Personalized Elementary Program

IMG_0088What a summer it was for our EPIC team as they prepared to do something different for the learners at Freedom Elementary. It all started last fall 2015 when our district learned that we would be receiving a grant to help support an elementary personalized learning model. In January four learning facilitators, our district curriculum director, building principal and I traveled to Maine to tour several schools. We had a vision of what we wanted this program to look like, but we needed to see it in action at an elementary level. We had all made several visits to Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska, MN to see the work they are doing at the middle school level. Those visits helped us start to create a framework that we could use at the elementary level.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where Did Time Go?

1This past school year went in a blink of an eye, but so many wonderful things happened. I will spend a little time sharing about the journey and what is in the works for the summer and next fall.



This past fall we opened up our makerspace for the 2nd year. We added some new tools for our learners to create with. It was an honor this fall to host over 15 different schools to our space either virtually through a Google Hangout or in person. Our students got to share what they love about our space along with things they hope to see come into our area soon.

We hosted a Maker Cadet Camp in the fall for educators to come and spend a day learning and playing with the tools we use in our space. The Cadet Camp was a partnership between our State CTE Department and our middle school. It was a day to remember for all involved.

One of the biggest joys in my life was when my wife Lynn and I welcomed home DJ. We had been on the adoption road for a little over a year. I still remember the night when we got the call asking to meet with the birth parents. DJ has been a real joy to our family and has adjusted well. He brings smiles to Lynn and I every day.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Survived TIE 16



Looking back and reflecting on the three days of learning I am not sure what to begin with. Sunday afternoon we had a full house of amazing educators learning about the maker movement and how to make this happen at their school. We covered how to create an authentic, sustainable, and vibrant makerspace in their school. It was four hours of making and tinkering with all kinds of tools. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PRE- TIE 16 Conference


logo2On the evening of April 9th, 2016 I am busy wrapping up a few final thoughts for my TIE16 Conference presentations. I am excited to be sharing about the following topics:

1.) Creativity and Innovation – Makerspaces in Schools

Do you want school to look differently than it does now? If so, this is a session you won’t want to miss. We will explore the ways a Makerspace can enhance a school culture and encourage creativity and innovation in the classroom. We will complete several hands-on activities that will push your thinking and challenge the status quo. You will see the tools and be able to test them out throughout the day.

2.) Build Creativity and Reflection with Seesaw

Grab your iPad or any device and experience how students, as young as kindergarten, use Seesaw to independently document their learning through photos, voice, video, and drawings. Get hands-on with this versatile app and get tips from initial download to daily use. See implementation ideas in all areas from literacy to science, math, genius hour, ELL, and more! Explore how Seesaw works with other creation apps and makes organizing and sharing digital creations a breeze. Transform assessments and communication with parents, while saving you time! Leave this session with your class set up and ready to create their digital portfolio.

3.) How One World Traveling Robot is Bringing 21st Century Skills into the Classroom

How one world traveling robot is bringing 21st century skills into the classroom. This robot not only comes from another planet to learn with your students, but she wants to learn information to take back to her planet. Students will do all of the following throughout the time Lyka is with them: collaboration, leadership + responsibility, creativity and innovation, media literacy, critical thinking and problem solving, global awareness.

The most exciting part of the next three days:

I get to watch 19 of our amazing South Middle School students showcase our makerspace. Thanks to Steelcase and Interstate Office Supplies we are able to create a classroom of the future with flexible furniture. Our students will be tinkering with area educators throughout the day on Monday. If you are at the Conference make sure to come and hangout with our students. Our local TV station Keloland News had a nice feature on our transformation of our media center to now incorporate a makerspace.

Enjoy a little song that was sung by one of our 8th graders to celebrate this day of making at the TIE Conference.

Make sure to follow #tie16 to see pictures and videos from our students tinkering, and making with educators.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Edcamp Wagner

On February 12th, 2016 Edcamp South Dakota took a stop in Wagner SD. It was an incredible day of learning and sharing with area educators. You can check out our sessions here.

We have had some amazing partnerships with our edcamps, but one sponsor has been with us at every SDEDCAMP. They have helped with all kinds of needs to make sure the day was about educators and empowering them to take a hold of their learning.


