Virtual Field Trips and Global Collaborations in Education , Always Awesome!!


Last night, I was glancing at the news. The news was that education is finally doing virtual field trips. Say W H A T?

I thought , where has that reporter been and why did that reporter miss the many ways in the history of the use of technology that educators have used the technology in collaborative ways?There are new ESRI projects that are GIS centered. I am loving this new iteration of technology use. See here.


The Power of Mapping
A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. But I digress..remind me to tell you about story mapping.


I had a Lumaphone. I , as a teacher paid the phone bill and we connected in black and white…around the world. It was similar to the connection shown on the virtual field trip showcased on television, and it was project focused. It was cool beans at the time. We were pioneers in the use of it. People were impressed. We are talking 1993.


Think Lumaphone, think CUSEEME. When we first initiated these projects, we got a lot of push back. The Washington Post humiliated those of us who tried CUSEEME.

CU-SeeMe was originally written by Tim Dorcey of the Information Technology department at Cornell University.[1] It was first developed for the Macintosh in 1992 and later for the Windows platform in 1994. Originally it was video-only with audio added in 1994 for the Macintosh and 1995 for Windows. CU-SeeMe’s audio came from Maven, an audio-only client developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

CU-SeeMe was introduced to the public on April 26, 1993 as part of an NSF funded education project called the Global Schoolhouse.


“It is Not About the Technology” tells about the Global SchoolNet’s Global SchoolHouse Project using the first multi-point Internet-based video conferencing to connect schools in the United States and with schools worldwide. By sending video and audio signals over the Internet using CU-SeeMe software, students were able to see and hear each other while they worked on collaborative assignments. As part of the program they interacted with special guests, such as Vice President Al Gore, the anthropologist Jane Goodall, Senator Dianne Feinstein and surgeon general C. Everett Koop.

The Global Schoolhouse project was centered around children, the faces of which you’ll see throughout this book. Larry Duffy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory – was a very early user of CU-SeeMe. One day he popped into the CU-SeeMe reflector the GSH school-children were using. The kids explained what GSH was, how Larry could optimize his setup, and in general charmed him. Larry, the rocket scientist taught by high-school kids, is turn became a CU-SeeMe booster, setting up a reflector dedicated for the GSH, and having many interactions with the kids, and some notables as well. Steven Adams, also of JPL, became a “scientist-on-tap” for the GSH kids four hours a week.

Global Schoolnet has morphed into several other projects.IMG_0091

Global Schoolnet took me to Russia on behalf of the Eurasia Foundation. Talk about open doors to discovery!!Global SchoolNet’s mission is to support 21st century, brain-friendly learning, and improve academic performance through content-driven collaboration.  it engages educators and students in brain-friendly e-learning projects worldwide to develop science, math, literacy and communication skills, foster teamwork, civic responsibility and collaboration, encourage workforce preparedness and create multi-cultural understanding.1836866_10152188341376327_1972478766_o-2


In 1994 WXYC used CU-SeeMe to simulcast its signal to the net and so became the world’s first internetradio.

On Thanksgiving morning in 1995, World News Now was the first television program to be broadcast live on the Internet, using a CU-SeeMe interface. Victor Dorff, a producer of WNN at the time, arranged to have the show simulcast on the Internet daily for a six-month trial period. CU-SeeMe was also used in a taped interview segment in which anchor Kevin Newman and Global Schoolhouse director and founder Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres discussed the future of computers in communication.

There were other projects:

Integrated Curriculum Projects
” Under the Microscope “television productions, Challenger Center .


I believe the Kidsnetwork projects were the most awesome as they were ecology and environmentally based.
“Solar Energy” Kidsnetwork, “What is in Our Water “Kidsnetwork, ” Hello” Kidsnetwork. ” What are we eating?” Kidsnetwork.” Acid Rain.” Kidsnetwork. “Trash”, 1988-through 1995.. Student work featured in various magazines, such as Scientific American, and Apple Magazine.
“Moonbase America”, ” Touching the Future”, ” Marsville”. “Mars City Alpha ” These were all national programs. We presented our models to the IEEE group and shared experiences with Moonbase America on a national teleconference.

