Chaos to Creation

This week I finally started really teaching my classes (getting into the curriculum we had designed over the course of the past year) and it has been amazing.  While I am finding some aspects of returning to a full teaching role to be frustrating, most of the time I’ve spent in my classroom with the kids has been incredibly rewarding. Teaching three things at once to several groups of middle schoolers has been exciting but at times chaotic. Embracing the chaos has created some incredible moments thus far.

Over the past week I have started to build relationships with my students, get into to teaching robotics, and learning a ton. I have also seen some incredible excitement and creativity from many of the kids with whom I am working.  While I won’t pretend it has been sunshine and roses, overall I am thrilled with where the class is going.

One of the things I have been reminded of as I return to the full classroom setting is how overwhelming the beginning of the year can be.  We are expected to do all of our regular teacher assignments plus incorporate new district initiatives, start our clubs/sports, complete online training (on our own time), set Student Growth/Mastery Objectives, and all the while build meaningful relationships with our students.  It can be easy to focus on the endless list of tasks that need to be done, I am choosing to focus on the incredible creativity and excitement I have seen so far.  Despite some of the outside things that are getting me down, I am falling in love with classroom teaching at the middle school level. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Memories of a Generation

In the fall of 2002 I sat in my comparative politics class. I had an amazing professor who predicted the next 15 years of political happenings from the soon to be Iraq war to Arab Spring, he predicted each.

He also told us about the day FDR died. He was a boy of only 5 years old, but it was undeniably burned into his memory. His parents crying, the funeral procession, the overall feeling. He also described the assassination of JFK. These he said, are moments that are burned into the identity of a generation.

For my generation, a lovely late summer morning like any other was engraved into our memories. We all have our stories. Each year we rehash where we were, what we felt, and what the memory of 9/11 means to us. As years go by we remember different moments less clearly, but all of us have been changed, some far more directly than most.

It’s important to share these memories, to reshape them, and to acknowledge their impact on who we are as individuals and as a group. Here are some of my most vivid memories.

Disbelief: I watched with horror, not believing what was unfolding miles away. I would build close friendships with lots of people who were effected, some directly.

Fear: Living relatively close to 3 Mile Island as flight 91 was being hikacked, not knowing where my brother was or having a way to contact him. There were some brief moments of real, genuine fear.

Community: Not just the brave first responders, not the amazing spirit of the people of New York and DC banding together, or even the wave of American pride that spread, but the hundreds of college students who had just met that banded together to donate blood. By 10am hundreds of us were at the local hospital. They had to set up a whole floor to handle all of the people giving blood. Volunteers and first responders, the helpers as Mr Rogers called them, created a new narrative of hope and community.

Hate: Not the hate of those who attacked us, but our own hate and bias shown through. I had a friend in college who was new to the United States from India. He lived the first few weeks after the attacks afraid to travel alone. We, his new friends, accompanied him everywhere, from class to the corner store. While there was so much positive response, there was also the negative reaction. This event brought out the best and the worst in us. It’s important to remember all of it and look to embrace those aspects we hope to be rather than those that we sometimes allow ourselves to become.

Back to Class

This week after two years as a Digital Innovations Specialist, I returned to regular classroom teaching. While I have taught both students and teachers over the past two years, I am beginning a new journey to create a new course, and a new path in our middle school.

Part of this is building and designing the onFernwood Future Lab, our robotics lab/makerspace/VR lab. My hope is it will become so much more than just a computer or robotics lab.

What is most exciting and also produces the most angst for me is the responsibility I will have in building a special program at the middle school. It has been two years since I have done some of the more generic teacher tasks like attendance and grading. I have had the luxury of working with my head in the clouds, dreaming up great ways to build innovation into the curriculum of other teachers. Now, I need to focus on the details of running and managing a successful classroom culture, building a community, and all the other many things that go into being a great classroom teacher.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s like riding a bike? Fortunately I have been co-teaching much of these last two years, but there is something both exciting and equally terrifying about being solely responsible for the outcomes in a class, especially one that is part of the larger purpose of introducing as many kids as possible to the future of emerging technologies. For them and for all of us, the future can be now.

I’m sure I will have more to say about this amazing journey I have begun in the coming weeks!

