Thursday, December 31, 2020

Processing Loss Through Meaningful Making


Like so many others, I look forward to saying good bye to 2020.  It has been a very tough year for so many.  With the deaths from Covid 19 surpassing 333,000 the US and over 1.75 million deaths world wide, the collective grief we are feeling on this planet is unfathomable. 

Covid has also had an impact on the grieving process of for those who have experienced non-Covid related death of a friend or family member.  

This year, our family lost the first member of our family. In early August,  my sister, Linda,  flew from Maine to San Diego, to help her 25 year old  daughter fight the cancer she had just been diagnosed with.  On August 26, 2020 Alex lost her short battle with T-Cell Lymphoma leading to HLH disease.  I immediately flew out to San Diego be with Linda.  It was the first time I had watched someone so close to me grieve such an unimaginable loss.  As I watched Linda paint a beautiful heart shaped rock in the front yard of Alex's San Diego home. I personally witnessed the power of creating during the grieving process. 

From creating the design  to picking the perfect colors to carefully painting the rock,  Linda gave me the opportunity to watch a mother's love express itself - guided by a wave of emotions during this most difficult time.  

Over the past few weeks, I found myself creating an ornament that would keep memories from Alex as part of this Christmas and Christmases yet to come.  I spent days feeling and thinking about  Alex as I learned the skills needed to recreate the design Linda had painted into an ornament using Gravit Design and my  Glowforge laser cutter.  I played with different tools and materials, and made one for each of my 4 sisters, my dad, my mom, and my kids.  I felt Alex's presence throughout the whole process. 

I used this photo to help create the design using Gravit Design.

I used cardboard to cut prototypes on my Glowforge Laser Cutter.  

I then cut out ornaments on acrylic and wood 

During this process I also found myself thinking about other lives lost way too young this year in my circle of family and friends. Over the past few months,  several friends, family, and collegues  experienced the lost of their child as a young adult. 

Thoughts of the  heartbreak from so manty young lives lost this year keeps me up at night. It's intertwined with the feelings I get watching my sister navigate these painful months and my own feelings of loss- especially in a Covid world where many of the ways we grieve and offer support have been taken away from us. 

I found myself wanting to know more about each of these young adults and as I learned more I felt inspired to to create a special personal ornament for those who are missing them. 

I spent several days playing with Gravit,  The Noun Project and my GlowForge laser cutter to design cardboard prototypes. 

  I selected different materials and techniques to cut and finish each ornaments from. 

I cut some from maple, some from acrylic,  and some from MDF draftboard.  I've taken to the way draftboard absorbs the color of pencils and markers. 

I learned so much during this process.  But as I gained creative confidence, I also processed so many emotions about loss - not just about human loss, but also about other levels of loss that I have been feeling this year. 

As I've shared my thoughts on meaningful making as a way to process loss, so many people have shared their own ways that creating and making helped them through challenging times. 

I'm off to the post office to mail these out and hoping the personalized ornaments becomes part of the memories of a loved one that lives on -each year -- long after we say good riddance to one of the most challenging years I've lived. 

Attribution - Icons downloaded from The Noun Project
Icons from The Noun Project
Canada #698904
Fish #198584
MUSIC #1498388
Dragonfly #1116183
Tiger #3386527

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Creating Badges / Ornaments Adding SVG Clipart to Gravit


My first  Gravit tutorial featuring an  Ornament or Badge  used primitive shapes and a 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 fourth 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.

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit -- Next Steps

Here is a short video tutorial that will help you add more personalized SVG clipart to your ornament.   This tutorial builds on the Getting Started Tutorial  from my last blog post. 

In the tutorial above, I used this image from Those Icons   from

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 where, you can find lots of SVG images that are free to use with attribution.  Here is the attribution for the graphic used in the video tutorial?

Flower free vector icons designed by bqlqn via @flaticon

 My favorite place to look for icon's that might work well is THE NOUN PROJECT with over a million images.

I love this site so much that I subscribe to the Noun PRO version for  less than $20 per year if you are an educator. 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. 

Once you download the SVG image, you can use the the IMPORT Image under the File Menu Item to bring your SVG graphic into your design. This short video tutiorial 
can walk you through the process of successfully integrating SVG files.

