Saturday, June 6, 2020

Join us this summer for Create Make Learn - Virtual Experience.

Earlier this spring, I felt uncertain about hosting our 9th annual  Create Make Learn Summer Institute.  It became clear that we would not be able to create the same type of experience at the Generator Makerspace and Champlain College.   

Even though the first maker class I took as a grad student through Marlboro College was completely online, and I have taught two online maker classes through Marlboro, I was not sure an online experience was going to meet the needs of our teachers this summer. 

I also worried about our teachers being tired and needing a break from remote learning! 

But after receiving feedback from several colleagues, I designed a prototype built on what I learned from you. 

  • I learned that some of you were really looking forward to a hands on experience that tapped into your creativity. 
  • I learned that some of you would prefer a shorter experience. 
  • I learned that some of you wanted to immerse yourself in a full week of creative flow, while others preferred a slower pace spread over a month. 
Based on this feedback and the constraints of the Covid-19 response, this summer's Create Make Learn Institute will offer the following virtual options. 

  • Choose the amount of content that fits your need.
  • Choose the topics that interest you (TBA - based on registration data submitted)
  • Choose the pacing that works for you.
  • Choose between recertification or graduate credit.

LOOKING FOR A ONE CREDIT EXPERIENCE? Select 15 hours of workshop topics.
LOOKING FOR A Three CREDIT EXPERIENCE? Select 45 hours of workshop topics?
* Additional - readings and discussions required for graduate credit. 


AM synchronous workshops/lab times  9 am - noon

PM synchronous workshop / lab times   1 pm - 4 pm
































AM synchronous workshops/lab times  9 am - noon

PM synchronous workshop / lab times   1 pm - 4 pm











*If you prefer to complete the module asynchronously, you can choose to receive the recorded archive and slides of the session to complete at your own pace.


Sign up now to save your space! Limited enrollment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2020 Announced

Excited to announce that there's a new twist for the 9th annual Create Make Learn Summer Institute

We're traveling to Southern Vermont. 

We're going Virtual! 

Windham North East has asked to host the institute this year.  (Open to ALL, not just their district)   My commitment to more equitable opportunities for educators in rural Vermont aligned with their goals, so I said "Let's do it".

But then Covid-19 happened.  

So we've moved Create Make Learn to a virtual event with even more options. 

We're also going to cap enrollment to provide an intimate hands on experience perfect for beginners and those with some experience with creating and making. 

You can find more info and photos, download a flyer or sign up at 

Create Make Learn Summer Institute provides educators with the opportunity to create confidence using tools and practices to design hands-on minds experiences for their students.

Explore design thinking as a framework for problem solving.

Participate in a virtual- hands on sessions that create confidence with new tools and techniques for learning through creating and making.
Complete and share a Meaningful Making Project applying your learning through design, creating, and making 

Complete a curricular unit or school project where creating and making are central to learning goals and provide opportunities for students to develop growth or proficiency of Vermont Transferable Skills. 


Friday, January 3, 2020

More Projects that Matter in 2020

This morning I found myself thinking about project based learning and the role that makerspaces can play supporting a project based learning environment where student create work that matters and where we believe that our students can achieve amazing outcomes. 

My reflections were sparked by two things that happened as I was enjoying my morning coffee. 

The first  was a request I received from an alumni student who located me through Facebook. 

The second was reading through the 10 things Katie Martin has learned about change in education this decade as it came across my morning news feed. 

The student request really drove home NO. 9 and 10 on Katie's list --

Doing work that matters, matters 10. Our beliefs impact opportunities and access for learners.

The name on the Facebook friend request seemed familiar.  I almost didn't accept.  I'm glad I did. It turned out that the request was from a former student who asked if I had a copy of a project he did 20 years ago -- an interview with his Grandma. His grandma had just passed and he was hoping to find the interview he had contributed to a web project we had created about Franco American culture in our community. The website - "Life on the Border" included hundreds of interviews with first generation immigrants from Quebec into our 'border community" in northeastern Vermont.   

The fact that this student went through much effort to find a way to contact me was the first sign that this project had been meaningful to him as a student. The fact that he was thinking about this project almost 20 years later and wanted to reconnect with it at this moment in his life was testimony that we were doing 'work that matters."

As I read his request, I was bummed out by the fact that the server which hosted the project website was at a non profit that was no longer in existence. Touched by the request, I had an idea and started to use "The Way Back Machine" to see if there might be some remnants of the project archived on line.   

I was not able to find the video interview,  but I did find two archived webpages that this student has created.  The first was a piece that he had written in FRENCH summarizing the interview with his grandmother. 

