STEMming the Gender Gap

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.30.45 PMAs has been recently reported the gender gap in the tech industry persist in 2015 – we see Hamlin Girls as an essential part of the solution to closing that gap.  On December 4th Hamlin girls will be learning off campus.  They will be visiting one of 18 participating locations with the goal for students, at all grade levels, to see, interact, and learn from dynamic women working within the San Francisco tech industry. 

We hope that over time these experiences and exposure will help us in our goal of STEMming the Gender Gap within the Bay Area tech world and beyond.   

Where we will be learning:

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Learn with our girls on this exciting day by following @hamlin & #STEMgendergap

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Ecuador Pen Pals …

reposted from the Hamlin School’s Global Citizenship Blog:

Letters1This is the second year that our 7th and 8th grade Spanish students have exchanged pen pal letters with Middle School students at Fundación Colegio Americano de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. Last year, Middle School Spanish teacher Alison Trujillo was introduced to Alexandra Colina, a Humanities teacher at FCAQ, by Mark Picketts, our Director of Educational Technology.  Hamlin Spanish teachers and Alexandra are helping their students connect in an authentic and meaningful way.

Alison explains that personal connections with peers are of utmost importance to a Middle School student, especially when learning about one’s place in a global society. “Our pen pal exchange gives students an opportunity to connect and learn about one another’s lives: What is your partner’s daily life like? What music do they listen to? How did they spend their vacation? How do they describe their family and friends? This is the foundation upon which we, as global citizens, begin to develop empathy, understanding, and a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of other people around the world.”

This school year, students will exchange about 5 rounds of letters. All of the writing is in Spanish. This gives the students at FCAQ an opportunity to practice writing skills in their primary language, and Hamlin students the chance to write in Spanish for an audience. Hamlin girls say that they love hearing about popular music and movies in Quito. They visit YouTube immediately after hearing about a new singer or band to see what’s popular in Ecuador!

When asked about her students in Quito, Alexandra Colina says, “We are reading a book that takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, so our kids were thrilled to get the chance to talk with someone their own age from a place they have recently learned about.  I find myself constantly answering the same question, ‘No guys, they haven’t responded just yet. Be patient!’ They eagerly await to hear back from their Californian friends!”

For more information about Fundacion Colegio Americano please visit:

To read Alison Trujillo’s engaging blog “Life Translated,” please visit:

Common Sense San Francisco Teen Panel Discussion

It was standing room only this morning @Hamlin School; we were honored to host the Common Sense San Francisco Teen Panel Discussion.


The event was opened to San Francisco’s Common Sense Media Supporter Schools and a packed group of parents listened as Bay Area Director Dana Blum asked the panel about what it is like to be a middle schooler on October 21, 2015 – or “Back to the Future Day“.  Their responses were honest, clear, thoughtful, and at times surprising – we could not have had a better panel of students – thank you.  This week’s focus for Digital Citizenship week has been – it’s time to have the talk and Hamlin’s hope is that today’s panel will start a discussion in classrooms as well as homes.

The session was highlighted by not only this Huffington Post article on the tables as participants arrived, but also with this video:

examples of the many ways technology can be used to “fill buckets”

For the parents who could not make it this morning an audio recording is available here:


It was also a great day to announce that @Hamlin has gone beyond being a Common Sense Media Supporter School and yesterday was recognized as a Digital Citizenship Certified School.  As our vision is that “all Hamlin faculty are #digcit educators” recognition is shared and celebrated school wide.  That said, there were also six teacher leaders who were simultaneously recognized as Digital Citizenship Certified Educators for 2015-16: Ms. Brown, Ms. Davis, Mr. Dworkin, Mr. Lengel, Mr. Picketts, and Ms. Windell – thank you for your thoughtful guidance and work to ensure our girls are ready to meet the challenges of their increasingly digital times.

Check Out 2nd Graders New Pet: the Finch

Carnegie Mellon’s Finch robot and UC Berkeley’s Snap! drag-and-drop
programming language have made robotics a little more accessible to
our younger students. In our second grade STEM class, the girls have
been using Snap! to program their Finch robots to move, turn, change
colors, and make noises. First, we created mazes out of blocks and
programmed the robots to move through those mazes. We then added
parameters to the mix, changing the speed of the motors, the color of
the LED, and the notes played by the beeper. Using those new blocks,
the girls choreographed a “song” and “dance” to perform in front of
the rest of the group.

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MS Staff Meet the Riveter Lab

On Friday the technology team welcomed the Middle School staff into the Hamlin RosieRiveter Lab to get a look at some of the tools that are in the space.  Our hope is that they can begin to envision integrating these tools into their lessons.  We strive to provide cutting edge tools and know how enabling Hamlin students to demonstrate their understanding in innovative and new ways.

Staff arrived and after a brief introduction they went to learn more in depth about 2 specific tools.  Staff self-selected their sessions and attended two of: 3D printing, Arduino, laser cutting, video production and editing with Green Screens, Circuit Scribe by Electonink, or Autodesk’s Project Ignite platform.  Staff were engaged and using the tools in a hands on way.  We look forward to inviting staff back to the tools knowing that the more they use the tools, the easier it will be for them to see curricular connection for their students.