As Young Astronaut Chapter Leader our teams had commendation from President Bush in 1992. Some of us participated in Challenger Center Faculty meetings in Arizona, Hawaii, Seattle. Challenger Learning Centers gave students the chance to become astronauts and engineers and solve real-world problems as they shared the thrill of discovery on missions through the Solar System.

Using space simulation and role-playing strategies, students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate the skills needed for future success. Learning Centers reached into communities around the globe, engaging more than 400,000 middle school-age students and 40,000 educators each year.

CyberED , the truck, taking technology to the streets.

Enterprise and Empowerment Zones.. We taught the community and its families.



The spread of technology and communication projects was greatly assisted by Vice President Gore, who saw an opportunity for technology to be disseminated into schools. The picture above is from the tour of  a CyberEd Bus that toured the US sharing technology initiatives in empowerment and zones. We had a presentation station that linked directly with a NASA center and we and the audience communicated the use of technology at NASA.


Many of us , digital pioneers worked hard and long to put collaborative technology to use. I think the first collaborative field trips I did were with NASA. I did not know that we were using Supercomputing but we did to speak to astronauts and to other centers. It was an absolute delight to be involved.Once, my class and I visited the White House ( as Young Astronauts) and we spoke to an astronaut in space  . President George Bush and 8 astronauts were our collaborators. The children were understanding about the little lapse in time..we were experienced collaborators. The kids were excited about the hats the astronauts gave them and getting their autographs.

NASA also allowed us to collaborate with Rovers. NASA still have rover collaborations and contests. The most recent might be here.

I don’t have a picture of the students that I taught working with Astronauts and with Russian Cosmonauts but it happened. We virtually communicated with rovers in Canada. The students loved their involvement , learning and the collaboration. We had also done Marsvile. What a hoot!!

The Canadian National Marsville Program (CNM) is a unique program derived from the Challenger Learning Center’s Marsville program. The goal of CNM is to simulate habitation of the “Red Planet.” Students prepare for their adventure by studying space exploration and the planet Mars and then apply their knowledge as they create mission patches, design and build models of human life-support systems, construct Martian habitats and share their findings with other students from across Canada.

Each year the students’ mission patches are mounted on a special poster that is available to all participants.

Participating students work in teams. The primary task of each team is to design and build a model of one of nine different life-support systems. Life-support systems include; air, communications, energy, food, health and recreation, temperature, transportation, waste and water. Life-support systems are chosen by the teacher and students, and can be based on curriculum requirements.

Marsville Activities Still Going Strong in Canada


Marsville Rover
Over a three month period, starting on January 28 and running to late April, student teams work cooperatively to clarify the requirements for their life-support systems, brainstorm solutions and construct working models. Students are able to share their results and challenge teams across Canada using Team Blogs.

Early education pioneers did Rover challenges with classes, some International, and some collaborations within the Challenger Centers. I was a Challenger Fellow and we explored the new technologies in the centers and at the schools.National Challenger STEM Innovation Center
Challenger Center pioneered STEM education more than 27 years ago and continue to be a leader in STEM today.

In writing this article I simply was responding to the concerns that other educators had about the time line of virtual field trips and global collaborations. I have not included all of the groups that I know. reminded me of the 27 year history of her group.

Earth watch also had virtual and real field trips. Participants shared from the field to other schools. I hope that others will add to this list. Thank you.

The girls in my classroom worked as hard as the boys did and we learned together,

Teacher training allows dissemination of ideas to girls and boys.

How Long Does it Take to SuperCharge Education?

child Head

Superhero kid. Girl power concept

I was lucky enough to work with businessmen, inventors and politicians on framing the use of the Internet in our country. It became very clear to me that businesses work differently than we do in education. We framed a document called Kickstart with ideas to frame educational change in America and in the world. I guess in a business, if you frame a perspective you can make it come true. Some ideas are now being represented as new. Well ,STEM started out as SMET, and programming has a new name. Lots of old ideas, same reason for wanting to make change


It amused me to find out that businessmen thought if you defined the problem, as in “The Gathering Storm” that we in education would fix the problem. I offer to you the newest report,

So many great ideas here, Who will read the report? Who will make changes based on its information.