Eric pushed further asking if the school might possibly have the video footage. This brought back memories of my students learning how to create a streaming server to host the media for this event.  This was long before Google Sites, YouTube or Spotify!  Through lots of trial and error, my students managed to get Darwin Streaming Server up and running, and FTP's our media to a server in Montpelier, Vermont.

Darwin Streaming Server (DSS) was the first open sourced RTP/RTSP streaming server.[1] It was released March 16, 1999 and is a fully featured RTSP/RTP media streaming server capable of streaming a variety of media types including H.264/MPEG-4 AVCMPEG-4 Part 2 and 3GP.
They were not only doing work that mattered, but they were doing it because I believed that they were capable (much more capable than I) or figuring it out.  I had managed to get my hands on the hard drive from that server before it was retired.  Why?  because it was work that mattered!  It was authentic! It was important to the students and their community.  It represented such amazing learning; I had aspiration to do something with it, someday.  Perhaps, this request will lead to our finding someone to help us access that media on a 20 year old SCSI hard drive.  

As I think about these times in my classroom (almost a decade ago) and I'm reminded of this timeless quote from almost a century ago from another Vermont educator.

AS we approach the new year, many of us think back of conversations we have been having since the turn of the century around Vision 2020!   Many of our aspirations for Vision 2020 are quite similar to Dewey's aspiration for our children.   

Katie Martin's  comment  in my morning stream that "2020 is no longer the future, it’s literally next week" is spot on!   Number 9 and Number 10 in Katie's list especially resonate with my beliefs about  teaching and learning. 

9. Doing work that matters, matters. 
... When the work is authentic and purposeful, students not only learn and improve in reading, speaking, writing and communicating but she also demonstrated them in ways that were authentic and meaningful to her which provides purpose and motivation for learning. 

10 . Our beliefs impact opportunities and access for learners. 
"If we really want to create learning environments in our schools where all learners are valued and seen as capable of achieving desired outcomes, we have to begin with the belief that they can." 

The project that Eric (our past student) was remembering as he approached his grandmother's funeral was grounded in these two tenets.  My project based classroom had revolved around Cyberfair from Global School Net for quite a few years. That year - the project went Platinum.

The students worked with their community to develop a vision of the project. We had to learn new skills with new technologies in order to implement that vision.   But together, we figured it out - and 20 years later, this memory still lives in them and some pieces are still alive in Internet Archives.

As Eric's request had me searching through Internet archives, I thought about Ron Berger's belief that our students are capable of and deserve the opportunity to create beautiful work.   I thought about the fact that the tools in many of our school maker spaces allow us to recreate similar learning experiences for our students.  They allow us to create a vision, and make it come to life by learning tools and processes that are challenging us in ways that traditional classroom assignments can not. 

Katie  also refers to Ron Berger in her article.
... Ron Berger reminds us in this article that,  “when we finish school and enter the world of work, we are asked to create work of value—scientific reports, business plans, websites, books, architectural blueprints, graphic artwork, investment proposals, medical devices and software applications.  
There are many opportunities for students to learn through creating and making.  Teachers often assign projects that have students create something in order to make stronger connections with our content.  Perhaps we should ask ourselves, "What will happen to the work that your students create?-  Will it end up in the recycle bin? Or will it end up being archived - as work that matters."  

What needs to happen for our students to spend time on 'work that matters"?  Obviously the first step is to believe that they can do work that matters.   Another step is to provide them with tools by which to do work that matters.   We've come a long way towards providing students with access to digital tool in the past decade.  Let's continue to do this.  Let's continue to look for additional tools and opportunities -- like those found in school makerspaces. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Consistently Creating - a 2020 challenge

AJ Jiuliana once again challenges us to accept a 30 day blogging challenge.  I've done this several times, often in March, where I have published 30 days of making.  A few years back I decided to give more attention to my writing about women and girls and tech. That year I managed to write 100 posts in the TechSavvyGirls blog.   Every once in a while, I find myself wanting to write something that does not fit either of those blog areas, and end up adding a posts to an older blog called "Learning With Lucie".    And every once in a while, I update a blog area where we write about our mobile lifestyle out of our BlueBird bus.   

I appreciate AJ's challenge.  One of the things I like about it is that he distinguishes between 'writing' and 'publishing'.  I also like that he allows us to substitute the word "write" with the word  'create'.  These two substitutions are encouraging me to take the challenge.    I had already planned to 'create' more 'consistently' this year.   I've taken more time to 'create' over the holiday break and found myself enjoying it so much.  It brought me joy!  I felt productive and happy at the same time. The things I created connected to my sense of identity as a educator, mom, grandma.  

