Friday, February 9, 2018

Makers on the Move - Adopting Our Glowforge

Makers on the Move - Adopting our GlowForge Laser Cutter

During our recent stay in San Diego county, we took possession of our long awaited GlowForge laser cutter.

This was not an easy task!

When we got the “Your GlowForge is ready to be shipped” email, we were so excited and quickly provided them the address of our campground in Desert Hot Springs only to learn that GlowForge wanted us to give them a delivery address that would be good for a 6 week window.

We are rarely in any location for 6 weeks during this time of year. In just 3 weeks, we would be moving the bus to Quartzsite, Arizona where we’d be off grid for a couple weeks, then off to spend 3 weeks at Guajome Regional Park in San Diego county to be near family.

It seemed like the safest thing to do was to ask my sister-in-law if we could have a package delivered to her house, since we knew we’d be seeing her near the end of that six week window. I must have forgotten to give her details about how big the package was. When it arrived a few days before Christmas, she curiously opened a package from “GlowForge” thinking that her children had bought her an electric fireplace for Christmas.

Meanwhile, it was killing me to know my GlowForge had arrived and was sitting in their garage for weeks before I could get my hands on it. I guess a few more months isn’t that bad when you’ve been waiting for over 2 years.

On January 31, 2018 we finally got to unbox the GlowForge laser cutter.

The unboxing was a delightful almost magical experience.

We were literally up and running and had our first print within the hour. Some very smart people put a lot of thought in that experience.

Unboxing the GlowForge Video

The GlowForge was obviously well protected during its travel to us.

Out of the box, our first impression was -

THIS is a beautiful piece of equipment!

Steve Jobs would have been impressed!

The Glowforge came in two boxes which contained the unit itself, a black crumb tray, a power cord, a print head, and blue cylinder. Some orange clips, and a few pieces of red hardware protected the GlowForge during travel. 

The crumb tray slid right in. 

The Printhead and ribbon cable snapped right into plac

We attached the venting tube to the Glowforge and place it out the window.

Within minutes we were plugging the power cord into the wall and ready to press the prominently placed ON button - which was begging to be touched!

Watching the coolant start to bubble and flow through the laser tube made us feel like we were about to experience something magical.

The GlowForge setup process lead us to connecting the GlowForge to wifi, and through 3 well done tutorials that introduced us to the cloud based workflow for laser cutting with the GlowForge. Within an hour we had completed the 3 tutorials showing us how to engrave, cut and score with a GlowForge. We were totally impressed with the seamless and friendly user interface, the GlowForge cameras that allowed you to cut your own drawings, and how easy it was to bring in color coded files created with 3rd party software.

I promise to follow up blog post with a more detailed look at how easy it is to interact with the GlowForge.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take the Glowforge back to the bus until we prepared a space for it, but thankfully we had a second playdate planned.

A few days later,  on Super Bowl Sunday, my nephew-in-law and I spent a few hours playing with the GlowForge while everyone else watched the Eagles beat the Patriots and Justin Timberlake entertain  the crowds. 

What a honor it was to have my second playdate with the Glowforge be with a talented young architect! Everyone agreed that the precision was amazing and the results met his standards as a professional.

GlowForge on Super Bowl Sunday

After this successful Super Bowl playdate, we finally were ready to bring our GlowForge home.

We measured carefully and concluded that we would be able to transport the GlowForge in our Jeep if we left most of the packaging behind. 

One of the challenges we faced was what do do with all this packaging. GlowForge warned us to KEEP the $250 dollars worth of packaging in case we needed to ship it back! Well when you live in a bus, every square inch needs of space is premium. I vividly remember trying to convince my husband that we could find space for an extra cutting board! After much deliberation, we  strategically selected a few pieces of packing material to keep the laser from being damaged during transport to its new home and the rest of the materials went into the recycle bin. I seriously considered mailing it back to GlowForge! But for now, positive thinking - and hoping my GlowForge experience will be trouble free!
After quite a bit of conversation and brainstorming, we decided that we could give up our kitchen table and eat at our workspace desk to make room for the GlowForge.

GlowForge Moves into the Bus

Alas our time in San Diego County has come to an end, and we’re ready to hit the road again.

We’re gearing up to spend the next few weeks off grid in the desert!

It will be our first time traveling with GlowForge in tow! It will also be the first time we will be using our GlowForge off grid!

