United States of Entertainment? United States of Hollywood? Read This Book!

Imagine an Education Nation: Six Leading Edges
By Milton Chen
My new book is just out, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools (Jossey-Bass). You can preview it on Amazon. In it, I pose this challenge: “Imagine an Education Nation, a learning society where the education of children and adults is the highest national priority, on par with a strong economy, high employment, and national security.”

The most important step in making an Education Nation a reality is not a greater investment of dollars, but a greater understanding of what this new educational system should look like. It will require bringing the many “islands of excellence” featured on Edutopia.org to the center of this nation, moving the edges of change to the middle.

So this book is my effort to “curate” the marvelous Edutopia.org collection of films, articles, and multimedia features from the past few years. I’ve organized this collection according to what I see as the six “edges” of innovations redefining schools, teaching, and learning. They are:

1. The Thinking Edge Changing our thinking about teaching and learning and calling a truce to the wasteful education wars that pit one school of thought against another — from the reading wars of phonics skills vs. “whole language” and children’s literature, to the debate over 21st Century skills vs. “core curriculum.” Just as hybrid vehicles are an important solution for our environment, hybrid thinking — taking the best of differing approaches — will improve our schools.

2. The Edge of Curriculum All around the country, schools and districts, as well as afterschool programs, are redefining what is taught and how it’s assessed. Importantly, through project-based learning, creative educators are relating curricula to students’ lives, so their students never ask the most frequently asked question in most schools: “Why do we need to learn this?”

3. The Technology Edge From the Internet to mobile devices, online curricula and courses, technology-based content, platforms, and experiences are enabling students to learn more, earlier. And helping teachers make the learning process more visible to themselves, their students, and parents.

4. The Edge of Time and Place Learning can now truly be 24/7/365 rather than limited to what happens in a classroom 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 31 weeks a year. As my last blog post described, in many places around the country, the summer months are becoming the “third semester,” advancing, rather than delaying, student learning, especially for lower-income families who cannot afford the camps, travel, and enrichment activities other parents can.

5. The Co-Teaching Edge Rather than the traditional model of one teacher in a room with 30 students, smart teachers are involving a team of “co-educators” in the learning of students, from parents — a child’s first and most important teacher — to other teachers and content experts in the community and online.

6. The Youth Edge Today’s youth are becoming the first generation to carry powerful mobile devices wherever they go. As I like to say, they are carrying this change in their pockets. They are used to instant access to information and their entire social network. They learn in a fundamentally different way than we over-40s did (and certainly those of us way-over-40) and they are teaching us how to restructure this new educational system.

Last week in Orlando, Florida, I spoke about these themes at the Florida Teacher of the Year conference, a gathering of 100 of Florida’s best teachers, staff of the Florida Department of Education, and corporate sponsors, including Bank of America, the Florida Lottery, and Promethean. Florida does a spectacular job of honoring its best teachers every year. The Commissioner of Education, Dr. Eric Smith, and members of his staff travel to the schools of the five finalists and surprise them, along with a camera crew, with the announcement.

At a black-tie gala at the Hard Rock Live! event center at Universal Studios, we were all treated to a dinner and awards ceremony hosted by Deborah Norville of Inside Edition. Suspense was crackling in the air as the five finalists stood on stage waiting for Dr. Smith to pronounce the winner: high school science teachers Kelly Burnette from Yulee High School and Allan Phipps from Broward County; 8th-grade language arts teacher Cristine O’Hara of Miami-Dade, and 4th-grade teachers Zachary Champagne of Jacksonville and Cheryl Conley of Vero Beach. The room erupted as Smith named Cheryl Conley as the Florida Teacher of the Year. In film clips of their classrooms, their students testified, eloquently and enthusiastically: how these five teachers made learning fun, helped them become more persistent, and if they didn’t understand a concept the first time, their teachers found another way.

Earlier that afternoon, in a media circus that riveted the entire nation, LeBron James had announced he was going to the Miami Heat. I wish the honoring of our best teachers could achieve just 1% of the air time that James received. Even better: wouldn’t it be great if celebrities like James stood up and said, “I have some important news to announce, but I want to do it at the Teacher of the Year ceremony so the really important people in our nation get the recognition they deserve.”