Here are two things I created  during the past month or so

A- Maker educator apron (e-textile project using micro:bit)

A picture-frame puzzle using laser cutter and Gravit Design

Neither are 100% done, but both are close, and both involved learning new skills or gaining confidence with old skills.  The thoughts about learning through creating and making were ongoing and I can't wait to reflect on the process in a more formal way.


In the first project - the maker educator apron, I used design thinking, conductive thread, sewable LED's, a micro:bit and an electronic piece known as the LilyTwinkle. I even broke down and bought a sewing machine so I could learn (or relearn) how to sew. I've never liked sewing because I kind 'suck at it". It was time to let go of my 'fixed mindset' around my ability to sew. Buying an entry level sewing machine was a commitment to a growth mindset around. Now my goal is to keep on learning to use it in my creating and making.

The second project arose out of my desire to learn how to use vector software. I've been struggling with vectors ever since I started using new maker tools.  Each year, I seem to have picked up a little more fluency with vector files, but wanted more confidence and understanding of how to create my own designs using vector software.  On a quest to do so, I came up with a project that engaged me hook, line, and sinker.  It was personally meaningful to me and I picked up so many new skills working with SVG file types.   Of course, this had me reflecting on the importance of relevance and personally meaningful projects  for our students.  

The emotions I felt during both of these learning process are exactly why I want to write more about them.  I look forward to 2020 being a year of increased consistency in my creating and writing and sharing what I learn. 

Jon Gordon, “Successful people do ordinary things with extraordinary consistency, commitment, and focus.” 
Tony Robbins, “In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”


  • Write/create 20 - 30 minutes per day, every day for 30 days (you choose the amount)
  • Publish 2-3 posts/videos per week (again you choose the amount)
  • If you miss a day, pick up where you left off. Don’t make up for lost days.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

From Google Drawing to Glowforge laser cutter Part 2

Earlier this week,  I shared my workflow for using  Google Draw to design ornaments, badges, or suncatchers to cut on our GlowForge Laser Cutter. 

You can read more about my search to find workflows that increase access to maker tools for students who use Chromebooks in last week's post where I talk about WHY Glowforge and WHY Google Drawing.

My first tutorial used primitive shapes from Google Drawings and Stencil fonts to keep things as simple as possible. But what if you want to use a font that is not a Stencil font or expand your choice of images?   Here is a cardboard prototype of an ornament for my grand-daughter, Rosie, along with a poplar wood version.

Today's tutorial is the second in the following series, where I'd like to share my next steps in learning how to design in tools that work on Chromebooks for  the GlowForge.

3) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit -- a Cloud based Vector App - Getting Started
4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit -- Next Steps
5) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Getting Started
6) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Next Steps

From Google Drawing to  Lasercut Design for the Glowforge -  Next Steps

For this project, I wanted to find a simple silhouette that would lend itself to be 'cut' out of wood.   There are several places to find great icons, including Flat Icon and IconFinder.  My favorite place to look for icon's that might work well is THE NOUN PROJECT.   It has over a million icons. These are free to use with attribution.  

I love this site so much that I subscribe to the Noun PRO version for  less than $20 per year.  This allows me to use any icon on the site without attribution and also adds features such as SVG download  and a few other apps  for easy integration with tools such as Google Slides, Adobe products, etc.

The trick is to look for a shape that will work well for your project.  The shape below could work well if you are trying to cut out a rose out of a round circular disk. But if you wanted to insert it inside a hollow circle, you would have to make sure that each part overlaps with the circular rim, so that the piece doesn't just fall out. 

After some consideration about my design, I selected the following icon from the Noun Project. 

I downloaded the PNG version to upload to Google Drawing.  The ability to download the SVG version comes with my subscription to NOUN Pro. This will come in handy in future tutorials, but when working with Google Draw, the PNG download works well.   You can use the handles to resize your icon, or you can type in a width and height that will work well for your project in the format options. 

I decided to use two roses in my design.  With a little resizing and nudging, I was able to create a design where the icon would overlap with the circle and rectangle shapes of the  ornament, leaving only the negative space to fall out. 

NOTE:  If you would like to import SVG images into Google Drawing, you  can do so but will have to convert them to *EMF files using a tool like Cloud Convert.   

From the first tutorial, you might remember how important it was to have contrasting colors, and to make sure that the borders of all parts are set to zero.  This will make it easier for the SVG converter to convert the file.  Check out my first tutorial   for a refresher on how to use the PICSVG site to convert your PNG design to an SVG file that will work within GlowForge. 

