Reimagining Curriculums with Technology Integrated Classrooms

Computer Science Education Week – CS Hero

Computer Science Education Week is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field.

I had the honor of being chosen as a CS Hero for their classroom poster series and share how my work at Xbox is helping to keep young players and their families safe on our platform. Checkout the entire cohort of CS Heroes and download the posters here. Thank you to CSEdweek for the honor of joining this incredible group of problem solvers!

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Debug Summit

On December 8th, 2021 I had the honor of being part of Debug Summit, and share my current thinking on my team's work related to keeping children safe on the internet. See the advertised description of my talk below:

Debug Summit Agenda - Meenoo Rami

Throughout my talk, I tried to share my thinking on how this work can be done while keeping young people centered in the experiences that we are trying to improve, one concrete example of this is, to perhaps involve young games/players/users involved in the games reviews we produce to guide parent's decisions on the platform.

There were numerous questions about how use user research in our work and how the pandemic has affected the way we've involved parents and children's voice in our work. Overall, it was a great summit and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my current thinking.

Queer spaces matter in tech and I am committed to being an ally to all those who I met virtually and champion their voices in the work we do everyday.

I look forward to attending the next Summit from Lesbians Who Tech.

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Dapper Scout For Kirrin Finch

This post was originally posted on Kirrin Finch's Dapper Scout page, I am honored to represent their excellent work.

Feeling and Looking Good In The World Of Tech and Education

Meenoo Rami(she/they) is an author, national board certified teacher and a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft helping education, nonprofit, and government organizations to accelerate their digital transformation. Meenoo also worked as a teaching fellow with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where they led the portfolio to help teachers refine their practice through collaboration. We chatted with Meenoo about life as a teacher and what it's like to work in tech as a queer, gender non-conforming person.

WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING IN TECH, A MALE DOMINATED FIELD?

Tech can be a lonely especially if you, like me, are an outsider - South Asian, Non-binary, Masculine presenting person. What has been helpful to me is to intentionally seek out mentors, sponsors, and communities like Lesbians Who Tech, who intentionally create opportunities for folks like me to find each other, mentor one and another, and share knowledge and opportunities. I am grateful for my mentors inside and outside of Microsoft who have also helped me to get a wider perspective and add to my skillset as a leader.

AS A SEASONED TEACHER, HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECH?

Working in tech wasn't an intentional plan. While teaching my students high school English in Philadelphia, I created a network for English teachers around the world to share resources, ideas, and find support in one and another. Forty percent of teachers leave the classroom within 5 years. As a result I was inspired to write a book called, Thrive so I could provide a resource to help fellow teachers survive and thrive in the classroom. Some of this work brought me the opportunity to work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from there, I was asked to join Microsoft's effort to build world-class education solutions for schools and universities around the world. I feel lucky to do the work that puts students at the center of technological innovation.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED OVER TIME?

I would describe my style as minimal preppy. I like classic pieces that fit well, and stand the test of time. I don't follow trends or focus on brand names. Essentially, I look for items that fit well and make me feel like myself when I put them on.

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE WHILE FINDING YOUR STYLE?

Conversely, any gender non-conforming person feels the disappointment of being excited about a shopping trip or new item, that just doesn't make you feel like yourself. Finding your own comfort and power in how you dress is what I seek when choosing meaningful pieces.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE CLOTHES IN EXPRESSING YOURSELF IN THE WORKPLACE?

The old adage, first impressions do matter, and they get reinforced over time. Feeling great in what I'm wearing gives me the ability to feel confident in myself. It is invaluable especially when you're trying to influence outcomes, confidence in yourself is invaluable. For example, if I am giving a keynote speech there is a lot of pressure on the content, but people also make judgements about you based on what you're wearing, so it is important for me to look and feel good. The right fit brings out the innate confidence most people possess but don't get to express often.

When I feel good in what I'm wearing, I perform better.

HOW MUCH HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED YOUR WARDROBE CHOICES? HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR CLOTHING CHOICES CHANGING WHEN WE ARE ABLE TO GO BACK INTO THE OFFICE?

