Months later, I’ve started working with my Raspberry Pi. With electricity and Ethernet ports a hot commodity in my office, I’ve had to unplug some things to make room for it at my desk for the moment. I’m borrowing the outlets for the office display computer (both electricity and Ethernet) as well as the display itself and the wireless mouse and keyboard. So it is almost like I’m just using that PC, except it isn’t a PC, it’s the Pi. And there are more cords running over my desk.


Tadge and I met today to talk about some of the things that we have to get done. He was able to get a VNC (I hope that is the right thing) set up on his Pi, because Dr. Bull wants the NSF Einstein Fellows to be able to see the Pi over a network connection. So we’re going to meet tomorrow for him to teach me how to do that as well.


We talked about one of the difficulties of working with the Raspberry Pi (and the SparkFun PicoBoard for that matter) is that they’re so vulnerable and out in the open. So I’ve decided to get case for the Pi off the Internet and 3D print it. I found one with Google that I’m going to

try. Looking at it, as the first design I found, I like it. I already know one problem though, that it doesn’t include any gaps to run the camera or our other sensor peripherals. But that is OK, maybe I will try to design one that has some extra slots, after I see how this works out.

What is really bothering me now is that the clock isn’t correct. I have the thing plugged in to the network, and it is authenticated through UVA’s network so that I can access the web, but the clock isn’t working. I’ve done a quick web-search for solutions, but the code that I’m finding isn’t basic enough for me. It says things like “edit your etc/ntc.conf file,” and I don’t know how to do that. I will keep looking but this may just be something that I ask Tadge how to do.

Otherwise, this thing already has Scratch installed. But I have Scratch installed on my other computers, so that isn’t novel.


Work and running intersecting again!

I’m teaching my EDIS 3450 students about audience and technology for language arts instruction. One of the important components is about how children’s writing (or digital production) changes when there is an authentic audience involved. It is also the topic of a video case study that I created last year as part of the Practitioner’s Guide to TPACK. Well, I was thinking about what to write on my running blog the other day about a workout that I did recently, and realized that having an audience changes things for running as well. I was supposed to run a lot slower in my workout, but the UVA swim team was at the track running around, and because of it, I ended up running too fast at the beginning and then was unable to finish the entire workout. I wasn’t prepared for the audience, and having them there changed my run.

Not the most profound discovery, and certainly not something I hadn’t considered previously, but it lined up with what I’m teaching in class right now pretty well.

Raspberry Pi

Today I started working with an incoming doctoral student in computer science named Tadge Dryja. My advisor has paired me with Tadge to assist/learn from him as he sets up a server to monitor the air quality of the 3D printers we’re setting up in the Buford Middle School Design Academy. The plan is to have a Linux server running 12 Raspberry Pis that are installed into an enclosure around the printers. The Raspberry Pis will have a number of sensors attached to them (camera, optical dust sensor, thermometer, etc.) so that we can monitor the air quality.

Today we installed a Linux server onto one of the machines in our storage closet and ordered two sets of Raspberry Pis + sensors to get started on the  prototype. We also got a 16-port switch and a second Ethernet card to install into the server so we’ll be able to monitor the sensors externally. Our projected end date for this task is September 9, so we’ll hope to get these first two up & running quickly and then order another 10 for replication.

We have to wait for things to arrive (in a few days I suppose?) and then we’ll get to work programming. I’m looking forward to it!


One thing that I’ve really missed about coming back to school and leaving the classroom is my students. I loved living where I taught and being a part of my school community outside of the building. It was nice seeing students and their parents around Fredericksburg when I was out and hearing “Mr. Jacoby!” when around town. Every once in a while we’ll still hear it here, but it is usually “Mrs. Jacoby!” instead.

I’ve only been in three classrooms this year. A 3rd grade class at Burnley-Moran, a 6th grade class at Walton, and a 10th grade English class at Albemarle.  I spent the most amount of time in the Walton class, and ironically have seen one of the students from that class outside of the building twice! Once at Chipotle on Teacher Appreciation night, and once at Sam’s Club. She was with her parents both times, but not being a teacher anymore I didn’t really think I should say anything to them (especially since she was one of the students’ who did not get permission to have their image used for our case study). I suppose if I see her a third time, I’ll just have to take it as a sign and say hello to the parents.

I definitely miss my own kids though! On Friday night in Harrisonburg, I saw some James Monroe kids who’d been at Lafayette with me and ran on the track team at Walker-Grant while I was coaching there. It was great to talk to them! As the school year is ending in Fredericksburg, I’m sorry that I never got a chance to return for a visit. Not so much to visit the teachers who I can see or call up when I’m in town over the summer, but just to see my old kids who are in 4th and 5th grade right now. I hope they’ve all had a great year!

Year One

Five days until the semester ends officially. I’ve got 3 classes to attend between now and the end of the day, April 30. I’ve got some work to wrap up outside of class, and plenty to grade for EDIS 3450 before May 13, but things are starting to wind down around here. Two students in the office and graduating and leaving for jobs. It’ll be sad to see them go!