Experiment with the best conversion setting when using 
Note that the first setting I tried left double lines when imported into GlowForge.
My second attempt to convert the SVG file created a nice clean line that cut as expected with my Glowforge laser cutter.  I used GREAT for Details and FILTER Ready#3. 

Next, I uploaded the ORNAMENT template (SVG file)  into  the GlowForge  software and selected the correct settings to cut  the material.  I usually cut my first prototype in cardboard.  Please see last week's tutorial  for important safety information about cutting cardboard on your Glowforge.  

The next step will be to find a font that works well with your design.  The trick with fonts other than Stencil fonts is that the inside of your letters are likely to fall out if you are looking to cut out your words on a laser cutter.  Luckily Tiffany Tseng has created a fantastic tool called Stencilfy that can help with this problem.  

To use Stencilfy,  I  first searched for a font that worked with my design.  I decided that the Pacifico font would look nice. 

I selected my desired font, and then clicked on the RED down arrow to download and unzip the *.TTF font file. 

Once you have the font file downloaded, navigate to
and upload that font file using the Choose a file option.  Type in the Text you would like cut out of your design. 

Notice that Stencilfy sliced the text in just the right places so that the the center of your letters would not fall out when cut.  You'll also notice that there are cut lines in places where the letters overlap.  This will work just fine in my design since the letters will be cut out.   EXPORT the text as an SVG file.

Proceed to your Glowforge software to upload the Stencilfied text SVG file.

Select the right settings to cut your text out using the material you are working with.  Resize and align your font so it fits inside your design.   Leave ample room around your text so that your design is not too delicate.  It's easy to accidentally break your piece while peeling off the masking if the design is too fragile (she says from experience).  I would cut the text first, then cut the ornament by dragging the cut files in the order they would like them cut.

and Voila!  A cardboard prototype followed by a design cut out of Proofgrade Poplar.

If you prefer to engrave your text, you can skip the Stencilfy steps.  With the Glowforge it's quite easy to flip your material over and engrave both sides of your ornament or badge. 

In my next  tutorial in this series, I'll share my early journey into - a cloud based tool that allows you to create vector designs on a Chromebook.  This tool will add even more options for your designs.  Here is a sneak preview of what we will be able to do with

Friday, December 27, 2019

Google Drawing to GlowForge Laser Cutter Workflow

How might we make designing with maker tools more accessible to all students?  

Use tools that work on their Chromebooks, of course! 

This series of blog posts will feature accessible tools and workflows  that increase equitable access to learning through  creating and making for all students. 

Get started with this Part 1 tutorial or dig deeper with the why's and how's below. 

While I was a teacher and a technology and equity specialist in Vermont schools,  I always insisted on using the same tools my students had access to.  During that time,  I stayed away from a MacBook, because my students were using Windows based computers. At one point, I turned my laptop  into a dual boot (Windows/Linux) platform so I could improve my fluency with Linux and open source software. Open source software helped us  make more computers available to students.   In today's schools, Chromebooks have replaced Linux and open source software as the tool that makes it  possible to create 1:1 student:computer environments.   

The increase in access is great news, but provides some challenges as Chromebooks limit the tools students have access to. Not only do the tools have to be cloud-based, they also have to be free (or close to free) and have to meet student data privacy standards of the district.  Unfortunately, this is a presents a barrier for schools who are introducing laser cutters in their school's makerspace.

I've spent quite a bit of time recently looking for workflows that might help students and teachers work within those constraints.   (I've also spent quite a bit of time thinking how we might make changes that would reduce the number of constraints -- but that's for another blog post).  

The following is the first in a series of posts that I'm planning which increase possibilities for students and teachers using makerspaces in their schools.   The first few  blog posts in this series will include:

From Google Drawing to  Laser cut Designs for the Glowforge - Getting Started

Why Glowforge? 

I've had my Glowforge Lasercutter for over a year now. It was one of the first consumer grade laser cutter to enter the market. This made it accessible to schools in both 'price' and 'ease of use".   I purchased the basic model at about $2000 during it's kickstarter phase. After using it for a year and watching other schools adopt the Glowforge, I can say that it definitely has a place in our schools.  I don't feel it eliminates the needs for some of the the higher costs lasercutters to meet certain needs in our educational landscape.   (more about that in a future blog post) 

The Glowforge has shortened the learning curve necessary to be able create using a laser cutter. The satisfaction and excitement of seeing your first product cut out of the laser cutter increases engagement and increases your motivation to learn more!  Once a student's motivation is at play, perseverance and grit kicks in and the learning process reaches places beyond expectation.  Some of the features of the Glowforge (especially its dual cameras has made it possible to get from point A (idea) to point B (product) much more quickly.   With other laser cutters, there is a lot more front loading that needs to happen.  Sometimes those skills are the goals (i.e. preparing for careers, and learning advanced design skills), but other times, the the amount of time and skills needed detract from your goals.  The Glowforge is the right tool for so many learning goals.  It is an accessible tool for younger learners.  It is an accessible tool for those just getting started.  It's an accessible tool for educators who don't have a background in design and tech.  And it's accessible  for those with a smaller budget. 

