really started getting into my career they were there to cheer me on and encourage me. The next two are of Dr. John Cowan, my professor who really taught me how to use mobile technology tools and helped me into my internship where I met Jenni Iwanski who would became my tech coach and taught me the classroom setting and working with students with mobile technology when the school began their iPad 1:1 program. If it wasn’t for these people in 2011, I would not be where I am now.
2012: Next is Dr. Cindy York, I was her graduate assistant and teacher’s assistant when I started my doctoral work in 2012. She has been my mentor and friend since late 2011 when I finished my Master’s in 2011 and she is also chairing my dissertation committee. I owe my teaching style to Cindy and my love for ed tech comes from her. Next is my friend, Kai Rush, Kai and I have been through a lot in the last five years from our masters program to currently the doctoral program at Northern Illinois University. Why is he here? When I took my job at CLS in the middle of 2012, Kai’s experience as a classroom teacher really stuck with me and I was able to make a better transition into working for PK-12 school a lot easier. His experience as a geography teacher inspired me for a lot of my early mobile learning lessons and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without, Kai. Next is Kyle Pearce, when I started at CLS one of the big areas I had to focus on for integrating iPads was Math. I searched online for I think about an hour when I saw his name pop up a few times and when I saw his website Tap Into Teen Minds. I knew I had found the teacher I was looking for. Many of my early math lessons are based on Kyle’s work and I went to his website and twitter feed a lot during those early summer months of 2012 and into the fall. My math teacher at the time loved many of the ideas from Kyle she used her lessons and thanks to those early lessons. My math teacher and I were able to create a fantastic flipped classroom using iPads, Edmodo and iMovie. Thanks Kyle. To close 2012 out is with a picture with one of my students. My students for the last three years have really inspired me to be innovative with my teaching. They have both challenged and encouraged me to be the best I can possibly be. Their faces light up when I walk in the room and I could just be showing up to fix a wi-fi problem or bring back a repaired device but they love seeing me when I walk in. If it wasn’t them, App Dice would be exist and neither would all the lessons I have created the last few years and as I have said, they love it when I bring Stick Around on my iPad.
2013: The first person doesn’t need any introductions, its Tony Vincent, now while I started following Tony’s work in late 2012 and had heard about him from Dr. York it wasn’t until the beginning of 2013 when I started checking his website and twitter feed on a regular basis. From his experience as a 5th grade teacher to how to use the multitude of resources out there and make it look easy and made me believe that I could make things work in any grade level across any subject. Then later in 2013, he posted his preview of Stick Around, a new App he had co-created with everyone at Explain Everything. I thought it was fantastic and checked weekly to see when it would be released and then December rolled around and there it was to download. There was a field trip that day and I was able to play with Stick Around for almost an hour and then immediately created a tutorial for it. I had sent it to Tony and he retweeted it and it had over 200 clicks in less than thirty minutes. I was amazed that many link clicks happened in less than 30 minutes and the next thing I know many people were following and tweeting me about how I used it with other Apps. Tony even posted that people needed to follow me for great iPad ideas. From there on, Tony and I became friends, he has Skyped with my students during Genius Hour and the two of us finally met in person this past month at the Mobile Learning Experience 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. Knowing Tony has been a major inspiration for my work since 2013 and I still get excited when I see him create something new on his vidcasts. Thanks Tony.
Speaking of people I ended up meeting thanks to Tony, my next educators are Courtney Pepe and Felix Jacomino. Courtney has been an amazing person to follow and to know the last couple of years, I saw some of her work in the middle of 2013 on using difference devices across the classroom and I loved her articles she shared with others on her website or on twitter. She really helped me look an incorporating other mobile devices with my students and with my family as a result and her and I love sharing work together. The next is Felix, who I also finally met in person at the Mobile Experience. Many know that my undergraduate degree is in Theatre and Felix opened the door for my creativity by using iPads and green screen with my students but he did something else entirely. Felix inspired me to push my school’s iPad program to the next level. Many schools feel that once you have tech in the classroom, everything is set but there is little professional development when it comes from using mobile technology in a school. I always believed in PD and I’m even writing my dissertation on it but he showed me a big part of it, sharing is caring. If you get the chance to go to a session by Felix, please do because you will love it. Thanks to Felix, I redid the way I share my lessons here on my blog and else where. I started creating more tutorials to share with not only my teachers but also my students and it has made a big difference in how they use iPads and how they learn. I can’t thanks Felix enough for that.
