Why Don’t American Teachers know Much About Africa ( actually Geography?)

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

orienteeringSome teachers follow their interests and innovate. Some teachers have not had  geography that was taught as a part of their teacher preparation. Africa is perhaps more on the radar to learn about for teachers who teach in urban areas. We teach about Black History so there is that linkage. But the link to slavery might be uncomfortable for many.. In schools often what we teach is prescribed by curriculum. I taught then, the Gifted and Talented and multicultural  in a team teaching situation.

I learned using the Hilda Taba methods , I read Black History widely and then I was taught by the National Geographic Summer Institute. We  had lectures, lessons, presentations, films, and the emerging technologies. We learned from all of the divisions and we created and crafted lessons plans to share with the members of the Institute. We were taught the tenets of Geography.


Bonnie Bracey Sutton sharing Sunshine Online Books in the Languages of South Africa with Educators at an IEarn Conference.

I did get to work in Africa, in South Africa, Namibia, Tunisia, Egypt. I traveled to more countries than that. What was important was that I had the support of an administrator,and there were State Dept. parents , and  school board support and grant funding.

Resources available to me? The Alliances of the National Geographic Education Division, Earthwatch, The Smithsonian African Museum of Art, the anthropology division of the Smithsonian.The Kennedy Center Arts Edge.

There were people in map division who gave me maps, and in the book division who shared books and research. There was even a photographer who came to my class to share his work and to teach the children the work of being a photographer for the National Geographic.

We learned about map projections and had fun with the Upside Down Map. and the True map of Africa.

Kids were interested in the foods of Africa. Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons helped to teach that and we cooked a bunch of recipes in the classroom. Cooking is my hobby and so I had lots of cookbooks from various parts of Africa. ( Smithsonian Book Store)  Jollof Rice was the easiest to do within the school time on a hot plate. It was very good.

From working with the World Summit  on Media for Children I have wonderful videos.

National Geographic Education is a part of the National Geographic Education and Children’s Media division. The division as a whole creates best-in-class products, experiences, and programs that teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to make it a better place. We educate by sparking curiosity, imparting knowledge through storytelling, and empowering action. We support lifelong learning by providing opportunities for kids, families, and educators to join global communities, where they can connect, learn, create, and share. And we inspire the new generation of global citizens to discover the world’s past, celebrate its present, and protect its future.
National Geographic Education taught me to use geography . The resources are too vast to list.

There are lectures at the National Geographic where children , parents and I learned from the explorer and adventures themselves.

Did I forget to mention the magazines. I did.And music and dance and the evolution of slavery.

I teach that too.

I believe that the emphasis on testing excludes the choices to teach a rich content.

Here is what I was replying to.


I noticed historical reference to the partition  of Africa was not given.

Robert Pondiscio took a swipe at American teachers and what they teach or know about Africa. John Oliver is a comedian. Like Donald Trump I guess he is allowed to skewer every one because making people laugh is what he does. But Pondiscio is immersed in education, and should have been kind enough to point out that there has been pioneering work going on at a lot of places to help teachers learn, share and teach about Africa.


Internet of Things? Some Are Waiting for Access to the Internet , the Tools and Well Trained Teachers


I always smile when a reporter says, in education we have too many tools , too much of the Internet and we should cut back and enjoy our real lives. Now the report is that STEM initiatives are harmful and of course we are excluding the arts.

Most of what minorities claim in technology has to do with the arts.

What we are they talking about?

Superhero kid. Girl power concept

Our minority students have to be Super students to be successful.

I doubt that most minority community schools have truly embedded STEM into their learning landscapes.That is where I work , and these are my constituents.

If we had sufficient STEM and Computational resources and training available, why is Silicon Valley having so much trouble hiring minority workers? We who are minorities know. There are researchers who know , but it is probably news to many reporters that there are people still waiting to be on the internet ( get access) , waiting to have teachers who are schooled in using the Internet in school and who don’t have the tools. Some think that mobile devices equalize. I think a mobile device is better than nothing.

Jesse Jackson is taking on the President, saying that he is responsible for the lack of diversity. Read my lips.