Using the Compound Shape tool in Gravit is key to ending up with an ornament or badge that can be successfully cut on a laser cutter.   Here is more information about  creating compound shapes.

To better understand how to work with shapes in Gravit, I highly recommend working through 

John's short tutorials clearly describe the basics of Gravit, including working with compound shapes and with paths. 

In my  next tutorial I'll add show you how to expand your choice of fonts when using a laser cutter. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

From GRAVIT to Lasercut Design for the GlowForge - Getting Started

 The following is the third in a series of posts that I started to increase possibilities for students and teachers using makerspaces in their schools.   The first few blog posts in this series included

1) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Designs for the Glowforge - Getting Started
2) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Design for the Glowforge - Next Steps

3) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit for the Glow Forge -- a Cloud based Vector App -

Getting Started with Gravit using Primitive Shapes
Getting Started - Finding Joy Project
Getting Started with Gravit Importing SVG graphics

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit Next Steps -- Working with Text

And for a wonderful set of short intro video tutorials to Gravit, check out John Umekubo's series here starting with his BASICS tutorial below

5) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Getting Started

6) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Next Steps

Inkscape Tutorial for Laser Cutter from Washco Utah Library Makerspace

While is is possible to use Google Drawing to create ornaments or badges like these,  it does require some hacks or work-around to get an SVG file that your laser cutter can cut. 

The ideal way to approach this tasks is to use software that was designed to created vector graphics and that  can export your creation as an SVG file.    Two of the most popular software tools for designing for laser cutters are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.  If you have access to these, you will find lots of tutorials online that can help you use these tools in your maker-space. 
A free alternative to Adobe and Corel's tools for creating vector graphics is the open source program, Inkscape.   The beginning of this Inkscape tutorial does a great job helping you understand vector graphics as well as introduce you to Inkscape. 

However, none of these tools work on a Chromebook. After much research, I have concluded that the best tools for students using Chromebooks to design their own vector files  for laser cutters  (or vinyl cutters) is GRAVIT.  Gravit is a COREL product and  has a FREE and Pro Version.  The Free version is accessible to students on Chromebooks.   Students can even easily sign in with their Google Accounts. Because it is cloud-based, it  also has the benefit of allowing a student to start a project at school and easily finish it anywhere - anytime.   

Note: Your school should  get parental permission to be COPPA compliant when using Gravit with students.  As of this writing,  I have not been able to find a signed student data privacy agreement for Gravit. You can find updated privacy information for this product here.

The first part of  this tutorial will introduce you to some basic features of Gravit that you need to create aa simple badge, ornament, or sun-catcher. 

Start by creating a free account at   I sign in with my Google  account.

This 30 minute tutorial -- Creating a simple ornament or badge will provide an easy project based introduction to Gravit where each of your students can cut a personalized name badge using simple shapes. 


Coming next in this series - Ornament Part 2 - Adding more personalized graphics and fonts to our ornament.

For a great resource on using Gravit with kids, check out John UmeKubo's Gravit tutorials.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Mathematical Mindset during Design Thinking

 This week, I continue working on improving my STEM/STEAM facilitation skills through the MMSA ACRES program.  Our current assignment asks us to reflect on how to add more opportunities for students to develop a mathematical mindset using purposeful questions.  I chose to review some photos and video clips from a maker experience I lead last year with a small team of students where we used Design Thinking to design wind tunnels. 

The design thinking framework from the Stanford is the problem solving process I most frequently use in maker activities that I plan and lead.  When using design thinking students spend quite a bit of time thinking about WHO they are designing for and DEFINING the problem specifically to meet the needs of WHO they are designing for.  After some wild brainstorming during the IDEATE phase, they build a PROTOTYPE to communicate one of their ideas and TEST it. 

During today's reflection I spent quite a bit of time digging deeper into my understanding of the Common Core mathematical practices 

I proceeded to take a close look at the photos and videos I had collected during our design thinking maker experience and consider which purposeful questions would have created more opportunity for these students to develop a mathematical mindset. 

