Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Coffeechug Website! Please Check It Out!

Alright, this winter break I have decided to take the plunge to moving beyond just a blog. After about a year worth of studying and pondering I am moving on.

I have big goals for 2014. One of them is to really push the Coffeechug Universe to a more professional looking feel and approach. In order to do this I have decided to do the following:

1. Host my own site.
2. Buy my own domain
3. Use an Wordpress theme provided by Michael Hyatt(not cheap)
4. Design a website interface that will allow a professional looking touch.
5. Work on my writing - spelling and grammar
6. Push the boundaries of education and what teachers are doing online

I have several big plans with the whole Coffeechug platform that I will share over on my new site.

Here is the link

The website has a TON of work left. I am probably opening this up way too early, but I love to share my struggles and learning processes with the world. You will see this site change a million times over the next few months as I just developed this site YESTERDAY!

So, from now on I will be posting and sharing on my new site

Please let everyone know. Nothing much is changing in terms of blogging and what I have always done except hopefully for more clarity, greater focus, and better content.

While I work my way through this world of web design and hosting which I realize I know very little about I would love any feedback about what you like, don't like, things you want, don't want, etc. All this feedback helps me create a site that is worth your time.

Thank you so much for all of you who follow this blog. I hope you follow me over to the new site. I know I will lose some readers, but hopefully not the ones that matter most.

While you are there you can catch a glimpse of my latest education experiment using Google Glass that I just announced today.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Eagle Eye To The World Global Project: Year 2! Sign Up NOW!!!!

The second year of the global school project focused around two bald eagles, Liberty and Justice, and their journey surviving, laying eggs, and raising eaglets along the freezing waters of the Mississippi River are about to begin.

We have a few weeks left to get signed up.

Monday, December 30th I will be hosting an online meeting to go over the project and answer any questions. The project is filled with unlimited possibilities.

The goal of the collaboration is to help students and teachers learn how to connect and communicate globally while at the same time sharing out what they are learning at the local level. The project is an ongoing project where we come together to share out ideas and projects. I have many ideas in mind and will share those out soon.

Here is the link to the website -

Please check it out. Consider signing up. Last year we had four countries and really some amazing work created and gathered. You can check out work from last year here

We are in need of some more classes to make this project happen. Spread the word and please sign up. It is a blast to watch nature work and so many learning opportunities exist.

If you have questions let me know. Otherwise I look forward to the registration form filling up.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Coffeechug: Living On The Edge of Chaos Podcast Series wants to know what you THINK!

As I begin to unplug a bit, do some reflecting, and create a vision for 2014 for the whole Coffeechug concept I would love to hear from you.

In particular I would love to know more about what you would like from me and my online offerings in 2014.

My biggest challenge was kicking off my podcast series: Living on the Edge of Chaos

I would love to know what episodes you enjoyed and what things you learned from listening.

The podcast is something I have fallen in love with. I plan to make it more professional and to really create some great conversation in the upcoming year.

If you have listened to any of the episodes I would love to hear from you. You can leave a comment or reach out via Twitter or email.

I will be going offline more than usual to rest, reflect, and design the plans for a bigger 2014.

Any suggestions, feedback, comments, or thoughts will help me deliver more thoughtful and helpful material.

Enjoy the holidays and time with families and friends.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

I am a year behind on this amazing artist/writer and this book, but I am so glad I did not miss it completely. I loved this book. It was the inspiration and thought process I needed. As I am working to write my own book and struggling to do so for the last two years, this book really gave me some shape about how to craft my own story as well as thinking about life in different ways.

Once again, this book is not about education, but there is so much to be gained as an educator. As I have stated in previous book reviews this book provides ideas to help us(ourselves) learn to find our voice and ideas. By doing this we can enhance our teaching.

Since reading this book I have continued to push myself by expressing my thoughts via my notebooks and practicing writing #newspaperblackout poems from his other book(review coming).

If you have not checked out his website you need to -

This book is worth your time to read. It is one to keep at your bedside to revisit from time to time. It is a good book to own because you can go back and read passages over and over again.

For example, one piece does discuss education

School is one thing. Education is another. is always your job to get yourself an education whether in school or not.