When our media and celebrities devote more attention to our best educators, we will know we are becoming an Education Nation. Instead, right now, we are a sports- and entertainment-obsessed nation. Unless we want to be known as the United States of Hollywood, we need to get our priorities straight and get more obsessed with the quality of our schools. In fact, basketball has a few lessons to teach us about learning. In sports, we know it’s about performance and what athletes do and not about memorizing the rules of the game. I’ll say more about that in a future post.

Milton Chen’s Blog

From Bonnie

Waiting for Superman is interesting  but omits the essence of transformation.
“The technology itself is not transformative. It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative.” – Tanya Byron
Shared by @h011y via Twitter

“We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.” Marshall McLuhan (1964)
Shared by @craigr via Twitteris some truth to it, but this book and others will give you the truth. Michelle Rhee is a DC illusion. We all teach for America.. don’t we?? Some of us use technology and are technofluent. Where is that in the discussions?

Waiting for Superman? I Have Found a Superwoman in Technology!

A woman in IT! She can help change the classroom

Why are there so few women in IT? Why are there so few , By the Numbers ? I have been thinking about this for a couple of years and trying to advocate change in the organizations in which I work. I call your attention to
By the Numbers: statistics about women & IT The most compelling statistics on women’s participation in IT, on a single page. Then there is the report, “Why So Few/”In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, why are there so few women scientists and engineers? A new  research report by AAUW (American Association of University Women) presents compelling evidence that can help to explain this puzzle. Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers – including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities – that continue to block women’s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math.


An Important Workshop

I attended a workshop on computational thinking at the National Science Board on Computational Thinking. I have been floating around in this area of learning for a while attending the Teragrid meetings, and  the Supercomputing Conference when allowed. There was at one time a lot of fussing about K-12. Henry Neeman, Scott Lathrop and Diane Baxter, encouraged me to keep learning, but others pushed me away, saying that K-12 teachers were too hard to work with and that the children should be taught. So this workshop was a great place for me to learn about the interface of computational thinking and curriculum. A lot of people bad mouth teachers without giving them the professional development, the chance to be a part of the conversation , the community, the collaboration for a better world.

Overview of the Workshop

As the use of computational devices has become widespread, there is
a need to understand the scope and impact of what is sometimes called
the Information Revolution or the Age of Digital Information. This is
particularly apparent in education at all levels. Various efforts have been
made to introduce K-12 students to the most basic and essential compu-
tational concepts, and college curricula have tried to provide students a
basis for lifelong learning of increasingly new and advanced computa-
tional concepts and technologies. At both ends of this spectrum, however,
most efforts have not focused on fundamental concepts.
One common approach to incorporating computation into the K-12
curriculum is to emphasize computer literacy, which generally involves
using tools to create newsletters, documents, Web pages, multimedia
presentations, or budgets. A second common approach is to empha-
size computer programming by teaching students to program in par-
ticular programming languages such as Java or C++.

A third commonapproach focuses on programming applications such as games, robots,and simulations.But in the view of many computer scientists, these three major
approaches—although useful and arguably important—should not be
confused with learning to think computationally. In this view, compu-
tational thinking is a fundamental analytical skill that everyone, not just
computer scientists, can use to help solve problems, design systems,
and understand human behavior. As such, they believe that computa-
tional thinking is comparable to the mathematical, linguistic, and logical

reasoning that is taught to all children. This view mirrors the grow-
ing recognition that computational thinking (and not just computation)
has begun to influence and shape thinking in many disciplines—Earth
sciences, biology, and statistics, for example. Moreover, computational
thinking is likely to benefit not only other scientists but also everyone
else—bankers, stockbrokers, lawyers, car mechanics, salespeople, health
care professionals, artists, and so on.
Marcia C. Linn, Chair
Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking

So, I learned to  pay attention to the stats on women and information technology and the talking points. of the National Center for Women in Information Technology.

Information technology (IT) is the language and toolbox of our information age.
We use it to communicate and innovate, in our work and in our play. It is the
means for our individual well-being and our collective progress. Participation with
IT – both as its creators and its consumers – guarantees that it will be a dynamic
force in our future; and IT’s pervasive impact on all our lives makes our participation
an imperative.

IT is Important!

IT has fueled much of our economic wealth and innovation over the last decades,
and it will provide the lion’s share of new job growth over the coming decades. The
Department of Labor estimates that the professional-level IT workforce will grow
at more than twice the rate of the overall workforce, creating 1 in 19 new jobs and
adding more than one million new jobs by 2014.

So why is it not in the curriculum in our K-12 schools?