Stay tune! 

Blog Post on Deck  
  • Moving off grid with our GlowForge 
  • The GlowForge Cloud-based Workflow
  • First impressions from the Classroom Educators

travel blog icon

Saturday, December 16, 2017

String Art Project inspired by fellow #vted maker educators

I’m always amazed but not surprised when I see how my students projects build on each others projects throughout the year. It reinforced in me the importance of sharing our projects publicly. Just last night I reviewed the projects in my Maker Centered Learning course - an elective in Teaching with Technology Master’s program at Marlboro Graduate School and was so impressed with the String Art project that Faith Horton (4th grade teacher) completed as her end of semester project.

Marcia Gauvin's Kindergarten students
Reading through Faith’s process journal I saw that it was inspired by a current Marlboro student ( Marcia Gauvin) and the woodworking projects she does with younger learners in her STEM Lab and also inspired by a recent Marlboro alum, Jill Dawson, who constantly shares her circuit projects.

Jill Dawson paper circuit project

If you’re looking for a way to engage students that week before the holidays, why not skip the holiday movie and instead have them creating and making holiday themed string art that also increases their mathematical understanding. Here is Faith’s inspiring and well documented project and the standards it’s aligned to.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Google Slides and WEVIDEO mashup

What happens  when you mix the collaborative power of Google Slides  with the creative power of WeVideo!   You get the easiest fastest way to make a collaborative movie.

When I discovered that WeVideo can import  a PDF,  it opened up all kinds of new ways to create movies, including using Google Slides export to PDF feature!

Just this week I challenged other educators around Vermont to share what types of Robots they were planning to use for the upcoming Hour of Code event during Computer Science Week by adding a slide to this Google Slide deck.   In the first 24 hours, 24 schools introduced us to their robots.  In just minutes, I was able to use Google’s download as PDF feature and WeVideo’s ability to import PDFs as media to create this  FUN movie!  

Want to make one too?  Go ahead and follow these steps!
First create a Google Slide deck and make it pretty!
You can use the built in themes or look for a wider variety of themes online at sites like. Slide Carnival

Then SHARE the Google slideshow with specific collaborators.

OR you can change the setting to anyone with the link and edit and copy/share the link via email to a trusted group of friends.

Invite others to add a slide. Once your friends have added their slides to the slide show!  PROOFREAD the whole slide deck!

Finally  download the slide deck as a PDF!  

Now it’s time to import your PDF into WEVIDEO. Your approach may follow slightly different steps. Here are the steps I followed.
I like to create a new folder to organize my media for new projects.

OPEN the NEW Folder
And  choose IMPORT

Select  BROWSE to SELECT and select the PDF file you just downloaded.

Then get ready to watch the magic!  

All the pages of the PDF get imported each as an individual image for you to use in your  movie!

Now let’s make a movie with all these fun new images from our Google Slide Show!
I created a new Project for all my Robot Movies this year!

I’ll select Collaborative Project in case someone else from my WeVIDEO DOMAIN wants to help with this project later. They’ll be able to edit and add movies to this project!

I use the INVITE with LINK method to create a link that I can use to add others to this project in the future.  (This link will only work with other WeVideo users from your organization or WeVideo domain - At this time We Video only allows collaboration inside a project from inside your own WeVideo org/ domain).  

Now all I have to do is ADD MEDIA to get the new slides/images into my movie.

Select  the slides you want to add to your projects.  Hint:  Use Shift click to select a large set of slides.
Then hit NEXT

You can copy the link and send it to others from your WeVideo domain who might be helping with this project.  In this case.. I’m working solo for now,  so I can go ahead and just click on

A new BLANK Timeline will appear!  
To see the slides you selected for this project - Click on PROJECT MEDIA!

Select the slides/images  you want included in your movie.  You can select all at once by using shift or by dragging the selection tool around all the slides you want.  DRAG all the selected slides DOWN to the VIDEO TRACK of your Timeline!  Note: If you want the slides in a different order, you might have to drag them down individually in the order you want them to appear!

I choose to shorten the length of my slides to 3 seconds each!
And of course I wanted the Ken Burns effect for variety.

If you want to - you can select one of WeVideo’s THEME templates.
OR  you can simply  click on the audio button to select some fun music to your slide show!
Drag your selected audio clip to the AUDIO track.

