2013 in review – teaching


It’s a little unusual wrapping up a school year in a calendar-year format, since of course the school year spans a different time period. However, there were a few things that I wanted to specifically mention that happened in this 2013 year.

Computing with the Raspberry Pi

The first was the work I did over the summer with the Raspberry Pi and Minecraft Pi Edition. The Raspberry Pi is a $35 Linux computer on a single board, and I ran a summer camp based on teaching children to use it, and to learn programming in Python. You can read my full week’s worth of reflections on my Minecraft Pi Camp website.

pi-boardPhoto 2013-05-31 02.38.24 PM

Raspberry Pi, a $35 Linux computer on a board

I started this year off by giving a Raspberry Pi to my younger son for Christmas, and it has really propelled my academic work during the past 12 months: I ran a week-long summer camp using it as a platform, I’m using Google Coder for Raspberry Pi with my middle school Web Design class, I wrote an academic paper about its influence for one of my master’s classes at Eastern Michigan University, and I was accepted to present at the 2014 MACUL conference giving a reflection on my summer camp experiences and demoing the amazing things that can be done with this inexpensive computing platform.

New Art Teacher and Office Makeover

The other really big news regarding my teaching career at Honey Creek Community School is that I gained a new co-worker and office mate: my wife, Sarah Van Loo (@sarahevanloo on Twitter)!

Sarah joined the Honey Creek staff as our new Visual Art teacher toward the end of the summer, and her first task was to make sense of the art office. As you can see below, it was quite a mess:



Essentially, the office was a storage room (and dumping ground) with a small desk plunked down in the middle of the chaos. My office was also a combined storage/workspace for all the school’s technology equipment, in the inner core of the building (read: no window!). We put our heads together and came up with a plan to transform the art office into a shared office space, and the current technology office into a combined art/tech storage space. We got to work in late August in order to start making this a reality.

After much hard work, the former art office was completely cleared out. By a stroke of good luck, the new Facility Director was able to schedule the ratty old carpeting to be removed and the floor to be re-tiled.


During that process, my former office was being slowly transformed into the combined art/technology storage space, with room for materials, tools, and mobile carts (including our laptop, iPad, and hands-on project carts).



Finally, our office is finished (see photo below)! Thanks to a generous donation of furniture from our friends Hans and Rebecca, we got matching desks, matching bookshelves, and fantastic 5 x 5 IKEA bookshelf that is the visual star of the room.


I am incredibly excited to be sharing an office with Sarah, and delighted at the new changes. I now have an office with a window, I don’t have to share space with all the carts and storage, and it even looks nice (albeit with a little everyday clutter that still needs to get sorted out).

Here’s to a fantastic 2014 in education!