Friday, February 12, 2016

Conferencing with Your People

Although the title suggests that I attended Comic Con, I did not actually attend Comic Con. I did, however, recently attend the OETC (Ohio Educational Technology Conference) in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

There's something about attending a conference of your PLN - especially those you don't see face-to-face very often. I know many of these folks not just through professional reputation, but also through Twitter chats and a frequent response for help. It's good to have an actual conversation from time to time. These are some amazing and talented people, my PLN!

Attending a conference with your people is energizing. I left the second day mentally exhausted, but professionally re-charged! The Greater Columbus Convention Center was full of 4,000 educators whose dedication, hope, and positivity reminded me what a noble profession I have chosen. "Teachers touch eternity through their students." ~ Freeman Hrabowski. True that...

Each year that I attend the OETC conference, I pick a focus. This year, I decided to extend my enthusiasm from The Hour of Code, and attend sessions to support my growth in being a Computer Science Evangelist.

It all started in December of 2013. I acted as the Pied Piper for a small number of Dublin Teachers into the first year of The Hour of Code.  December 2015 marked our third year of participation, and the number of "student hours" spent in coding activities has grown exponentially. The Hour of Code has become my thing.

A highlight of the conference was getting to hear Hadi Partovi, the Founder and CEO of, and the founder of The Hour of Code.

A quote that struck me was "How can we change the stereotypes without changing the facts on the ground." Hadi Partovi continued to talk about the discrepancy between girls and boys entering the field of Computer Science. As a woman, I want to encourage girls to jump into computer science with both feet and love it as much as I do. I know girls are just as capable as boys. Loud and clear was the message that coding is more than cryptic text on a page. Yes, it's about logic, patterns, sequences, and conditions. But it's also about working together to solve a problem. It's about communicating and collaborating.

So what now? 
I will continue my enthusiasm, encouragement, and support in The Hour of Code, and provide activities and resources for students who want to continue growing their skills. Next year's students potentially have been participating in introductory activities for 2 or 3 years. We need to have more "stretch" in our offerings for them. That is certainly a nice problem to have!

Dublin is adopting an LMS in the fall. I gathered a ridiculous amount of valuable resources that can be included in a course for intermediate and middle school students. How can I include collaborative activities for students outside of the online environment?

Several "Girls Who Code" clubs have started around the district. As much as I'd like to believe that girls don't need a club separate from boys, the data does not support that. Understand it or not, I'd like to provide girls some opportunities to build their foundational skills and confidence so that they may pursue computer science in high school and beyond.

I want to make a difference.

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