Studying the Chesapeake Bay, Using Digital Resources and the Arts!!

Exploring the Chesapeake Bay
Children who may not know the way of estuaries to the sea can learn using valuable online resources.
I use a different way of teaching. Marc Prensky is right. There are people who know a lot more than I do about the Chesapeake Bay.I became the facilitator for learning, connecting the dots and some of them were using the arts , digital media and hands on science by mistake really. I had training from the National Geographic which included maps, history, art and a great video.
I wanted to think how to fund all of this and how to create a rich environment . I wrote some grants, the parents and I had a meeting and we enlisted some help from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Chesapeake Bay is the most important water way in this area. I took courses at the National Aquarium in Baltimore , and learned to write curriculum  . For three years I investigated

estuaries, and then the Bay as a system and then the ocean. I think I would have become a Marine Biologist if I had not been swayed by technology and the Clinton administration. But I had the curriculum , but as usual not the permission to use it at my grade level and so I reached out to NASA, NOAA, National Geographic, the Chesapeake Bay Society and parents and I found a way to get a grant. When money is given in schools and principals sign their permission , you can do wonderful things.
The final trip was ito Baltimore
We started by sharing resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service
We did Duck Stamps. We drew Duck Stamps  and learned about the various ducks who come to the Chesapeake Bay.
Here is a set of photos and resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service  The people who came from the Fish and Wildlife Service brought posters and resources too.
The Fish and Wildlife people gave us a bus to the Blackwater facility. We saw ducks in the wild and had an outdoor excursion.
National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a beautiful place. It is expensive for students and we decided to do a bus tour.
Thank heavens for grants.
The education program is fantastics, we did adaptations and studied the salinity, turbidity waves and tides, microscopic life , seined and did pollution studies from different sites on the Chesapeake.But we did our homework. We read stories about the CHesapeake Bay, and wrote some of our own. We studied the maps of the bay and the estuary.
Smithsonian Estuary Research Center
You can see that we did a lot of work at this research center, before we had our “Eat a Crab Lab” and other activities
3.   About Crabs – Lesson 1
…ere the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District +————-+—————-+———– Lesson About Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet 108 1 Education Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting Crab Up A SERC: 518.370.8100 Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 1 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will use the Internet to learn about the Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to identify the…
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    Grade Level: K-5
4.   About Crabs
Where the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District Lesson About 108 Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet Education II 1 Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting 518.370.8100 Crab Up A SERC: Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 2 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will observe a live Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to distinguish between a male and fema…
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    Grade Level: 9-12
That service has a portable traveling lesson. I can’t think it is as exciting as being at the place.
If you look at the pictures you can see how fantastic it is. The children go out on a pier where there are stations . They have science experiments to perform.  We learned the data we needed to do the experiments back in the classroom.
One of my students surprised me. Since we were so early in the year in the crab season. I said if they caught a crab I would
buy a bushel to steam back at the school. Well this child had a plan. Her mother was a biologist. She captured an immature
stage of the crab and precisely identified it.  So we did have an eat a crab lab extra session.
The National Geographic had maps of the Chesapeake Bay and we took a canoe trip on one of the rivers we studied.
Blackbirds in the reeds, a smooth adventure.
National Geographic is partnering with groups – across a range of scientific disciplines – that are interested in exploring how FieldScope can better support student geographic learning and outdoor investigations.

FieldScope Projects

This is awesome.

National Geographic FieldScope is a web-based mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool designed to support geographic investigations and engage students as citizen scientists investigating real-world issues – both in the classroom and in outdoor education settings. FieldScope enhances student scientific investigations by providing rich geographic context – through maps, mapping activities, and a rich community where student fieldwork and data is integrated with that of peers and professionals, adding analysis opportunities and meaning to student investigations.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay FieldScope Project is a “citizen science” initiative in which students investigate water quality issues on local and regional scales and collaborate with students across the Bay to analyze data and take action. Chesapeake Bay FieldScope is a project of National Geographic’s Education Programs in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.
Serc does on line teaching for everyone. But I did it from the Pier and Reed Center.
Marc Haddon was my contact for a long time there.

See the  SERC Lab
This was a teacher workshop
Art was mosaics, writing a play about the bay, drawing the animals of the bay, creating a workbook for people who loved the bay, and writing a grant, the kids did this, to be able to take field trips to photograph the bay.
I never knew that there was a  boating minority connection to the study of the Chesapeake Bay regarding Frederick Douglass.
He created with others , a boat building facility for blacks to be able to be involved in the shipbuilding enterprise.
Who knew?
We collected books and read them about the bay and its children.
In the end we loved best the study of Anoxia Mae.
We wrote a grant with the help of parents and had $5000.oo to spend on field trips, excursions, making movies and posters.
This was at Ashlawn School  in Arlington, Virginia.
We did a lot more than this. One of the things you learn from being a teacher trained by the National Geographic is that children with an interest in geography learn and share with the community. So my children went to the school board to complain about the filth in local streams, and got some help on organizing a clean up day with the Arlington County  Board.
I did not plan that idea. The kids did. You can see why theme based, supported project based learning is wonderful for students.
I am thankful for the training I had at the National Geographic Society as an educator.
If I was teaching now, in a classroom, I could add the GIS information to this program.
ESRI and the National Geographic help make for a rich learning experience for kids.
More resources for everyone are at My Wonderful World .org.

Family Online Safety Contract

I don’t know if people know how concerns about online safety  affect the use of technology in schools and families and communities. While working in a rural area, I came in contact with a parent who told me that he solved the cyberbullying program by cutting the cord to the computer.  It made me sad. It made me jump to the reality of the problem. I think the following document is a good way to start the conversation.

I have been reading and learning about family involvement in online safety.

I found this contract  that I think is a great initiative for summer for families.