I think about these reports and the change they thought would happen. There are educational communities still resisting change. It is not about the money or being able to get professional development for the initiative.

Some say that testing has sucked the wind out of innovation.


A Retrospective on Twenty Years of Education Technology Policy

Twenty years ago,A Nation at Risk(1983) recommended “computer science” as one of the
five “new basics” to be included in high school graduation requirements. Since then, American
schools have made dramatic improvements in their technological capacity, driven largely by public
and private investments over the past ten years of more than $40 billion dollars in infrastructure,
professional development and technical support (Dickard, 2003). K-12 educators have also made
great strides in their readiness and ability to use technology to redefine the boundaries of the school
building and the school day, to improve the quality and accessibility of the administrative data that
informs their work, and most importantly, to foster the learning of core content and the development
of students’ skills as communicators, researchers,and critical consumers of an ever-expanding world
of information. However, policymakers, practitioners and the public all recognize that much remains
to be done in each of these areas.

The thing we called programming is now called coding, we can talk about computational thinking and cyber-education.

I was the K-12 teacher on the NIIAC. We started the conversations and still we wait for the changes…
The intent of the NII was to integrate hardware, software, and skills to make it easy and affordable to connect people, through the use of communication and information technology, with each other and with a vast array of services and information resources. Issues that the Council was to address included:

(1) the appropriate roles of the private and public sectors in developing the National Information Infrastructure;
(2) a vision for the evolution of the National Information Infrastructure and its public and commercial applications;
(3) the impact of current and proposed regulatory regimes on the evolution of the National Information Infrastructure;
(4) national strategies for maximizing the benefits of the National Information Infrastructure, as measured by job creation, economic growth, increased proguctivity, and enhanced quality of life;
(5) national strategies for developing and demonstrating applications in areas such as electronic commerce, agile manufacturing, life-long learning, health care, government, services, and civic networking;
(6) national security, emergency preparedness, system security, and network protection implications;
(7) national strategies for maximizing interconnection and interoperability of communications networks;
(8) international issues associated with the National Information Infrastructure;
(9) universal access; and
(10) privacy, security, and copyright issues.

We make fun sometimes of people who have a different perspective on what education is and how it should work.


In reality we in education are in many separate groups as well, with a vision that is different depending on our focus. We are K-12, we are Higher Ed, we are Technology Ed, and we are School Boards and Administratively focuses.

I am not mad with Bill Gates and others who have new ideas.

Too Much Tech? Really ? Got Tech??? Sort Of…

Girls learn ... we can do technology, science and math with good teachers.

There was a New York Times article that spoke of too much tech in children’s life.
It requires a careful reading. There are some very good points in the article but what is too much tech?
What is not spoken of is too little training by teachers who use what technology is available for them to use in the schools.What is not shared is that the IT person sometimes becomes just another administrator instead of a helping hand. Another layer of administration in some schools.

Many people have never achieve access, gotten adequate technology, and /or learned to integrate technology, never mind flipping the classroom.


This is from a supercomputing model at TACC

If you think you can compete with visual media. think again



Many schools do not teach geography. The resources of National Geography are vast and that means content. It’s free.There are alliances, there are projects like BioBlitz, and interactive mapping.

OK Glass!!

OK Glass!!

MapMaker Interactive

An interactive mapping experience with rich layers of information on the physical Earth, oceans, culture, and more.


Have You Got This Tech? Cyberlearning?

The NSF 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase: Improving Science, Math, Engineering Computer Science, and Technology K-12 showcases cutting-edge NSF-funded work to improve teaching and learning, and will allow colleagues affiliated with MSPnet, CADRE, CIRCL, CAISE, STELAR, CS10Kcommunity, and ARC to view, discuss, and comment on each others’ work.

It will also allow each project to disseminate their work to the public at large, helping NSF achieve its goal of broad dissemination of innovative work. All videos and discussions will be archived for future access.

The 2015 Teacher and Learning Video Showcase is available from the

112 (3-minute) videos from innovative project work conducted by researchers in multiple NSF programs.
Over 260 presenters and co-presenters have submitted 112 videos

Do You Know Supercomputing? Most teachers don’t..Some have resources that have been developed for their use in Cyberlearning and in various programs from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

GOT SUPERCOMPUTING? Visualization and Modeling? Big Data?


