No doubt, most of you have read about several things in the News-Gazette recently, or heard things on the radio. I am not going to go into much detail, but do want to mention them because there is a lot happening. And this will just be scratching the surface.
TODAY: Craft Tech Fair Saturday at Kenwood (from Todd Lash)
I wanted to invite you to come play this Saturday from 1-3 at the Kenwood Craft Tech Fair. The event will include:
- Widgets and tools showcase (Fab Lab-Jeff talking to parents)
- Electronic cutters (Fab Lab-stickers, paper snowflakes, etc…)
- Graphic drawing tablets (Fab Lab-Photoshop or PaintTools)
- Raspberry Pi Mini-Computer Demo (w/ Adriana from Wolfram/ Tech Time)
- Scavenger Hunt of the Champaign Urbana Wiki (InfoCity)
- Photography Station (Erin Knowles, Parent Volunteer)
- Makey-Makey Music (Mr. Lash)
- Computer Hardware (Tech Time Volunteers)
- Scratch/Code.org Demo Station (Student Volunteers and Travis Faust (Tech Time Coordinator)
- Minecraft Lounge – Creative Mode
- Adult Computer Station w/ Printing
- Foam bracelets
- Holiday bookmarks
- Scratch board ornaments
- Holiday photo frames
- Snowman puppets
- Bags for decorating to take your items home ??
Equity and Civic Action at the high schools
First, some really good news: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-12-04/central-centennial-land-honor-roll-doubling-access-ap-classes.html
I thanked both Nicole Lafond and the school district administration/BOE for all their work towards this goal. This demonstrated an excellent collaboration to address real and perceived issues of access. These are not easy issues to deal with, and I am glad that Unit 4 is not shying away from them.
On that note, you have probably already seen/heard the news about the planned peaceful protest at Centennial, but just in case you have not:
Centennial Principal Greg Johnson sent a note to staff and parents that reflected these thoughts as well. There are obviously two sides to this coin; I am proud that so many students elected to voice their chagrin at the injustice in New York and Ferguson in such a manner as to convey a strong message while not resorting to needless violence and spreading more hate. However, on the other side of the coin there are those that take things too far for one reason or another. It is easy to repay hurt with hurt, but it is both better and significantly more challenging to respond with some form of love and/or forgiveness.
Imani Bazzell has been running a series called “Why Black Folk Tend to Shout” on WBCP 1580 AM. While I have not had the privilege of listening to this fascinating series, I appreciate that folks like Imani are getting these things out in the open and provoking discussion. Our prejudices damn us, and we need to learn how to live with each other.
UPDATE: Several related stories in WILL’s Illinois Public Media page, including a video of the car being driven among protesting students:
Additionally, Imani has responded to the City’s investigation into the student who damaged the vehicle’s window, and has posted this elsewhere (still looking for a link):
“Other people’s children”
At Thursday’s PTA Council meeting, three groups were featured that are proving assistance and aid to the needy in our school district. It was a heartwarming display of how people have a heart to reach out and provide essentials for those are lacking. The three groups were:
- Helping Hands
- Feeding our kids
- His Kid’s Closet
I strongly encourage you to learn more about these efforts, or any number of similar work going on in our community. For those that are already involved, I sincerely say “thank you” for all your time behind the scenes and doing what you can to improve the lives of the entire community.
April board member elections
As mentioned previously, I was aware of at least two efforts to form a slate of board candidates for the April 2015 elections. I am still seeking permission to post a number of private emails (being sick has dogged my efforts) as there are many fascinating conversations revolving around why individuals wish to run for the board. One citizen has already made a very public announcement via the NG last week. What strikes me the most is that there is a wide array of specific issues that folks are passionate about, it is seems difficult at times to find the common ground we all know is there. Aside from the “unofficial” news, the PTA Council is making plans to host a board candidate forum in April. I hope all the candidates are able to attend.
Hour of Code
The official Hour of Code begins next week, even though technically speaking, anyone with a web browser can start coding right now, either as a guest or after logging in to track your progress:
Kenwood has embraced Hour of Code as an entire school, and Mrs. Slifer’s 4th grade class at Carrie Busey will be participating as well. I am sure there are many other teachers/classes getting involved. The last time I visited Mrs. Slifer’s class (this past Thursday), we observed that the students are doing a great job of collaborating without even realizing it. For instance, a student will get an idea that will quickly spread like wildfire throughout the class, and pretty soon variations start popping up. It is really cool to witness. I must emphasize, the focus is not merely about using computers or “coding” per se, but exercising critical thinking and problem solving skills. The computers and the technology is merely a tool to help achieve this goal.
There is a lot more here, but I’ll have to save it for a dedicated post.