Finally, there is Meghan Zigmond and this is one person I have constantly talked about that the world is a better place because of teachers like Meghan. In late 2013 I started following Meghan’s work with her students and most importantly, I learned about Sketchnotes and everyone knows I love using sketchnotes. I remembering being in first grade and doodling when I took my notes and I was constantly told by my teachers to stop doing that and take notes. In fact I remember many of my mom’s conferences with my teachers saying that I was very bright and a kind student but wish I would stop day dreaming when I did my notes and I remember my mother asking why I drew pictures with my notes. I told her: “It helps me remember.” She then told me to keep doing it but not to let my teachers see it. So, I did them in secret until middle school where my science teacher told me to keep doing that, it helps remember things better. So, I kept doing that to his day and I noticed many of my students did it too. I wanted to encourage this with my students, so Is started following Meghan and I am so happy I did. My sketchnote process has not only become more refine but my students have found ways to use their sketchnotes in their lessons and projects. I have always said: “Never stop a student from being creative.” If it wasn’t for Meghan, I don’t think my students would have seen that their doodling was really learning.
2014: I’m going to start on the bottom of the timeline first, in the middle of 2014 after I had created App Dice I was feeling burned out. I was doing all these tutorials, lessons and more for my teachers and sadly my sessions only had one or two people coming to them and I felt I was going over something I had created time and time again. In fact I even had a Stick Around creativity block too, it was horrible and then I heard from Barbara Gruener who is in the middle of my timeline with Erin Klein and she told me to go follow Dave Burgess and Teach Like a Pirate. I had heard of him and his book and I was planning on reading it in the fall but she told me to go do it and I am so happy I did. I first when to Dave’s website and the rest of we history. Teach Like a Pirate really reignited my passion for what I did and then after reading his book I was in constant creativity with my lessons new and old. My wife even looked at me and said: “There’s my husband.” I owe a lot to Dave and Teach Like a Pirate and thanks to him I also met Stephanie Frosch who is next to him. Steph’s passion is almost unmatched with any teacher who uses #TLAP and she has inspired me to create some amazing lessons and she was also my cheerleader as I slowly came out of my burnout in 2014. I love her enthusiasm and her passion for teaching every time I see her on twitter or in our Teach like a Pirate chats. Both of these two have really made a huge difference in my life and I would have never known the two of them without Barb. Speaking of her Barb, her book: “What’s Under your Cape?” is also a great book and really got my passion going full steam after I read it. I owe a lot to Barbara and I am so happy to talk to her online and her encouragement she brings to teachers.
Moving next to Barb is Erin Klein, a passionate educator I had been following since early 2014 and also finally met last month in Arizona. Erin is full of such joy and passion she inspires everyone she talks to from her students to her own family. I have brought her ideas to many of my Pk-1st grade teachers and they are always asking: “What did Erin do today?” Erin has that contagious passion that reminds me a lot of Dave, Steph and Barb. Her website Kleinspiration is such an amazing resource for teachers and I can’t recommend her enough. Moving up to the final two of 2014 are Sue Gorman and Kasey Bell. These two have been so amazing to know, Sue’s kind words and passion for teaching really helped me in 2014 during my burnout and she continues to be a kind voice when you feel you aren’t doing enough. Sue is an encourager and amazing teacher and if it wasn’t for her I would have never known Kasey. I found out through Sue that Kasey on her website, Shake Up Learning was using Gapp Dice. Which was based on my App Dice but with Google Apps. I remember reading her post and seeing her dice templates and she had in her post: “I’m not sure who came up with this idea but what an amazing idea.” I replied: “I would be that person.” Since then the two of us have become friends and have shared resources on using Google Apps with iPads constantly. I recently did a Google Hangout with both of them on iPadpalooza and we hope to work together in person in the near future. I want to thank them both for their kind words and inspiration.
