Category Archives: news & commentary

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!

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Off and running, er, scratching!

Wow! So my plan today was to introduce the new unit to our TechSperts: Internet Safety and Scratch. We began with ending our previous unit by giving out excellence in photography and photoshop awards to each student, as well as a color print out of their completed photoshop project. Then I began to show them examples of the Scratch projects that the TechSperts did last year, to give them ideas about what they will be making…and instantly…HOOK…we were in Scratch on the projector and a student stepped up to show her scratch skills she learned over the summer and next thing I hear “Can we try this now? I have so many ideas!! I know what I wanna do!” and each one was on their way. They played around with the sounds, costumes and scripts for about 20 minutes, and then ended with their first blog posts here.

I had intended to instead move into the Netsmarts UYN presentation and activities. We will begin the next lesson with that so by the end of Day 2, they will have internet safety tips to design their games about. I like the flow!

A TechSpert programs a ballerina to rap on stage using Scratch!

A TechSpert programs a ballerina to rap on stage using Scratch!

Snow Days and Updates

Since we have returned from Winter break, we have had a snow day every week! It is difficult to get into a rhythm. The snow is piling up outside on the streets of Boston  but we are cozy and safe here at the Renaissance School.

There is SO very much going on! We are preparing for the first ever STEM Fair on June 9 – a day to celebrate the integration of technology into Science, Social Studies, and Specialty classes, Ela and Engineering, and Math. Every class will participate by showcasing a project that integrates the “T” for technology into a core subject area. We will have a school-wide celebration for our students, staff, their families and guests! It will be a wonderful day to show each other and our community members and partners how we have been learning with technology. We have ipod, ipad, and macbook mobile labs. We have Audio/Visual systems in the classrooms. We have a Kinder Robotics program, a CSI Team, and a Green Screen Radio News Show…and more! I hope everyone enjoys their chance to shine on June 9!

I am also participating in a research project for the EDC¬† to help evaluate the use of Scratch in lessons to develop computational thinking among youth. My TechSperts will be creating Internet Safety games using Scratch, and their reflections as well as mine throughout the project will be posted here. So look for the “scratch” tag and follow our project…!



Originally uploaded by msradden

I set up a Google Apps for Education account for our school back in June 2010 and began using it at first with my IT Department team. It transformed our meetings! We went from printing copies of an agenda and one person typing notes and emailing the doc to the team afterwards, to zero printed copies and each person simultaneously typing notes into one document in real time, with no email follow up needed. So then we introduced it to our TLT team of Lead Tech Teachers and began with a simple project: create a class page for your students. They were WOWed! I was challenged prior to the training to find a solution for teachers to be able to create shortcuts and bookmarks for their students on the fly using the restricted student profile. Google Docs was the answer! And one teacher loved the cloud so much, she made me “Gookies” the next day!


A renaissance of the Renaissance

It feels like September has come and gone in a flash! The Boston Renaissance School has opened its brand new doors in Hyde Park successfully! I have been VERY busy getting the brand new technology in place in the classrooms and labs, including the Audio/Visual equipment, laptops, and wireless. I am excited about my Instructional Technology team and the opportunities that our teachers and students will have with our support! It is time now to focus on professional development and curriculum.

Additionally, I have been redesigning the school’s web site (finally!). I am excited to launch it this week! I spent the last two months adapting a wordpress theme (Atahualpa 3) into the site by carefully selecting the right plug-ins and widgets, and converted the old content into the new structure. I included a channel to showcase our students’ video projects, a Google Calendar to keep school-wide events communicated to parents, and set up a news blog that, combined with twitter and tagging, features a “hot topics” and “announcements” section on the home page that syncs with our Facebook profile. With the school Google account, I also set up a Picassa web album to maintain the web site’s images – it has made embedding photos into posts very easy! I also used wordpress blogs to maintain the Kids’ sections of study tools and make the interface more “kid-friendly.” Any day now…check back here!