PTA and school groups could facilitate the sharing of this document.

Family Online Safety Contract

*Adapted by FOSI/ICRA from various online safety pledges and contracts developed by multiple entities: (; The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (; Federal Trade Commission Cyberpassport (; (; I-SAFE America ( 

Losing a Mentor but Finding my Way, Anyway!

From a visit to Tracy School

Engineering 101

Students construct knowledge using great fiction
Reading, Writing and Thinking

Jack Taub was a mentor of mine. You may never have met him.He recently died without making his dreams of an independent educational initiative for every child a reality in America. He invested his life and funds in trying to make this dream come true.

He was a cheerleader for education who tirelessly campaigned to make a difference, a transformation of learning . He had been a cheerleader for education for me. I have been to endless meetings where he pitched his dreams and ideas. He wanted to launch a thousand schools of transformation based on the Tracy Calidornia, model.


Before I met Jack, I was a Christa McAuliffe Educator for Diversity. That put me in touch with Chris Dede , and Seymour Papert to name a few of the innovative educators we were learning from.  We worked through the NEA, NFIE. Teachers contributed money on the death of Christa in the shuttle accident to innovative teaching and learning.

Today the   NEA Foundation’s works  in closing achievement gaps highlights the importance of engaging not only the teachers who provide instruction, but the principals who lead buildings, the superintendent who runs the district, the families who send their children to school and the teacher association leaders who negotiate the working contract for public school employees. Together, these groups are shaping learning environments and opportunities for all students to achieve at higher levels.

Learning Transformational Practice

There was so much to learn. So many ways to use technology and too little permission and or understanding in the schools. We worked hard to demonstrate this technology. With NCLB, in spite of the gathering of experts who talked about STEM and purposed use of technology teachers were reduced to teaching for the test, or suffering from the results of too much testing. The tests might have been ok, but there were school tests, practice tests, grade level tests, special focus tests.. you get my drift.

When I met Jack Taub it was  long after my star had set. I was no longer in the press, working for the Lucas Foundation, or influential. He was using his influence to breathe life into my dreams of a level playing field in education.

I was attracted to educational transformation by a chance encounter trying to solve problems for a child who was being labeled as unable to participate in regular education because of a writing handicap. The child was brilliant, he just could not physically write.

At the time that I was caring for this child, hoping to save him from being labeled, I decided to let technology into my classroom. It is not that I was disliking technology. I had no idea of the power of technology. At the time, I did not think I needed too much technology. After all I was trained by NASA, taking classes at the Smithsonian, and taking workshops from a number of places. I had resources and I knew how to make a beuutiful classroom. But..this is the problem.. the kids wanted to use the technology. I was letting one child use the technology and they all wanted to.

Time for a sea change.

Theme based learning, parent involvement, community involvement. This was what seemed like very hard work.The hardest part of it was learning to involve parents, the planning, the sharing and the students learning to use the tchnology.

Students mentored others, parents helped me when National Geographic had new ideas and resources that the tech support team did not understand.

Here is what happened. We were able to get more computers because other teachers did not want to be bothered with the technology. Frank Withrow and Jenelle Leonard had some initiatives going from the Department of Education , and my kids, parents and I were on the fast track to tranforming educational practice.

So what happened to that student who was having trouble you would be surprised at the outcome. He loved to write on the computer. More than that he often pushed my abilities and ended up teaching or learning something with me. I found to my surprise that for the plays, the kids would make the handouts, create art and make the flyers. This was great. He won my first computer for me. More important he escaped being placed in special education because his writing skills won him national prizes and confirmation of his abilities.

Before that  I used to take a computer home on weekends.. Hint. It was NOT a laptop.


Games were a part of our learning as well. MECC was allowing students and teachers license to use the games and simulations in the classroom. This also made for a transformation. Games were not accepted in schools in many places. However, MECC allowed me to work with them and to demonstrate the games that they had then. We also were able to create out own games using basic and a few simple languages. School was a fascinating place to my students, and community. We had NASA, National Geographic, and NSTA. We were on the edge of the new learning cuve. Kidsnetwork was one of the projects that we were able to explore. I was able with the National Geographic to fall into technology during a summer.

The learning experience that summer was more than transformational. There was geography, social studies, research and other ideas that you can find at

The better I got at using technology, the more difficult it was to stay in a classroom. Fortunately, I was involved with the Clinton White House in several initiatives. We at the National Informational Infrastructure ASdvisory Council, worked with the White House to infuse technology into the schools of the US. So I had mentors all over the place.

The Tracy Learning Center is the first in a network of research and development schools implemented to demonstrate Emaginos Learning. The Tracy Learning Center is a dynamic response to the compelling need to revolutionize teaching and learning. The foundation for Emaginos Learning has its beginning in the vision, creativity and innovation used to design the Tracy Learning Center. The Tracy Learning Center opened in July 2001 and operates as a K-12 charter school. The Tracy Learning Center serves as a model for both public schools and learning in the private sector. It is an innovative collaborative of industry, education and government that provides a positive change in the process of learning.
This is a model you should see. This is a model that should be disseminated in geographically and educational correct models.

While I wait and hope for funding, I am being supported in ideas by the groups working in Supercomputing and in the Teragrid communities. The, foundation has a great set of curriculum materials.  I have grown in my understanding of computational thinking and supercomputing applications.

To keep my teaching focus. I go to workshops on Saturday , in Washington DC, in Naylor Gardens to help instruct willing minority students in GPS, GIS and use of the computational sciences. I work with Dr. Jesse Bemley , a computer scientist and other volunteers on Saturdays to transform , inform and create an awareness of new ways of learning .

I get inspiration from the Nationsl Science Board workshops . From a visit to Tracy School

Bonnie Bracey Sutton