I’m lining up some EdTech-related internships in town. I’m working towards 6 credits of Ed.D. practicum this summer and another 3 in the fall, so I’ll still be working all summer, just not in the office I expect. Hard to believe that “summer” may be starting soon but it won’t mean much to me. Just no classes. I spoke with someone in Charlottesville about how everything in the buildings is going to be “SOL SOL SOL” for the next month. Ironic that I largely stayed out of the schools all year long and will be going back in for the most stressful part.

It has been a good year though. And it is looking better each day!

Teaching and Running

It is not too often that running and teaching intersect in my life, aside from maybe getting in the way of each other. But a recent interview by the Jamaica Gleaner with 100m American Record holder Tyson Gay brought teaching and running together for me. Gay stated that “Those distance people and field eventers need to get some love from the media too.”

The quote comes from a question about USA vs. Jamaica in the sprints, and Gay goes on to say that there is more to our sport than just the sprinting, and that our sport doesn’t get the attention that it deserves as a whole. That much is undeniable. People don’t pay attention to track & field, or don’t give it much credit, because they think that anyone could do it. It takes someone special, someone like Tyson Gay or Usain Bolt, to make people realize that our sport is special, and worth paying attention too.

KC and I love Tyson Gay. He’s a great sprinter and a tough competitor. He does his talking on the track. When I was talking about this quote with her (It was’s quote of the day on April 8), we both used the word “humble” to describe Tyson Gay, almost simultaneously.

That’s when KC compared running to teaching. People put down the teaching profession because they think that “anyone can do it,” much the same way that NFL players think they could be world-class sprinters (re: Adrian Peterson’s quest for Olympic Gold). Every once in a while some post comes up on Facebook about “What do teacher’s make” or “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach,” and it will have some 4 billion “likes.” But policy makers continue to make teaching a second-tier profession, and track & field is a second-tier sport on ESPN and the like. Sports celebrities might be able to change that for track & field, and certainly the fans could. But how do we improve things for the teachers?

Teacher personalities

Last night in my Teaching with Technology class, we explored primary sources through the use of virtual field trips and online communication with relevant figures.

Then we sort of got off-topic. The lesson plan that I was using was one that I’d made last semester for class on election night. I wanted to take the opportunity to caution my students about sharing their own political opinions with their young elementary students. Politics are polarizing, and some people will make judgements about a person and generalize their beliefs based on which candidate they support. I think it is far more important for parents to evaluate a teacher based on the way that they’re educating their children than on which way they lean politically. Who I vote for doesn’t matter to my students. They’ll ask me who I’m voting for because they’re curious and they want to learn. But rather than telling them, I would take the opportunity to discuss both candidates and some of the issues that they agree and disagree on. Keep in mind, I taught third graders, and a lot of it was over their heads, so I’d try to keep it light and simple. A lot of times they don’t hear about the issues, they just hear the slam campaigns.

Talking about this led to a discussion on other differences that teachers might have from parents; things like religious beliefs or sexual orientation. I don’t have a lot of answers for my college students. I refuse to tell them not to express themselves; Freedom of Speech is their constitutional right. But parents expect teachers to be of the highest moral standard–higher than they hold themselves. So I told my students that the best thing they can do, when confronted with topics like religion, sexuality, politics, or whatever, is to teach tolerance. We live in a great country that was founded on diversity and freedom. The United States is literally a “melting pot” (3rd grade social studies SOL) of different cultures, races, traditions, and beliefs. Each person is unique and special and entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (3rd grade social studies SOL), and we must appreciate them for what they are and accept it.

I hope that my college students never encounter parents in the teaching profession that are upset with them for teaching children to be accepting and tolerant of all people, not matter how diverse they are.

Snow Days

I picked the wrong year to start graduate school.

Last year, as a classroom teacher, I think we had zero snow days. In fact, our superintendent gave us the Friday before Memorial Day off to make up for it (I never understood all the built-in days and hours, shouldn’t we have ended the year early too?). My wife, meanwhile, in a school district notorious for cancelling often and early, only missed one day for the Earthquake that hit Louisa in August.

This year my former school district has missed a whole lot of days. It has to be somewhere close to 10 at this point. They’re out again today! I think they missed in the fall for Hurricane Sandy (so did UVA), and they’ve had a lot of snow this year. And it is a city school district, so it hardly ever cancelled since there wasn’t a lot of area the plows had to cover. My wife’s former district has missed 5 days in in the month of March alone! Here in Albemarle County she’s had a lot of days off too, which has been nice for her. Definitely making up for last year.

So I hope all the K-12 teachers are enjoying their days off this year!

International Attention!

Last Monday, the CED Academy was in Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, teaching a lesson speakers and tweeters using the 2D and 3D printers. We had a number of visitors pop in to the classroom to watch Nigel teach, including the Daily Progress and a film crew from Japan. Click below to read the article.

Secondary school 3-D printing program garners international attention

Lab School in the news

It’s been a busy few weeks here in the Commonwealth Engineering Design (CED) Academy! We were again interviewed by local media, this time NBC29, for a story on our integration of engineering design into K-12 science curriculum. Check out the article below.

UVA, Area Schools Work to Create First Lab School in America