Some of us were lucky enough to be a part of the Christa McAuliffe Institute, i.e. there were two groups of us who worked together through the NEA. We seized the ideas of minority technology, and attempted to share what we knew about technology teacher to teacher and region to region. We were minority, male and mostly female and we did workshops and initiatives all over the USA.

The five first chosen were called Christa McAuliffe Educators and we were trained, given professional development with the latest of tools and the best of professors over many months.( Chris Dede and Seymour Papert. and there were others).Yvonne Andres shared Fred Mail, and we also learned from NASA and the National Center for Supercomputing. It was radical at the time.
We did some special programs with the NSF and learned about their outreach as well.

Being involved in transformational education through NASA

We never mentioned the word Supercomputing, we just did it.

At the time there were many NASA programs . We had people who demonstrated astronomy from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Young Astronaut Program.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education is a nonprofit educational organization with its headquarters in Washington, DC. It was founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.

The organization offers dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities to students around the world. These programs equip students with the knowledge, confidence, and skills that will help better our national social and economic well-being.

There was also Space Camp . If you look at the information in the link even back then there was awesome tech.

Space Camp was the brainchild of rocket scientist, Dr. Wernher von Braun. Von Braun led propulsion activities that launched the Apollo-era U.S. manned space program and envisioned an aggressive schedule for America’s space-bound pioneers. Von Braun, then director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, reasoned there should be an experience for young people who were excited about space. Under the guidance of Edward O. Buckbee, the first director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Space Camp was born.

Camps are available for fourth grade through high school-age students. Additional programs are offered for trainees who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing and those who have other special needs. Space Camp programs are also available for adults, educators, corporate groups and families. Family programs may include children as young as seven years old. I can’t really list all of the programs then or now. Space Centers helped us to find all of the projects that were available. Some teachers did Moonbase America, and others did project based NASA projects. We learned about raising food in space, basil, tomatoes, and thinking about ways to raise tilapia.

Being a Science Teacher with Outside Resources.. Try these NASA resources !!
We created an institute at Stanford where we invited teachers who applied to share their technology. We also presented our special projects. It was a sharing of the best of the best. We created more ways in which to do STEM which was called at the time SMET.

That is one level of technology. Have you considered that there was a synergy of space and Star Wars? The movie propelled a lot to be interested in Science Fiction. The force of interest drove many students to robotics.

Many Children Have Parents to Share New Ways of Learning with Them

This is from Family Days at AAAS.

George Lucas also pioneered Edutopia.Technology Integration examples were shared to help us all
explore new tools and strategies for empowering students to fully participate in a connected, techology-rich society. But this is the problem. At the time we talked of the digital divide. That was before a lot of people had access, tools, training, and/or permission to use technology in schools.

There was not BYOT Bring your own technology , and even with the tools we had there was a content divide. I know that in rural, distant , urban and some tribal areas we have a bigger divide.

Some people are not at the level that we think. There is a lot of tech, but it is not in all schools.

A Wonderful Day on the Chesapeake Bay -STEM Learning for Teachers

On May 2, 2015 a group of teachers participated in a Discovery Educational Network workshop. Teachers learned onsite references to share with their classes from Discovery, and participated in the study of the use of the links.


We learned the state of the Bay 2014. We were given resources for our classes. But the learning of the state of the bay helped us to learn why we needed to help children learn about the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay (/ˈɛsəpk/ CHESS-ə-peek) is an estuary lying inland from the Atlantic Ocean, and surrounded by the North American mainland to the West, and the Delmarva Peninsula to the East. It is the largest such body in the US.[2] The northern bay is within Maryland, the southern portion within Virginia, and is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the bay’s 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) plus all of the District of Columbia.[2][3]

The bay is approximately 200 miles (320 km) long from its northern headwaters in the Susquehanna River to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) wide at its narrowest (between Kent County’s Plum Point near Newtown and the Harford County shore near Romney Creek) and 30 miles (48 km) at its widest (just south of the mouth of the Potomac River). Total shoreline including tributaries is 11,684 miles (18,804 km), circumnavigating a surface area of 4,479 square miles (11,601 km2). Average depth is 21 feet (6.4 m), reaching a maximum of 174 feet (53 m).[4] The bay is spanned twice, in Maryland by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Sandy Point (near Annapolis) to Kent Island and in Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Virginia Beach to Cape Charles. Known for both its beauty and bounty, the bay is becoming “emptier”, with fewer crabs, oysters and watermen in recent years.[5] Recent restoration efforts begun in the 1990s have been ongoing and show potential for growth of the native oyster population.