It has been hard to not get in a rut like most other people, but lately since I have been vaccinated, the weather is getting better, I have a renewed sense of hope and want to express it through my clothing choices. I will continue to look for ways to express my sense of style via video calls because they're not disappearing completely.

HOW TO CONNECT WITH MEENOO.

Instagram: @meenoorami
Meenoo's Book: Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching

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Let’s Read “Teaching Machines”: An Informal Book Club

Repost from Mary Beth Hertz's blog

This post is an introduction to an information book club conversation on Twitter centered around Audrey Watter’s new book, Teaching MachinesInformation on the logistics and how to purchase the book are below. Continue reading for some context around why we are excited to read this book

How it Started

When I first started my career in edtech back in the 2007-2008 school year, it was an exciting time for all of us blogging, tweeting and attending conferences about all of the possibilities that tech could bring to our classrooms. We shared ideas, took risks and tried to push the envelope around how this new “Web 2.0” could amplify student voices, give them agency and create a global community of learners. It felt magical. 

As the years passed and more and more schools began investing in technology, and technology and broadband became more commonplace in schools, it was clear that this magical feeling wouldn’t last. My computer lab was taken over for a month to drill kids on Study Island to prepare them for the annual standardized tests they would take in the Spring. Reading programs that required kids to sit in front of a computer with headphones on and click buttons became commonplace. Schools lauded the fact that now kids could type their essays and create slideshows to share what they had learned instead of turning in handwritten work or poster boards assembled with glue and scissors. This latter piece really only happened in schools with enough resources to provide students with this kind of access, which my school most definitely did not. Neither did any school I worked in for most of my early career. While many schools were teaching kids things like podcasting, video editing, and digital storytelling that allowed them to process what they were learning in completely new ways, others were simply replacing analog processes with digital ones or leveraging computers for “drill and kill” type programs aimed at improving students’ skills for standardized tests.

EdTech Now & Teaching Machines

I wish I could say that things have gotten better, but, well, that’s why Audrey Watters’ new book, Teaching Machines is so important. With the introduction of AI and Machine Learning and algorithms and the broad reach of the Silicon Valley mindset into edtech we are in a place where those of us in the field need to be conscious of how we got here and what, if anything has changed and what needs to change to ensure that edtech remains a way that lifts up student voices, helps them tap into their creativity and gives the avenues to help solve some of the massive societal and global issues that will permeate their adult lives. Audrey has always been that important voice re-centering the conversation, pushing back against the status quo and pointing out hypocrisy or practices that harm students rather than help them in the edtech sphere.

I haven’t read a physical book since last Spring when the world slowed down a little (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil–it was great). All of my reading is done these days is by audiobook. I knew, however, that this book was one that I wanted to hold in my hands and read. 

I also know that, realistically, my capacity to stick to reading on a regular basis is limited, so I enlisted my brilliant friend, Meenoo Rami, in an endeavor to hold ourselves accountable to finish the book and process it together. I figured I could probably manage a chapter a week.

When I presented this idea to Meenoo, she suggested that we share our informal reading club plan on Twitter to see if others would be interested in some accountability as well. So, here we are…

Reading Together

If you already have a copy of Teaching Machines, feel free to play along! If you need a copy, you can purchase one here. I got mine from Indiebound, since I am trying to avoid supporting Amazon at the moment. If you are interested in the book but aren’t familiar with it, I suggest you read this brief post of hers (and the longer interview linked there) to get a sense of what makes her voice so important in education.

We will start our informal book club on September 13 and read a chapter a week for 14 weeks (this includes the Introduction and the Conclusion). Throughout the week, we will use #teachingmachines on Twitter to share our thoughts about what we are reading. So far we don’t have any guiding questions or specific structure. Really, this is more about having a place to go to discuss or ask questions and to hold ourselves accountable to reading it closely. 

You can follow me and Meenoo and #teachingmachines for more info and to connect around the book. We’ll post more leading up to and on September 13th to remind you to start reading!

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Upcoming Events

National Conference on Education - Feb. 17-19

CS for All - PA Conference June 21-22