We have an education problem.

NCLB decimated the layer of science learning for more than a decade simply because it was not tested. Math , the real math that scientists use? Not taught . The skills that students need to be active in STEM and working in Silicon Valley were simply not taught in many cases because of the emphasis on testing in many schools, particularly those with challenging  minority enrollments,poverty as a problem and a weak teacher base. We know that the best of teachers are not often based in the places of most need.Every Job in America, Mapped

Here is a map to show where the jobs are in America. ( Present Jobs)

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2015/08/11/every-job-in-america-mapped/?SiteID=cbaolcompromotion_aug_11Map of Jobs in America

We know that the present jobs are not the jobs of the future. Years after the invention of the Internet there are people still out of the loop for the use of technology. What jobs are they being prepared for? A week of code will not do it. Actually , workshops are a tease, and unless instruction is sustained, posters and contests don’t do much for those who are limited in access (or who have no access).

Explore it.

It is different in different places.The elements are similar. Here is the research.

 A Vignette

Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the US Census Bureau and Intel’s own internal numbers, Intel  determined the market availability of men, women, African American, Hispanic, and Native American candidates, and how its workforce measured up to those numbers. According to the company’s report, it did fairly well: for instance, Intel has 19.4 percent female representation where market availability is at 22.7 percent; 3.3 percent of its workforce is African American where there is 4.5 percent availability of candidates in the market.

In other words, the main limiting factor on the presence of diverse groups in Intel’s workforce is not Intel’s policies but availability of candidates with the right skills in the workforce as a whole.

Intel is not alone.

Remember my discussion about running to catch up? We are still asking for access , well trained teachers and tools. We are not all on the Internet and the Internet of Things is becoming a discussion point.

There is a lot of research to share the difficulties that those who are not on the Internet are having.

For many of us, a life without Internet might be hard to imagine. Yet, 15 percent of U.S. adults say they never go online, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

The survey, published in late July, found that the offline population has been shrinking significantly since 2000, when Pew began collecting data on Internet use. Back then, 48 percent of American adults weren’t online. However, in the past couple years, the size of this group hasn’t changed too much.

In the graph below, you can see that the downward trend has flattened recently:

“We’ve seen slow but steady adoption progress among a lot of demographic groups that have historically used the Internet in low numbers, such as older adults, or those with low income and education levels,” Aaron Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, told the Huffington Post in an email. “With that said, there are definitely still disparities around this issue and Internet usage overall really hasn’t changed measurably in the last two years.”

In fact, the latest Pew survey reveals that Internet non-adoption is still largely consistent with a series of factors such as age, education, household income and race and ethnicity. The chart below breaks down the demographics of non-users based on these different metrics:

Who's Not Online?

Seniors make up the majority of Internet hold-outs by age group: About 39 percent of adults 65 and older aren’t online, compared with only 3 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds. In addition, people who lack a high school education, or whose household income is less than $30,000 per year, are also more likely to stay offline.

The Pew survey also indicated that digital gaps among different racial groups are narrowing. Back in 2000, the Internet population was more homogenous than today: 72 percent of Asian-Americans were online, compared to 53 percent of White people, 46 percent of Hispanics and 38 percent of African-Americans. Over the past 15 years, African-Americans have have seen the fastest growth, with Internet usage rates now approaching that of whites.

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/internet-access-americans_55c8b719e4b0923c12bd69fe

I have personal experience with helping with STEM, Broadening Engagement in Supercomputing and Coding, as well as ESRI.

I most recently trained with ESRI to be able to participate in helping education communities to use EdConnect.

It is an initiative that the President backs.

child Head


“If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible — from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

—President Barack Obama


I trained to be a mentor and disseminator of the program. It’s free.I was told that there is not time to learn it ( there is an online course) that teachers have testing to deal with and so there is no time. A dear friend of mine told me that the computers are needed for testing and so that during most testing times, computers are not available. * Sadly , in low performing schools, there is the pre testing, the preparation for testing , and then the testing. You know it is an important problem because of the cheating problems. One principal actually killed herself based on concerns about testing.

