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:

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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:

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

Introducing the Riveter Lab

Today Hamlin opened The Riveter Lab (@riveterlab) a dynamic research and design center housed within the Coreen 20150902_132307Ruiz Hester Library.

The great hall was standing room only and you could hear a pindrop as Wanda M. Holland Greene revealed the new space by cutting the ribbon and opening the doors, inviting parents to experience the space and tools their daughters will use as they build their dreams while bettering our world.

The physical shift in space marks a larger pedagogical shift that has happened at Hamlin.  We are no longer coming to school to “get information” instead girls come to Hamlin to learn how they can 20150902_090327use information to meet the challenges of their time.

The tech team thanks parents, trustees and school administration.  We know they see the Riveter Lab as we see it – a place where Hamlin girls can take their dreams … and build them.

Stop Motion capture from inside the Riveter Lab:

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All Aboard for #digcit

@Hamlin we believe all of our faculty and staff are Digital Citizenship educators.  We have developed an effective partnership with Common Sense Media as well as with our parents to provide intentional and co-ordinated instruction on how Hamlin girls can meet the challenges of their increasingly digital times.

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Our opening communication message to parents included the following kbfrom the site Toolbox coordinator – Karen Brown.

Digital Citizenship Monthly Theme: “Healthy Boundaries with Technology” 

This year the Middle School will have a monthly Digital Citizenship theme for our community members to think about the connections between the Hamlin Creed and our digital lives. September’s theme is “Healthy Boundaries with Technology.”

We hope you will be able to continue these conversations at home with the help of our monthly discussion questions.

  • What does it mean to have healthy boundaries with technology? 
  • How does this relate to use of technology for schoolwork and/or personal use? 
  • What boundaries with technology do you already have in place in your family? 

Please reference the Hamlin Student/Parent Technology Contract and our partner organization, Common Sense Media, for more information.

The Ins & Outs of Instagram

@Hamlin we talk a lot about digital citizenship (#digcit) and how it’s Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.25.06 AMeverybody’s business. Being a savvy digital citizen doesn’t only happen in technology class or at school, and may be most challenging when faced with media outside of the classroom.

This year we partnered with Common Sense Media as a supporter school and strive to be on the same page as our parent community – so the girls here clear messaging both in the classroom and at home.

Last Thursday a wide range of dedicated Hamlin parents opted to miss out on Game 1 of the NBA finals to learn strategies to help their daughters navigate the modern digital landscape.  They heard from Nicky Jackson Colaco and Elizabeth Shepherd (Hamlin class of ‘2001) from Instagram.

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click image for an abbreviated slide Deck

or here for the Notes taken by Middle School Division Head Rose Helm


Admissions … en español

We believe in student creation here @ Hamlin. Is there be a better way to “show off” your school than to show prospective parents what it looks like through the eyes of a student?  Señorita Powers and Señora Trujillo challenged their girls with that question and answered it for prospective parents who’s first language was Spanish:

From our interview with teacher Alison Trujillo:

What were your goals going into the project?

Mallory and I wanted to make an admissions video that would welcome Spanish-speaking families to Hamlin. We also wanted the students to practice speaking aloud and school-related vocabulary. This ties into one of the 7th Grade Spanish units.

What did you do?

We divided our 7th graders into 6 groups. Each group was responsible for creating a video in iMovie about one of the following topics: Location, Campus, Community, Academics, Arts, and Sports. We spent about one week brainstorming, planning, and filming. After the girls sent us their videos, Mallory and I put them all together in iMovie.

If you were to do the project again what (if anything) would you change?

-We would ask the students to refrain from adding their own titles in a video, as we had to take some out to create more uniformity.

-We would ask a few girls to volunteer to edit the overall video…maybe for extra credit. We definitely spent a lot of time on the edits and putting it all together. Some features of iMovie on the laptop were not intuitive for us.

When you reflect on the project what are a couple of moments that really “jump out” at you?

The students went above and beyond in this assignment. Their videos were very detailed and highlighted what they felt to be really important in our community. It was great to see the school through their eyes.

In addition, this project has a specific use. The girls were excited to use their language skills in a concrete way that benefits our school and prospective families.

rockets + observation = learning math ^fun


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From our interview with Ms. T-Z:

What were your goals going into the project?

The goal going into the project was to provide students with a chance to apply their knowledge of quadratic functions to a fun scenario beyond the walls of the classroom. A secondary goal is to give them the chance to “roll up their sleeves” and build something tangible from start to finish.

What did you do?

We start off by having students build the model rockets over a few class periods. There’s lots of measuring and scissors and glue involved, and in the end, the girls get to break out their extensive supply of markers to decorate their rockets with their own style! When we launch the rockets, the girls collect information about how high the rocket flew and how far away it landed from the launch pad. This information is then used to help determine a quadratic function that models the flight path of the rocket. Often, the reality of the rocket’s flight differs from what the algebra suggests, and we get to have a great debrief discussion about why that happens.

