We Made It! Mentor Team Make Week

Making It in Brooklyn: Webmaker Mentor Team Make Week in Brooklyn

This post penned by the entire team and cross posted at http://explorecreateshare.org

Last week we had Mozilla Mentor Community team members from Toronto, Germany and New York City together for whirlwind week of making, plotting, talking (some talking is OK!) and of course, etherpad spawning. Here’s the overview from Day 1.


A fun Mozilla NYC dinner (with special guest David Ascher) at Rucola followed by raucous debates and night caps at the Nu Hotel, we had renewed vigor for Wednesday. Early in the day we revisited our Task Board and giddily moved sticky notes to track our progress–from “Make” to “Making” and some to “Made!” We also set up our projects for the day and were joined by teammates Beatrice Chen (Hive NYC and Mentor team archivist extraordinaire) and Julia Vallera (Hive NYC and Mentor team educator/superhero).


We spent time exploring how sites and communities like Mentor Mob might make our Activity Kits and resources more visible and remixable. We honed in on MOOC and Maker Party plans and messaging. We also reviewed a mentor badge  assessment tool that Chloe Varelidi, Jess Klein and Atul Varma have been working on, and outlined the process and criteria by which mentors will earn badges and benefits on Webmaker.org. Leah and Kathryn led day two of a design charrette with Hive Toronto to gather input for Toronto’s RFP process. Through this facilitated process, they ended up with many a white board filled with thoughts and diagrams. By the end, they had articulated – in draft form – Hive Toronto’s core beliefs and had building blocks for the application process.

Guide to Wednesday’s Makes:

  • Mentor Mob Webmaker playlists
  • Julia prototyped building an Activity Kit in Thimble, Knowing Your Neighborhood
  • We continued to hone our Maker Party 2013 messaging–it’s a global party to celebrate all the things we can make thanks to the collaborative power of the web!
  • Met with Open Badges team to feedback and iterate on peer assessed badges
  • Laura shipped a color version of the #teachtheweb MOOC user experience infographic 
  • We shipped the job description for an open position in the UK to run webmaker events, build community and talent scout for Hive London (know anyone good?)
  • Shipped our thoughts and messaging about the upcoming #teachtheweb MOOC–in short: Learn how to teach digital literacies, master webmaking tools, develop your own educational resources, and take what you learned back to your communities and classrooms.http://webmaker.org/teach
  • Laura, Michelle and Matt shipped the Mentor badges brief


Our focus on Thursday was all about making connections and interacting directly with webmaker constituencies: Hive NYC members, Super Mentors and Parsons New School students investigating Webmaker futures.


We took a break from the Brooklyn office and made an excursion into the city, starting the day at one of the city’s most venerable institutions, The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), for the April Hive NYC meet-up. We heard from Ruth Cohen, Oscar Pineda-Catalan and Barry Joseph about their previous Hive-supported projects, and learned about some of  their current youth programs that range from melding Minecraft with museum exhibits, creating next-gen audio guides, building virtual dioramas, recreating iconic artifacts using 3-D fabrication, and of course, assessing work using digital badges. Next, Vee Bravo from Tribeca Film Institute,  reflected  on some of the challenges and lessons learned while planning and implementing the Rikers Island Digital Media Lab, an Oct 2012 Hive Digital Media Learning Fund collaboration, with a focus on teaching digital storytelling to incarcerated young women using video editing, letter writing and other simple strategies.

Kathryn Meisner from Hive Toronto and Leah Gilliam from Hive NYC shared some quick updates from their design charette with Hive Toronto members earlier in the week. Stay tuned for a separate blog post with more details coming soon!

