Wait I Know that Drawing

Emma, I saw this notice last night on Twitter from Bookcreator about the new features coming and thought wait I know that drawing.


The finalist where your book is shown and linked to YouTube. http://bookcreator.com/blog/2016/04/comic-book-here-are-finalists/

Your book on YouTube https://youtu.be/wSv_GgOcfVc

If you are still creating you might want to consider getting Creative Commons license although we did give permission for them to use your book for promotions so they have the license to use it.

Still impressed by your work a year later.

Creativity, Storytelling, and Graphic Novel Creation


This post has been a long time coming as something always seemed to get in the way. This past year, I had the pleasure to work with our grade 8 language arts teachers on a graphic novel project. Students investigated graphic novels in class in preparation for writing their own. Using the awesome Book Creator App on our student iPads they were charged with creating their own graphic novel. We used the comic book template and this Google Slide Presentation to get started. Using Sketchbook Express (iTunes link) or other drawing apps on the iPad, students created images to go with their story. Many students combined their 8 years of art to create amazing images to support the story. Esme (Havoc) created her novel with images she drew in a style that creates a darkness. Esme told Mr. Michelman that she worked the hardest she has ever worked on any project on her novel. She told him that it was not ready as she wanted a little more time to perfect some element. As the school year came to a close we got this message from Esme:

From: Esme
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 2:55 PM
To: Ben Michelman
Subject: What Will Become of Havoc?
Hello Mr. Michelman,
Sorry for interrupting Memorial Day, and I know this is terrible timing, but I was wondering what will happen to the graphic novel I made. What should I do with it? Because I want to be able to still edit over the summer, but I don’t know how I’ll be able to do that.

How many times as that happened in your teaching? The assignment is over, student has graduated, and they want to still work on a project you assigned? This is the definition of engaged and highlights what can happen with student agency.

Emma took a different approach and used models for her drawings. Using her sister and family dog, she posed them and took images. Using the same Sketchbook Express app, she brought the image in on a layer and then used more layers to trace her characters. Once done, she removed the first layer. Her story and images are also well developed and support the happy ending in her story. I submitted her book to the Book Creator contest where she was one of the top ten finalists. She also started creating another book on Romeo and Juliet in order to help students understand it better.

I think both of these students have a future in book writing or whatever they choose to do. The only aspect I would hope they would include next time in their books, is a Creative Commons license so their work can be tied to them as a creator.

A challenge for their future teachers would be to connect to this passion and continue to bring it out. If you would like to read the ePubs you can access them in the shared Evernote note.

Digital Device Passport iBook


As we enter the fourth year of our school’s iPad Learning program I put together this iBook so our students and teachers will have access to the many resources that we use to start the year. In the past, these resources were on a private web site that was not easy to find once the year started. It is my hope that having the iBook on student and teacher iPads will help to show everyone how we can utilize the iBooks app more. We have used more digital textbooks each year and will continue to promote them when they are of high quality and fit the needs of the instructor. I think we can improve the use of digital versions for our manuals and handbooks which will harness the power of a more interactive book.

If you are a parent of a student at my school or anyone else who may be interested, I would encourage you to download this free iBook from the iTunes Bookstore. You will need an Apple ID and either an iPad or Macintosh running OS 10.9 which supports the iBooks app. It is not available for iPhone yet as I will need to redo it using the new iBooks Author software in order to make it work. At least that is what I believe I will need to do as I do not have an iPhone to test it on. If anyone does read it on an iPhone, drop me a line and tell me how it worked.

The Evilness of Devices for Learning

Image from Openclipart.org

Yes, I wrote the title as part link bait and part reflection on what has become a common theme to many conversations I am having these days. As we enter our 3rd year of an iPad program which has been recognized as a distinguished program by Apple. Yes, I realize that is sort of like being a preferred customer at the Toyota dealership because you bought so many cars. However, I do know we are moving our school’s learning forward while also allowing for aspects to remain as we find value in them or because change is hard and slow. There is nothing wrong with moving slowly towards the future as long as movement is happening. I prefer to move faster then my institution but that is how I roll and may not be the best solution for our school. However, I had hoped we were past the notion that playing games is bad and a waste of time given that we have explored all sorts of platforms with our students including hosting our own Minecraft servers. Alas, that is not the case although sometimes games and screen time are mixed together.

I wrote this as part of a position statement about gaming at DA.

While some adults see playing games as a “waste of time” or a way to escape into a virtual coma, many of the skills and standards listed above are found in the act of playing or creating games. For instance, Minecraft, is often seen by adults as just a bunch of chopping and blowing up of a virtual space. What is missed when observed as such is the collaboration that must take place to create worlds, the knowledge base needed to understand the game, and how a community of players have created a wealth of tutorials and information on how to play.