Why aren’t people creating professional development and curriculum for use in the K-12 arena? There are a few shining lights. In this post I want to talk about a woman in technology because there are so few. There is not a movie about her, but perhaps there should be about the effects of her work with Dr. Alexander Repenning.


I want you to meet a very special lady.
Dr. Andri Ioannidou is the Principal Investigator of the subaward made to AgentSheets Inc. She is the Senior Project Manager of AgentSheets Inc. In that role, she is responsible for designing and developing software as well as managing the company’s large-scale R&D projects. She has been part of the AgentSheets academic and later commercial team since 1994. Dr. Ioannidou currently works with academic collaborators and school district administrators to develop and disseminate AgentSheets-based Scalable Game Design curriculum throughout Colorado and the U.S.

She leads collaborative efforts with companies and educators in Greece in projects funded by the European Commission and the Greek Ministry of Education to develop educational activities using AgentSheets for use in all Greek schools. She engages in outreach activities in local schools, where she works extensively with teachers and students to introduce simulation-based activities in computer education, math, science, and social studies courses, as well as extra-curricular activities.

She teaches game design workshops and classes at all levels level nationally and internationally as well as trains teachers. Dr. Ioannidou received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research interests and expertise include end-user development, agent-based simulations, educational technology, game design, computational science, and human-computer interaction. Her work has been published in numerous international conference proceedings, academic journals, trade magazines, and books.

She has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and academic conferences. She has received numerous awards and honors including scholarships and the esteemed title of the Outstanding Graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of Colorado, mainly for her involvement in LEGOsheets – a visual programming environment for the MIT programmable brick (now known as LEGO Mindstorms).

I asked her, as I always do, how did she get started in computer science?

She said…

It’s actually a sort of an ironic story: growing up, I didn’t really know what i wanted to do, but i always knew what i did NOT want to do and that was become a teacher – which is what both my parents and my sister (and other members of the extended family) were.

So I went towards the field that I felt was the furthest away from that: computer science. I was already good in math and science and had some interest in computers so i figured that was a good choice. And I was doing well as an undergrad, but it wasn’t until my senior year at CU, when i started working with Alex on the LEGO sheets project, that i really discovered my passion with computer science: educational technology. Ironically, the thing i was trying to avoid so hard (education) ended up being the perfect combination for me for technology.


I asked her lots of questions. I asked because she was such a gentle force and so easy to learn from. Her mission was to help. It was not about her accomplishments. I don’t think she even said much about who she was. So I started this conversation with her about Cyprus.  I have been there three times to work in the media for children group, the Agora.

Women in the Serious Games ..Dr. Andri Ioannidou

Scalable Game Design Wiki

High School Teacher Workshop I attended
Mission: Reinventing computer science in public schools by motivating & educating all students including women and underrepresented communities to learn about computer science through game design starting at the middle school level
Results: The project aimed at instructing 1200 students in 3 years but already instructed over 1300 students in the first semester; 52.3% of the students were girls, 78% of the girls want to continue! more…
Scalable Game design was presented at the ISTE 2010 conference in poster sessions by Alex Repenning, Mark Shouldice, Andri Ioannidou, Corey Papastathis, and Steve Barron
We just successfully completed the 2010 Summer Institute (June 1-June 11, 2010).
I participated in a  successful CS4HS workshop (June 25-June 27, 2010) sponsored by Google and AgentSheets Inc. Newspaper report.
Read the press release about the Summer Institute and the press coverage by the Daily Camera about the CS4HS.

The Dept of Education talks about the crisis in the classroom. Seems to me that a meeting with the NSF, and other interagency groups should be created to info those who speak for education about the computational sciences.

From Karen North

“The most powerful of software tools is the programming
language … an important role for the teacher is as a sort of human tool, a
consultant on ways and means, rather than an initiator of activities for
students.” – Brian Harvey 1980

“Education is the only business still debating the
usefulness of technology.” – Dr. Ron Paige.

Both are still true today! So what is taking so long for education to value technology
and programming languages?

Here are real teachers learning programming and scalable game design. These pictures were taken with an Iphone

*** If you are a parent or an interested professional, write to the Secretary of Education about the computational sciences. One percent of women in IT is not enough.

Workshop photos


Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Washington, D.C.

Parents, Plants, and Pedagogy… digging in the dirt ( STEM)

Garden tools and implements

Wheelbarrow, Dung Forks and Spades

On warm spring days, instead of leaving their hearts and minds in the classroom, my students often turned to the outdoors.