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2014 State of the Bay report presents a mix of good and bad news. The Bay is improving. Slowly. But it is improving.

The great news: Water quality indicator scores have improved significantly. What we can control—pollution entering our waterways—is moving in the right direction.

The worrisome news: Blue crabs and striped bass are not doing well. These metrics indicate a system still dangerously out of balance.

We continue to have polluted water, risks to human health, and lost jobs—at huge societal costs.

The future is just around the corner; 2017—the year when 60 percent of programs to achieve the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint pollution reduction targets are to be in place—is in our sights.stelprdb1046486



Graph showing improvements in water quality since 1983.


Students aboard the skipjack Stanley Norman. Photo by Loren Appel
Students aboard CBF’s skipjack Stanley Norman. Photo by Loren Appel/CBF Staff.

CBF Education - Learn OutsideFor 40 years, CBF’s award-winning environmental education program has been one of the cornerstones of our effort to reverse the Bay’s decline.

Teachers needed to experience the Bay so that they could be environmental stewards and be able to share their knowledge.IMG_6985

Teachers learned how to use Discovery Networks resources and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation experiences for students. We planned out lessons, we talked about resources and viewed ways of working and we shared experiences.

The captain of the skipjack escorted us to the dock for our field lessons.


Opportunities included exploration of local wetlands by canoe or a day aboard a historic, 100-year-old skipjack, our traditional watermen workboats, or modern research vessels. In the heart of the bay.



We surveyed maps of the Chesapeake Bay, and then we used Secchi disks to check the clarity of the water, we tested the salinity of the water and dredged for oysters.

As we traveled the bay, we learned so much.



Students at a CBF field experienceField Experiences—We take students out on the Bay and its tributaries for hands-on investigation. (See a field experience in action.)

Teachers learn about the Bay on a Chesapeake Classrooms outing.Teacher Professional Development—”Chesapeake Classrooms” focuses on methods to incorporate environmental education into the core subject areas of reading, math, science, and social studies.

School principals planting grassesPrincipals Environmental Leadership Program —Activities, classroom curricula, and advanced water quality monitoring materials.

Dumping oysters overboardStudent Leadership—Offering students opportunities to expand their knowledge of Bay issues, improve their planning skills, focus on team building, and learn how to lead others to take action to improve water quality in their local communities.

Resources—Activities, classroom curricula, and advanced water quality monitoring materials.

Meaningful Watershed Experiences

All programs are designed to support state standards of education and are based from the official definition for a “meaningful watershed education experience” (PDF, 0.9 MB) as defined by the Chesapeake Bay Program. Programs are supported and created in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Geographic Society.

CBF’s environmental education opportunities link the natural environment and human culture of the Chesapeake. They enable students and teachers to conduct their own research through biological sampling, chemical analysis, and physical measurements. In addition to using critical thinking skills to evaluate the health of the ecological system, participants also gain a unique perspective in the relationship between water quality, fisheries, and economics. Our courses combine many academic disciplines, such as earth science, biology, history, art, English/writing, math, chemistry, civics, economics, government, and responsible citizenship. (See what students and teachers have to say.)

Innovative teaching methods and a knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff have put CBF at the vanguard of the environmental education movement. The result is an exceptionally informed and inspired constituency that values the Bay and its watershed as a living, connected system. Read what people are saying out our education programs.

A Riot? It is the Language of the Unheard !! Can You Hear them Now?

“A riot is the language of the unheard,” the Rev. Martin Luther King said.

If you stand under the momument this is what you will see

What gets lost in translation is the logic that motivates rioters, whose inability to articulate their frustration finds expression in rocks thrown at police, looting neighborhood stores and setting fires. What causes such actions?


