A Purpose, Passion and Maker-Driven Life

Today I walked into my mom’s house to an excited Braeden sharing his animatronic dinosaur costume design…inspired by YouTube videos from a group of puppet makers from China,  Jurassic Park and the realistic Dinosaur themed show that he saw at the Dallas Zoo about a year ago.  He wanted to know if I knew people that could help him. He wanted students with experience in soldering, auto-mechanics and engineering.  He even promised that if they helped, he would let them be in his video…because that’s what you do when you learn from YouTube…you thrive on sharing the wealth too. I …

How to Give Feedback to a Creative Child

When Braeden started making puppets, I’ll be honest in saying that sometimes we tried to give him “input” on what and how his puppets needed to be made. He needed to show less “thread”, more material, better precision or whatever else anyone could pick out. He immediately fired back on every occasion that these were things created from his imagination and that he made exactly what he wanted. It’s not easy and sometimes we get it wrong but Braeden always reminds us that at the end of the day, his creations are his. In a conversation with an actual professional …

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That Moment When Adult Decisions Break A Kid’s Spirit

Last week, I wrote about Braeden auditioning for his school talent show with a friend and being selected to not only perform but to emcee. In case you missed it…he wrote a script, chose his music and made themed costumes for his puppets as well as himself. He also recruited a friend, requiring him to sign a contract because this time last year, he didn’t even try on the grounds that his other friends backed out. Did I mention that the entire thing was themed after Star Wars?! Braeden wanted to perform so bad and after working for 3 weeks creating his three minute show, …

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Braeden the Puppet Maker, Artist, Writer and Now Performer

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting and missed a ton of calls from my nephew. He finally sent this message… “I called to see if you could cut one of the songs or basically all of them because we only have 3 minutes & I need the music so I will know how much to I have for each scene. Call me I need to start scripting.” After viewing the three youtube links that he sent, I replied with this… “If you ever need to download a file from youtube to convert to mp3 clipconverter.cc to then combine multiple …

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Because Writing Should be Powerful, Not Punishment

A few weeks ago, my nephew arrived home from school with a plan. He still needed to get about 15 points for his AR (Accelerated Reader) total in order to attend the school shopping trip where kids were able to cash in points for money. He was determined, and not because he was dying to go spend what would amount to about $10 in junk but because he could not bear the thought of being left behind to write. Yes, those that did not get the points required would be left behind on campus with a “two page” writing assignment about …

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Sparking Wonder One Idea At a Time

For over a year, I thought that my nephew found a love for puppetry after watching the muppet movie which then led to a binge night of creation culminating in an epic facetime call with me. Last week, at TCEA, while listening to my nephew share his story during his session, I learned that his drive to create puppets started long before that. Two years ago, while Braeden was in 2nd grade, his teacher assigned a “recycling” project where kids were to take things found around the house to create something new. According to Braeden, he chose to make a puppet marionette (He …

Storytelling with TechSmith’s App Show and Minecraft

One of these days, Techsmith’s App Show won’t be in free beta and I’ll be sad. For the record, I’m pretty sure that this nifty storytelling tool wasn’t made for education but that didn’t stop plenty of educators from finding it. I actually love App Show because it helps users create stories from an embedded “best practices” framework. You plug in your device and film scenes. After filming scenes, you add voice over and music. If you have Camtasia, you can export for further editing and what’s cooler is that each clip translates over to its own timeline for much more fluid …

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A Boy, A Lion and A Google Form

The other day Braeden decided that he wanted to involve “twitter” in his puppet decisions. As a kid who thrives on collaboration, making a Google form to share seemed like the obvious choice. Those were his words anyway. His questions… What should I name my lion puppet? Should I make a turkey costume for Lenny the Lizard? Which puppet should I make a Christmas costume for? After the form was created and shared, it was simply amazing watching him light up as his survey takers increased. He watched his data change and as the data changed, his questions and thoughts …

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Yes, I’m Applying to GTA Again

Google Teacher Academy is coming to Austin and even after the let-down of Atlanta, I’m applying again. I took a different route in taking the time to try and creatively piece a video together as opposed to last year’s “last minute like” video. No, it’s not about the video…and from what I understand, it’s only a small portion but to me, this was important. I have never been a great video editor but I took the “letdown of Atlanta” as an opportunity to learn. I wanted to be better at creating the story so I looked at other forms of …

Inside the Kid’s Homework: Writing Repetitive Math Facts

Every night Braeden will be required to write his multiplication facts three times each and since this is a strategy that has been repeated without question over the years, many will swear by its perceived effectiveness. Before presenting an opinion, let me remind you of a time long ago when teachers used “discipline sentences” to punish kids for things like talking in class. I remember writing “I will not talk in class” 100 time and I did it by writing all of the “I’s” followed by the “wills” and so on. We called this “columnizing” because we didn’t write whole sentences but columns of …