The study of plant life is a staple in biology curricula — children explore seeds and how plants grow, young adolescents focus on cells, and teenagers continue their studies with more in-depth investigations of botany and plant physiology.

Reading about plants is usual in the traditional school curriculum, but working with the soil, growing different varieties of plants, and eating the plants you grow is uncommon.

However, my plant lessons rarely required a textbook. The scope and sequence of my lessons on plants ranged from learning about soils (undertaking a soil profile) to studying seeds (“What is a seed?”), digging in the dirt (good for building strong bodies and minds), and making a classroom garden.

I had a lot of help from the local 4-H agent, who conducted soil profiles for me and provided eggs for our chick-hatching observations. From time to time, the agent would stop by the classroom to share and to see how things were going.

The local 4-H Club did professional soil samples for the class garden and other gardens in our community. We learned about soil layers, textural classes, color, water-holding capacity, organic content, and pH balance. We also discovered how to alter the soil in order to make it better for our work.

All this made my students think more about the dirt beneath our feet. Soil is one of our most important natural resources, and it’s important that students know about this aspect of the natural world and apply their knowledge to important factors such as land use, erosion, pollution, and urban planning.

School Gardens
There is no salad in the world as wonderful as the one you grow yourself, especially for students who have never tasted a homegrown tomato or pulled lettuce and other salad fixings from the rich earth. I remember being on a farm in the summertime with a saltshaker in my pocket, sampling the soil’s tasty bounty. But my students didn’t know where their food came from.

At another school where I worked, however, there were strawberry gardens. During recess, we would check on the progress of the strawberries, and, later in the season, we’d eat them — so delicious!

A parent then convinced me to do a gardening project. He brought his little tractor and plowed the land, bought us tools and seeds, and contributed his know-how. An important learning was to plant only varieties of crops that are harvested early in the area so that we could collect and eat our lessons before school got out for the summer. We found out about the National Gardening Association and applied for and received a Youth Garden Grants award.

Smithsonian Summer Camp

The Smithsonian has a summer camp program and I was fortunate in being able to work there. We did the Seeds of Change Garden, and walked to the Dept of Agriculture to see their garden. We investigated seeds, fruits and cultures.

Let me direct you to some resources for ideas about gardening lessons and activities. Start planning now for the next school year so you can cultivate a more interesting way to learn about plants! And please add your own advice and thoughts about how to enrich learning about gardening.

Seeds of Change Garden
National Museum of History , Smithsonian.

We created a great set of resources here that are still timely. The garden information should be helpful. I posted the spring link. But there is even more to use..

Science of Gardening

The Edible Schoolyard Garden


Down & Dirty: Getting a Handle on Mother Nature ( Where this article was originally published with the active links)

Garden of Eating: Middle Schoolers Grow Their Own Lunch

That’s Soil, Folks!: Garden Gear That’s Not Garden Variety

Play with Food: A Game Teaches Healthy Diets

Veggies to the People: The People’s Grocery Store

Other Resources
A Soil Profile (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Great Plant Escape: What Is a Seed? (University of Illinois Extension)

Planting Science (Botanical Society of America)

Fast Plants (University of Wisconsin at Madison)

Bottle Biology (University of Wisconsin at Madison)

Bonnie Bracey Sutton’s Blog

The LA Times: Practicing Educational Research without a License, Fair?

The LA Times: Practicing Educational Research without a License – Living in Dialogue – Education Week
After 18 years as a science teacher in inner-city Oakland, Calif., Anthony Cody now works with a team of experienced science teacher-coaches who support the many novice teachers in his school district. He is a National Board-certified teacher and an active member of the Teacher Leaders Network.

Read his article. Is this a fair practice , or information from good education research?

A recent LA Times article, “Who’s teaching L.A.’s kids?” (August 15), presented readers with the results of an LA Times-sponsored “value-added” analysis of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The statistical analysis was done by an economist, and was supplemented by classroom observations made by LA Times reporters.

How fair , is what is reported in the press about education. This story got great headlines.

Does it help?

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

Breaking Down the Silos in Austin and in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Takes Bold Steps in Education

As a Christa McAuliffe Educator years ago, we wrote and crafted a document that was entitled, ” Teaching ,the Next Frontier”. I returned to New Hampshire and there is leadership for new ways of working That frontier has changed . We learned that we are the change agents that we have been waiting for. We as educators have to create the transformation that will change schools, teaching and learning.

