On May 16, Stine, Kalyani, Linda, Ira, and Allison and I went to a middle school in Baltimore City to meet with their principal and staff as well as Elizabeth Napier, who serves as technology specialist for Baltimore school libraries, to see if we could move the WikidGRRLs curriculum forward in that school. We had an extremely productive one-hour meeting, during which Stine and I delivered a new version of our presentation summing up the content and potential of WikidGRRLs, and our faculty mentors and FIA leaders and we had a meaningful and open dialogue about the possibilities for the workshop to take off in this school starting in the Fall. The school is in the process of applying for a 21st century grant next year which will enable them to have a partnership with the YMCA for after-school activities, one of which could be WikidGRRLs. There is a plan for me to go to Baltimore one more time in August to “train” any potential future teachers, to go through the curriculum with them in detail and to iron out any additional problems that might remain. We will keep you updated on the progress as we really hope this can work!
We learned a lot during this meeting, for instance about the process of integrating our curriculum into the needs and specific context of this school. One thing we were told is that it could not work as a regular school-hours activity if it is only for girls, since the girls and boys can not really be separated during those hours. We had a general feeling that the staff thought it would be worthwhile to share the workshop with boys as well – in that case, we might call it WiKids. These are options to think about for the future, although Stine and I did emphasize the benefits for girls of having this workshop exclude the boys (thus enabling the girls to feel more like experts and not be constantly challenged by the boys’ inflated sense of self-confidence).
Since I am an idiot who forgot to take a proper picture of the meeting at the school, here is a picture of two of our WikidGRRLs core team members, Kalyani Chadha and Stine Eckert, posing in front of an extremely cool old-school car.