What are some of the reasons that we have riots!

In the history of America social justice and digital equity are a problem. Baltimore is the most recent manifestation of a riot. I remember driving home to Washington DC, with the fires spiraling up to the sky. I had fear, but I knew that the fires would not affect me. There are people who have no choice either way. The riots took place and people suffered even more difficulty because they destroyed the places that served them. I did not live in the ghetto. But I had friends who did.

In case you don’t know about the Washington Riot

The death of Martin Luther King caused the Washington Riot.

By the time the city was considered pacified on Sunday, April 8, twelve had been killed (mostly in burning homes[citation needed]), 1,097 injured, and over 6,100 arrested. Additionally, some 1,200 buildings had been burned, including over 900 stores. Damages reached $27 million. This can be estimated to be equivalent to over $175 million today.
Aftermath from the riots
The riots utterly devastated Washington’s inner city economy. With the destruction or closing of businesses, thousands of jobs were lost, and insurance rates soared. Made uneasy by the violence, city residents of all races accelerated their departure for suburban areas, depressing property values. Crime in the burned out neighborhoods rose sharply, further discouraging investment.

On some blocks, only rubble remained for decades. Columbia Heights and the U Street corridor did not begin to recover economically until the opening of the U Street and Columbia Heights Metro stations in 1991 and 1999, respectively, while the H Street NE corridor remained depressed for several years longer.

Walter Washington, who reportedly refused FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s suggestion to shoot the rioters,[3][4] went on to become the city’s first elected mayor and its first black mayor.[3]

Baltimore is a tame riot compared to the DC riot.  On Friday, April 5, the White House dispatched some 13,600 federal troops, including 1,750 federalized D.C. National Guard troops to assist the overwhelmed District police force.[2] Marines mounted machine guns on the steps of the Capitol and Army troops from the 3rd Infantry guarded the White House. At one point, on April 5, rioting reached within two blocks of the White House before rioters retreated. The occupation of Washington was the largest of any American city since the Civil War.

We have not just for blacks but for other groups, uneven education and a misinterpretation of the way in which schools must work to prepare students for the future.

The unrest and difficulty with police? It has been a simmering cauldron of hate. Hope has disappeared for many. The chant? We’re young , we’re strong, we can march all night long.

The youth of Baltimore says the Washington Post are worse off than poor youths in Nigeria and India.

Mary McLeod Bethune (U.S. educator and activist, 1875-1955)

What does the Negro want? His answer is very simple. He wants only what all other Americans want. He wants opportunity to make real what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights say, what the Four Freedoms establish. While he knows these ideals are open to no man completely, he wants only his equal chance to obtain them.
If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything…that smacks of discrimination or slander.

The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.

We have a Prison Pipeline
When did this “school-to-prison pipeline” process start?
Multiple forces were at work producing a perfect storm. Starting in the 1960s working class blue-collar jobs disappeared and vocational training in schools largely ended. During the 1970s economic downturn inner city minority schools became chaotic as a result of cuts in funding that have really never been restored. In the 1980s the crack epidemic undermined families in inner city communities and began to fill up the jails. In a world without work, crime became the main employer. Instead of addressing social problems, our society stiffened laws and stuffed people into cells. Private companies went into the prison business and became hungry for profits and raw materials. In the 1990s a conservative coalition that blamed the victims cut into government social welfare programs that were keeping families afloat and the situation worsened. A new zero-tolerance ideology justified tougher laws, mandatory sentences, and stricter treatment in schools. Following 2001, new police tactics like stop and frisk and new technologies that were supposed to protect the country from terrorist attack were used to systematize the punitive nature of inner city minority schools and school-to-prison connection. Add to the mix curriculum organized around boring Common Core test prep drills. The overall affect was to accelerate the exodus of students of color from schools. Not just blacks, but minorities in general.

HISTORY and Conflict

In history some would say that the choice between W.E.B Dubois who wanted schooling for blacks and Booker T. Washington who had a different viewpoint.They clashed and Booker

For those who do not know history, Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the Talented Tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.

Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.

Washington was of the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants, who were newly oppressed by disfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1895 his Atlanta compromise called for avoiding confrontation over segregation and instead putting more reliance on long-term educational and economic advancement in the black community.