I love this! It is so true and something that as an educator we are always trying to help students understand.

To learn more about this amazing book check out the blogger kit 

So.... track this book down, read it, buy it, revisit it, and most importantly apply the principles to your life!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Student Voice and Participation in Teacher Project Tuning Session

As our building continues to push forward with Project Based Learning (PBL) and striving to challenge our students and ourselves I have reflected on the many key areas we need to work and develop to make the necessary steps to achievement.

As an instructional coach I have noticed that one of the key elements to developing a quality project for learning that is missing is project tuning.

Project Tuning is a systemic approach to helping a teacher tackle a question or mental block that they have in their development of their project. It is an approach that is very powerful and allows the staff to bond and offer insight. It allows the teacher who is tuning to hear perspectives from outside of their department and/or grade level.

Project Tuning is awesome and is something that we have continued to improve upon as we do more and more of these. The issue is that we don't have enough teachers using this key piece. As we work to provide a structure and schedule for teachers to tune I also started working on another key element to project tuning: STUDENT VOICE

This first semester we had 8th graders work on a Choose2Matter project that we titled #BettPassion. One of the groups, Iowa High Five, is focusing on Student Voice. I brought them in last week to discuss the possibility of branching out student voice to a "behind the scenes" element of project tuning.

Last week we met with them and the principle to discuss this idea. They were excited at the opportunity. We talked about the system and things that need to be worked out.

I typed up two documents for them as well as the teachers to provide them with some structure.

Wednesday we were able to pull four of the girls into my room to do an actual project tuning and give them some practice. We had the opportunity to tune a project for a teacher that has an idea and is able to put his guard down to allow these students to practice.

It was amazing! We had one other teacher show up along with our principle and myself. The students jumped right in and nailed it. They provided some great insight that we don't always think about as teachers and adults. They were open and honest and really provided a lot of great ideas. I was quite impressed by their maturity and honesty. I know it can be tough to really open up as a student to teachers and admin.

We are going to continue to find ways to include at least two students in each project tuning session from here on out. We will have to work on developing a pool of students to use. It really needs to be thought through because you need students who are honest and willing to speak the truth while also having a maturity level to handle this opportunity.

I am so excited to continue this journey and help enhance the power of student voice in our building. I will continue to provide documents, reflections, and hopefully a few video sessions to show how these project tunings operate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coffeechug delivers over 40 App Reviews

To declutter my blog a bit and not bombard the site with app reviews I have created a new system. I am using a template I created that fits perfectly with my Evernote account. From there I can published directly to

I will be developing a tutorial of how I did all this, but in the meantime I wanted to share out my latest app reading reviews. I have over 40 apps I have read and reviewed over the last month. My template for review is quick and to the point to not bore readers to death.

Here is the link -

I would love feedback, comments, suggestions as well as any apps that I should check out. I will be adding many other apps each week. I have hundreds to add.

Enjoy and look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What are your keys to being productive? I want to know!

After reading several profiles of successful people in magazines, books, blogs, websites, and social media I have decided to begin to compile information about trends of people who are productive.

I have created a very short Google Form to gather and compile key aspects of being productive from people in all fields of occupation.

Below you will find seven questions. I will be sharing out what I find. Please help spread the word and have your friends and colleagues complete this as well.

I am excited to find out more as I am sure that there will be something we can all learn from.

This is one of the most exciting things I have decided to do. I thank you in advance for contributing to this little research project.

Monday, December 16, 2013

#CoffeechugCAFE Podcast Series: Living on Edge of Chaos - Episode 7: Todd Henry

Todd Henry is the author of two great books - The Accidental Creative and his latest release Die Empty. You can check out his website where you can find his podcasts and all social media links. 

I read Accidental Creative a few months back and absolutely fell in love with this book and his work.

I then pre ordered Die Empty and absorbed that book even more so. I liked it even more than Accidental Creative. The basis of the book is to help people, companies, businesses, and organizations do their most important work. As I read this book I could relate almost all of it to education and to the many ideas that I am striving for within my own job in education.

I sent Todd an email about chatting with me on this podcast and I jumped for joy when he said yes. 