2015: While the year isn’t over, I have so many teachers and educators that have really inspired me this year, so much that I couldn’t fit them all on here but I wanted to point out five that have really made a difference. Top of the list is Paul Solarz, writer of Learn Like a Pirate, while Paul is close by to where I live and while we haven’t met in person, we have had a lot of great talks. His book, Learn Like a Pirate has really changed how my students view themselves in 2015 where they where they gone to lead the classroom with their lessons and projects. While I have always encourage my students to lead, sometimes it takes advice from another great teacher to get them to step outside their comfort zone and create amazing learning. I want to thank Paul for that. Next, are two great teachers I also met in Arizona last month (I know that’s a lot of great people) Rodney Turner and Dierdre Shelter. Many know that sometimes teachers who have been in the field a while are scared when it comes from technology in the classroom but newer teachers are even more fearful. Rodney’s advice about “dating the device and marrying the learning” has been an inspiration to many of my newer teachers I work with. His advice has been very inspiring my coworkers and I love his lessons, which leads me to Dierdre. She has said it best about being innovative teacher: “Perfection doesn’t exist, so what are you waiting for?” I get told many times that its easy for me because I’m naturally creative, I tell others that they are too and not to be afraid. Dierdre’s advice on believing in yourself and going for it is extremely inspiring, even to me. There are many times I look at something new or different and go: “Can I really do this?” Then I think back to Dave Burgess’s advice on F.A.I.L (First Attempt In Learning). You have to go for it, I have said that I either succeed or I learn and Dierdre is one of those teachers who shows that every day, she really inspires you just by talking with her and someone along with Rhodney I am so happy to know.
Next, are Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild from timrylands.com. I have been watching Tim’s work since late 2014 but attending his sessions last month in Arizona with Sarah has been such an amazing experience. I love telling stories when it comes to teaching but sadly even in this day and age we are told: “Teach, don’t tell.” Having a theatre background I love telling stories in the classrooms to my students and they love listening to it. Thanks to Tim and Sarah, my story telling passion has reached new heights and thanks to them I learned about Thinking Dice and they have been influential with my App Catchers. I love their blog and the ways Tim really gets your passion for teaching going. I can’t thank the two of them enough in the last couple of months for what they have brought into my life. Closing up is Adam Bellow, the founder of Educlipper. Adam is just amazing, I love his presentations and Educlipper has become a favorite of mine this year and my teachers love using it for resources and student portfolios. Something that Adam has really said that makes me put him on my list on my Stick Around Puzzle is because he said: “You matter.” While I have heard it from everyone from Cindy to Dave but Adam’s presentations and talking to him in person has really been amazing, especially when it comes to coding and showing how to tech to inspire creation and showing that teachers are what make it happen. While I might not be getting my drone anytime soon (you know why), I have loved using Apps like Tickle and Pixel Press and will be using them a lot this fall. Thank you Adam.
Some who didn’t make the puzzle but I want to shout out are: Wesley Fryer, Craig Badura, Clay Reisler, Sara Crawford, Jenny Ashby, Alice Keeler, Michael Buist, Rabbi Michael Cohen, Don Wettrick, Doug Robertson, Jon Samuelson, Alice Christie, Penina Rybak, Matt Miller, James O’Hagan, Carrie Baughcum and Our Circle Time for the amazing resources, inspiration and friendship they have given. Without them I know many of these 400 Stick Around puzzles would not have been possible without you. I want to thank everyone again and especially Tony Vincent, Reshan Richards and everyone at ExplainEverything.com for creating Stick Around and I want to leave everyone with three of my favorite Stick Around Puzzles since 2013 and my students fantastic Thinglink she created during Genius Hour. Thank you everyone for inspiring me and my students to create.