The technology revolution has bypassed most minorities.

Back CameraIMG_0015

We have in rural, urban, minority and distant communities a dropout problem.

Franklin Schargel wrote this ;

” “America’s School Dropout Epidemic By The Numbers” about America’s dropout problem. I would like to add my opinions about why children drop out of school. I am a professional educator who served as a classroom teacher, school counselor and school administrator in the New York City school system for over 33 years. I believe that there are five major reasons why children leave school:

1. The students themselves
They make wrong decisions. They get involved with gangs, drugs/alcohol, get pregnant and commit crimes. Many have a poor school attitude and are frequently bored by school. They are disconnected to their families, school and life. They do not see the reasons they need to go to school. They are not involved in school activities and lack self-esteem. Some have been promoted lacking skills needed for promotion. Some have undergone major illnesses and have missed too many days of school and have been informed that they will be held back. Because of many of the conditions listed above, they have been suspended and have fallen behind in their work and see little purpose of returning to school.

2. The family they come from
There is often a clash between the family values and those of the school. Frequently, their parents have dropped out of school themselves. The students come from families from low socio-economic backgrounds, where there are many other children. Older children often have to go to work in order to supply the family with much-needed funds for basic family needs or need to stay home to take care of younger siblings so that their parents can work. Many children come from non-English speaking homes with high mobility. Single parent homes have become the norm in the United States. Many children are products of divorce, separation or, sometimes, family violence. hey are not being raised by parents, but rather by aunts, uncles and grandparents. Families are not meeting some children’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

3. The community they come from
Many children live on the wrong side of the tracks in places where education is not valued, where drugs, gangs and violence abound. And where schools are low-performing, they often lack community and health support.

4. The schools they attend
The schools are toxic to student learning, students, parents and staff. Students are suspended for minor infractions (such as “talking back to the teacher”), or placed in “remedial classes.” The schools have a culture of low expectations. They lack adequate guidance counseling. The curriculum is not relevant to the needs of the students being taught. Passive instructional strategies are being used without regard to individual student learning styles.Teachers are not trained in the latest teaching/learning/technology techniques. Funding is based on property values so that low-income neighborhoods receive less funding than wealthy neighborhoods. Because some states pass budgets in a less than timely matter, teachers are not hired in time producing over-sized classrooms.

5. The teachers they have
The least-experienced, least classroom-trained teachers are often assigned to the most difficult schools. They enter the field with the expectation that they have been adequately prepared by the schools of education with the skills they need and they haven’t received. (See Arthur Levine, “Educating School Teachers”) They are leaving the field faster than colleges can prepare them. The teacher “dropout rate” is higher than the student dropout rate. Forty-six percent of teachers leave the field within five years. When asked why they leave, a majority state that they haven’t been properly prepared, have had increased demands placed on them because of high stakes testing and are not getting adequate support from their supervisors in dealing with classroom discipline.

Like all generalities, there are exceptions to the information provided above. But, by and large, the statistics bear them out.”

The problems of the youth apparently have not reached the ears of the general public except through the riots. Shame on us.

We meet the world on the news , but do students know where in the world the news is coming from?

We meet the world on the news , but do students know where in the world the news is coming from?

Leon Botstein: Are We Still Educating Citizens?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This article is a brilliant essay by Bard College President Leon Botstein about the democratic and civic purposes of education.

It begins thus:

The initial motivations for the movement challenging the monopoly of public schools were ultimately ones of prejudice: White parents did not want their children to attend schools that were attended by blacks. This logic was then sanitized by appeals to religious liberty, insofar as parents fleeing integration attached themselves to religious movements. Evangelicals and observant Jews did not want their children to go to schools that idealized acculturation and assimilation into a secular society whose character promoted “godlessness.” The constituencies that wanted to circumvent integration allied themselves with those who resisted the separation of church and state. And no doubt, since school quality is dependent on local property taxes, the poorer the neighborhood, the worse the schools, making a mockery of the idea that public education was…

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Food, Kids, Nutrition and Culture..What Fun! What Great Learning Adventures!

Bonnie Bracey Sutton614636_10151200814371327_683517969_o

Sometimes I like to say this is about eating our way through Geography and History..children can be motivated by what they are interested in. Food is usually an interest.


