For me this was a weekend of remembering those who are no longer with us. The annual putting up of the Christmas tree brought a poignant memory of Bianca Ni Ghrógáin ….
… and hearing my dad’s favourite song on what would have been his 74th birthday brought it’s own memories.
Last weekend I spent Saturday in Limerick Institute of Technology at the CoderDojo Midwest MegaDojo event. The aim of the event was to encourage more of our young people to learn to code. There were lots of workshops on the day as well as some Tech Talks and a showcase event by local companies. The workshops were varied in nature and covered games development using the entry level environment Scratch, through Blender and Unity as well as Web Development, electronics in the form of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Micro:bit and not forgetting porgramming in Java and Python. There was truly something for everyone!!
I spent most of my day in the Beginners Scratch workshops before switching across to Beginners Web Development at the end of the day. For me on the day it was magic to watch as a smile crept across a face as a child as young as 7 (and even younger in some cases!) got a penguin to skate over and back across the screen catching presents on their merry way in the Scratch room, or created their own webpage resplendent with Christmas trees in the Web Development room.
What struck me very forcefully was seeing how many young girls turned up on the day … a true joy to behold 🙂
Usually when I’m working with the Youth Media Team at an event I don’t get to see much of what’s going on because we’re busy preparing for interviews, interviewing and writing up our account of what has gone on. Yesterday at SCoTENS (Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South) I made an exception on Conor Galvin’s recommendation. It turned out to be a very good recommendation to go to the Fighting Words workshop.
Fighting Words provides free tutoring and mentoring in creative writing and related arts to as many children, young adults and adults with special needs as we can reach. Our programmes and workshops are delivered mainly by volunteers. (ref: http://www.fightingwords.ie/about-us).
At the workshop we worked though a creative writing exercise aimed at Primary level. Sean Love from Fighting Words in Dublin led us through the exercise with Geraldine Wilkins from Fighting Words in Belfast documenting our story. Sean started by getting us to suggest a main character. With 3 potential characters (with names and foibles included e.g. Sarah who only ate yellow food) we then got to vote on which one we would choose. To vote we had to close our eyes to provide a secret vote. I have to say I just loved the idea – it was such an effective way of coming up with a main character, their friend, their ambition and their greatest fear. After we had chosen all of these in a similar manner, we began the writing process. The idea is to create the beginning a story that can then be taken in many different directions.
As I was sitting in the workshop it struck me that this might be a great process to come up with ideas for games or animations in Scratch in CoderDojo. Sometimes I find that the kids can come up blank when they’re trying to come up with ideas and I think this might kick start that process for them. Even the process of coming up with ideas as a group is very creative and might in itself provide enough to get kids over their initial lack of ideas.
Having seen a scaled down version of the process I’d love to see a full on workshop so thank you Conor for the recommendation 🙂
I’m blessed to be surrounded by women who encourage, support and inspire me. On this Ada Lovelace day I’d like to acknowledge some of these women and pass on my gratitude for all that they do. Women like Mags Amond, Susan Nic Réamoinn, Catherine Cronin, Mary Loftus, Leigh Graves Wolf, Pam Moran and Hellie Bullock. What started as an online connection with all of these people has, over the past few years, developed into real friendships that have sustained me through good times and bad.
I’ve been involved in CoderDojo and the Youth Media Team over the past few years. In both of these groups I have come across girls who inspire me with their sense of enthusiasm, fun and a dedication to get the job done.
I think it’s fair to say the future is in safe hands … 🙂
Of course a blog post about inspiring women wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the one and only Bianca Ni Ghrógáin. It’s a bit surreal to be referring to Bianca as someone who is no longer with us, because over the past few weeks I have felt her impact in so many events that I have attended, from DojoCon to Féilte to MegaDojo. Her legacy lives on in so much of what we do …
Caitlin and Chris interviewed Key Note speaker and psychologist Maureen Gaffney. Maureen spoke about the importance of teachers connecting with their students and also how she hopes the education system will do more for the wellbeing of teachers and students.
Click the link below to listen to our interview.
Caitlin and Chris,
As Amy came to the end of her time in Primary school in June, our conversations turned to her favourite moments from her 8 years in the school. What surprised me was the simple natiure of her favourite memory – her teddy bear’s picnic in senior infants. When I probed why this stood out she told me that Mrs. Fahy brought in a blanket, they got to go in ‘the field’ (previously forbidden territory), and they got jellies for themselves and their teddies. The icing on the cake was that she got to bring in ‘Trudi’ – her favourite bear 🙂
I’ve written this post as part of Julia Skinner’s 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups. You can find out more about the challenge here.
My week: a day at the races to celebrate my mum’s birthday, beautiful flowers and a trip to the cinema to see Inside Out