Reading and Digital Literacy, Efforts and Projects Making a World Wide Difference

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

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Mobile Matters
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Powerful Ideas Spread
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There are all kinds of games, simulations and events that kids get to experience on devices. Whatever the learning landscape let’s do it to encourage reading.
 Here is a way in which my mentor helps with literacy in South Africa. Kevin Federle is featured in the video using her work. We change the world one reader at a time, one learning community at a time.. if needed.
There are all kinds of games, simulations and events that kids get to experience on devices. Whatever the learning landscape let’s do it to encourage reading.
“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
 – A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)
Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This infographic <;  visualizes data on literacy rates in the world, and the correlation between literacy rates and democracy. (Source: (direct document download) <; For those of us who are tasked with helping with the transformation of learning there is a huge task.
To work in Africa was a dream of mine. I had never been there, but studied it from afar. My uncle taught many Africans when he was working at Lincoln University and he traveled often to Africa when I was a student. My mother would not let me go. I was able to teach there with the support of a mentor. I am sharing the back story to encourage you to live your dreals
But I need to tell the whole story. To keep your attention here is a video to show what I am talking about a journey of dusty roads, townships and villages and eternal thanks. But this time the traveler is Kevin Federle and not me. He played tennis with them too, I cooked in townships with the people. I loved it. My work was ten years earlier.
Books and Bytes
Teaching reading was always a great skill of mine. My mother and I enjoyed reading and sharing idea.  I used a lot of integrated methods to share life experiences. I also worked with a skilled teacher, Deloris Davis. I think she could have taught dead people to read. She and I teamed up in using the skills we had to teach children to read. She taught vocabulary and life experiences. I liked people to tell their own stories. Children made their own books, wrote their own poetry, and went to the theater at the Smithsonian. We did plays and we cooked. We were all purpose in getting kids to read.So I wrote once in a while on the early Internet about these methods. I admit to integrating the arts into my work. ( How could I not, if I was personalizing the learning?)
One day I got a request to visit New Zealand.
New Zealand? 
It seemed so far away and I was battling to keep my job. My principal kept telling me that Arlington Schools could hire three people with my salary. She said nothing about my skills or the fact that I worked with President Clinton, Vice President Gore,  and that we were crafting the document to shape the way that technology would be used in the US. Inside the school system administrators were casting dark eyes at me. But I did not go on the trip. I thought I needed to tend fires at home. Eventually I was so badgered that I did decide to go to visit.
Wendy Pye sent me Sunshine Books.
Who is Wendy Pye?
Wendy is the owner and Managing Director of the Wendy Pye Publishing Ltd, publishers of educational products. Wendy’s Sunshine Book and Galaxy Kids brands have taken the company to the ends of the earth and she became a publishing phenomenon when she launched Sunshine Books in 1985. Through her vision, passion, drive and energy, Wendy has built her company into one of the world’s most successful educational export companies. Her educational products consist of over 1800 titles which have sold over 218 million copies worldwide.The books were like the personal books the kids and I wrote, not as funny ok, and the illustrations were not as priceless, but she said that she had a digital way of turning kids stories into their personal stories. I was intrigued. New Zealand, maybe I thought and then my little niece threw me a curve.
I was on my way to demonstrate technology in the inner city to schools who did not believe in the Internet. I could not find the books that had been sent to me. I had started using them because they were interesting to children.
Finally, I discovered that the books were in her school backpack. I asked her why. She said she liked the books and wanted to keep them and share with her friends, so I used my original student product to share.
I decided to go to New Zealand. I was privileged to travel there to learn Wendy’s  ways of crafting a learning landscape to teach reading in wonderful ways.Wendy pioneered the use of multimedia – animated internet and CD-Rom – to complement the print and other components of her products. She was a leader in the development of an early literacy program and learning technologies, and she worked with many institutes and universities worldwide to develop strategies for literacy through research.
I decided I had to go to New Zealand to see the way the technology worked when my principal decided that I would go back into a regular classroom with limited use of technology ( or I could retire). So since I decided to retire, and change the world outside of the classroom, I needed new tools.New Zealand here I come ,I thought.
Working with the Maori/ Sunshine Books/ Researching in New Zealand
Sunshine Books had programs in Maori schools. I visited, learned, and understood that Wendy and I had similar ways of thinking about reading. I loved the art and ways in which she integrated the learning process. Barefoot to School was a descriptor for some of my writings about being in New Zealand. I explored the museums in Wellington and we talked to educators from the Beehive about digital technology. We worked with professors in the Universities.
 I had a new friend, who understood how to let the creator in the child emerge. I was excited about the travel and synergy. We toured universities and visited in cities to share our ideas. I was always thinking these books would work in inner city schools too. Children at the age of five were introduced to technology, it was amazing and it worked. I have to share about the letter getter later. Here is a tease.

