Author Archives: LisaKate

Women hold up half the sky. – chinese proverb

Half the Sky

I am reading Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn and I am not through the introduction and I am floored. Just read this quote:

“The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine ‘gendercide’ in any one decade than people were slaughteed in all of the genocides of the twentieth century.”

It is staggering – more than 2 million girls disappear in this world every year – to human sex trafficking, to selective abortions, to deliberate neglect and a lack of healthcare and education. The rights of women and girls all over the world has emerged as the paramount human rights problem of this century, and Half The Sky is an awakening to us all to do something about it.

I am continuing to read but did pause to visit the web site and within just a few clicks was brought back to Facebook to the Half The Sky Movement – The Game, and in just a few more clicks, I was learning through play about the oppression girls and women face, and found myself able to donate books and food after completing a level. That felt great! It may be a small contribution, but to go from reading such overwhelming facts, it felt good to be able to do SOMEthing so soon and so easily. You can too!

Related Resources:

Learn Launch 2013

I was able to attend the first day of Learn Launch 2013, Across Boundaries: Innovation & The Future of Education ( This was an opportunity for entrepreneurs in elearning to meet and discuss not only the impact of online learning on the K-12 classroom but to also engage in a dialogue about the challenges of making that impact on the K-12 market. The entrepreneurs present at M.I.T. consisted of over 400 investors, educators, students, and developers.

The overall feeling of the day I was there was that this is an exciting time to be involved and invested in K-12 elearning. With the ever increasing sharing of knowledge online, the Internet enables education to be free, open, remix-able and customizable to the learner. Students who can learn anytime and who can get immediate feedback are better learners. Teachers become the “experts” whose content is accessible anytime to more students that he or she could have ever physically fit into a classroom. And with the emergence of better analytics in learning management systems that tie student success in learning outcomes with the teacher’s learning objects, now teachers can get immediate feedback and become better teachers.


Game Design Boot Camp

Game Design Boot Camp 2012I just spent the week at MIT learning not only how to design an educational game, but also how to teach how to either design a game and/or play a game that integrates into the classroom. About 15-20 educators and students were introduced to the Game Design ToolKit developed by the Learning Games Network, a spin-off of MIT’s Education Arcade. I met Kurt, Matt, Heather and Alex as well as four fantastic elementary school students who were on my design team. The camp was not a technical camp, so we did not actually make a video game using software such as Scratch, GameSalad, GameMaker, Activate, or Gamestar Mechanic. Instead, we spent the week exploring the topics typically taught in school that interested us, discovering the concepts that we wanted to teach back through play, creating a paper prototype of our game, and then sharing our games with the group for feedback during a play test evaluation, which we then incorporated into our final pitch presentation to a panel of judges. Although we had a deadline we did enjoy the 4 Freedoms of playful learning which are 1. the freedom to experiment, 2. the freedom of identity, 3. the freedom to fail and 4. the freedom of effort.

MIT Education Arcade and LGN Creative Director, Scot Osterweil, spoke to us about the 4 freedoms and the value of play in learning. “Play is not about rote memory or survival/skill building. Play is not just amusement, but learning how to engage with the world.” Playful learning is all about having the freedom to make mistakes, to fail, and to learn by trying again and explaining how you solved the problem.

Peter Reynolds, founder of Fablevision and pattern with LGN, also visited us and reminded us “Don’t get stuck on making it look right, get the idea out, and let it be ish.”

Finally, Kate, Karen, and Rene from Fablevision’s FabLab walked through how they approach game design to help us with ours. Stick to the rules when sharing ideas:
1) Find the FUN!
2) NO idea is bad!
3) Write everything down!
4) Brainstorm by talking and sketching

And follow these guiding questions:
1) What is your game story?
2) Structure and levels?
3) Game flow (how is your story told?)
4) Reporting/data
5) Interface
6) Look & Feel
7) Reality (pulling back, testing, and seeing what works and what doesnt)

My team and I chose to tackle science and to make it fun by building a role-playing adventure board game on Mars that poses environmental challenges that one would encounter on Mars if a human could actually go there. Players roll the die to advance around the board and chose scenario cards from the deck. Players could barter for tools and weapons and build up strength through acquiring new knowledge about Mars and its relationship to the solar system. After play testing and presenting…we actually WON best in Elementary class! Check out our game:

Game Design Boot Camp 2012

During the week I was also introduce to one of LGN’s beta games, Quandary, which presents moral dilemmas to young people in an effort to teach empathy, citizenship, and fairness to youth. I was actually interviewed and I think some of my quotes made it into their promotional video!!


iPads for Administrators

Today I attended an ISTE webinar with one of my colleagues at Boston Renaissance, the Lower School Director, Mrs. Bestgen. We attended a 1 hour session presented by Chris O’Neal on “productivity apps for administrators.” The webinar was only $39 for ISTE members, and a recorded version was provided afterwards for replay any time as many times as needed.

It looked like about 40 people from across the nation had signed on with us. I was eager to learn what their experiences had been so far with the iPads, which apps people were using, and more importantly, to see how my school’s pilot measured up.

I was encouraged to see that the apps I had been sharing with our principals and directors were similiar to those presented: Dropbox, Evernote, and QuickOffice Pro were the top recommendations. Chris also highlighted a few social media apps like InstaPaper and FlipBoard to help administrators keep up with news and announcements in their field.

In the chat box, a lot of people were asking about walkthrough and observation apps, which has been the primary focus of our use of iPads in administration. So far, we have been using TouchNote with a stylus to annotate a walkthrough form and a Belkin bluetooth keyboard to type up notes. From the chat box, and from Chris, we learned about a number of apps and other methods people have been exporing: eCove is one we have looked at. Users in the chat room listed a bunch including: GoObserve, Observation 360, TeachScape, and ISTE’s iCot.

Most of these are out-of-the-box data collection apps, and so schools would not be able to customize the forms to match their evaluation forms. Google forms, however, allow users to make their own forms, however the data is saved into a spreadsheet that is not easily printed or formatted, with no reports that I know of to run through the data in a meaningful way. Still, I have found our current annotation system a bit too complicated in terms of the number of steps involved, and writing legible notes with the stylus has been challenging! It is clear that we and many others across the nation are still piloting their methods!

I did share my Pinterest boards of the favorite apps we have been using in both our adminstrative and special education student pilots. We have distributed 1 iPad to each Special Ed department (OT, SLP, Resource Rooms, and ESL), and 1 iPad to each administrator in the school. You can check out my findings here:

BTW…it feels good to be blogging again!! I admittedly havent done much more than tweeting in the last year. And I think it may be time for a new look to my blog, too!

Thank you for registering for the ISTE Webinar, “iPads for Administrators,” presented by Chris O’Neal. You can access the recorded Webinar at

Visit Chris’s wiki for lots of great information and resources at and the livebinder he created with Susan Brooks-Young at

He also recommends these sites:



You can reach Chris at