Gaming in classrooms and learning has been gaining momentum for years. Durham Academy has explored using games in the Middle School over the years with software like; Gamestar Mechanic, and Evolver (Pre-Algebra). Research shows that game principles are a way to better engage students. http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/06/09/teachers-on-using-games-in-class/ and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/using-gaming-principles-engage-students-douglas-kiang. Jane McGonigal has many resources about games. Watch her TEDX talk about SuperBetter.

Advocacy groups like, Common Sense Media provide resources on what games parents can say yes to after-school. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/24-video-games-you-can-say-yes-to-after-school.Vicki Davis has a nice article on Edutopia on game based learning. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guide-to-game-based-learning-vicki-davis

As I continue to brace myself for the discussions that are coming, I keep saying to myself this is not a problem with devices or technology. These are human behavior problems which need human solutions that are not just banning or blocking. This is an educational problem that needs to be addressed with our colleagues, students and parents. If a small percentage of students have problems with impulse control so they play games instead of listening to a lecture, do we not help the student? What about the other larger percentage of students who are not having the problem? I help to write the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) each year which was redone to not be Though Shall Not document into a more Though Shall type document. This came about after reading the book From Fear To Facebook by Matt Levinson who at the time was at Nueva School.  It is way too long and still causes my eyes to glaze over. I even created a companion website called iPad Passport to help the Middle School students and faculty understand the concepts and language used. I think we need to be focus on having fewer AUPs and more User Policy. To that end I am adding some links to this post that are shaping my learning evolution on this topic.

Edutopia – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-culture-trust-transparency-andrew-marcinek and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/educating-parents-about-education-tom-whitby

Providence Day School’s Parenting in the Digital Age site: https://sites.google.com/a/providenceday.org/digitalparenting/home This site is full of useful and practical resources for starting a school-wide conversation. We are reaching out to Matt Scully and Derrick Willard to get advice.

Explain Everything and Creative Learning

I was so excited, and a bit nervous, after I found out that we would indeed be purchasing the incredible app called Explain Everything. I was nervous because the purchase represented a lot of money and while I knew the app could be a wonderful tool for our students and teachers, I was nervous that the use would be slow and isolated. I did prepare a tutorial for students and teachers after being approached by a teacher about using it in her classroom. She wanted her students to create tutorials that could be used by students and to show they understood the concepts. The old adage of really knowing something only after you try to teach someone else is very apt. One of the best parts of this app is that it does not require students have an account. Instead, we leverage the services we already use to store and share the completed projects. Configuring the accounts to share in Evernote and Google Drive was seamless. Eeoutside2After the initial instruction, students were off recording anywhere on campus since no internet connection is needed while working. The image above shows students outside working on math problems. They are using the Learner 3600 Headsets from ACP Direct. The use of the headsets helped keep the background noise level down and made the process more formal. Students do not need to use headsets if in a quiet room but kids like to be “professional” so the headsets serve that purpose as well.

The video below shows how two-eighth grade students use the app to create tutorials. These were shared in a Google Drive Folder so all students could listen, watch and learn.

My nervousness is gone and my excitement is growing as I know that Spanish and Algebra classes are using the app to create learning opportunities. The support from the company is also fantastic so if you do not yet, have this app, get it now!

Mapping Out An Apple Vanguard Group




An exciting part of  the Apple Academy I attended in June is the chance to create and nurture an Apple Vanguard Group at our school. I have been working on how to organize, promote, and manage something like this so it is manageable and enticing for my colleagues.

I happen to get a message from Mindmeister yesterday with a notice about the new Mindmeister Academy so I took a few moments to go through the fundamentals course. I had to create a map as I proceeded so I created the one below. Mindmeister is an awesome tool as it works on any device and offers collaboration. I want to promote the use of it more to our students and teachers as there is power in mapping your thoughts.

I have embedded it here in what is called the Presentation mode which to me is much like a non-dramamine needed version of Prezi.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Both a GET and an AFT with NDAs

GoogleEducationTrainer badge RGB       AAcertficate200 


My summer is off to a great start already. Over the last 7 months I worked at becoming a Google Education Trainer and last week I attended Apple Academy in Cupertino, CA. I met some great people at the Academy and learned a lot about providing professional development with colleagues instead of at colleagues. While at the Apple Academy, I learned I had been accepted into the Google Education Trainer program. As I was only blocks away from Apple HQ, and using Apple equipment, I did not mention it to anyone by Pete who I instantly connected with when I got to the hotel. I had to tell someone and besides my wife, I figured he as a safe bet.