What Do You Need to Know About Broadband and the Digital Divide?It Might Be Here!!

So many people talk about technology without sharing the nuts and bolts of what we are using.
Some resources here.
Bonnie Bracey Sutton
 First, here is the broadband map.

Getting Broadband

What Is Broadband?

Broadband or high-speed Internet access allows users to access the Internet and Internet-related services at significantly higher speeds than those available through “dial-up” Internet access services. Broadband speeds vary significantly depending on the particular type and level of service ordered and may range from as low as 200 kilobits per second (kbps), or 200,000 bits per second, to 30 megabits per second (Mbps), or 30,000,000 bits per second. Some recent offerings even include 50 to 100 Mbps. Broadband services for residential consumers typically provide faster downstream speeds (from the Internet to your computer) than upstream speeds (from your computer to the Internet).

How Does Broadband Work?

Broadband allows users to access information via the Internet using one of several high-speed transmission technologies. Transmission is digital, meaning that text, images, and sound are all transmitted as “bits” of data. The transmission technologies that make broadband possible move these bits much more quickly than traditional telephone or wireless connections, including traditional dial-up Internet access connections.

Once you have a broadband connection to your home or business, devices such as computers can be attached to this broadband connection by existing electrical or telephone wiring, coaxial cable or wireless devices.

Another way to measure/ M-Lab Open Source

Measurement Lab is an open platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. By enhancing Internet transparency, M-Lab helps sustain a healthy, innovative Internet. Find out more Find out more


 This was a combination of FCC and NTIA projects that were funded. Here is the site. Overall there were panels that presented their work. Because I have been working in this field I know of projects like this but I think the public does not know about these projects. Often in DC the people who attend the conferences already know the projects. They are there out of courtesy.
The focus was to identify and discuss best practices learned from broadband adoption programs and academic 

studies/surveys, and how implementation of these best practices can close the broadband adoption gap
among Americans – particularly low-income households, racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, rural
residents, residents of Tribal lands and people with disabilities. 

Here is how they shared on the website the mission of the Summit. 
The Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), held a Summit on February 7, 2013 to identify and discuss best practices learned from broadband adoption programs and academic studies/surveys, and how implementation of these best practices can close the broadband adoption gap among Americans – particularly low-income households, racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, rural residents, residents of Tribal lands and people with disabilities. The agenda listing committed and invited panelists for the Summit is below. In addition, the Summit included a keynote speech by Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA, Department of Commerce, Lawrence E. Strickling.” I was most impressed with the health care project in Arkansas , the Mass Vets Program and the project to help the aging.. but there is more.These are not per se education projects but service projects that serve the connected.
Julius Genachowski was there as a cheerleader. He spoke and shared his vision.He likes BYOD( bring your own device)  and thinks that 4G is going to change the face of connectivity in America and particularly in education .
I was most impressed with a couple of the presentations .I think the public does not know the power of these projects.
 Subsquently SETDA issued this Broadband Initiative for their member states. They have been on this initiative for some time. It is very important to teachers, to education and to families.

The FCC Broadband Summit was interesting but a lot of it was.. same old same old, but I realize that there is still an unwashed public out there some trying to understand why they should use technology. Not like they are not already benefitting, weather systems, GPS, visualization and modeling and all kinds of medical innovation. Jobs are mostly on line too. There are a lot of benefits that people have gained from using technology, but ..the benefits are invisible to many.