We came together at the New Hampshire Summit: Redefining Educator Development for 21st Century Learners several months ago.

The Past( a Look Back)1992

Here are some of the things we thought as Christa McAuliffe Educators

Teachers are the ones poised on the cusp of the revolution and transformation in school culture. They are in a precarious position from which they are compelled to see themselves and their school through new eyes. It is up to teachers to learn about and use fresh ways of viewing their work in schools so that they can bring into focus what is necessary for them to do to make change.

With the emerging new information and communication technologies (ICTs), the teaching profession is evolving from an emphasis on teacher-centred, lecture-based instruction, to student-centred, interactive learning environments. Designing and implementing successful ICT-enabled teacher education programmes is the key to fundamental, wide-ranging reforms.

Think of
Diversity and Multiculturalism
Teaching and Learning
Systematic Reorganization
Building Coalitions

These things hold true today..

The problem is that most decisions about what goes on take place, not in the classroom , but in boardrooms, in politics, in groups that have an interest in education and most of the soothsayers and keynoters who speak about education probably could not stand for much time in most classrooms. They have a ” sort of” knowledge of the learning landscape.

Currently we have a revolution in education in creating, collaborating, and teaching. Event and collaboratiobs that succeed it will take teachers to the groups that have the resources, the training, the ideas that they need. That includes NCWIT, Concord, ITEST, NSTA, NCTM , National Geographic etc. THe groups will break the silos. I work with a focus group trying to raise awareness and to change the one percent ratio of minorities involved in STEM and the computational sciences.. We believe that the is the shallow end of computational involvement , with teachers needed to be involved and aware. We hope to create a path to areas of interest for teachers and a desire to be engaged, involved, aware.. the seven e’s.


The challenge facing schools is to address the learning needs and expectations of a changing and diverse society. To these ends the teachers , and schools need to consider the following

The need for equity so that all children are treated fairly and with respect.

The role of language so that multiple languae aquisition is seen as beneficial and desirable .

Cultural diversity and implications for pedagogy and school curriculum.

Shifting social structures in the community and in the family and what these realignments signify for schools.

It is so interesting that years later, we are struggling with the same issues nationally and locally. Technology and the digital generation have moved on, but lots of teachers are in the same teaching space. Whose fault is that? Who claims the space? No one. The difficulty is often shrugged off on teachers as the culprit. The finger pointing and press discussion often are that the teacher in the classroom is the problem. The people who write these columns have had little experience in teaching and learning and of the politics within schools and school systems.


The achievement of systemic change in American Education demands that school improvement efforts be fused with professional development opportunities that lead to self-renewal for teachers.

The focus of teacher professional development in school change must include all conditions and events that affect the learning of students.

Professional development should be a vehicle for changing school cultures so that school is a place for ongoing learning of teachers as well as students.

Teachers must be freed from the one shot inservice training and professional development and be provided sufficient time to engage in meaningful and regular opportunities to expand their professional abilities.

Teachers must have access to resources that enable them to unleash the full potential of all students, respecting at all times the culture, language , gender and individual needs of students. That means for now broadband and tools and support for understanding the use.

So many people tell us where to find resources without understanding that many do not have access to the resources based on lack of bandwidth.

Tools, techniques, Time and Technofluency!! Tpack!!TPCK – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge


With the emerging new information and communication technologies (ICTs), the teaching profession is evolving from an emphasis on teacher-centred, lecture-based instruction, to student-centred, interactive learning environments. Designing and implementing successful ICT-enabled teacher education programmes is the key to fundamental, wide-ranging reforms.

Teacher education institutions are faced with the challenge of preparing a new generation of teachers to effectively use the new technologies that will enable them to educate digital natives for a 21st century knowledge society. However, in spite of some progress, the global landscape is very diverse and unequal and shows that most of the developing and less developed countries still have limited access to such technologies and are therefore unable to reap their full potential to prepare their teachers and learners for a digital age.

Teachers must be given the opportunity and resources to construct curriculum and assessment that are inclusive of and sensitive to all forms of student diversity.

Technology should be recognized as an essential resource that no teacher or learner in America should be denied.Powerful tools, flexible toolkits and ease of use, these are the enablers of innovation. teachers need technofluency and up to date tools.

Teaching and learning occur everywhere, the stale orthodoxy that defines the classroom as the sole place of learning must be abandoned. We must recognize and celebrate learning places and partners.

Teachers and parent as partners in their child’s education with full respect for family structure, language, education level and social status.

