Zombie Spockalypse


The space between my ears, that gray matter frontier, is in tumult.


I was a last minute registrant to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) annual conference in Palm Springs, California. Today is day one of three. I had planned each session meticulously, mapping out the shortest path between one session’s venue and the next. Happily, it turned out not to be.

The first session on my list of must-attend was @am_estrella’s Remixing the Do Now and Exit Slip in a 1:1 Classroom. A few weeks ago I’d learned what an Exit Slip assignment was by reading a tweet by @sciencepenguin. The session had an activity where we had to create a short story based on a couple of pictures; we were encouraged to craft a story and share it with the person nearest us.

Drawing of a group of zombies over a photo of carpet at CUE15

As it happened, the nearest person to me was Danica Marsh; she and Kelly Baker were doing the next session in the room. She happened to tell me its name. All I heard her say was.. ZOMBIE. The rest is a blur.



I’m a fan of Star Trek. During its original run I didn’t watch it much. In 1966 we were a one-TV family. If papa didn’t like it we didn’t watch it. He was a big cowboy movie fan and except for that one episode set at the OK Corral none of the Enterprise crew wore stetsons.

Anyway, I liked Spock. I iked his curiosity. I was saddened when Leonard Nimoy passed. I got to thinking about Spock during the CUE 15 Common Core Performance Tasks… and Zombies session. I learned a bit about engagement during the session. More importantly, was what I didn’t learn. Here are a few words that aroused my interest and that I have to figure out:

  • Ess fack lingo
  • Zombie engagement model


Okay, maybe I misheard the first one. But wow that zombie engagement model. I have to figure out what that is. I’m in the right place for it. There are 5600 educators attending CUE 15 right along with me.



Ugly Room


Growing up I had an aunt and uncle who insisted on gifting clothing on the holidays and anniversaries one associates with presents. Sadly, said presents were invariably colorful and scratchy. It was rare, unless my mom intervened, that I'd wear them. You see, I'm more an earthy natural fabric sort of chap.


I finally made it to a Monday Digital Storytellers Gangplank meetup. I knew I as going to like it as soon as I got to the meeting room in back.

How did I know I'd like it? Because, like me, the space was unfinished, a work-in-progress. You see, the ceiling was missing. I could smell wood sap. The fluorescent lights without reflectors or diffusers seemed harsh.

Photo of an open ceiling with visible two by four braving.
It was, in a word, ugly. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Sons learning.

In the room were a number of people from diverse backgrounds. There was a published author a couple seats friends me. To his right were a recently unemployed woman, a stand-up comedian, and several men deeply interested in writing screenplays and treatments.

I contributed an idea or two. Mostly I sat in a corner and listened.

I had my first AHA about 20 minutes in. Talking about story flow templates someone mentioned their writing process: Brainstorming, Drafting, Crafting. I know this as the design thinking process: Define, Ideate, Prototype. Okay, so the group put brainstorming before defining: no big deal. Continuing to listen closely to someone describing a story idea I prototyped (crafted) an idea using Plotagon on my iPad.


Best of all: The group is having a bootcamp Sunday. I really don't know what to expect but with their motivation to try stuff out and share and my curiosity just try to keep me away. I'll tweet the cool parts.

Oh yeah: I didn't realize it til the meeting was well underway that I was in what @TechNinjaTodd in his #EduLS challenge calls a Learning Mission.




Salt & Paper


Successful companies and ideas born in garages and kitchen tables is the stuff of modern-day legend. I wonder if mine's got legs?


So I'm doing a session at the eLearning Guild's mLearnCon in Austin in June. I've been running through some ideas of how it might work. I'm trying for an immersive learning experience where participants will, well, participate. I think the best notes a learner can take are the stuff they make.

Photo of a paper with notes on a kitchen table


I've been digital for so long it was weird the first few minutes I spent writing with a mechanical pencil. Mrs was helping me capture some elusive ideas. Me sketching on my Paper app would have made it difficult for her to see what I was doing, hence the paper and pencil. In the actual session I'll have some tools to make sharing visuals much easier. Or not. It might be worth a brief elevator-pitch of a story to engage people by contrasting rapid with how it's done back at the office.

We, Mrs and me, played around with our ideas at the kitchen table. Later we went to Michael's to pick up some craft supples, the things one associates with design thinking and prototyping. You know, pipe cleaners, ice cream sticks, sticky notes, rubber bands. Mrs kept trying to get me to buy in bulk, thinking it was for the session in June. No, I'd say. “I only need enough stuff to take pictures for marketing.”


Not really. I mean, yes, I took some pictures of pencils, sticky notes, and rubber bands that I later tweeted.

Photo of an iPad screen and design thinking prototyping stuff

Mostly I played with the objects and thought thoughts. We're gonna have us some fun times in Austin.


MRPtA Draft 00


“Every picture tells a story, don't it?” — Rod Stewart


My mLearnCon proposal was accepted by the eLearning Guild: Yea! So now the work begins.

Screen capture of mLearn conference agenda


I had thought to do my talk on a case study but during a chat on Twitter someone suggested a different spin.

Screen capture of a tweet suggesting my talk be done workshop style.

So that's where I'm at now, ideating how it might work. Good things happen, I've found, when you throw ideas out there.