Here is the link to his latest book, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everyday

Show Notes

All Social Media for Todd Henry - Please follow and learn from one of the best!



All Social Media for Coffeechug - I would love to have you join my PLN

Links to items mentioned in the podcast

Google Glass for Bettendorf Middle School Students

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Please help bring #GoogleGlass to Bettendorf Middle School #bettpride

I jumped for joy and spilled my coffee when I finally received an email for Google Glass. This has been the moment I have been waiting for. My students are excited and pumped at this possibility. The problem we have is that I don't have $1500 sitting around to spend.

We have ideas. We have cool ideas. We have ideas in our brains that we have not even developed yet until we have Google Glass.

We would love to have you help us out. The possibilities are endless.

The invite expires in just a few days. Time is short and demand is high. Please consider helping us out. In return we will make you part of our learning journey and make this one amazing learning opportunity.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

Buy the book from

Back in September I came across a book titled Accidental Creative which was a book by Todd Henry. I fell in love with this book and when I finished reading it I became a fan of Todd Henry. When I went to check out his website I noticed at the time that Die Empty was available for pre-order and I bought it right away.

If this book was half as good as Accidental Creative, then I knew it would be worth the money.

I was not left disappointed.

Todd Henry offers another dose of material that is very worthwhile. It is not a tough read, but offers so many great pieces of advice, ideas, and tools to use to really answer the essential question of

"Did the work I did today really matter?" 

This is what I believe is at the heart of this book. Ideas and techniques to make sure that that you answer yes to this question.

The one passage that stands out to me over the rest and is one I continue to reflect upon is that idea that if you were videotaped all day for a documentary to showcase your day how would you behave and act? What things would you cut out of your "regular" day? So, with this in mind why do we not live that way and spend time wasting moments?

I think I honestly highlighted more words than words not highlighted. There is just so many great pieces of advice and wisdom laid out. 

It does not matter your business, lifestyle, age, or goals in life. This materials applies to all of us and that is why this book is successful. You don't need a successful company, you don't need money, you don't need connections. What you need is a change in your mindset which we are all capable of doing. 

I have already begun to test out some small experiments to improve my productivity. The goal is to end each day answering yes to the question above and leaving nothing in my tank! I don't want to be mediocre. 

This is a must read to help get your mind right with not being too preachy. Toddy Henry has delivered again! This book is worth your time, your application of the ideas, and money to buy the book. 

One of the top 10 reads of the year so far!

Monday, December 9, 2013

App Review: Blue Ocean Bob

Name of App
  • Blue Ocean Bob
iTunes Link
  • $2.99
App Icon
  • Decent. Main character on display, but nothing special
Ease of Use
  • Three options - Play to Me, Read to Me, and I Can Read are easy to access and each plays and operates very smoothly without any glitch or confusion.
Overall Feel
  • Smooth flow. The Play to Me option just takes care of business where all you have to do is just sit and listen. Read to Me highlights the words in red to follow along which is a must in my book. Read on Own allows user to click on red words for definitions. Very nice addition
What is Good?
  • Good story line and the three reading options.
What is Not Good?
  • No interactions unless you count the matching game at the end. Perhaps this is not so bad to not be distracted from the goal of reading. Typically, people choose apps for interactions, not just straight reading.
Yahoo or Boo
  • Yahoo. Enough here to give a plus rating. I like that the app has three reading options based on comforts of child. More apps should have these three options.
Coffeechug Hall of Fame
  • No
Use It Again
  • No

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

App Review: DogCatChicken

Name of App
  • DogCatChicken

iTunes Link
  • $2.99
App Icon
  • Okay, would appeal to younger kids
Ease of Use
  • Simple. Nothing too complicated. My 2 year old could figure it out.
Overall Feel
  • I tested this app out on my two year old. She likes the interactions, animations, and the pages.
What is Good?
  • Interactions and easy to manipulate
What is Not Good?
  • The one thing that I drove me nuts was that there was no built in reader. Many times my kids like to be left alone to read and explore. How is she to learn and hear the story if there is not option to have the words read to them?
Yahoo or Boo
  • Boo, book apps must have a built in reader.
Coffeechug Hall of Fame
  • No
Use It Again
  • No