Teachers must have professional development opportunities that generate the knowledge and skills to build broadbased community coalitions that create healthy and effective schools.

Real teachers should be a part of the conversations in education.


In New Hampshire recently, this is what happened.
On the evening of May 26th an unprecedented statewide conversation began in New Hampshire among educators, administrators, and teacher educators about the ways in which schools and educator preparation programs should best be transformed to equip children with the skills needed for citizenship, lifelong learning, and economic opportunity in the 21st century.

More than a dozen statewide New Hampshire organizations and 14 institutions of higher education that prepare future educators and their school partners came together to co-host a two and a half day invitational summit on “redefining educator development for 21st century learners.” The summit assisted the state’s colleges and universities to form intensive partnerships with schools committed to transforming K-12 education and educator preparation, to more effectively preparing K-12 students with the skills they need for lifelong learning and economic opportunity and development. Summit participants formed a statewide network of school/university partnerships, to share resources and successful approaches to educational reform.

Most important, summit steering committee chairperson Bob McLaughlin notes, “through the summit we’ll have begun an urgently needed conversation among New Hampshire’s educators, school board members, administrators, legislators, and others about what together we want our schools and educator preparation programs to look like.

Many people talk about how schools and preparation programs need to change dramatically to meet the needs of 21st century students, but there isn’t any consensus about what that really means. The New Hampshire way is to have a statewide conversation about these vitally important issues. Our statewide network of partnerships will work together to show what 21st century instruction, student and teacher assessment, and educator development needs to and can become.”

The New Hampshire conversation about educational change is very timely, for several reasons. First, a number of federal stimulus grant programs are investing billions of dollars nationwide in transformation of school and educator preparation and in intensifying statewide systems for holding schools, educators, and colleges of education accountable for improving K-12 student learning.

Second, with the dramatic increase in online education for K-12 and postsecondary students, educators need to rethink whether and how they too embrace online teaching.

Third, the skills needed for economic opportunity and lifelong learning have changed in the past decade – employers emphasize that today it’s not enough for high school graduates to master the 3 R’s, they also need to be skilled in problem solving, critical thinking, effective oral and written communication, and collaboration.

Fourth, nearly half of the nation’s K-12 teaching work force, born during the Baby Boom, are due to retire in the next decade, requiring that we as a society rethink the role of teachers and how we staff our schools.

The summit was broadcast live as web-based streaming videos during the summit and then archived for viewing you can see it at at http://www.nhsummit.org.

The summit was sponsored by Promethean Corporation, a global leader in interactive whiteboard technology. Several other organizations have made key contributions, including Southern New Hampshire University (donating free use of its excellent meeting facilities and over $5,000 in expanded Internet connectivity so that all summit participants can interact online throughout the summit), and the New Hampshire Foundation for Teaching and Learning, which provided fiscal management. The “ActivClassroom in Motion”, a traveling 21st century classroom, was nationally unveiled at the summit.

For more information, please contact Bob McLaughlin at (603) 509-2728 or robert.mclaughlin@ed.state.nh.us

Getting Into the STEM Game ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Broadening Engagement, Reaching the Underserved

Get Into the STEM  Game with the Use of Transformational Learning Resources, Community, Cooperation and Collaboration with those in the know this was an idea I had from working with researchers, professors, teacher educators and other teachers but working with the Supercomputing EOT Outreach and the Teragrid Teacher Day a friend and I had a great idea we could expand what we had learned working with Scott Lathrop.

We could reach the under served in lots of areas where there was a conference. Digital Divide you say? Yes it still exists. We could broaden engagement. We had a model.


Digital Divide Reality, Fact or Fiction:

How do we meet the challenge?

The concept of the Digital Divide has grown out of the concerns for equity and access to all forms of technology for people across this country. These concerns have been echoed throughout the decades of the 1980’s and 90’s, and is a dilemma that’s now very prevalent in the 21st century. In the 90’s, the US Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA), The Benton Foundation, the Civil Rights Forum, the National Urban League, the Digital Divide Network and others began to monitor the ability for all people in the Unites States to have access to technology in schools and homes. The results were very revealing. They identified that there was a gap between the technology “haves” and the “have-nots,” and that the gap was growing each year. This gap was identified under social economic descriptors, across ethnic backgrounds, education level, language, and demographic location (rural, suburban, or urban).

We could talk about Broadband and create an awarness of the national discussions going on about Broadband.

