Dear Organizers...

Working with our wonderful team of organizers (you all!) for the past two years, a question I often hear is: How can I help my meetup participants—both new and returning—learn more about Scratch, while honoring the freedom and playfulness of our meetups? I recently had the joy of attending the San Francisco ScratchEd Meetup in January. There, I got a taste of one way we might address this question as a network.

After brief introductions, participants at the SF Meetup wrote their breakout ideas on sticky-notes, shared them with the schedule builders (in this case, the organizers), and sat back at their tables. Then, a surprise: Rather than going right into breakout groups, organizer Bill M. invited participants to spend 20 minutes creating an About Me project on Scratch. With a special table dedicated to new Scratch educators, participants got right to work. Simultaneously, schedule builders focused on creating breakout groups. After 20 minutes of creating, Bill invited participants to walk around and share feedback through comment cards.

Many participants enjoyed having time early in the meetup reserved for making. Regardless of skill level, it gave all educators something tangible—a project, idea, or activity—to take away from their meetup experience. I loved the sense of gratification I saw from educators as they commented on each others' cards. It was a learning experience that exemplified personalized learning, creating, sharing, and reflecting.

What's more, the activity fit in perfectly between introductions and breakout groups and it felt like a fun invitation rather than a requirement! Overall, I felt that the making activity added additional texture to the meetup experience. The light-touch scaffolding complemented the self-directed nature of the breakout groups, offering participants the opportunity to experience the benefits of both approaches to learning. 

See the SF About Me projects here!

What do you think?

How do you support hands-on experiences with Scratch at your meetup? How do you balance facilitating whole-group experiences with participant-directed breakout sessions? Share your ideas on Slack!

Monthly Making Activity
In the spirit of bringing more making into Meetups, each month I will share a network-wide making activity. This month, we're starting with About Me
I invite you to integrate this activity into your Meetup however you see fit!
Make This!
In 20-30 minutes, create an About Me project that introduces yourself to the Scratch Educator Meetup Community!
Share Here!
Share projects for your Meetup in the ScratchEd Meetups Studio, and see all the awesome projects from the San Fransisco ScratchEd Meetup.
From One Organizer To Another
We love the approach to feedback and reflection that groups like Richmond, San Francisco and Boston have used in order to support educators in both reflecting on their Meetup experience and voicing their suggestions for how to improve it. 
  • PadletJoe and Kristin of Richmond asked participants to fill out a padlet which was framed through the prompts: Summarize, We like, What if?, We will. View or remix this for your meetup here
  • Post-Meetup Survey: Bill and Bryan of San Fransisco also used a random name picker to select prize winners for anyone who filled out their post-meetup survey, which you can view and remix here. This was both exciting, and great motivation for participants to fill out the survey! 
  • Google Slides: Janet, Rosemary, Natalie and Ingrid of Boston use this template to encourage reflection. Change the questions and remix the templates each time! Add color or GIFs as well, as many did in SF!

Share your tips on the #allthingsmeetups channel!
Meetups In Action!
January was an awesome month for Meetups. You all hosted a total of 9 Meetups, engaging over 180 Scratch Educators across the globe! 
February Meetups
San Marcos, TX: 2/2
Chicago, IL: 2/5
RI/SEMA: 2/12
Belo Horizonte, BR: 2/19
Bologna, IT: 2/23
Sagamu, NG: 2/23
Adamawa, NG: 2/23
New Meetups: We are excited to welcome The Netherlands, Groton, MA, and  Adamawa, Nigeria to our Meetup family. Welcome, Chris and Hans (NL), Audra, Heidi, and Deb (MA), and Saad (NG)! You can find them on Slack to say "Hi!" 
In the spirit of creative and playful learning,
Making Meetups Happen! is a monthly newsletter filled with ideas and inspiration
for the ScratchEd Meetup Organizer Community

The Scratch Educator Meetups Network is a project of
the Creative Computing Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
13 Appian Way, Cambridge MA, 02138
This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
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