The Riveter Lab … a community resource

The newly opened Riveter Lab on the second floor of historicHamlin Rosie Stanwood hall is a space and resource that brings together (rivets) the entire school.  This has been a message the tech team has worked hard to communicate with faculty and students in both lower and middle school.  We also have been vocal in regards to welcoming faculty and staff to be trained on using the array of tools in the space.  That is why we were so happy to invite the Development Office and the chairs of this year’s golf tournament into the space.

They were looking to create a video, highlighting teachers that would outline Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 11.20.02 AMthe goal of the “Raise the Paddle” fundraiser – to support our Professional Development fund.  The team was trained on using the iOgrapher equipment, our green screen, and DoInk’s Green Screen app.  They filmed the staff and used the app to create this video:

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Pretty good for a first attempt!  Like anywhere good news travels fast and it was only moments before the chairs of the Golf Tournament contacted us requesting to sign out the necessary materials to create a “photo booth” hole at the tournament.  This would allow the tournament committee to take pictures and place them on creative backdrops for display at the tournament’s dinner.  Here are some of the unmodified “green” shots:

We don’t know if it was the fantastic video or the exemplary cajoling of the division heads, but the Raise the Paddle was a huge success and the entire faculty will be attending this year’s NAIS conference.  We feel so fortunate to work with families who recognize the ongoing need for teachers to grow and improve their craft.

NewsELA lands in Hamlin Lower School

Lower School Staff learn from NewsELA training team

Lower School Staff learn from NewsELA training team

On Monday I introduced the @Hamlin Lower School staff to NewsELA.  I did so with the help of NewsELA’s trainer Nicole Boyle.  Truth be told, the staff was really introduced to the tool by Nicole who led a quick and informative webinar that walked the entire staff through the system.  What is NewsELA you ask?  Well according to Sofia in first grade:

“Its like a newspaper but its written just for kids.”

Truth from the mouths of babes.  In fact NewsELA is a site that reworks non-fiction text and publishes it at a variety of Lexile levels.  This enables teachers to assign articles that share current content to students at a variety of reading level; thus ensuring that students have an equal opportunity to read the information with understanding.  Or from their site:

Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that’s always relevant: daily news. It’s easy and amazing.

I loved being invited in to Ms. Burstein’s first grade classroom this morning and hearing the students read about a baby Rhino sanctuary in African.


Lower School Staff meet the Riveter Lab

On Friday the dedicated and dynamic @hamlin lower school staff were introduced to the Riveter Lab.  The space, refreshed but familiar welcomed them and then they quickly got to work.  Our time was spent being introduced to the new and exciting tools housed within the library, seeing some of them in action, brainstorming how they could be used to help the girls bring their dreams to life, and then a heated competition: to build the highest free standing structure they could using Keva Planks and Strawbees:

We’re really proud of the accomplishments of these teachers and the fun they had … but it seems we were a ways off the world record:

Board Trustees Hard @ Work

Do these @hamlin Board members look like they’re working?

Board trustees try their hand at fourth grade Lego robotics activity.

Board trustees try their hand at fourth grade Lego robotics activity.

Well they most certainly are; working and learning!  The tech team welcomed school board members into the @RiviterLab to learn a little bit more about what would be happening in the rejuvenated space.

The team thought the best way to do this would be to get the board in the space and using the tools.  The board heard some introductory comments about the space from Director of Technology & Innovation Mark Picketts before being divided into three groups.  The first group explored Circuit Scribe by electroBoard members wrestle with electricity as they attempt to draw circuits using CircuitScribe.ninks and worked through an introductory activity housed within Autodesk’s Project Ignite toolkit.  The second group worked with Middle School Technology Integration Specialist Jim Lengel as he walked them through the process his first trimester 3D digital arts students are experiencing: building laser cut lamps.  The third group engaged with Lower School STEM coordinator and Integration Specialist – Caroline Windell and worked through the identical lessons some of their 4th grade daughters had completed earlier in the day – an introductory investigation on movement with the Lego EV3 robots.

The slide deck that introduced the Board to the space highlighted the space as one shared by all students, introduced our partnership with the Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park site, as well as let them know the things on our: Today, Monday, and Someday lists:

A time laps of the 20 minute introductory session:

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Innovation with Stability …

They’re NOT mutually exclusive!  The tech team @Hamlin has been working hard to transform the school from one with pockets of innovation to one that has innovation has a pillar of its culture.  We do so under a stable mission statement that we work with everyday, that mission:

The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.

Innovation often involves the use or adoption of a new idea or behavior.  It can absolutely add stress – it’s hard work to keep up with a moving target.  We need to keep up, for our students – and the “target” is moving faster today than ever before.  The dynamic educators at the Hamlin school work joyfully after this mission, and we are blessed to work with such a dedicated group.

In addition to the stability of our shared mission the Hamlin staff also enjoys stability through the technology team.  The stability of this team is an important calming factor to staff as new initiatives are rolled out.  The team has worked to gain the trust of the staff.  Teachers know that the tech team – all educators – has thoroughly vetted initiatives and will differentiate training to meet them where they are with respect to any new roll-out.  We’ll also go at a pace that doesn’t add anxiety.  I feel grateful for the 100% return of the technology team here at Hamlin (pictured) and look forward to a year stable innovation.


The Hamlin tech team aka: el equipo A