We wanted to also address the fact that most people don’t know the real status of broadband in America. This is important because some of the people we will reach are rural and distant and broadband is not available to them. We decided to explain it to them as a part of outreach and to make them activists in the desire for broadband in their communities.

In the US, over 100 million individuals representing over 40 million households do not use broadband because they cannot access it, cannot afford it, do not know how to use it, or are not aware ofits benefits. This “digital divide” is costly not only for the digitally excluded but for businesses, government, and the nation as a whole. In response, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue to Congress a National BroadbandPlan, which “shall seek to ensure that all people of the US have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.

The “digital divide” that persists in Internet use based on income, education and community means people are not acquiring the digital fluency that is required to operate in to-day’s world.

What if we shared the resources to the people who could not go to the ISTE conference in the geographic area of Colorado with Denver as the base?

We had NO money but lots of ideas. I had worked in Colorado and had some contacts. I had been inspired by the teacher level resources of the I-Test Program.

I wondered how we create the interest and know how to share with those who may not have a working knowledge of the communities, ways of collaborating and the connections to their own classrooms and or learning communities. I know that the SETDA groups had STEM resources and powerpoints , and with Marc Prensky and others in serious games I could provide a rationale to provide games for learning. The resources of the George Lucas Foundation were there for those who took the time to look, so we cooked up the idea. There were NCWIT people in the neighborhood and there was the National Lab Day initiative. How could we put this all together?

Joyce Pittman had used the city of Philadelphia as a background to show why the digital divide group needed their own SIG at ISTE.  She worked with the mayor of Philadelphia to organize. I took her lead, but worked with a young man from the business and industry side of Denver.
Eli Regalado.. it was on we were going to reach the under served and connect them with some of the powerful people, ideas, and initiatives that may make a difference in the lives of their students.

The Conference Divide – It is Economic

Living in Washington DC, I often know about conferences that I cannot pay to attend thought I may have attended them in the past. My friends taught me that some conferences have a one day pass for teachers, and other friend taught me to go have lunch with the people who were at the conference if I could not attend.( or to sit in the bar)

The EOT people at Teragrid helped me to organize resources to share with teachers on a special teacher  bridge day and the idea came to me about reaching the under served teachers, parents and community who may not know about STEM , that is learning Science, Technology Engineering and Math as a focus of learning.

. A young man from the Denver community reached out to me in Facebook. The planning began.

I have to say that using Facebook, email, and a wiki and conference calls is three times the work.  Most of the time it was fun. Here are the questions we wanted to answer, and address with our day.The “digital divide” that persists in Internet use based on income, education and community means people are not acquiring the digital fluency that is required to operate in to-day’s world.

There is an educational divide too. If you think of the places in which people work there is often a divide in the economics of the place,  and the depth of education of the place.

Questions to ponder?

1.    Who are the underserved in STEM nationally, locally and how can we broaden engagement in STEM?(  what is broadening engagement)

2.    What professional development activities / supports  real transformational change for teachers?

4.    How can we inform the learning community about successful projects in meaningful ways?

6.    What national projects show great promise and are scalable in the various areas of STEM?


8.    What cybertools, and online resources are available for teachers that make a difference?

9.     How do we involve the leadership in school systems ?


11. Who are people involved in STEM who can be mentors, or peer resources for schools and communities?

Digital Divide Reality, Fact or Fiction:

How do we meet the challenge?

The concept of the Digital Divide has grown out of the concerns for equity and access to all forms of technology for people across this country. These concerns have been echoed throughout the decades of the 1980’s and 90’s, and is a dilemma that’s now very prevalent in the 21st century. In the 90’s, the US Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA), The Benton Foundation, the Civil Rights Forum, the National Urban League, the Digital Divide Network and others began to monitor the ability for all people in the Unites States to have access to technology in schools and homes. The results were very revealing. They identified that there was a gap between the technology “haves” and the “have-nots,” and that the gap was growing each year. This gap was identified under social economic descriptors, across ethnic backgrounds, education level, language, and demographic location (rural, suburban, or urban).

Good Teachers Often Don’t Get Any Respect!

I saw the bus that was escorting the Teachers of the Year to a ceremony from the White House.  There is a lot of talk about “bad teachers” but very little reward or recognition for teachers who are doing a great job.