If you want to follow what’s happening in the Fernwood Future Lab, follow @famsfuture on Instagram.

#ARVRinEdu at #ISTE18 for #NOTatISTE Day 4

Welcome to the 4th Day of ARVRinEDU’s recap of ISTE18.  While I have heard many different perspectives coming from this year’s ISTE event, many good, a few bad, and lots between.  All I have noticed (because I truly only have time to focus on this one small aspect) is the incredible Immersion Tech explosion this year.  I will be doing my official video recap tomorrow, but let’s just say, if there was a winner for this ISTE, I think AR/VR/MR is it.

My highlights from ISTE today include more great sessions at the CoSpaces Booth, more incredible guests on the VR Podcast, and what appeared to be an epic ARVRinEDU gathering at the MERGE Booth today.

I am looking forward to the final day of ISTE18. Thank you to everyone who has been sharing with me over the past few days, without your sharing I wouldn’t have been able to share all these incredible things.

Here are all the recordings from the CoSpaces Edu #ISTE18 booth on June 26th:

Sarah Grack: Creating Lessons That Come to Life

@Stephanie Wieczorek: Design & Experience, It’s Elementary

Meet the CoSpaces Edu Team!

⁉️Win a FREE PRO License for CoSpaces Edu: watch the end and guess which hobbie belongs to each team member!⁉️

Amanda Fox: The 4 Cs of CoSpaces Edu

Michael Fricano (EdTechnocation): Storytelling, Visual Learning, and Creativity

The Crew of the Virtual Reality Podcast interviewed the amazing Mark Suter:

Here is the 5 minutes with Mark:

Here is their Livestream with El Chakka! Kevin Chaja

Kevin also made an amazing app for the ARVRinEDU Get together and shared some great stuff on top of that!



Interesting research here: ADVR

Some images from the VR Podcast and some Meetups of the ARVRinEDU crew!MeetUP1MeetupVRpod


Phil Hintz sharing on Merge Cubes.Panel


#ARVRinEDU at #ISTE18 for #NotatISTE Day 3

Today in #ARVRinedu at #iste18

Today was a huge day in ARVRinEDU at ISTE. From the many great presentations at the CoSpaces booth, to the VR Podcast crew interviewing and sharing great things from the Unity booth, the crowds packed in to see Merge’s booth, to the (I believe) first ever VEN Network Playground themed: Ready Player One, immersive technology was abundant in Chicago on Monday.  Here are some highlights:

Thanks to Michael Fricano the sessions at the CoSpaces booth were broadcast throughout the day. Here are links to the Facebook Live videos: Collecting them all into a post:

Faith Plunkett: Getting Started with CoSpaces Edu

Darcy Grimes: CoSpaces Edu in the Literacy Classroom

Rachelle Berquist Poth: Creativity + Collaboration

Explore the booth!

Impromptu student presentation by Hasten Hebrew Community School

View the slides from this great session by Maria Galanis and Andrea Trudeau:

There was also a buzz over at Unity which is expected to continue tomorrow with lots of great guests. The VR Podcast did a series of short interviews:

Azine Davoudzadeh, Rosemary Sirmans, and Millennia Piasecka all share about 5 minutes each with the VR Podcast Group:

Mark Super shared the amazing things going on his classroom where his students are creating VR experiences using Unity.

Here is his site with the slides:


The Merge booth also drew in a big crowd.


There are some great things happening with Merge and CoSpaces to bring more adaptive AR Creation. Look for more on those in the recap tomorrow, as well as some insight from DogsHead Simulations and hopefully some more great ARVRinEDU companies in a new section highlighting the new things that are being released up to and around this year’s ISTE.

Finally: The VEN Playground was a hit. Lots of great things shared, but importantly, lots of people being exposed to the power and possibility of immersive technology.

Of course there was SO much more happening at ISTE today, but this is at least a little flair.

Tomorrow there are tons more great things happening. Meet up with Azine at the Unity booth, or Michael Fricano shares his presentation at the CoSpaces booth.

There are more great CoSpaces sessions the horizon.  There will also be great sessions happening all over.  The most exciting, and the scope I will be on the look out for tomorrow is the ARVRinEDU meet up at the Merge booth!

