Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hour of Code 2015

Today and yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending my day at Lu's awesome Boston Public School, the Philbrick, teaching the Hour of Code. Thanks to my employer EMC for making this opportunity happen with volunteer days and for their generous grant of $5,000 for technology to support learning at the school. I also want to thank our amazing science teacher Erin Flynn for allowing me to spend time in her classroom.

Kids as young as age 3 up through 5th grade enjoyed the challenge at their own ability level. This year, the kids had the choice to code using Star Wars, Minecraft, or Frozen. See last year's writeup for details about Blockly, the graphical language the kids learned to code in.

With the new movie coming out, the Star Wars game was a big hit.

Minecraft was very popular with all of the classes.



Last year's favorite, Frozen, made a special guest appearance in science class.

The games really were fun and neat. But the kids' concentration and focus, especially in the lower grades, astounded me!


The hour of code has quickly become my favorite STEM outreach activity. Technology is so fundamental to our, and especially our children's lives, that being exposed to it at a young age is crucial. I urge you to give it a try in your local school or community. It's quick, easy, fun, and so rewarding! Please check out the hour of code's website to get started.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

11th Annual MA Conference for Women

This was my second trip to the MA Conference for Women, the largest Massachusetts-based women's conference. It was a misty, grey day but the weather did not dampen the enthusiasm within the convention center.

First up were morning keynotes. EMC's Erin McSweeny, EVP of HR, helped kick off the day. We started with an entertaining panel of Tim Gunn of Project Runway and Sophia Amoruse (who was refreshingly authentic and unscripted). I really enjoyed hearing Adam Grant's take on givers and takers, including specific tips on how givers can get ahead. Specifically I appreciated hearing his idea that you should block your giving time in your calendar so it does not overtake the rest of your schedule. He emphasized the importance of givers taking care of themselves too.

Mayor Marty Walsh spoke about his commitment to compensation equity.

Next were the breakout sessions. Panelists Jody Adams, Melody Lee, Anita Santos, and Kathryn Schoenborn-Sobolewski spoke about courage and innovation. They gave examples of when they stood up for themselves in their careers despite obstacles.

Next I attended a session that included EMC's ML Krakauer, EVP of business development. I've benefited greatly from ML's leadership at EMC, and was very interested in hearing about lessons she learned early in her career. She related an inspiring story when she taught several assembly line workers to read and add to enable them to adopt a program she wrote. What an excellent lesson that she took the extra time to investigate why her program was not having the desired effect, and then enabled her team to be successful.

Next was a lunch with 10,000 of my closest friends.

During lunch I had the opportunity to hear from Shonda Rhimes. As a Grey's Anatomy fan, this was definitely a highlight. I was surprised to hear her advice to turn your phone off between 7 pm and 7 am. If Shonda can do it, so can I!

I was excited to see in the program that a local mom blogger I know, Casey Carey-Brown, was going to be speaking. I attended her session and picked up some expert Instagramming tips. Instragram is just for photos, folks: keep the contests on Facebook! And also don't insta-share, go in and re-share your photos manually to Twitter and Facebook to increase their visibility. Casey also recommends not using a scheduler and just live posting your photos. But not 10 or more at once, spread them out.

I ended the day with an excellent, and did I mention free, coaching session that confirmed that my life's is heading in the direction I want it to go in for 2016! Here's to new adventures.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

STEM education for the win!

I just received some very exciting news! My employer EMC recently awarded several community service awards. I applied for one for my daughter's school, Philbrick Elementary in Roslindale, a neighborhood of Boston. They routinely face budget cuts and do not have a technology budget. So I was thrilled to hear that EMC has made a generous grant of $5,000 to support technology at the school! This will enable technical support for the teachers and staff, enabling the teachers to focus on learning rather than troubleshooting technology problems.

In addition, this grant will allow the Philbrick to purchase additional hardware to support parallel instruction in technology. Currently, the teachers do not have access to equipment if the laptops and iPads are being used in another classroom.

This grant will greatly enhance technical learning at the Philbrick. The staff, students, and parents at the Philbrick would like to thank EMC for this generous gift that will have a lasting impact for our students.

Facilitating the hour of code at the Philbrick last year

I'll be donating 2 volunteer days next week to teach the Hour of Code to the entire school. Come back on the 18th for a new blog post on that topic!