I learned to apply and reward myself with the opportunities that can come with being adventurous as a grant finder, or workshop participant in learning. But just regular respect, commendation, and or community accolades are hard to get. Children will tell you that the bond between the teacher and the class is a kind of reward that no one can give but them. Just today , a former student, asked in a joking way about his hotwheels car that went in the June box. Another wrote to tell me she has gotten her Master’s degree in teaching from a state university.  But the kind of respect that teachers need is under the radar in most places.

This recent week we have all suffered from the teaching effectiveness discussion by opinion.  Here’s a story that finally surfaced.


No gold stars for successful L.A. teachers

L.A. Unified has hundreds of excellent instructors. But no one asks them their secrets to success, and most of the time no one praises them. Often their principals don’t even know who they are.

By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times

10:26 PM PDT, August 28, 2010

It’s a Wednesday morning, and Zenaida Tan is warming her students up with a little exercise in “Monster Math.”

That’s Tan’s name for math problems with monstrously big numbers. While most third-graders are learning to multiply two digits by two digits, Tan makes her class practice with 10 digits by two — just to show them it’s not so different.

On this spring day, her students pick apart the problem on the board — 7,850,437,826 x 56 — with the enthusiasm of game show contestants, shouting out answers before Tan can ask a question. When she accidentally blocks their view, several stand up with their notebooks and walk across the room to get a better look.

The answer comes minutes later in a singsong unison: “Four hundred and thirty-nine billion, six hundred and twenty-four million….”

Congratulations, Tan tells them, for solving it con ganas. That’s Spanish for “with gusto,” a phrase she picked up from watching “Stand and Deliver,” a favorite film of hers about the late Jaime Escalante, the remarkably successful math teacher at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has hundreds of Jaime Escalantes — teachers who preside over remarkable successes, year after year, often against incredible odds, according to a Times analysis. But nobody is making a film about them.**********end

You can’t take gold stars to the bank, but they would help with teacher morale.

Instead, the papers are trashing teachers and their reputations based on ” tests”. I always laugh when I see this discussion. I was a fourth grade teacher who got kids from a teacher who didn’t teach very well, but she sure managed to get the test scores that she needed for her class. We were in shock and dull amaze each year when we got her class. Later, we found that she would take the test answers home and put in the right answers. She told us.

Why take a chance when you can make sure that the kids get the scores that parents want. Don’t ask did I report her, because I did not. It just solved the puzzle for me. I know another teacher who would order the tests as if she had a school to look over the items. I don’t know how that worked. But these teachers were test scared. I always felt that I needed to know what needed to be improved in my teaching. I think however, that testing is only one form of evaluation.

In our society, we reward sports players  with outstanding amounts of money, contestants for the silliest things with money, but there  are few awards for teachers. The awards are competitive, and usually national.

Here’s the thing. If you are lucky enough to get an award, often it causes grief . Lots of principals don’t want a star. Once I was meeting with Keith Geiger in my classroom and the funniest thing happened. One of the teachers who wanted everyone to go home at four, poked her head into the room.” Hey”, she said…. ?Time to go. ”  She was saying to me that no matter how hard I worked or how long I stayed we were getting the same salary and I was stupid for being there.  She did not recognize Keith Geiger who at the time was the head of the NEA. I had gotten a substantial reward by being selected as a Christa McAuliffe Educator. I got to mentor teachers nationwide as well.

You would think winning awards , being proactive in support for teachers, would be a given. Yes, there used to be Disney. and before that Campbell Soup gave awards.Even the Christa McAuliffe Awards are gone. Too bad.

My principal was so upset that I got the award that she restricted how they could take pictures in the school , and made me go home and put on a skirt ( I was taking kids to an outdoor lab trip) She also restricted me from taking the Mac , for our night writing to the place where we would be spending the night. But, a mother, seeing the discussion, volunteered to bring her own computer and we , the class and I, wrote our newspaper about the things that happened that day in joy … and as a respite from all of the trail hiking, pond investigations, looking for nature patterns that we had done. Most remarkable were the stories of taking the first look through a telescope , the night before. Phoebe Knipling, my mentor in environmental science, brought amateur astronomers to the Outdoor Lab and we looked through a huge telescope and several small ones. Creating a trip like that was hard work. The reward was the work, the interest and the understanding of the parents.

But , nothing but hassle from the principal.  Sometimes there are teachers who are innovative and creative and they are pushed from the classroom as being odd ducks.

Let’s hope the mean spirits of looking for Superman, don’t weigh in on those who are truly gifted teachers .

Bonnie Bracey Sutton