Here's a 9 minute video demonstrating how mathematical practices could be strengthened  during this design thinking maker event using more purposeful questions. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Real-Time Collaboration with WeVideo - Virtual Caroling Project

When WeVideo announced  that its Real Time Collaboration  feature was LIVE, I was excited to try it, but didn't realize such an authentic opportunity would present itself so quickly. 

This week I was scheduled to present a session on creating virtual choir type projects at VermontFest 2020.   Although my slides were ready, and I had practiced the project several times, I still didn't feel confident in the final step - aligning all the clips so that the finished project would pass muster with folks with a truly musical ear.  I don't have the fine-tuned ear for music that my children have.  

As luck would have it, while I was 'playing around' with WeVideo to test the real-time collaboration, the phone rang. It was my son, Adam.  I quickly asked him if he would explore the real-time collaboration features of WeVideo with me and help me make the final touches to our Virtual Caroling Project. 

What happened next was amazing. Not only did we test out the real-time collaboration features of WeVideo - but I got an authentic mentoring session filled with tips and tricks on how to fine-tune a virtual choir type video project from an expert!  Not only is Adam a talented musician with experience at making virtual choir type videos -  he's an amazing teacher.  With his permission, I recorded our mentoring session - made possible due to the REAL-TIME collaboration features of WeVideo. 

It's a bit long, but if you're looking for pointers on synchronizing and polishing a WeVideo virtual choir type projects with great sound,  check out our authentic real-time collaboration session below. 

And to see the results of our collaboration session - check out  our finished video - a  really fun Virtual Caroling Project Video created as part of VermontFest 2020.

To learn more about the recent release of this WeVideo feature - check out the official 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Creating and Collaborating Remotely with WeVideo

Covid has introduced constraints in our lives in so many ways.  But with constraints comes increased creativity.  The number of ways that the CREATE, MAKE, and LEARN community has embraced constraints continues to inspire me.   

Inspired by the creativity of Adam and Matt Podd to "keep on singing" in a Covid world - I've decided to put together a session at VermontFest 2020 that features collaborative workflows with Google and WeVideo that can help you and your students create and collaborate remotely as well. 

Join me and some fun creative GUESTS for a hands on workshop where you will walk away with new skills and resources for remote collaboration using WeVideo and Google Drive. We'll use Virtual Caroling as a project, but these skills can be applied to all types of creative collaboration.  

Come have some fun with us on 

Tuesday, October 27, 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM

       Pre-conference Hand-on workshop - Includes a Virtual Caroling Kit ($50 value) 
       Learn more and register here.

Block M – October 30, 7:00 PM & Block P – October 31, 11:30 AM

       Standard conference session (demo of features) 
        Learn more and register here. 

Want a sneak preview - check out this 30 second video  of some #vted colleagues preparing for this session.  Which #vted colleague can you spy?

A Caroling We Will Go With WeVideo & Collaborative Workflows

Workshop Description: 

Singing together is one way classrooms, choirs, communities meet their social emotional needs. And even Covid-19 can’t stop us from singing together. In this workshop, Lucie will provide a demo showing tricks and tips of how to pull off a virtual caroling session featuring WeVideo. She’ll show you the most efficient workflows to bring your community together to create a virtual caroling event. This workflow will save you so many pre-and post-production hours, that you’ll be ‘laughing all the way’ and so will your students and colleagues.  

Lucie brings her passion for learning through creating and making, members of the Create Make Learn Community, and special musical guests to the scene in what promises to be a fun-filled hands on workshop. All you need to bring is  two devices (a smart phone or tablet for recording) and a laptop or chromebook — and a willingness to have a little fun. 

You’ll leave with an efficient collaborative workflow to share with others in your school, some tips about  WeVideo features you didn’t even know existed, and a new way to tend to the social emotional needs of your learning community. 

This workflow was developed by two alumns from our Vermont schools – whose virtual choir video went viral this spring – and they are willing to share their secret sauce with YOU!  For a sneak preview check out 

Registration fees for this pre-conference workshop includes a Virtual Caroling Kit from


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Reflecting on Voice and Choice in STEM


The other day I was having a play date with my grand-daughter.  We frequently do STEM related activities. She has such an engineering mind.  

I grabbed some masking tape and sidewalk chalk and had an activity in mind - stained glass drawings on the road outside our camper.   