Shorten the music so it is not longer than your slides!

Play  your Video through to make sure it’s the way you like it!
Then click on Finish!

Name your Video!

Select the quality preferences  and the locations you want your video to be stored!

We often publish our videos in our Google Drive!
In this case I chose high quality setting and to publish it to both YOUTube and my Google Drive!

Click on FINISH
Now all I have to do is to wait for my video to be processed!
You don’t have to wait here for it to be ready!

When it’s  ready, you will see this message  and you’ll also get a message in your inbox, so no need to stay on this screen!

VOILA!  You’ve just turned a collaborative Google Slide show into a video in minutes with WEVIDEO’s ability to import PDF as media!

Note:  This works great for quick and easy photo slideshow type of movies.  If you want to collaborate using videos instead of just images, you will want to use WeVideo’s collaborative project feature.  

This method works great with when using images in a movie.  It also works great for teachers who work with younger learners.  Imagine your young authors turning stories they create in Google Slides into a narrated movie.  Or how about having a teacher turn a collection of student work into a quick movie!  

I also use two other Google Tools when making movies with WEVIDEO.

  • Create a Google Drive folder and collect movies and images
  • Make a quick fun movie from a Google Photos Shared Album

But that’s for another time!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thankful to Educator Who Openly Share for the Benefits of OUR STUDENTS.

In this season of Thanksgiving I’d like to say a special THANK YOU to all the amazing educators who openly share their talent and resources for the benefits of our students.  

There are so many ways that teachers do this - including one that has caught my attention lately Teachers Corner on Instructables site.

A few years ago, I received a few different requests for feedback from teachers who were creating their own Instructables as part of a class they were taking as part of Marlboro College Graduate Program:  Teaching withTechnology.

I loved the concept of having teachers create Instructables on so many levels.

  • It provided practice in Instructional Design for the teachers enrolled in this course.
  • It was real and relevant!
  • It gave teachers a chance to create for an Authentic Audience.  This is something we ask our students to do frequently as part of the Authenticity Gold Standards elements for Project Based Learning.  Yet, how many times do we as teachers put ourselves into the position of publishing for an Authentic Audience?    There is nothing more powerful than putting yourself in the same roles you ask of your students for teacher professional development.
  • It contributed to the greater community of resources available to those in our profession.
  • Teachers love learning from other teachers!  Steps by Steps along with comments about what worked when you were trying this with your own students encourages other teachers to try what you created!  
  • Creating instructables also fits in with the recent emphasis on Open Education Resource  in education.  I’d love to see Vermont educators add those instructables as link into the Vermont Open Education Resource site.
  • Finally,  I loved that once teachers have created their own Instructable, they are often encouraged to create a similar experience for their students.  I’ve sat in on lots of procedural writing lessons where students write up the procedures for making something, and the only audience was the teacher, and sometimes their classmates.
Here is a great Educators Guide To Using Instructables with Your Students  by MikeCicc  that even includes a rubric to guide the process!

And in this guide tjaap  shares how she has her students write Instructables as part of her coursework.

And did you know that Autodesk provides teachers and students with FREE Premium memberships to teachers and students.  Scroll down to their offer at

They also have so many Instructables organized in helpful ways for teachers by both grade levels and topics at

I’m thankful to so many Marlboro students and alumni who are contributing members of Instructables!

For example, check out  Cynthia Cohen and  her  Instructable as part of her Final Project for the Create With Code elective that I taught in Marlboro’s MAT program last year.  I love that in her project she took the role of a 5th grade student solving a real world problem.  Both the Instructable and the video framing the problem as a prompt provide concrete examples for other teachers.  Thanks Cynthia!

Last month Instructables ran a Teacher contest  that is filled with lots of great examples of educatorss creating Instructables!

And one of the top winners of that contest just happens to be a graduate of Marlboro’s MAT program ; Jill who wrote her first Instructable as a course assignment at Marlboro.

Since then  Jill Dawson has written 5 amazing Instructables  including a very detailed one on her Marlboro College Capstone Project - an Interactive Wifi Controlled Storybook
You can listen to Jill share more about her project on this post in her Bling The Book Blog.

So one of MY THANKS this year is definitely all the Amazing Educators who so freely share their work for the benefit of increasing our collective impact on the goal of providing students with quality learning experiences!