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Implementing N-1

Photo by Her Wings http://www.flickr.com/photos/herwings/3809991796/ N-1 is a concept that I read about today on Seth’s Blog.  Seth says: N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk.  They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done.  What would happen if you did one fewer thing?  What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest?  What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough? I’ll be honest, this is a really difficult concept for me.  I am a perfectionist with a pinch of OCD thrown in for good measure.  When I do something I go at it full speed ahead 110%.  The problem is lately, I can’t give 110% to everything that I would like to because I am always adding one more thing (N+1).  These things are good things, they are worthy things, important things.  I feel that way about each one of them or I wouldn’t have taken them on in the first place.  But lately I am finding that I am giving each less than what they deserve and not feeling a sense of accomplishment in any of them as a result.  I think this is a common feeling among teachers.  We always tend to be functioning in the N+1 model.  We give everything the best we’ve got and often feel stretched too thin.  Today I took an honest look at everything I’m doing and came to the conclusion that I need to ease up a bit.  I’m not even sure that I have to really give anything up, I just need to change my perspective. I started the original Edublogger Alliance the first of the year 2010.  My goal was to create a fellowship of edubloggers who encouraged and supported one another in our blogging journeys.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think the alliance has been an enormous success.  I got to know incredible educators, librarians, and home school teachers from around the world.  I feel like I know each of them well as a result of reading and commenting on their blogs, having conversations on Twitter, meeting at ISTE, and even completing bigger projects together.  It truly exceeded every expectation I had for it.  In March, I started a second alliance and invited new edubloggers to join in the conversation.  Again, I was introduced to incredible educators from around the world and truly blessed by the connections made.  Because I started the alliances, I felt an obligation to comment on each and every blog post of each and every member.  I think in the 10 months it has been going, I have commented on nearly every post (even if it was weeks later) with a few exceptions.  It has been an awesome exercise in learning and reflection for me.  I got several more requests for additional alliance opportunities for educational bloggers and created the iLearn Technology Edublogger Alliance social network on Wackwall (now Wall FM).  Between the alliances there are almost 400 members! Something I couldn’t have anticipated or expected.  As a result I find myself facing around 380 posts to comment on every day.  Those are not the only blogs in my reader, I read many more that are not part of the alliance.  You can see why this is becoming a problem.  In my N+1 fervor, I have taken on more than I can physically do in the hours of a day. N-1 It is time for me to really prioritize.  This is a stressful decision and not one that I am excited to make but, in order to keep doing other amazing things, one I have to make. I will no longer be commenting on each and every edublogger alliance post.  Whew, hard just to type that…makes it real.  My OCD tendencies are fighting this hard   What does this mean for the edublogger alliance?  Nothing really, I hope that we will continue to encourage each other in our blogging and teaching adventures.  I hope that we will still comment and retweet each other’s posts like crazy.  I still plan on reading each and every one of your amazing posts (I wouldn’t even know where to begin cutting down my Reader).  I am just giving myself permission not to comment on EVERY post.  I hope that in the last 10 months, those of you involved in one of the alliances were encouraged in your blogging.  I hope that my comments caused you to want to comment on another educators blog and encourage them.  I would love for everyone who reads my blog to join the edublogger alliance and commit to commenting on a blog every week.  Comment when you have something to add to the conversation, comment because you want to let your favorite blogger know you appreciate them, comment when you notice no one else has.  Maybe I’ll make an “I comment” badge for those of you who commit to commenting for you to post on your website What will I do now that I have made that N-1 decision?  I will join conversations on Twitter again (I feel like I have been MIA lately).  I will work on and teach a virtual class on digital storytelling.  I will work toward starting a school and making #Twitacad (Twitter Academy) a reality. I will blog.  I will walk alongside schools as they work to integrate technology. I will publish lessons. I will offer professional development. I will read. I will cook. I will teach my puppies some new tricks.  I will figure out where my next N-1 should be so that I can find a breakthrough.

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Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents!

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 30-08-2011

Tags: , , , , , ,


We had an incredible first week at Anastasis Academy.  It was amazing to see all of our hard work come together in the form of a student body.  Walking through the classrooms this week it was obvious: this is a place of learning.

One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus.  Since we are a one-to-one iPad environment, this seemed like a good beginning for everyone.

We learned that to make a stylus, we first had to find some soft, conductive material.  A Google search informed us that we could use conductive foam (the kind that is used to pack electronics), conductive thread, conductive yarn (we thought this would be PERFECT for our pens but couldn’t get any delivered fast enough), or a Scotch Brite sponge.  I was a little skeptical of the Scotch Brite (it just seemed TOO easy) but it worked like a champ!

The kids had fun exploring how the yellow, soft part of the sponge would draw on the iPad when they held it in their hands.  Some of the kiddos were a little baffled when they put the sponge into the plastic pen body and they found out that it no longer worked.  Students added a little wire and soon the pens were working again!  It was a great way for all of the kids to experiment with conductors and insulators.

Below are the steps for making your very own $0.10 or less iPad stylus.

*I bought a pack of Scotch Brite sponges, cheap, penny pens from a local office store, and a small roll of craft wire.  We made about 50 pens for $6.00!

1.  Separate the Scotch Brite sponge from the abrasive green backing.  Cut the yellow sponge remaining into small wedges.

2.  Take the ink out of some cheap plastic pen casing.  Drill a hole near the head of the pen with a small drill bit.

3.  Cut 6 inches of wire.

4. Tightly wrap the wire around the small end of the sponge wedge.

5. Thread the sponge through the head of the pen (our pen head separated from the pen body).

6. Bend the end of the wire farthest from the sponge into a 90* angle.  Thread this into the pen body and through the pre-drilled hole.

7.  Pull the wire through the drilled hole and wrap it several times around the pen body.

8.  Cut the exposed end of the sponge into desired pen-nub shape. 

9.  To use the pen, make sure that your hand is touching the wire at some point. Draw or write with your stylus!

The kids loved making their own stylus.  There was a lot of talk about perseverance (when we tried to thread the wire through the small drilled hole), conductivity and exclamations of “I did it!”.

It was a wonderful exercise in frustration and success.  Every student was proud of their finished product that actually worked!  Students learned about conductivity, perseverance, insulation, and building with every-day materials.

One of our students, Benton, made a short stop motion animation with his pen…you can see it below:


Now for our next trick- working with @ianchia to figure out how we can construct conductive manipulatives that work with the iPad.  Should be fun!

Comments (24)

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus! Source: ilearntechnology.com […]

Fantastic learning opportunity, and very clever too. Can’t wait to try it!

[…] Kelly Tenkely does it again at iLearn Technology. […]

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[…] they put the health sponge in to the plastic pen body and that they found out that it no…Read more… This entry "iLearn Technological innovation?? Blog Archive?? Make an individual iPad Stylus […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology This entry was posted in Tech and tagged DIY, Stylus, Tablet by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents [iLearn Technology] Tagged:clever usesdiystylus […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter or Google+. Article source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/j2uk0-7zPZg/build-your-own-tablet-stylus-on-the-cheap-with-a-ballpoint-pen-and-a-spongePosts Related to Build Your Own Tablet Stylus on the Cheap with a Ballpoint Pen and a Sponge [MacGyver Tip]7notes for iPad Lets You Take Notes On-Screen with Your Finger [Video]iPad: If you've been waiting for a utility that finally lets you take notes on a tablet screen like you would a piece of paper, …Today’s LinksThe Birdy Is a Super Simple Budgeting Site That Records Your Purchases Via Email [Personal Finance] If you appreciate the need for budgeting and tracking …Samsung Galaxy Note May Revive the StylusRecommend: 0 Comments Print By IDG News Service, PCWorld   Sep 1, 2011 2:30 PMBuild Your Own Grid-It Tech Organizer in a Vintage Book [DIY]Grid-It organizers are versatile gadget containers we're really fond of, but this DIY version wraps that modern organizing goodness into a vintage book for a …Report: Amazon 10-Inch Tablet Production Starts Early Next YearAmazon CEO Jeff BezosProduction on a 10-inch Amazon tablet will begin in the first quarter of 2012, while a 7-inch slate from the company will …Did you like this? Share it:Tweet […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter or Google+. […]

This is great! Are you worried at all about the sponge slipping up into the pen leaving a hard edge that might scratch the surfaces of the iPads? Thanks for sharing your activity and instructions. Sounds like the students enjoyed it. I think I’ll give it a try!

[…] Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! via iLearn Technology […]

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! RT @ianchia: Kids at @TeamAnastasis making their own iP*d Stylus for less than 10 cents http://t.co/alKTkUl #mlearning #slide2learn #ipaded #iear #edapp… Source: ilearntechnology.com […]

Not worried about the sponge slipping up because of the way you wrap the wire around the sponge it really isn’t possible for that to happen.

[…] a cheap disposable pen, some wire, and…yellow sponges…don't believe me, check it out here – iLearn Technology – Cheap iOS Stylus Patrick Share this Do you know somebody else who would find this post interesting or useful? […]

[…] this step-by-step tutorial (inspired by iLearn), we’re going to show how to make your own capacitive stylus that you can use with […]

[…] http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=4221 – Using pen, foam and wire – geared to kids […]

Great tutorial guys, we were doing some research into how stylus’ are made for the iPad and found this enlightening article. Definitely going to have a play around with this.

It it is. Super cool but I tryed it a different way I used pen wire and sponge then I took the sponge hooked it on to the pointy part wrapped a wire around and then it was finished way better than anything you should try this. Thanks. Bye

[…] constructing a styles from foam, wire, and an old pen. Students at Anastasis Academy made with own iPad styluses for less than 10 cents using a sponge and […]

[…] community together for some activities.  Our first year, students worked together to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti […]

Gummi worms work, too. Really!

Sponges are made without he brillo.

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