Then we officially kicked off Mozilla Open Online Collaborative (MOOC) planning with 40+ Super Mentors! It was such a thrill to have this engaged community of folks from Bank Street College of Education, Mozilla Reps, EPIK and others around the world, who are so enthusiastic about helping us and others teach the world the web. We took advantage of this unique opportunity to try to get to know one another’s interests and to discuss goals, logistics and roles for the MOOC. We’ll have another call this week and the official course begins next Thursday, May 2. We put together this Super Mentor Twitter list so you can follow these brilliant minds, and of course, if you haven’t yet, please sign up to participate at webmaker.org/teach. Full details about this will be coming to this very blog very (very!) soon.

DSC00143We then headed downtown to Parsons The New School to provide feedback to students in the  Designing Webmaker Futures Collab taught by Hsing Wei and Lisa Grocott. All semester, they’ve been examining Webmaker.org and webmaking as a phenomenon, specifically thinking about products and communities, designing solutions and exploring areas of interest. Most importantly, they’ve been “futurecasting”—identifying what Mozilla does now and how they might improve upon it in the future. Our team paired off and met with each of the four groups of students discussing projects, ideas and providing feedback. We participated in activities ranging from card games to expand user concepts of problems and solutions, to making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a way to measure soft skills.


It made for a fun and lively discussion, and our team was pretty impressed by the group’s conversations—particularly in terms of the depth of their research and designs. We left the students with lots of feedback to consider and specifically requested that they look for connections between their projects and ways that they could help inform one another’s work. With over seven Mentor team members assembled, it was important to impress upon them how Mozillians work together while also working apart. We look forward to having them present on an upcoming Webmaker call! Until then, you can see some of the documentation from their course here.

That busy day called for a visit to Shake Shack! Then we had a mini-caravan to the Catskills complete with cross-caravan sms-based gaming. We reached a gorgeous lake house in Ferndale, NY, where we’d spend the next day and a half maintaining our momentum in mentor-making land. Needless to say, we brought our task board and scrum methods with us!

Guide to Thursdays Makes:


DSC00177Friday morning we woke up early so that we could do some emailing before speaking with Brett Gaylor of Product Management and Popcorn Maker fame. We then beamed his head onto a wall and discussed Mentor Community Team needs and wishes for the next iteration of Webmaker. org and the Webmaker tools. All in all it was a super productive conversation in which we had the opportunity to fully explain our vision for Mentor Makes and how it ties in with the development of the product.

We also had a meta discussion and breakthrough on the idea of Hackable Kits. Leah, Julia and Laura began the discussion of how they, as educators, create various types of learning plans, curriculum, activities, resources, etc. They confused each other with differing use of various words. So Laura and Julia went into a back room and focused on speaking the same language. In their session, they decided to ditch the use a bunch of different words and streamline the process for making a hackable kit. Then they decided to MAKE the mechanism that will allow Webmaker Mentors to easily create hackable kits. A series of templates was born.


Laura and Kathryn were the first to try out the paddle boat meeting format. Gliding around the lake, they figured out the basics of a train the trainer workshop happening for Toronto Hive members in mid-May. Their successful and productive meeting led to more paddle boat one-on-ones including a Hive Mega Mindmeld with Chris, Leah and Kathryn.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 5.58.21 PM

We also chatted with Erica Sackin about the job description for a Maker Party campaign manager (to come) and planning for yesterday’s White House Science Fair, where two teens from Hive NYC and Hive Pittsburgh showcased their projects, AND where we officially announced the Maker Party campaign!

Guide to Friday Makes:

Day 5

While we were wrapping up the final day of our work week, Hive Toronto was in full pop-up mode running the NASA Youth Space Challenge at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum.) This member-initiated pop-up brought together six Hive members to create interactive stations for over 100 youth. For a first peek at how the pop-up went down, check out Maker Kids’ blog post.

Guide to Saturday Makes:

  • Shipped updated copy and thinking to webmaker.org/teach
  • Shipped/filed bugs in regards to our Hackable Activity Kits and Badges
  • Had some great car ride home conversations about Mozilla, Mentors, Hive and general world domination

Much of this will be iterated on and announced before and throughout the course of the Maker Party campaign. Until then, we look forward to seeing you at the Maker Party!


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