We need to send a huge thank you to Squirrels who just continues to invest in SDEdcamp.


What is reflector?

Reflector is a wireless mirroring and streaming receiver that works great with Google Cast™, AirPlay™ and AirParrot 2®. Mirror your content to the big screen without wires or complicated setups. Play games, watch movies, demo applications or present from the palm of your hand. Even send your screens directly to YouTube for others to watch live. Everything you do on your device can be wirelessly sent to Reflector!

Our sponsor, Squirrels LLC, developed an affordable classroom screen mirroring app that is used in more than 100,000 classrooms in more than 200 countries and territories. Reflector 2 is an app that runs on a teacher’s computer and receives a real-time “mirror” image of classroom iPads, iPhones, Chromebooks, Android devices and Surface Pros.

If you are looking for an excellent tool to connect your devices to your interactive board in your classroom or to just get away from your teacher desk, then you need to check out REFLECTOR. Reach out to them and let them know you were at SDEDCAMP or read this blog and they will take care of you.

We are excited about the future of edcamp South Dakota. We are gearing up for April 2nd in Brookings SD. Come join us by signing up here.

We had other great sponsors that participated in this day and helped us in so many ways. We would be mistaken if we did not take time to Thank the following:

Contraption Maker
Think Cerca
Go Noodle
Dave Burgess TLAP
Answer Pad
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pinball Machine Mayhem Part 1

I will be sharing about our Pinball Machine Mayhem that is happening in our Technology and Innovation class. We started with a brainstorming session on the process this week.

Blog Post Image.001We began with the Project Idea phase: This is where we explained that they would be making pinball machines. How they made them or what they used is completely up to them during this process.

Next we moved into the Prototype Design students during this phase was given a blank piece of paper about the size of the actual pinball machines that they will make. The goal here was for them to start to apply the different pieces of their pinball machines to this document. What was incredible about this whole process was before we released the students to go work we asked them what subjects do they think will be covered throughout this process. Right away hands went up and students started sharing.

Math – Area, Perimeter, Height, Length, Pythagorean Theorem to find the slope of their machine.
ELA – Research, Creating a story for their pinball machine
Social Studies – History of the pinball machine, Research on different pinball machines
Science – Volume, Friction, Gravity,
Art – Theme of their board, Creative look of their pinball machine.
Tech Ed – Lights, sensors, buzzers
Makerspace – Students talked about using little bits, robotic kits, makey makey board, along with legos and Knex’s

I was impressed with all the ideas that came from our students. This just goes to show that project-based learning engages learners in all of their core classes.

Next week our students will begin the Creating Process. They will finish the prototype and start building the real deal. After that is done the students will Test them out and if they do not work the way they anticipated or if they get other ideas to make it better they will have time to add those and make their machine better. Once they feel they have it ready to go and showcase our students will Launch their machines for other students to play and test out at HSMS.

Stay tuned to see more post on the progress of our students. They are driving their learning, and it is exciting to watch them be so engaged and excited about learning.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HSMS Makerspace Journey

The WHY, HOW, WHERE and WHEN of HSMS Tigers Makerspace

Bringing this Makerspace to South Middle School would not have happened without the coaching and support from +Laura Fleming, who is a media specialist at New Milford High School. This idea of a Makerspace did not come from +Laura Fleming, but she has done it at all levels of education in some capacity, and so we felt she was going to be our best sounding board of what works and what doesn’t work. She gave up a lot of her own time to connect via twitter and google hangouts to help us through the entire process.

First, we started out by looking at the “WHY.”

John Klosowski says, “The library should be one of the most exciting places in the school: the hub of learning, reading, research, discussion and collaboration.” We believed the centre of our school should be the library. We wanted to do something in our library that would draw the students into this space not only to check out books, but to be a place that they can create, research, and develop.

+Laura Fleming told us from the start that we could do this on a small budget, and truly we have done that. This entire project cost around $500. We started simple and will continue to add different things to our ImagineNation Station area for students to create, develop, and research.

Next, let’s now look at the “HOW.”

We got a lot of our products from MakerShed, which was recommended to us by +Laura Fleming during our planning period. We started with the following five items to start our Makerspace:

  • Makey Makey (2 kits)
  • Little Bits (2 kits)
  • Snap Circuits
  • Mindstorm Robots – donated to use from our Robotics Club
  • Take Apart station

Finally, let’s now look at the “WHEN/WHERE.”

