To Belong

Glen Luecke Sp16c 80By Glen Luecke
Student at Kapi’olani Community College
University of Hawai’i

Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I realize I’m comfortable with who I am and, more importantly, where I came from. I didn’t always feel this way. At the age of nine, to quote C.K. Williams, “Weightfully upon me was the world.” I had just started to accept that my father, who had left a few years prior, was not coming back. My mother, burdened with the task of raising four kids, did her best to provide for us. School had become my sanctuary, the one constant that I grew to love.

Over the previous four years I had built up a cadre of trusted friends, and, when needed, I discovered that I could pick up a book and be transported to places that I knew I would never see in person. That changed in 1974 when, in the fourth grade, I was accepted to attend the school on the hill. Not knowing how I would fit in with the privileged few, I tried my best to remain invisible, pretending to belong.

Kam Kapalama

I screwed up. I knew it the moment I heard the crack and felt the snap in my pocket. I kept my anger in check and remained seated, not wanting to draw attention. I slowly lifted my white shirt away from my waist, hoping no one would notice my movement. The dark blue dot stared back at me and began to spread on my khaki pants. A wave of shame started in my gut and slowly crept toward my chest. I reached into my pocket and with two fingers gingerly extracted the broken pen. The tip had snapped and was barely attached by a sliver of sharp plastic. Thick blue ink coated the barrel. I ripped out a piece of folder paper to hide the evidence. The stain on my khakis had grown to the size of a quarter.  Continue reading

Wearable Tech on Your Preschooler? Technology Education and Innovation for Children

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

Updated 7/29/15

Catherine Cook School just hosted the first annual IDEA:TE (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art: Transforming Education) conference June 23-26. The School’s Director of Innovation, JD Pirtle, talks about best practices for encouraging teachers to integrate technology into everyday classroom practices.

Please explain the purpose and some of the highlights of the IDEA:TE conference.

JD Pirtle, Director of Innovation, Catherine Cook School

JD Pirtle, Director of Innovation, Catherine Cook School

The impetus behind the IDEA:TE Conference came after having dozens of conversations with educators at many other schools here in Chicago, and with educators nationwide. Many of these teachers, librarians, technology coordinators, and administrators had been tapped by their heads of school to create and staff “Maker” labs or innovation hubs. Not only did these educators lack the expertise necessary to run and maintain the many machines and opportunities that an innovation lab necessarily includes, they were struggling with creating engaging and effective curriculum utilizing emerging and traditional technology. In response to this, I initiated the IDEA:TE conference to provide hands-on workshops led by experts in a variety of disciplines, such as 3D printing, computer programming, and textile arts, who come from teaching backgrounds ranging from elementary schools to graduate school.

It was enthralling to see such a diverse group of educators learning together. Rather than sitting through days packed with lectures, attendees were actively involved. From making interactive, laser-cut Arduino powered tea-lights to hand-sewn laptop cases, these educators had intense, hands-on experiences that are replicable in their own classrooms.

Attendees at IDEA:TE create hand-sewn laptop cases in the textile arts workshop.

Attendees at IDEA:TE create hand-sewn laptop cases in the textile arts workshop.

Workshop presenter and Catherine Cook 1st grade teacher Kate Herron demos ScratchJr for an IDEA:TE attendee.
Workshop presenter and Catherine Cook 1st grade teacher Kate Herron demos ScratchJr for an IDEA:TE attendee.

A 3D printed ring designed by an IDEA:TE attendee.

A 3D printed ring designed by an IDEA:TE attendee.

From recording and editing music and audio, to sewing wearable technologies, and even creating furniture using laser cutters and 3D printers, Catherine Cook School integrates a diverse set of technologies. Can you share some best practices from different classrooms?

In our innovative work with students and faculty, we engage almost exclusively in project-based learning. There is no “tech time” or pulling students out of the classroom for tech class. Each aspect of Catherine Cook’s IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art) program, which begins in preschool, is woven into the curriculum and is cross-disciplinary.  Continue reading