In the fall of 2013 I joined the South Fayette School District team as an outreach coordinator to share their STEAM computational thinking model with two other schools – the Fort Cherry School District and the Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS). This spring the MACS fourth graders shared their t-shirt creations with fellow students in third grade. Incorporated into the process were “badges.” The badges were used to reward students for their knowledge of key computational thinking concepts, personal skills like patience, and their awareness of career-related ideas. WQED covered the MACS project as part of its Learning Innovation series.
This year I helped to get edcampPGH off the ground with Lisa Abel-Palmieri from the Ellis School and Katie Bordner from City Charter High School. The edcamp movement has grown since its initial unconference in Philadelphia in 2009. Edcamps are ad-hoc gatherings based on educators desire to share and learn in an open environment. About seventy educators came together in April at the Ellis School to have extended conversations, discussions, and demonstrations on topics such as games in education and the possibilities of human-centered design.
I work with Zulama, a Pittsburgh based company. Zulama offers a game-based program for K-12 schools. I’m part of a team that provides professional development for educators learning about the Zulama Entertainment Technology Academy. In May 2014 I joined Bev Vailencourt and Mary Wilson, two of the other Zulama team members for a certified trainer session. Zulama has reached the point where there is a need for trainers not just in the Western Pennsylvania area, but around the country.
Scratch plays a key role in a number of projects where I’m involved. Scratch is the cornerstone for the STEM Studio Project that South Fayette developed. It’s also a key building block for the Digital Corps, a project created by the Sprout Fund with APOST for after-school programs in Western Pennsylvania. Through a grant from Google the Neighborhood Learning Alliance and its partner, the YMCA, brought this spring two members of the Digital Corps, to the Hilltop Pittsburgh CONNECTS Learning Center to work with kids in the neighborhood.