In our library, we have an open corner that we have designated as our Makerspace area. Students can  be in that area during the following times:

7:30-8:00 am- Open to all students

During school: during directed study time (study halls as long as they have all their work done.)

3:00-3:30 pm – Open to all students

This space is not only for the times listed above, but classes can come into the Makerspace as well. Below you will see that a science class came in and learned about input/output while creating circuits with our Squishy Circuits.

Every 3-4 weeks we will be updating and changing one station out and adding new ones.

One way we are gathering interest is through teaser videos for the students to watch and see what new stations are coming to our space. We created a teaser video for the students to see before us rolling this entire space out.  Each time a new station comes to our makerspace, we will make a short teaser that they can watch that will get them excited to come to our Makerspace at HSMS Tigers.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chasing Failure



Prior to reading this post watch this trailer to get your mindset prepared for what you are about to read.

downloadI had the honor of hearing Ryan Leak speak at @iamembrace.  His message was spot on and drove me to write this post. We have known for quite some time that we need to start to change our 19th Century Factory-Model Education System. We have seen some schools being innovative in how they can change this model. As I was listening to @Ryanleak, it became evident to me that we ALL must make a change NOW. We must be bold and courageous and make necessary changes for our learners and their future. Just check this short video out. Despite being a little dated, this video drives home the point that we must change. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movers and Makers Year in Review


I am very excited for 2016 and our makerspace radio show on the BAM Radio Network! BAM Radio is the largest education radio network in the world offering programming from the nation’s top education organizations and thought leaders and reaching a wide audience of people passionately committed to quality education.

The show is called WMKR, Movers & Makers.  Embarking on this journey with me, I am lucky enough to have a fabulous co-host, Laura Fleming.   We had a great 2015 season with a lot of wonderful guests. You can check out our previous episodes by clicking on the images below.

2015 Bam Radio “WMKR, Moves & Makers Year in Review

1Witthoft 1SilverJ 1Kalil 1Mitra 1Gustafson 1Robbins 1Dougherty 1Mullick 1MartinezS

Subscribe to our show on iTunes to stay up to date with all new show releases.  We have some more fabulous guests coming up for 2016!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Re-Design your classroom for 2016

Redesign Your Classroom

Do you want to change the way your class looks this year? Are you wanting to create an environment in your classroom that allows for creativity and risk taking? I am going to share with you a little about our journey and how we transformed our media center space.




Our area had looked like this before we changed it up!




We had a few ideas just from observing our students in our media center. Our first observation was that our students wanted different areas for learning. We focused on four areas and worked to create this for our learners. These areas came from Target Interior

Design Company as this is what they focus on when creating a collaboration space.
1.) I own
2.) We own
3.) I Share
4.) We share

Students wanted a space that they can have to themselves. IMG_2662

They want a space where a group can collaborate.

They also want a space where students can share what they are learning with more students.

Finally, they needed a space where a group could do some presentations.


We have started creating these different areas in our media center by getting some flexible furniture from SteelCase.
A student can have their space for creating and working.

We share- Students can put these desks together to create a collaboration area.

Our Learning Lounge allows students to use our TV and Apple TV to show their presentations.

Students can collaborate at the big table as a group.
We focused on these learning areas to help provide spaces for our learners. When you think about your classroom are you able to get rid of some desks? Create areas of your classroom that allow for the four areas above to happen easily by pushing desks or tables together quickly. Think about having different levels for students to sit and collaborate with fellow students.

Once you have your space figured out it is time start building a culture in your classroom that will allow for risk taking. An excellent book to read to begin to make this environment in your classroom is Sparking Student Creativity by Patti Drapeau In this book they will talk about the first step is creating the environment in your classroom. The next step is teaching the students how to take risks and try new things. I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about doing this.

After you have created this, then you can start thinking about color and paint in your classroom. We were unable to paint classrooms, but we were able to get white board paint for our math and ELA classes.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 11.48.55 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-14 at 11.48.44 PM



Transforming spaces takes time, but if you start by thinking about the four areas in your classroom you can begin to go down this path.

If you need something, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via Twitter at @travislape or email me at

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment