No, Kids…You Can’t Eat a Raspberry Pi and Other Lessons from Camp

“I really thought we were going to have pie this week.” – middle school student “I love this much more than I thought I would!” – 3rd grader “Wait, we really get to keep this? All of this? And never give it back?” – middle school student “Can we get one and build and learn too?” – high school student volunteer First, I have to admit that when I expressed a desire to teach kids how to “tinker” with a raspberry pi back in January, I had no idea how this would come to be, especially when my dream was …

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Makercamps, Hackathons and Equity: From Vision to Reality with Support from Microsoft

About six months ago, my superintendent presented me with the challenge of a lifetime. She asked that I dig into my creative hat and provide some form of innovative summer learning experience for our students. I may have researched and polled students for months before even expressing the first iteration of ideas…which have gone through a cycle of “rethinking” about ten times. Then, I met the Pantherbots, our Lufkin High School First Robotics team and everything changed. I watched them work alongside mentors for months, building and programming a robot from basically a box of scraps. I watched them create parts …

Two “Maker Moments”, Fear and Professional Responsibility

Two moments occurred yesterday that I hope to never forget. The first was when our district science specialist came into our office wanting to see what we were creating. She was so excited to see us integrating science into what most people thought was a “tech” camp for kids. We’re hosting maker camps this summer and in doing so will be teaching kids as young as first grade how to create with squishy and paper circuits to producing a hackathon for our secondary students. What made that moment cool was that as much of a self-proclaimed geek that I am, …

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Bringing “Maker Ideas” into Learning

When I was growing up, my mother was known to sew clothes every weekend. She made most of our clothes when we were younger and all of her own for years. She even made our prom dresses when we were in school. I grew up around her “crazy” ideas during school dance planning time. Think…Cinderella carriages and horses covered in glitter…all formed from wood cut in our driveway. For black history month one year, she even made a wooden President Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (I definitely questioned her on creating a wooden cutout of President Obama’s signature …

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Creating a Purposeful Environment for #CSforAll

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of being a part of two pivotal moments. The first was visiting Microsoft’s “Education Underground” and getting a tour of their “Garage”, an extensive makerspace for Microsoft’s employees to tinker and build. Weeks later, the second moment was being invited to the White House during #CSEdweek, to an event created to bridge educators with developers, creating platforms to help teachers teach and learn more computer science. It was at this event that US CTO Megan Smith, walked in with “tools of making” and challenged us to think not just about coding alone but …

Blogging, Challenges of POC in Edtech and #EdtechBOC 

Earlier this week, I shared a post centered on lack of diversity of online Edtech spaces and in the days since, many conversations were had amongst my POC in Edtech peers about our own experiences and contributions.  Theses kinds of conversations, the difficult ones meant for private POC spaces,  are necessary in order to push and support growth amongst each other. When I started to look for Edtech blogs written by techs of color, it was alarming to learn how many weren’t writing and sharing our  work. There were some, but not many.  It made the argument about our missing …

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CSforALL Through The Eyes of a Former Student, Current Computer Science Major

A few months ago, one of my former students, Saul C., added me on facebook. He is now at a University here in Texas and after a few exchanges back and forth…more or less, him learning about my current work versus my former math teacher life, he told me that he was majoring in computer science. Our reconnection happened at a time when he was applying for a scholarship for future hispanic engineers. He didn’t even need to ask. Of course, I wrote it. Just to provide a little background, Saul was in my geometry class. He sat quietly to himself …

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Let’s Stop Celebrating Non Racial or Cultural Diversity In Edtech

It’s odd to me that some view the questioning of our ceremonial norms, like non-diverse “best of” lists, “all male” or “all white” panels, as a slap in the face to those being lauded as the “go to” voices of Edtech. Why do we have such a problem with understanding the need to have a wider lens on the messages being circulated in this educational space? Do people really not understand the power structures of how this Edtech world works? Really?? I hate that I needed to write this blog and to be honest, I tried to ignore this very …

Thoughts On Listening, Voice and Empowerment

When I started working in Lufkin, one of the first things that I did, before any decision was made, was getting to campuses to listen and talk to teachers. I remember feeling so nervous but I also knew, from being a voiceless classroom teacher, that this step was an important one. It was during a meeting with our high school teachers that I learned about some of our digital infrastructure issues. They could tell you exactly where in the building one could connect and the places where connectivity was weakest. These statements are what drove more in depth research and …

Marketing or Growth: What Does It Mean to Be An Innovative Educator?

If you want to see corporate marketing at its best and worst, look no further than edtech created “educator honors”. These technology based programs that label and badge teachers as “ambassador”, “innovative”, “distinguished” or “certified” are considered “honors” within the education field as entry into these “elite” programs often represents a teacher who is not only doing brilliant work for kids and communities but also contributing to education both nationally and even globally through the sharing of that work. (As expressed in documentation created to promote the program) In addition, with professional development opportunities often incredibly lacking in districts, these programs …