Are you listening?

So people are talking about the Internet of things. We are not even at the Internet. So sad.

Minority students are makers. We always have been. We are good in the arts. Making the future is harder. People who have what they need rarely consider what minority students in poor schools are having to do to make a future.

NASA used to be our engine of opportunity. The press does not report on NASA as in the past, and schools don’t give permission. They have outstanding programs. Some of us have been trained in several NASA programs. It is where lots of us learned astronomy, physics, and astrophysics. Programs are outstanding, I love NASA Quest, the Challenger Center see these resources, Fly By Math, and Hubble Astronomy, IE Amazing Space.

But wait, there is more. Geography!! We talk about the world without studying it in most cases.Do we really want to throw away the fabulous resources of the National Geographic in STEM? Or not use the vast resources of the National Geographic Society? STEAM included?

How do you become an engineer if you don’t get an introduction? Just saying. We have a problem in education.

childStudy: Most K-12 schools lack engineering-centered education

Can you hear me? STEM is still needed.

Internet of Things? Well it is here. Let’s hope that some synergy happens.

Every Kid in a Park? Who Goes to the National Parks? Start at a Park Near You!!



Did you know that you own millions of acres of national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and clear blue lakes? Our public lands and waters belong to all Americans and are waiting for you to explore them!

  • outdoor-lab_720x480

To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, we are kicking off the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Soon, you will have access to your own Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

The Every Kid in a Park pass will be available for the 2015-2016 school year.

Every Kid in a Park joins the Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program in helping children learn history, culture, and science while exploring the great outdoors. The initiative is an administration-wide effort among the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


The place above is the Arlington County Outdoor Lab where I learned from Phoebe Hall Knipling how to teach outdoors. First she invited me out there and she kept teaching me trails, ecology , plants and animals of the place , until I was a skilled teacher.

The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Lab now is a 225-acre facility that provides science and outdoor education to the students of Arlington County Public Schools.

%255BUNSET%255D-6In this natural classroom, urban youth — often for the first time — can run in a meadow, climb a mountain, hike beside a stream, or fish in a pond. Four classes per week visit the Outdoor Lab, one of which has an overnight, and there are three week-long summer camps. Each year, the Outdoor Lab provides hands-on outdoor and environmental education to more than 9,000 students, from elementary grades through high school.

I was lucky to work there in the summers too.

Phoebe had us learning birding, weeds and wildflowers, and ecology.IMG_7779

Dr. Phoebe Hall Knipling was a remarkable woman by anyone’s standards. Born in North Carolina, she developed a love and appreciation of nature in early life. By the time she had enrolled in public school at the age of 9, entered college at 15, and earned a Ph.D. at 23, her love of nature and passion for science were melded. She was first a teacher and later the first female Science Supervisor in the state of Virginia. She spent much of her time traveling over the state, taking high school science students on advanced summer field study programs.Phoebe knew, well before the rest of the country, that environmental, outdoor education was absolutely essential to the development of young people — people who would be making the decisions of the future. She knew that hands-on experiences were worth a thousand pages of textbook. As Arlington became increasingly more developed and less natural, and as the security and dependability of faraway study sites became less certain, Phoebe dreamed of one facility — secure and natural, close to Arlington — where our children would engage in outdoor studies.
  • openhouse_20131103_04
  • The non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) was founded in 1967, which later purchased a 210 acre tract on a small mountain in Fauquier County. The land was purchased for $90,000 from a Mrs. Striker, who sold it for $100,000 less than other offers, with the stipulation that her land be preserved and protected. The Mr. Preston Carruthers also loaned the AOEA $51,000 to help make the initial purchase. Today, the AOEA is responsible for maintaining the Outdoor Lab facilities, and provides camperships to needy students to allow participation by those who otherwise could not afford the fees. Costs associated with educational programs at the Lab are funded by Arlington County Public Schools.
     AOEA salamander mascotThere are groups that will help you learn and hone your skills. I worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service and we were able to visit Blackwater on a special trip. The personnel of the Fish and Wildlife Service involved us in the Duck Stamp Program as well.IMG_0493
    • Raptor Cams

      Bald eagle - Woody Dawson.Check out the raptor cams at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can view the osprey nest and bald eagle nest either online or from the refuge visitor center. Learn more on the raptor cams page.