The FCC brought forward this new report in a couple of days after the summit.
Further resources and references

A Deeper Look at the FCC from the Points of View of Its Former Leaders


Former FCC Chairs Wiley Powell and Hundt at 2013 BBSJ Summit - by Jason Miccolo JohnsonThe Minority Media and Telecommunications Council has long worked – and sometimes been at odds – with the Federal Communications Commission in MMTC’s efforts to ensure equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media and telecommunications industries. To address FCC issues, MMTC recently invited four former FCC chairmen to an “FCC Chairs’ Roundtable” panel at its 2013 Broadband and Social Justice Summit.  During the panel, the former chairmen provided a deeper look into the federal agency and revealed their thoughts on a few communications industry regulatory matters.

Serving as the panel’s moderator, MMTC President David Honig used the historic opportunityto ask Hon. Michael Powell, Hon. Reed Hundt, Hon. Michael Copps, and Hon. Richard “Dick” Wiley about why the FCC moves so slowly to consider and rule on issues that have been pending for several years. He also inquired about their thoughts on hot-button issues such as media cross-ownership rules and broadband usage-based pricing.

The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Educational Infrastructure Needs
 Press Release
 Access the Full Report
Learn more, visit the Broadband Imperative Report Release and Briefing event.
To learn more about broadband for learning policy and practice in the states, visit the State Education Policy Center (SEPC).
To self-assess your school’s broadband speed, visit SETDA’s freebroadband speed test tool.
The Broadband Imperative provides an up-to-date assessment of access to broadband by students and teachers (in and out of schools); current trends driving the need for more broadband in teaching, learning and school operations; and specific recommendations for the broadband capacity needed to ensure all students have access to the tools and resources they need to be college and career ready by 2014-15 and beyond.
Building upon SETDA’s 2008 report “Class of 2020 Action Plan for Education“, High-Speed Broadband Access for All Kids: Breaking Through the Barriers, The Broadband Imperative provides numerous examples of successful broadband implementation by states and leading school districts.
Notable Mentions:

Family Involvement, School and Community Networking, Resources

A New Framework: Improving Family Engagement

Duncan at Stanton

Secretary Duncan visited a classroom at DC’s Scholars Stanton Elementary School. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

For many, it’s just common sense. The more a student’s family is engaged in their child’s learning and in the improvement of their child’s school, the better off the student and the school. On Wednesday, Secretary Duncan joined more than 80 family engagement thought leaders at DC’s Scholars Stanton Elementary School to discuss the strong correlation between family engagement and academic outcomes, and how the Department of Education can provide more support.

Research supports the common sense idea that family plays a vital role in student performance. Yet despite the evidence and logic, many schools and educators struggle with how to cultivate and sustain effective family engagement initiatives. The Department of Education has taken some steps to provide more support in the area of family engagement, but Secretary Duncan readily admits that it hasn’t done enough.

As part of Wednesday’s event, Dr. Karen Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a consultant to Department, unveiled a draft framework of new ideas about the possible future direction and focus for family engagement at the Department of Education.

The framework had been a year in the making as Dr. Mapp met with a variety of senior staff members to gauge how a framework embedded with research and modeled after best practices would be operationalized at the Department.

Stanton Elementary is an example of how a school can build positive relationships with families and allow teachers to gain family support in and out of the classroom. Stanton’s family engagement strategy is the type of initiative the new framework would endorse. Through a partnership between the Flamboyan Foundation and Scholar Academies, Stanton utilizes Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT), replacing traditional parent-teacher conferences.

Panel at Stanton

Stanton Teacher Melissa Bryant explains how family engagement made her want to keep teaching. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

APTT, developed by Maria Paredes, brings parents into classroom more often than once a year and creates an environment where families work as a team to improve the class’s performance, sharing strategies for supporting their students at home and learning techniques from the classroom teacher. Teachers also visit their students’ families at home, too. Stanton’s success with APTT, as well as help from a Department of Education School Improvement Grant, has contributed to a dramatic increase in the academic performance of students and a cultural shift at the school.

During the visit, which included classroom visits, Secretary Duncan listened to a panel discussion with panelists Principal Caroline John, teachers Melissa Bryant and Megan Lucas, and parents Katrina Branch and Michael Hudson. The panelists spoke passionately in support of family engagement and how it has benefited the entire school community. Bryant said that family engagement “made me want to keep being a teacher.”

Mapp and ED will continue to receive feedback on the framework in the coming year. Stay tuned to the Homeroom Blog for future updates. You can also watch a short video of the APTT model at Stanton.

There are families who have not had the resources to share learning with their students. This ia more a post than an essay.