Connecting Scratch Educators in D.C.

By Willa Peragine, ScratchEd Team

On November 11, 2015, we held our first D.C. Area Meetup, generously hosted by the Scratch Foundation at their offices in Bethesda, Maryland.

We had over 20 educators join us from all over the D.C. area, with some participants driving over an hour to meet up with us.

In true ScratchEd Meetup style, we started the day with coffee, pastries, and an icebreaker that involved each participant drawing an original portrait and sharing three facts about themselves.

After perusing the icebreaker pages and mingling, it was obvious that our group was going to have a lot to talk about.

To get to know each other a little better, we did a contra-dance-style speed networking activity, sharing what we love most about our jobs, the pastry we would want to be and why, and a student who inspires us in our work. It was fun to learn quirky and compelling details about each other and our students.

Next up? The core of the Meetup: the co-constructed breakout sessions. After posting our wide-ranging ideas, we gathered around to collaboratively build the schedule for the day.

Based on the common themes connecting our interests, we decided on the following sessions: Intro to Scratch, Nuts and Bolts, Differentiating with Scratch, Video Games, After Scratch, and Storytelling.

As usual, it was hard to choose where to go for each session — they all sounded fascinating! Luckily, the “rule of two feet” (the EdCamp rule that you can come and go as you please from any session) took some of the pressure off.

For the next 90 minutes we engaged in all sorts of discussions and activities, from exploring the Creative Computing Guide, to more specific co-problem solving, like looking at students’ music projects and troubleshooting the timing issues they encountered.

There’s an marvelous phenomenon that happens when you get Scratch educators together at Meetups, and D.C. was no exception. Each session was abuzz with unique discussions, questions, and connections. We brought simple tools (post-its, tape, signs) and the Ed-camp-inspired structure but the Meetup came to life because of the participants.

Over lunch, we shared reflections and announcements, and everyone left their parting thoughts on a post-it.

As our first D.C. Meetup came to an end people lingered to keep talking and to exchange information. Many participants expressed interest in future meetups and a few people voiced their interest in hosting the next D.C. meetup!

Hosting the first D.C. Area Meetup was exhilarating and rewarding, most notably because all the participants were so eager to share and engage with each other. In just three hours this talented and generous group forged a new community of passionate teachers who care — deeply and in diverse ways — about supporting students’ computational thinking and creativity.

If you’re interested in hosting a meetup near you, here are a few resources:

We can’t wait to see where the ScratchEd DC Meetups go from here!

Learn more and connect with participants on the ScratchEd site.

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