      Raptor Cams Page

    I loved teaching students in the out of doors. It was a bonding time. Some parents and I made i t a gourmet eating time. Julie Mangis would help me whip up a menu and the kids loved what we cooked.

    When technology came we created Outdoor News from the lab. We published our adventures, finds and activities.

    We learned to read a stream in quadrant study. We learned to read the trails. We spent time in a stream, and we hiked Biscuit Mountain.

    Each park or place has a history. At the Outdoor Lab we learned the history of the Civil War, explored the many springs, and hiked the trails we did story telling, and looked for patterns in nature. Stream study was one of the most exciting nature study programs.

    We wrote our adventures to the computer and edited the adventures of the day to share with parents.

    Julie Mangis and other parents helped create wonderful menus for our culinary experiences. while there and of course we ate S’mores. But we also used a big telescope to look at the night sky.

    • hot-dogs_720x480

    I like the fact that parents and community are involved because it can become a matter of habit.

    Is it the Internet of Things or the Internet “that thing” I need to learn to use?


    BonniecopyThere are many discussions about the use of the Internet. Some say that “we have too much technology? I wonder who the “we ” are, who the people are that they are talking about.

    Some of us have many devices, and there are some people who have one or none or limited access to a device. Technology is a moving target, there is always another thing to learn. There may be another device to think about  and another way to use it.

    Here’s the problem. Some people think if you own the tool you have mastered using the Internet, but there are people who are one mouse click away from a problem.

    There are those who learn to use the tools in a different way. There are are people who use the Internet in very limited ways.There are people who are a minute from malware and without a solution if it happens. In schools we have , in some places an IT person. In businesses there is usually an IT person, but in the community at large, how do the problems get solved. What problems can one expect? When people say we have too much technology what in fact , do they mean?

    This article from the New York Times is often quoted. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/opinion/can-students-have-too-much-tech.html . I believe the writer bashes the use of technology in some cases. A writer for the BBC had a different perspective. That perspective was linked to the electrification and modification of every thing. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/10/modern-life-electricity-technology. To the students and communities without access, without the tools, and without the professionals who help us to learn meaningful use of technology , the articles do not mention the stultifying effect of not having technology as a tool.

    The President of the United States just created a program to provide access to low income communities as a model for use. This Washington Post article outlines the effort. President Obama announced a pilot program to bring broadband to low-income households in public housing on Wednesday, attempting to close a gap that leaves many without high-speed Internet. The plan, called ConnectHome, will launch in 27 cities nationwide and is expected to reach 275,000 public-housing households, including 200,000 children. The program will also come to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, where Obama spoke to share the program.

    “The internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Obama said, noting that the people who “could benefit the most from the latest technology are the least likely to have it.” The plan is part of a broader White House strategy to upgrade the nation’s technology infrastructure much like it would roads or bridges, and bring high-speed Internet to every corner of the country. The administration has pledged to bring high-speed broadband and wireless Internet to 99 percent of the nation’s schools by 2017.

    The Internet of Things? Here is a good article. And here is a definition.The Internet of Things (IoT, sometimes Internet of Everything) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure of International … Internet of Things – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    BYOD is not as flexible as every way we connect and all phones are not created equally. I like to think of the seven “e’s” when we talk about the Internet. We will talk about the Internet of things later. The seven E’s are Expectation, Enticement, Engagement, Explanation, Exploration, Extension, and Evidence. I learned the Internet from Dr. Chris Dede,( the above picture) we took a class and he involved us in the use of the Internet. We had some expectations of what we could do, and the enticement was the free class and the opportunity to be an Edtech leader in the schools in the region I was teaching in.

