FREE library of Shel Silverstein activities & games!

What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of  “The Giving Tree” (My absolute favorite book in the ENTIRE world!) than with FREE games and activities! Shel Silverstein is still creating imaginative playscapes for children to explore. There are drawing booklets, event kits, lessons and activities for the following books:

The Giving Tree

Don’t Bump the Glump!

Everything On It!

Runny Babbit

Any many more 🙂

All of these literary resources are available on the website shelsilverstein.com. Share the gift of the most precious technology in the world…IMAGINATION!

Stay Tuned!

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Removing Corporate Attitudes from Community Conversations

Building community partnerships is not an easy feat. There is no universal recipe doling out the perfect measurements for meaningful relationship building. Nevertheless there are a few basic ingredients that are crucial to cultivating a progressive rapport between stakeholders. This notion became even more prevalent to me at a recent meeting where myself and a colleague were meeting with an independent consultant interested in partnering with us. He had spent most of his career working in Corporate America successfully (according to him) building the capacity of the organizations that he worked for. After retiring from the competitive private sector he felt compelled to be an advocate for youth entrepreneurship. I in no way doubt that this individual was sincere in his desire to empower young people through structured opportunities, exposure, and sustainable skill building and retention. Unfortunately his good intentions were overshadowed by his inability to demonstrate an understanding of humility and communal reciprocity. How could this conversation have been better and more productive you ask? Well here are my humble suggestions:

  1. Inclusive Dialogue: Create an atmosphere where both parties are engaged in a reciprocal conversation about mutually beneficial endeavors. One sided conversations do not breed collaboration.
  2. Researched Suggestions: Don’t come to the table with suggestions that aren’t in alignment with current organizational goals. That makes it seem like there is an underlying agenda.
  3. Turn Down the “Corporate”: Aggressive tactics can come across condescending and brash and builds an environment of mistrust.

There are plethora of successful corporate-community partnerships that work. I am inclined to believe that those relationships work because there is a meaningful transparency between both parties. A mentor of mine once told me that “Relationships are primary and everything else is derivative…”. In other words one cannot discount the importance of genuinely getting to know your potential partners. Remember relationship building cannot be replaced!

Stay Tuned!

STEM Resource Highlight: Learn to code for FREE @ Codecademy

Computer science has traditionally been perceived as an enigmatic field. We imagine “The Matrix”  minus the cool slow motion cinematography and instead see someone (usually a man) slouched in front of a computer. This dull figure awkwardly hunched over a keyboard staring at a screen  filled with incomprehensible letters and symbols scrambled together. Fear not!  There is a place that one can venture to and learn the mystery behind digital machine speak.  That place is Code Academy.  Recently our youth digital literacy program integrated coding into our curriculum and the outcomes were interesting. Now we didn’t have lofty expectations that our students would master this skill within a few months. The goal for us this past year was simply exposure and an opportunity to demystify the notion that one has to be a computer genius to acquire this skill. So what was the verdict at the close of the program?:

  • Give them lessons and they will code
  • Make challenging content relevant
  • Learning code sets them steps ahead of their peers
  • Youth like computer science they just don’t know it 🙂

This coding phenomenon is swiftly picking up speed as the new go to skill set. How is this mundane computer skill so cool all of a sudden you ask?  Well here are a few reasons why: Facebook, World of Warcraft, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. All of these digital hubs run on CODE! Once you spill the beans on that youth definitely want to know more  because then it becomes more relatable and less abstract.

What else should one know about the infamous code?! Currently there’s much support  and push within the education arena for exposing minorities, youth and women to learn how to code. Here are some awesome organizations already dedicated to doing so:

Black Girls Code

Silicon Harlem

Microsoft YouthSpark

Girl Develop It

LEARN HOW TO CODE

If you’re looking to learn more about the power of code then check out this cool video form Code.org. Watch it! Share it! Like it! Learn it!:

If you want to learn to code yourself or are interested in getting someone else hip to this new digital trend then click the link to Codeacademy.com to learns for FREE 🙂

Stay Tuned!

What is a Makerspace?

What is a “Makerspace” you ask?

“A Makerspace is a learning environment rich with possibilities. As new hardware and software tools for making, digital design, and fabrication are emerging, we’re working together — with teachers and community leaders — to place those tools into the hands of a wider audience.” (Makerspace.com)

Why should you know about them?

They are great creative spaces where youth can engage in hands on activities and bring their imagination to life. Makerspaces give youth a chance to step away from the “screens” (i.e. computer, phone, tablet etc.) so that they can BUILD 🙂

This movement is so popular that the White House dedicated a day spreading awareness about it. Take a look at the inagural Maker Faire at in D.C.:

Where can you find a Makerspace in the Triangle?

NCSU Hunt Library 

BetaVersity

SplatSpace

How can you create your own Makerspace?

Get some ideas from the Maker Club Playbook created by the Young Makers program.

Now get to making 🙂

Stay Tuned!

 

Teens, Tech, Ethics & Debate

“STEM”, “Code” and “Innovation” these are buzz words that have been thrown around freely with regards to tech education initiatives for youth. Schools and afterschool programs are encouraged to immerse young people in digital everything. However as they are being groomed as future leaders in STEM we cannot forget to talk with youth about the power they wield as innovators.

Periodically I am asked to teach class for our digital literacy program. I always really enjoy getting the opportunity to engage with our students because my goal is to both challenge and empower them. So I decided to have a discussion with them about the importance of considering the ethics of technological innovation. The presentation Technology & Ethics Debate centered on the students:

  • Defining & understanding the concept of ethics
  • Applying an ethical lens to their perspectives on technological innovation
  • Discussing both the negative and positive impact of modern technology
  • Debating ethics of the “CopWatch” App (Learn more about it here)

CopWatch App

For the debate I divided students into two teams. Group one took the position of the local police department (not in support of the app), argued potential negative impact on police-citizen relations, and argued that police should control the information recorded by the app. Group two took the position of the citizens (in support of the app), argued the potential positive impact on police-citizen relations, and argued that citizens should control the information recorded by the app. They were given 1 minute arguments and 30 second rebuttals for each each point of discussion. Once the floor was open they excitedly debated each other and even carried the conversation all the way out of the classroom when it was time to wrap up!

It is not often that we ask students what they think or to educate us. In a classroom with a diverse set of personalities including quiet, disruptive, and outspoken students it appeared that everyone was eager to be heard that day. So what did I learn? A few things:

1. Young people love the question “Why?”

2. Youth know more about the world than we give them credit for

3. Debate is a very useful and engaging teaching tool

4. It is important that youth learn difference between “arguing” & “debate”

As we move forward in this EduTech revolution it is important to remember that we do so with activities that promote raising critical awareness. It is easy for educators and institutions alike to become solely consumed with exposing youth to technology without also building a rapport with them about the impact of innovation. The principles of ethics should be an integral part of all EduTech curricula.  Doing so will ensure that we are cultivating a future cohort of conscious creators!

Stay Tuned!