I signed the NDA (Non-Discloure Agreement) with Google on Thursday and another one with Apple on Friday to make the week a real twofer. I am so excited to be recognized by both of these leading companies who are using the wealth of resources to move education forward. I look forward to helping Durham Academy do even more with Apple’s products as I am limited to using the wealth of curriculum they provided with just my school. I plan to start an Apple Vanguard Group at school. I also know we can harness the tools and resources Google offers for Durham Academy and I am willing to work with other schools to help them as well. This is expected of me as an authorized Google Education Trainer. I have already worked with a few other schools and non-profits through my new consulting business Digital Karl and look forward to more learning opportunities. 

Apple Academy Bound

Image from Openclipart.org

I will be spending the next week in Cupertino, CA just across the road from Apple, Inc. headquarters in an intense workshop where I will learn about all things Apple. I will be able to bring all of this knowledge and curriculum back to my school to help train my colleagues and school. The chance to attend is a great honor as I had to apply to be accepted. Actually, I had to be invited to even apply so a tip of the hat to my Apple Representative; Tonia Aldridge for the invite. I plan to absorb as much as I can about not only the technology but also the motivational approach to take with helping our school leverage all of the resources we have at our finger tips.

My plan is to create an iBook based on my iPad Passport Google site so my students and teachers can have it on their iPad and not behind a log in screen since the actual site is private. This would also allow access without an internet connection. In preparation, I have been making a lot of videos as I have essentially needed to get ready for next year before I left for the academy.

Below is an example of one I made and if you want to view more, you can check out my YouTube channel.


Here is to a week of learning!

Quizlet and Students

Simple free learning tools for students and teachers Quizlet


Quizlet was started by Andrew Sutherland in 2005. It has been used by students and teachers since then with much success. Each year new features have been added which for older students may be useful. This video will show you how to setup accounts for your son or daughter who is under 13 which will restrict certain parts of Quizlet. While teachers in the past have created classroom accounts and then shared the log in information with their students, the ability for parents to setup accounts would elimate this need. Teachers could still use the classroom account method for younger students. The ability of students to track their learning over the years makes the use of a personal Quizlet account an important step.

What is Going On with My Brain?


Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21611336@N00/3723710203

I am concerned both about my brain and my student’s brains. My brain due to aging and devices since each year I seem to remember less unless I have it on a device. Then of course I need to remember what device it is on. This is one reason why Evernote, Google Drive, Instapaper, and my new one Pocket is so important to me as they remove needing to remember which device as they are on all of them. I no longer have to remember as much as I need to know how to search. The time I used to spend trying to remember can now be used doing or not doing other things.

I listened/read the audiobook Brain Rules by John Medina and was fascinated by his research and findings. While his research and advice focuses on more then just the matters of distractions caused by our digital world. This is a big concern for educators and parents as we adapt to the changing world. I think that there are some reasons to be concerned or at least aware, but also more reasons to adjust how we teach and use devices in general. Some of this is based on the Brain Rules book while I have also learned much in the MOOC-Ed Digital Learning Transition class I am taking as well as Common Sense Media which is full of good advice as usual.

One thing to always remember is BALANCE being important regarding most activities in life. Too much of anything except oxygen is usually a problem. I received an email today from a parent about the issue of multi-tasking being a huge concern which prompted this post which has been percolating for awhile. The concerns are valid and if we all work at helping each other, we will be fine.

The Brain Rules web site if full of great videos and information about rules of the brain and I highly reccomend watching it and reading the book in whatever format you choose. This video is about attention which is important for both teachers and parents. 

Quoted from his site about Attention and the MYTH of Multitasking:


Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.

What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. Whether in school or in business, these differences can greatly affect how an audience perceives a given presentation.

We pay attention to things like emotions, threats and sex. Regardless of who you are, the brain pays a great deal of attention to these questions: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me? Have I seen it before?

The brain is not capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.

Driving while talking on a cell phone is like driving drunk. The brain is a sequential processor and large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks. This is why cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes and get in more wrecks.

Workplaces and schools actually encourage this type of multi-tasking. Walk into any office and you’ll see people sending e-mail, answering their phones, Instant Messaging, and on MySpace—all at the same time. Research shows your error rate goes up 50% and it takes you twice as long to do things.

When you’re always online you’re always distracted. So the always online organization is the always unproductive organization.

Read the articles at Common Sense Media for tips to help your children and yourself as our children model what they see. I also think this study by The Frameworks Institute: A Hands-On Approach to Talking Learning and Digital Media (PDF) could help us all understand the changes taking place with learning and our perceptions. The parts I have read opened up my eyes to misperceptions and gaps in our understanding on how to even talk about some of the changes. The video (12:32) below will discuss the hightlights.

Digital Media and Learning: Trigger Video from Beth Fisher on Vimeo.