    Learning something new, or attempting to understand something familiar in greater depth, is not a linear process. In trying to make sense of things we used both our prior experience and the first-hand knowledge gained from new explorations. It is up to the teacher to facilitate the constructivistic learning process. The structure of the learning environment gave us opportunities and events that encourage and support the building of understanding.

    And that was what he did. He created an opportunity for us to learn in a great environment. Does too much technology include the use of “Science on a Sphere?”, Ocean Imaging? Medical 3 D Printing? Google Glass? GIS? We could add a lot of things to this list. But you get the drift. There is the use of big data and the learning of robotics. Where does learning stop? Where does it begin? orienteering Social media is sometimes an application that people start to use to become familiar with technology. That would include, I think some preparation for the use of digital citizenship and an understanding of a digital footprint.

    This is a good beginning video to think about cyberbullying  http://stopcyberbullying.org Sharing what a digital footprint is also comes to mind.

    1. one’s unique set of digital activities, actions, and communications that leave a data trace on the Internet or on a computer or other digital device and can identify the particular user or device: Our online browsing habits are part of our passive digital footprint, created without our consent or knowledge, but our active digital footprint, especially on social media, can more easily be managed. source  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/digital+footprint


    Yes ,There is Still a Digital Divide! The President Announces ConnectHome, He Gets it!!

    The White House recognizes and reacts to the problem.

    Here is their press release.logo

    FACT SHEET: ConnectHome: Coming Together to Ensure Digital Opportunity for All Americans

    Today, the President will travel to Durant, Oklahoma, to announce ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

    ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years.  ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.

    Since the President took office, the private and public sectors have invested over $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Thanks to smart spectrum policies and world-leading technology, fast 4G wireless broadband is now available to over 98 percent of Americans — up from zero percent since 2009.

    An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

    An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

    Despite this progress, a new analysis released today by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA)  illustrates that some Americans are still unable to benefit from high-speed broadband, especially America’s lower-income children.  In fact, while nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest-income quintile own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription. While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends. This “homework gap” runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hardworking students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.


    President Obama is announcing ConnectHome to help close this gap and provide more Americans digital opportunity.

    Specifically, ConnectHome is:

    Building regional partnerships:  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite who worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build local partnerships and gather commitments that will increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans.  These partnerships will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to students living in public and assisted housing across America. Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities.

    • Twenty-eight communities strong: The President and HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced today that HUD has selected the following twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to participate in ConnectHome:

    Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.

    HUD selected these communities through a competitive process that took into account local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities; presence of place-based programs; and other factors to ensure all are well-positioned to deliver on ConnectHome.