For some of the previous schedules check the 1st Blog or the 2nd Blog.

There is so much going on in our community at ISTE this year that I cannot keep up.  I am looking forward to the greatness that comes out tomorrow!

#ARVRinEDU at #ISTE18 for #NOTatISTE Day 2

Today in #ARVRinedu at #iste18

ISTE2018 is officially underway. Today was the first official day of the conference and with it a number of exciting things have been happening.  Today saw it’s share of great things, and the program for Monday is incredibly jam packed with ARVRinEDU goodness!

The major highlights of the day were the joint session by Jaime Donally and Rachelle Dene Poth where they shared ARVR tools including Figment App (one of my favorites for it’s versatile VR Portals within an AR environment.)

See the periscope here:

Another highlight was the Ignite given about AR/VR/MR today:

The VR Podcast Crew met all together face to face for the first time!

They also started giving out the tons of VR Podcast swag, with LOTS more exciting events and give aways from the gang: Amanda, James, Steven, and Alex.

Facebook Chicago hosted some educators today and shared some of the exciting things happening with Oculus (specifically with Oculus Go!)


One of the most exciting things so far, CoSpaces has dropped their AR version in a small demonstration at their social event today.

CoSpaces (as I have discussed in several formats) is one of my absolute favorite tech tools, period. Their AR tool is something I have been waiting to see for quite some time, and it looks as amazing as it did on the first day I saw the preview!


Now: MONDAY will bring an incredible amount of interesting things.

The Vendor Area at ISTE opens up tomorrow. Visit the booths for CoSpaces, Unity, and Merge to find your favorite ARVRinEDU educators sharing their passions!

Here are some opportunities to learn more about ARVR with CoSpaces. cospaces

Also from 8-1130AM the Virtual Environments Network Playground will be open! READY PLAYER ONE!

Here is where you can find some of your ARVRinEDU friends tomorrow:

Jaime Donally: Hyatt Regency Grant A: 11-1230 Global Maker Day

Michael Fricano:            Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 12.15.20 AM.png

VR Podcast Team: Check the Unity Booth in the afternoon, the YEN Social at night, and the Virtual Environment Network Playground in the morning!

Also, catch James McCrary in the Hyatt Regency Burnham for “Crash Course VR” from 3-430!


Keep your eyes open for more amazing ARVRinEDU tomorrow!



#ARVRinEDU at #ISTE18 for #NOTatISTE Day 1

Today in #ARVRinedu at #iste18

Welcome to my first of four days of review, preview, and excitement about everything ARVRinEDU at ISTE for both the crew at ISTE and those of us NOTatISTE who have an interest and passion in emerging technologies. With the pre-ISTE festivities in full swing today, ARVRinEDU’s own Jaime Donally (@jaimedonally on twitter) hosted an ARVR Scavenger hunt with lots of excitement.

Here is a Periscope from Rachelle Dene Poth of the event!

So… What’s up next for great ARVRinEDU experiences at ISTE on Sunday?

See Rachelle and Jaime: DgbWQsEUYAAP7JA

Also on Sunday, see Jaime: sunday

Be ready for a very, very busy day on Monday in the ARVRinEDU community.  Also, look for my video recap of tomorrow’s sessions (plus any I didn’t catch in this preview) along with some info about great booths to visit when the vendor hall opens!

Also, be on the lookout for The VR Podcast! They will be sharing great ARVR knowledge, great swag, and some opportunities for great prizes!







Back to the Start

When I first started using twitter I felt like I was learning a lot of great things. Within a few months I had decided to start a chat.   Some of you that have been on the twitter for a while may remember #tleadchat as a place for me to indulge my inquisitive nature, and then a place where I pushed to help other people learn to ask questions for themselves as well.  It was a great chat, until I started feeling like I had run out of questions.  I had nothing more to ask…

That is, of course, absurd. I had plenty more to learn, and I have always had questions. I just stopped asking them on twitter because people didn’t always want to answer the hard questions in that space. I have decided however, after a recent question I posed to the edutwitter community, that I want to begin asking more questions again.  Rather than start a new chat, I am simply going to post them to #theteachersjourney  as a slow chat style throughout the summer.  Not everything will come from the book, in fact, much if it might now.  I am going to just go back to asking whatever questions aresd in my mind.