Why Google Drawing? 

Honestly, the right tools for the job when it comes to designing for a laser cutter include vector programs like Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. However, these program require quite a few hours to master and are not accessible to many students due to the cost or to the fact that most schools use Chromebooks as student devices.  There are few choices for creating with vectors that work with Chromebooks. is one of the few tool that works on Chromebooks for creating vector designs; it also has a free and Pro version.  However, it is not available in all schools.  

One tool that many students have access to is Google Drawing.  Many students have some degree of familiarity with Google Drawing already since it is part of the Google Apps environment that comes with their Chromebook.  Therefore Google Drawing it is an accessible tool in both price, platform, and ease of use.  

So let's give this a try. Here's what we are going to make.  In my case it's an ornament for my grandson, Cedar.  But this project could be used for creating suncatchers or badges.  This project was designed as a skill-builder that will lay the foundation for future laser cut projects. It also allows for personalization - which is a great motivator in any learning experience. 

That being said, Google Drawing is not the perfect tools for the job, and it does require some work arounds.  So in this tutorial I'm going to share what I learned when I challenged myself to create a laser cut design for my GlowForge using Google Drawing. 

We'll use primitive shapes available in Google Drawing and manipulate color in a way that will make it easier for an SVG picture converter to successfully create a file that can be cut on a laser cutter.  We  will also use the WordArt feature of Google Drawing and a Stencil font to cutout text in a laser safe way - so the centers of letters do not fall out. 


  • I'm not a design teacher and this worfkflow may not work with other laser cutters. 
  • This was not meant to suggest Google Drawing as the ideal tool for the job, but simply an accessible tool.
  • Lasercutting cardboard requires care and supervision as to prevent fires. You can complete this lesson by skipping the cardboard prototype and moving directly to cutting wood or acrylic. 
  • Glowforge does not have a cardboard cutting setting, but with a little digging you can find them online.

For this first tutorial, I will strongly suggest that you stay within the constraints of using fonts and shapes found within Google Drawing.  In the next tutorial, we'll learn how to find and use other shapes and fonts. It was my goal to help you build confidence with some basic entry level skills and end up with a fun project that you could be proud of.

So let's get started. 

The following is a lesson I recorded for those of you who would prefer a step by step walkthrough followed some highlights of the workflow. 

Workflow highlights

Use primitive shapes to create your design. (Do NOT import images. Yet!) 
Feel free to also use symbols!  We'll play with in Tutorial 2.

Feature Request to Google:  Please add the ability to merge shapes.

Use Word Art to add text! 
Change the font, but for this tutorial- Limit your text to STENCIL fonts so the 'holes' in your letters don't fall out when cut. 
We'll learn how to work around that in the next tutorial.

Use color to create a design that has two contrasting colors (silhouette look)
Make the borders or all shapes and Word Art TRANSPARENT. 

Download your Google Drawing as a PNG. 
(Note: even though it looks like you can download in the SVG format, this will most likely NOT work for many designs such as this one because of overlapping cut lines and the inability to perform a true merge of shapes. I explain this more in the video tutorial)

Using a site like  Picsvg  to convert your PNG to an SVG

Import your PNG file into PicSVG and play around with different settings until you find a setting that will create a clean look that will import into your GlowForge.  Export the file as an SVG.  I demonstrate some settings that will and won't work well with explanations of why they won't work at this in the video tutorial.

Upload the SVG file into your Glowforge software. 
Play with size and placement of your design. 
Add the right CUT  settings for your material. 

I use cardboard to prototype with then cut the final project in Glowforge's 1/8 inch poplar.
Take necessary caution when using cardboard.

And voila!
You know have a fun artifact that is evidence that you have the gained the foundational skills necessary to create a basic design in Google Drawing that can be cut on a Glowforge laser cutter. 

In the next tutorial,  I'll show you how to personalize your project with images and fonts outside those available in Google Drawing!  Here's a sneak preview of my second ornament personalized for my grand daughter.  

Ready for Part 2?  Here you go!