    • Helping deliver affordable connectivity: Eight nationwide Internet Service Providers have announced they are partnering with mayors, public housing authorities, non-profit groups, and for-profit entities to bridge the gap in digital access for students living in assisted housing units.  For example:
      • In Google Fiber markets (including the ConnectHome cities of Atlanta, Durham, Kansas City, and Nashville), Google Fiber will offer $0 monthly home Internet service to residents in select public housing authority properties and will partner with community organizations on computer labs and digital literacy programming to bridge the digital divide, especially for families with K-12 students.
      • In select communities of Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work together to ensure that over 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed internet.
      • In Seattle, and across its coverage footprint, CenturyLink will make broadband service available to HUD households, via its Internet Basics program, for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the next four years.
      • In Macon, Meriden, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Cox Communications will offer home Internet service for $9.95 per month to eligible K-12 families residing in public housing authorities.As part of its existing ConnectED commitment, Sprint will work with HUD and the ConnectHome program to make its free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing. This builds upon the free mobile broadband service previously committed to low-income students by AT&T and Verizon, for ConnectED.
    • Making internet access more valuable: Skills training is essential to effectively taking advantage of all the Internet offers.  HUD is collaborating with non-profits and the private sector to offer new technical training and digital literacy programs for residents in assisted housing units.
      • Best Buy will offer HUD residents in select ConnectHome demonstration project cities, including Choctaw Tribal Nation, the computer training and technical support needed to maximize the academic and economic impact of broadband access. Best Buy will also offer afterschool technical training, for free, to students participating in ConnectHome at Best Buy Teen Centers in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, and Washington, DC.
      • The James M. Cox Foundation, a Cox Communications-affiliated Foundation, will make 1,500 discounted tablets, pre-loaded with educational software, available for $30 to students and their families participating in ConnectHome, in Macon.
      • GitHub will provide $250,000 to support devices and digital literacy training to HUD residents in ConnectHome cities.
      • College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer students and families in HUD housing in all ConnectHome communities free, online SAT practice resources, and contribute $200,000 over three years to fund digital literacy and personalized college readiness and planning training in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Washington, DC and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
      • 80/20 Foundation will provide $100,000 to fund digital literacy training in San Antonio.
      • Age of Learning, Inc. will make its ABCmouse.com online early learning curriculum available, for free, to families living in HUD housing in ConnectHome communities.
      • The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will produce and distribute new educational, children’s, and digital literacy content via participating local PBS stations tailored for ConnectHome participants.
      • The American Library Association will lead a collaboration with local libraries in all the ConnectHome communities to deliver tailored, on-site digital literacy programming and resources to public housing residents.
      • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide digital literacy training for HUD residents in ConnectHome communities that have a Boys & Girls Club, including in Durant, OK, part of Choctaw Tribal Nation.
      • Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.
    • Ensuring HUD assisted housing integrates broadband: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is also taking major steps to provide communities across the nation tools to improve digital opportunity for its residents. Today, Secretary Castro announced that HUD will:
    • Begin rulemaking that requires HUD-funded new residential construction and substantial rehabilitation projects to support broadband internet connectivity.
    • Provide communities with the flexibility to spend portions of their Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on local broadband initiatives and associated connectivity enhancements, including approximately $150 million dedicated to the current competition.
      • Begin rulemaking to include broadband planning as a component of the Consolidated Planning process, which serves as a framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and municipal development priorities.
      • Supply guidance and share best practices with HUD-funded grantees on how to more effectively utilize HUD funding to support broadband connectivity.
      • Integrate digital literacy programming and access to technology into related initiatives.
    • Supporting Promise Zones: ConnectHome is launching in Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and includes Camden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio – all of which were designated Promise Zones, where the Administration works in partnership with local leaders in high-poverty communities to achieve their educational and economic goals.  President Obama has also called on Congress to cut taxes on hiring and investment in Promise Zones to attract businesses and create jobs.

    Here is an awesome infographic



    Sow- Eat -Grow, Read-Kids -Cooking , Gardening, and Deeply Rooted Learning

    This is the result from our learning about herbs. Mr. DeBaggio started a business. We always got free plants at the beginning of spring for our class. He started us on a wonderful learning journey.

    But I am starting at the end of the story. Let me tell it in sequence.

    First, this quote”

    Most people know me because of my interest in science, math , technology and engineering. But lots of people love me for my cooking. Well cooking is an accidental science. But most don’t think of it in that way. My dad ate a lot of my experiments he used to say. But I learned and became an accomplished cook. I never thought that cooking would intersect with teaching.
     Mr. DeBaggio was a parent in my school. He came in one day when I was teaching about plants and offered to teach the class how to grow herbs on the windowsill.
    We were studying Medieval England and so I thought ok, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”. He grew a lot more. It was nice to not have to pay extravagant prices for the herbs. He also published a newsletter that told us all about the use of herbs, now and then.
    He became a frequent visitor to the classroom.He told us that we would better understand Medieval Times if we studied the culture of the times to that of Shakespeare’s time. So we took on the challenge.
     He produced a catalog of herbs. He told us that they were used , not just for eating, but for other purposes, medicinal, household uses, and for fragrance, oh yes and for remembering.
     His catalog shares the use , and care of plants.
    You can get the new version of the catalog here.
    Download the catalog
    Spring 2015
    (1.4 Mb)
    This is a tribute to him. He developed that hobby into a business.
    Sadly, he got ill..
    His son Francesco ,shared this.
    My father finally succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease on Monday, February 21, 2011. He had been living in a nursing home for the last two-and-a-half years. He developed an infection that caused him to have difficulty swallowing and breathing. Within 5 days, he quickly deteriorated, and died as peacefully as possible.

