I recently got a chance to reconnect with Curtis Monette, Deputy Campus Director and Technology Lead at the Citizen Schools campus in East Palo Alto, who was one of the educators who attended my first RemixEd event back in August 2012. Curtis and his team created TimeStampz, a tool that helps streamline communication between school day and after school educators, and took home the “Best Tool for Teachers” prize. Since then, Curtis and the TimeStampz team have been testing and refining the product with the 13 educators and 150 students at Cesar Chavez Academy. I spoke with Curtis to see how things have been progressing over the past ~6 months.
What is TimeStampz?
Timestampz allows teachers and staff to efficiently track attendance for students in our program, as well as their progress towards homework completion for the day. It allows us a administrators and teachers to look at trends in attendance and homework completion by student, by class, and by grade level at any given point in time without having to actually go into the the class room. This helps us be more efficient with observations and feedback for both students and teachers on our campus. The first shift teachers are also able to input homework for their students and see their progress.
What was your experience at RemixEd?
I had been thinking about this communication and tracking problem many of us faced at Citizen Schools for a while and was excited to pitch the idea for TimeStampz at RemixEd. Attending that event gave me the opportunity to meet a few developers who were in the final weeks of the DevBootCamp program and were looking for new project to work on. Our combined energy and skill sets were exactly what I needed to begin building this product. By the time the school year started it was ready to test out, so we started using it with the students and educators.
What has it been like sharing that experience and this product with the educators in your community?
The teachers are happy because they can easily assign homework ahead of time, streamlining that communication that populates out to all the students. Students like that all their assignments are in one location. While I mainly use it on my iOS devices, we intentionally designed a web-based product, which is device agnostic, so that we can share it with all the teachers and students in our community. It is currently only being used within the Citizen Schools network, however, I have received interest from other after-school/out-of-school time programs but need to think through sustainability before scaling to other providers.
Where do you want to see it go from here? What support do you need to get you there?
Working on TimeStampz has inspired me to learn more about other platforms and programming languages. What would be most helpful is having access to other people and resources, especially mentoring and financial support to test it out while staying in the classroom. TimeStampz is a fully volunteer run endeavor right now with each of us balancing this on the side of our full time jobs. However, we are extremely inspired by this work and would love to have more energy and resources to devote to it.
It has been exciting to see the continuous energy from our first RemixEd event and hear directly from educators on how they were impacted by this unique experience to connect with developers and designers to prototype their vision. There are several similar efforts to empower and connect educators and hackers:
- 4.0 Bay Area Lab Cohort: An effort to extend their successful flagship program from New Orleans to the Bay Area
- SLC, backed by Gates Fdn, has hosted several Camps (edu codeathons) across the country. Their first Bay Area event took place a couple weeks ago and future camps will take place in North Carolina and Austin, TX @ SXSW Edu.
- Startup Weekend Edu helped launch this trend, hosting their first education focused events back in Summer/Fall 2011.
- There are also several events geared more towards students, like Hack the Future, whose next event is April 20, 2013 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
TeacherSquare is in the process of planning additional RemixEd events this year throughout the Bay Area, so keep your eyes open for that news as well as additional teacherpreneur spotlights like this.