Most people know me because of my interest in science, math , technology and engineering. But lots of people love me for my cooking.  My mother was a great cook. She said to me,if you can read you can cook. But she was from the country and cooked things in season and in a particular routine. She was excellent. She probably regretted that advice when I made bread for the first time. It was nine pans of rolls, but she was patient. I loved cooking in the kitchen with her. Virginia foods, soul foods and she liked to make French pastries ,too.

Recently , I have learned to eat more vegetables and salads. My husband brings a world of eating experience to my table. And he buys me cookbooks.

Sinking your teeth into the accidental science of cooking is fun!

I liked a wider range of foods and was always experimenting with food at home.I love how the Exploratorium calls it ” The Accidental Science of Cooking“.

On trips around the world I collected cookbooks and spices, but not for school.

I realized that one thing we all have in common was the daily task of eating.

How I Got Started

Once in the classroom during the Cherry Blossom Festival,a teacher came from the Smithsonian. She was Japanese, cute, and was teaching and cooking all at the same time. I was jealous. She had everyone’s rapt attention and even kids who were finicky about foods lined up to eat. That taught me a lesson. She was in cultural dress , talking and rocking her cooking on a hotplate. She was awesome.

My first help with cooking in the classroom was the 4H. They had some kind of recipes that were very good and inexpensive.  My second help, was having a garden in the school that I taught in, which at the time was Long Branch Elementary. in Arllington, Va.

I think I said to a parent , I would like to have a garden.  I was thinking about flowers , but there were strawberries growing in the back of the school near the park. So , all of a sudden parents and I were planning an early spring garden. Who knew it would be such fun? OK, it was also work, but the work was rewarding.

I don’t remember all of the parents, but Mr. Haithcock turned over the soil for us with a tractor , and Nathan Lyon’s family helped me choose plants.Nathan Lyon is now a chef of international status. The Lyon family helped us to get started.

Another mother came in to teach me to harden plants before we set them out. Harden? Who knew? I came from a family in Virginia who had a truck farm, but I was of the next generation. I just visited there in the summer. I learned as much as the students did. I learned to eat a lot of vegetable raw.

Did I mention Kolrabi…. I had no idea what it was. We had the soil tested by the 4H and we had written a grant so we had tools, gloves, shovels, sticks, seeds, and lots of garden resources.

I think the hardest thing was to get the kids and the tools down to the field without injury. I was always worrying about some one getting hit with a shovel, but it never happened. We had buckets too. The hose only reached so far. It was amazing how the children concentrated on the tasks.

Our school was on the edge of  a lovely park . A few of us could sit under the trees when others were digging in the dirt. Immigrant families interested in our work would also come and help weed and water. In the classroom we were raising chickens, hatching butterflies and frogs and doing Bugscope.

We should add Chickscope to the list, but we never ate our chickens. We raised them for the 4H and they would  come and collect our baby chickens.

As I matured as a teacher I learned to incorporate the geography of foods into my work. It started with the geography of a chocolate bar,

The art teacher helped us with the artistic part of it by letting us do still life painting. We visited the National Gallery of Art and saw the paintings of many artists  and we purchased a few copies of the paintings. At the link below you can take a look at some of the still life paintings in the collection and these days they are also available for the IPad.

The history of food, the travels of specific foods to the US reached a wonderful visual mapping from the ” Seeds of Change” which promoted the exchange of foods from around the world at the Smithsonian. It was  the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes included the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World.

No child in the room will forget the sculpture that showed when tomato met spaghetti. You can see that this can be the beginning of  a life long study.

Where in the world?

Here is a way to get started.

Food plays an important role in our culture and relationships. We had a map to study here.

  • 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.

    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.

    Tom De Baggio would come into the class and start us growing seeds from herbs. The business is still going strong. From the catalog, you can learn a lot.

Sometimes we inserted food into the curriculum in interesting ways.

Here is art to eat


When we did Shakespeare , we ate using authentic recipes. We learned about sorrel and parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The stories were fascinating. We did also make dragons with almond toenails. Too cute to eat, right away. Sorry, no picture. There be dragons, but we ate them.