    **A passage in “Losing My Mind” noted the supposed healing powers of rosemary bushes and the melancholy Mr. DeBaggio felt as he watched the herb grow in the greenhouse – “splashy blue and subtle white” – on the day he received his diagnosis.

    Noah Adams and, more recently, Melissa Block of NPR’s All Things Considered followed the progression of his disease in several installments over the last few years.
    Washington Post Obituary Listen to the NPR interviews with Tom DeBaggio and his wife, Joyce, chronicling their experience with this devastating disease.
    A Parent Helps Shape the Learning Journey“How He Helped Us Focus and Learn”

    The classroom was before incessant testing.

    We had time to learn calligraphy, both basic and Illuminated, to learn to play chess, and to interact with the Folger Shakespeare Library.We made flutes and then bought flutes to learn to play.We read David McCauley books on “Castles” and then we tried to build our own castles.We read so many books.

    We looked at movies and videos and engineered our own “castles”.That was great fun.

    Castle by David McCauley,It’s a great book. It was inspiration.So we read Cathedral too. Now there are vidoes now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGbPShUpjpg

    The thing about the book. The illustrations and word play. We read the books over and over again.



    We studied the use of herbs as medicine , food in the early times.

    We had a book, “Shake Hands with Shakespeare”. It was a student edition of some of Shakespeare’s Plays.But I was side tracked as the students found editions of the play’s in their home libraries and they preferred those editions. Soon they were comparing editions. This came in as a great help when we had to produce our own version of a Shakespeare play.


    The Folger invites teachers and their students from across the DC Metro area to perform their 25-minute interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays. The students help edit, direct, and craft a piece, then perform in front of an audience of their peers in a day-long festival that celebrates Shakespeare’s language, his plays, and the students’ achievements mastering his work.

    * surely it increased vocabulary

    From the Herbal Gardens to Medieval Music we went…

    We learned to play the flute at lunch break. A local school group came and sang madrigals to us. Then a high school group made us Medieval costumes.

    In the science part of the lesson we were also hatching chickens, and one duck. Our eggs were successful , and the duck, hatched too . He was a black duck. He swam in circles in a bowl while in school. Sometimes he followed us around the room.( We called him Shakespeare) . When he got big, we gave him to a family to be a pet.

    The National Geographic had a map that we used to explore trips to get ready for the big event.We wanted to know what England was like. We were after all, going to the Folger Shakespeare Library to a replica theater.

    Children’s Festival
    Every spring, hundreds of students in grades 3–6 perform Shakespeare for one another on the stage and in our Great Hall at a festival. The Emily Jordan Folger Children’s Shakespeare Festival, which is open to schools in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area, features audience participation, great performances, wild applause from parents and fans, guests visiting from the 17th century, and a memento to take home.

      We were a class that took all of this to heart.
    The next year we:
    Raised chickens and a duck
    Learned chess and did living chess in the school yard
    Made bread dough dragons with almond toenails
    Made Illuminated Initials in Gold for our Desks ( art teacher)
    Learned to make herbal wreaths and tea
    Took more flute lessons
    Learned to mordant wool, ( get dye colors as they did back then)
    We took rudimentary fencing lessons
    We had a feast using authentic recipes. BEST? Sorrel soup, and Turkey haunches)
    Learned to use an abacus
    Listened to a town crier
    Made a replica of the First Shakespeare library
    Grew flowers as Anne Hathaway did
    Borrowed an 8o pound beaded dress for our “faux” queen for our own festival
    Learned the language of flowers in the old times
    Understood who could wear what colors in olden times and why
    Made a stained glass project.
    Most of all, we learned more Shakespeare plays.
    The meaning of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, Scarboroh Fair
    The herbs parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, recurring in the second line of each stanza, make up for a key motive in the song. Although meaningless to most people today, these herbs spoke to the imagination of medieval people as much as red roses do to us today. Without any connotation necessary, they symbolize virtues the singer wishes his true love and himself to have, in order to make it possible for her to come back again.