Within minutes, she had her own ideas of what we could do and she ended up creating a hopscotch game using some of the ideas from our stained glass picture.  

This activity came to mind, when I was working on my assignment for my most recent ACRES class on facilitating STEM using voice and choice. 

I showed up with my tape and sidewalk chalk expecting ready to try new strategies I had just learned. 

By being even more tuned into the concept of voice and choice, we ended up up exploring even more STEM concept -- the ones she was interested in and ready for.   The activity helped us explore shapes, numbers, and measuring.  This has me really thinking about how we limit our children's learning without even realizing it and how Voice and Choice can lead to greater exploration and deeper learning. 

Here are a few more pictures and clips from our STEM activity.

Strategies that can offer more voice and choice when: 

Working with material

I showed up with sidewalk chalk and tape, but when I arrived I noticed the driveway was not paved and Rosie quickly let me know that "we don't really have a good place to use chalk here".  But after quickly looking around for other possibilities, I  spotted some window markers. Rosie showed  an "immediate" desire to use those, since they had stored out of reach.    The constraints of the environment naturally lead to choice in materials.   I talked about using new materials and I asked her to find a new location.  She picked a large window on her porch.

Asking youth a specific question

I started to steer the activity back to what I had planned with my 'specific questions'.  However,  by being more open to the directions she wanted to move towards, I was able to to use her interest and readiness to ask questions that developed from her natural curiosity with my questions. 

Telling youth when its time to move on

It was obvious that she had different ideas than I did about what she wanted to do next.  I started to guide her towards my idea of laying down some tape to make a shape and coloring the inside. She decided that she wanted to draw her own picture and find shapes within it and outlining those shapes with tape.  After the first drawing, she was ready to do another, and wanted to label the lines that made up the shape with a number as a way to count them.   By letting her direct what we would do next, we actually were able to practice number skills - at one point she took off her necklace to use as a measuring tool.  If I had moved on when I wanted to, she would have missed an opportunity to play with numbers and measurements.

Learning STEM content

Again, because I gave her choice, we got to count,  work with numbers, and even play with measuring. We got to dig deeper into STEM content I had not intended to spend time on - as I was focused on shapes.

Answering questions

At once point Rosie asked "what shape is this" as she pointed to the swing.  I really didn't know how to answer that.  We called it moon shape.  Later in the activity, Rosie actually referred to them as cresent shaped on her own.   I loved that she was able to recall the name of a shape later in the activity on her own.


I could have been more explicit about asking Rosie to think about what she had learned, instead of asking a specific question that had a 'right or wrong' answer and prompting her to 'fill in the blanks" as a way to wrap things up.

Asking presenting group to say more...

Since there was nobody else in the room besides the two of us, it was not an option to ask others if they have questions as a way to engage them, so this strategy was not applicable to this activity.

A fixed ending

I love the idea of 'what would we do if we had more time" or "next time".  In some ways this activity was a follow up of a previous activity - but it was definitely determined by what I wanted to do.  I will definitely use this in the future. 

The strategies offered to give prepare students for leadership made me smile -- as Rosie is definitely a leader.  The fact that she has an autistic brother who is a few years older than her has helped her develop her leadership traits. 

I would love to see her "lead" an activity of her own chosing in her 'home school' group or with her friends.

We frequently look through possible projects when she comes over and she frequently selects STEM related projects. 

Her favorite place to explore is the clear bin that I have filled with craft or recycled materials that might be useful for projects. 

I love the idea of seeking out community leaders that might engage her in community needs.  I think of the many citizen scientist program (salamander crossings) that we could potentially explore. 

I'm familiar with the Scratch community and definitely plan to engage her in it in the future.  I had not heard of before Acres and truly looking forward to exploring it to see if there are STEM communities that would be age appropriate.

As a believer in project based learning, I believe that culminating activities are great opportunities to push students into leadership position.   Maker Faires have been some of my favorite 'authentic culminating activities" 

ACRES provided  some great prompts during our feedback protocol including these.

What do you see/hear? Get direct quotes when possible.
Reaffirming the goal or process.
How are students conveying ideas and choices?
Digging deeper in the content.
Exploring self/peer thinking and rationale.
Wait time.

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.