If you were to do the project again what (if anything) would you change?

Our urban environment provides some obstacles for this project. In an ideal world, we would have more space and time on launch day. It would be great to launch some rockets with different sized engines so the girls can get a better sense of just how high they can fly! It would also be nice to compare the parabolic motion of the rockets to other instances like hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball.

When you reflect on the project what are a couple of moments that really “jump out” at you?

The girls really love getting to build something. They have a great time putting the rocket together and decorating it to make it their own. There is also a lot of excitement around the launch itself. Lastly, the project circles back to so many ideas and skills that we address throughout the school year that it really ends the year on a positive note with many “Aha!” moments regarding the purpose behind the algebra concepts we have spent so much time studying.


Here is the worksheet that students worked through during the event - click for a PDF.

Here is the worksheet that students worked through during the event – click for a PDF.

Why I Blog … an educators perspective

If you’ve read many of my posts you will see that there are a couple core threadlines that travel through a lot of what I tend to write/talk/think about.  A couple that have Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.47.23 AMbeen particularly popular of late are: that Effective teaching is REflective teaching; and that we can move from a school with pockets of innovation, to one that has a culture of innovation by sharing what we are doing.  Personally, I believe that blogging  – with students, for your class, or in your “outside of school life” – can do both of these things.  Last week I received the email below and I was so excited by it, I immediately had to get permission to repost it here.  I feel incredibly blessed to work with so many dynamic educators, like Jill:

Dear Hamlin colleagues,
As many of you know, I run a few dance blogs outside of Hamlin. I enjoy writing, and it is something I can do on my own timeline. I call it my “10 pm project.” 🙂
(It costs me only $16 a month, and I write about one evening a week. I do a lot of front loading of work in the summers and during our breaks.)
Three years ago, I started the Life as a Modern Dancer Blog to become a living textbook in college courses about career paths. Three years later, here I am sharing the 100th artist profile. I am so excited to reach this milestone. During May, I had 2,400 reads of the blog! This little project has indeed taken off. I know that several dance departments use the blog, and it has morphed into something being enjoyed by dancers of all ages.
The blog has shared honest, heartfelt stories and opened up conversations about dancing, art making, and career paths.
There is a strong undercurrent about being a teaching artist – which still remains a largely underdiscussed topic in college departments, and this is one of my life passions.
To me, this blog serves as a way of giving back to the dance community and as my own professional development. I continue to learn and get inspired with each post.
I just wanted to share this – as I know that we all are frequently looking at the intersection of education and technology as well as arts and technology. Blogging is user friendly and shares information quickly and easily. Also, one thing links to another – so I maximize Facebook and Twitter to share these posts as well…..
Thanks for reading this and for your support of my various dance projects!

Parent Association & m@k3r excitement

The tech team updated the Parents Association on how the middle school library will shift in the new year.  We talked about how the tools mirrored a pedagogical shift well underway – the move towards student centered instruction and learning.
In an effort to model what we want to see, we then handed out MakeyMakeys with very few instructions and allowed the parents in attendance to wrestle with connecting the strange tools that had been put in front of them to the computer in an effort to play the bongos and piano.  The real magic happened however when a set of fourth grade students arrived and introduced the games which they had designed on scratch – while working through the CS First Curriculum.  The girls beamed to see their games on display and then took a moment to reflect on how their design would change based on the controller that was being used.
It was great to have so many parents in attendance and the excitement in the room was tangible.


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Launcher Game = Alison created a game that launches a sprite towards a finish line. For each point a player scores, a new enemy appears.

Instructions: Click the green flag to begin the game. Use the space bar, right arrow, and left arrow to move the octopus across the stage. Don’t let the crabs get you!

Cave Surfing Game = Sophia S
created a game with a scrolling background.
Instructions: Click the green flag to begin the game. Use the spacebar to move the dove up and down. Try to avoid the rocks.

Platform Game = Helena created a game in which a player makes a sprite jump from platform to platform using the arrow keys.
Instructions: Click the green flag to begin the game. Use the up and right arrows to get the knight to the princess.

Racing Game = Allie created a game that lets two players race against each other using keyboard commands.
Instructions: One player uses the up, down, right, and left arrow keys and the other player uses the w, s, a, and d keys to move the monkeys around the track. The first one back to the starting line wins!

Falling Objects GameJasminecreated a game with objects falling from the top of the screen.
Instructions: Click the green flag to begin the game. Use the right and left arrows to move the snowman and catch as many snowflakes as you can. Try to avoid the sunshine!