    Why go to a Conference? Should you go? I went to ISTE, take a look!! Just a bit of the experience here.

    186097-geo-globe-wall-marquee-rwd.jpg.rendition.intel.web.720.405A Conference?

    is usually defined as a large official meeting, usually lasting for a few days, at which people with the same work or interests come together to discuss their views and to share their knowledge.
    The space is used for exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, playgrounds, and social events.
    in a conference room/centre/hall or building. These days, a conference sometimes has a virtual component and a social media component to link the people with interests in the topics.The ISTE conference also had a couple of sassy electronic aids that replaced usual booklets of information, but the traditional book and map were also available as well as human helpers with “Ask Me” sign.



    June 28 through July 1
    ISTE 2015
    Pennsylvania Convention Center

    ISTE promised “Groundbreaking ideas to be shared, new learning technologies being unveiled and seeds are planted that will impact education for years to come. ”

    Who attended 2015 ISTE? Unofficial reports of those in physical attendance , 21,000.

    A most important part of this conference is the keynote. The keynotes bring a lot of the conference attendees together for important messaging. The keynotes are framed in ideational scaffolding that help to frame new ideas and share philosophy.

    Soledad O’Brian started us off.Even though you can find her keynote , and parts of it online, the excitement of being in the crowd, with the music, and the roar of the crowd,finding or making friends in the audience is a rush. She was electric!! She spoke to digital equity and social justice with outstanding examples to share. This is a snippet. It was a thoughtful delivery and sharing of ideas. http://www.educationdive.com/news/monday-at-iste-2015-googles-cardboard-what-works-in-11-and-fed-talks/401486/ Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, producer and television personality. In June 2013, she launched Starfish Media Group (SMG), a multiplatform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering and producing stories that delve into the often-divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity through personal stories.

    Jack Gallagher,  his keynote, “Insight into Autism: A Father’s Perspective,” shared a moving portrayal of a parent struggling to understand a child who he comes to realize is truly amazing. Drawn from his personal experience and training as an educator, his story illustrates that sometimes when pushed to the limit, we learn new lessons and discover new ways of approaching complex situations. His inspiring story underscored how parents and educators, when working in unison, can build understanding, perspective and celebration. I cried.. not for him, but for students that have been in my life, in my class, in my heart. Teachers that I knew in the crowd afterwards, shared stories and ideas and shared tissues.

    Josh Stumpenhorst, the 2011-12 Illinois Teacher of the Year and an ISTE Emerging Leader, was electric in his keynote.A junior high history and English teacher, Stumpenhorst is an influential blogger whose innovative ideas have challenged the status quo and produced outstanding student outcomes. Stumpenhorst discusses his often unorthodox educational philosophies, such as his belief that homework and grades actually harm student learning and his emphasis on building relationships with students based on trust and respect rather than fear and punishment. He resonated with the crowd because he is one of us . A teacher. Yeah!!

    I am sure that to newbies, in a way , the conference was overwhelming, there was something for everyone, more than enough for the innovators, and visionaries, and a wash of playgrounds, an expo hall and meetings of birds-of-a-feather. So attendees got a voice even if they were not presenting at the conference. In a year when teachers have been cast as the “enemy” in many ways, we felt as if he was our cheerleader. Well leader and we loved him.


    I never found a shark hat. but there were some great surprises on the expo hall. Breakfast. Seriously. I could pay attention and not be distracted by the Reading Market. I found lots of technology that I had read about, and some that I have not experienced.

    I never had funding to do First Robotics. I am a member of CSTA so at the conference I did meet with some “experts” in this field, and work on the playground. I also found some affordable robotics.I have a personal network of IT friends , some from around the world , some from my state, and some who are leaders of national prominence. The conference had so much to offer that I did not play until it was almost over. Yes, I went to the Reading Market, to the Science Museum to a luncheon and to the Barnes Museum. I also found a free bookstore, and met informally with PLN leaders.

    I don’t know how the virtual experience can match actually being at the conference. so I suggest you save your money and your points, and look forward to Denver next year.