I would love for many of you to join me this summer for a Teacher’s Journey SlowChat! Starting soon, check the # for #theteachersjourney and find the available question for the day.

I Learned on Twitter

Copy of You Are A Hero-2

All the time people talk about the incredible learning on twitter.  Allow me to share yet another unpopular opinion: I don’t really learn much of anything on twitter anymore.  I haven’t in a really long time.  Not really anyway.  That isn’t to say I don’t learn from people I have met on twitter, or that they don’t help me in many ways.  Most of the time however, the conversation, the actual discussions that further thinking and provide growth rarely occur on actual, public twitter anymore.

I asked a question yesterday morning. You can follow the thread and all of the replies here:

More honesty, I posted these with many expectations about what would be said.  What I didn’t expect, was the level of honesty with which people shared.  I also did not expect to find answers I hadn’t thought of before.  Congratulations EduTwitter, for the first time in a long time, you have surprised me.  I heard some people speak there truths about reasons why authenticity or positivity were more important to them.  I learned something important. Something that maybe I knew, but in reality a reminder didn’t hurt.  We ought to accept one another’s differences.  We can disagree, ask questions, push each other, but not attack one another.  We can stay positive, we can be okay being not okay, we can even rant if need be. There isn’t a right or wrong way, only what you need to work best for yourself.  As with many things, this conversation is filled with gray areas. I found perspectives I hadn’t thought of before, and most importantly, It seems that through all of the responses, questioning, prodding, and pushing, there was a fairly respectful discourse where people shared honestly. I wish it happened more in public spaces like twitter. Perhaps I will get back to asking questions…

Whose Hero Are You?

Teaching is hard.  Teaching is important.  Teaching rarely gets the genuine appreciation and respect as a profession. Maybe that is why we are prone to buy into extremes. I saw a YouTube video today by a friend, Doug Timm.  In this mix of spoken word poetry and education commentary, he hit a nerve.  Doug talks about how kids, even in some of the worst situations, will pick family over their teacher. How, no matter how much we care and how much it may seem a family member might not, we are almost never the only ones.

It got me thinking, why do we accept the bumper sticker statements?  I know most of them have some basis in truth. Most of them come from a place of wanting to help inspire and improve educators. But what happens when we really accept these statements at face value?

Teachers are super heroes.  No, we are not. Buying into this myth diminishes the work we do every day.  Being a teacher involves hard work, a passion for learning, caring for others, and so much more. None of the things teachers need to do to be successful are beyond any of us.  Believing that teaching is some sort of superpower belittles the hard work we really do.

Teachers are the only people who care about kids. Well this is just a ridiculous statement.   Lots of people care about kids. Health care professionals, child advocacy lawyers, and any number of others.  More importantly, parents care about their kids.  Yes, sometimes it can seem like they don’t. Sometimes it seems like parents are undermining their children’s ability to grow and learn.  But that is the attitude we develop when we start buying into the fact that only we care.  I am all for advocating that teachers care about kids. I don’t however, want teachers to presume anything about who does and doesn’t care for a child.

Teachers have the hardest job in the world. Not to take anything away from us. Our job is incredibly challenging, and at times it can be beyond difficult., but we aren’t the only people with difficult jobs. At the end of the day we get to spend our lives hanging out with a bunch of awesome kids.  Yes they can be challenging, yes they can come to us with many problems to work through, but if you are going to talk about how much you care about kids, can’t we keep this in perspective?

The list goes on and on.  I have myself at times been guilty of rehashing some of them. Going forward I am trying to focus solely on being my own hero and allowing everyone else to be their own hero as well.  I am not here to save anyone, merely find any way I can to make their journey more successful. I firmly believe that in education when we are all successful we all benefit, so I ought to help others along their path.  I don’t need to be their hero, certainly not their savior, just a character in their story with a part to play. For my part, I am choosing to try and be a light in the darkness, helping others to succeed.  I won’t try to bring others down.  I am simply challenging you to reframe your thinking in an effort to make a positive difference on the overall culture and potential for good in education. As a character in the journeys of others, choose to be the light. - Brian C