America’s Schools are Profoundly Unequal! A Whole lot of Education Information


15421006_10154621210371327_254228138370067503_nHave you seen?

The report on Unequal Schools from the Civil Rights Commission

“The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools.”

So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday’s report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America’s schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren’t getting the resources they say they need.

The 150-page report, titled “Public Education Funding Inequity: In An Era Of Increasing Concentration Of Poverty and Resegregation,” reads like a footnoted walking tour through the many ways America’s education system fails vulnerable students — beginning with neighborhood schools that remain deeply segregated and continuing into classrooms where too many students lack access to skilled teachers, rigorous courses and equitable school funding.

“This report excavates the enduring truism that American public schooling is, and has been, profoundly unequal in the opportunity delivered to students, the dollars spent to educate students, and the determinations of which students are educated together,” writes the commission’s chair, Catherine Lhamon.

History lesson

The first two-thirds of the commission’s report is essentially a history lesson on the decades-old fight over equitable school funding, so we’ll start there, too. The fight arguably began in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education and the Supreme Court’s decision that “separate but equal” schools for black and white students were anything but equal.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson waded into the debate, arguing that the federal government should send money to school districts that serve low-income families. Congress agreed, creating Title I. In the 2014-15 school year, states received more than $14 billion in Title I money.

To this day, though, states are all over the map when it comes to how equitably they spend their own money in schools. The problem was baked into the system from the beginning, with local property taxes being an important driver of both school funding and of inequities in school funding.

“This is America,” writes Karen Narasaki, a member of the commission. “Every child deserves a quality education that does not depend on their ZIP code.”

To make that happen — many states now use state tax revenue to try to even out those local imbalances, some more effectively than others.

We are a  ‘Nation of Opportunity, and the present time points us toward the future.

There are groups that hope to change the way we learn by mentoring, by sharing, by participatory involvement at national, regional and local levels. School boards are often the passport to change. The National Science Foundation funds innovation and research.

Communities within groups like ISTE and CoSN help to drive change.They publish guides like

No Fear Coding

Computational Thinking Across the K-5 Curriculum

he people most affected by the inequality may not be a member or these groups trying to help them.

CoSN the Consortium for School Networking has action for members and reports such as this as well. AccessibilityToolkit.  

CoSn also publishes the Horizon Report on an annual basis.

NMC Horizon Report 

2017 Higher Education Edition

The NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Higher Education Edition is a collaborative effort between the NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This 14th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges. The three key sections of this report constitute a reference and straightforward technology-planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. It is our hope that this research will help to inform the choices that institutions are making about technology to improve, support, or extend teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education across the globe. All of the topics were selected by an expert panel that represented a range of backgrounds and perspectives. View the work that produced the report on the official project wiki.
CIRCL  takes us into the future using Cyberlearning.

New to Cyberlearning? Get started here.

New technologies change what and how people learn. Informed by learning science, cyberlearning is the use of new technology to create effective new learning experiences that were never possible or practical before. The cyberlearning movement advances learning of important content by:

  • Applying scientific insights about how people learn
  • Leveraging emerging technologies
  • Designing transformative learning activities
  • Engaging teachers and other practitioners
  • Measuring deeper learning outcomes
  • Emphasizing continuous improvement


I am a pioneer in technology and use these sites to keep up. What do you and your communities use?

                                              What about ACCESS?

While the nation continues to make progress in broadband deployment, many Americans still lack access to advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, especially in rural areas and on Tribal lands, according to the 2016 Broadband Progress Report adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to report annually on whether advanced telecommunications capability “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” and to take “immediate action” if it is not.  Congress defined advanced telecommunications capability as “high-quality” capability that allow users to “originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video” services.

In the Report, the Commission determines that advanced telecommunications requires access to both fixed and mobile broadband services because more Americans use mobile services and devices to access the Internet for activities like navigation, communicating with family and friends and on social media, and receiving timely news updates away from home.  The Commission also retains the existing speed benchmark of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) for fixed services, but finds that the current record is insufficient to set an appropriate speed benchmark for mobile service.

While the Commission finds that it is reasonable to apply the same speed benchmarks to all fixed services, including fixed terrestrial and fixed satellite broadband service, the Commission continues to observe different technical capabilities and adoption patterns between fixed terrestrial and fixed satellite service.  Because no fixed satellite broadband service meets the 25 Mbps/3Mbps speed threshold as of the reporting period, the Report does not address the question of whether fixed satellite broadband services meeting this speed threshold would be considered to provide advanced telecommunications capability.

Significant progress in broadband deployment has been made, due in part to the Commission’s action to support broadband such as through its Universal Service programs. However, the Commission finds that these advances are not enough to ensure that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.

Key findings include the following:

  • 10 percent of all Americans (34 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.
  • 39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
    • By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • The availability of fixed terrestrial services in rural America continues to lag behind urban America at all speeds:  20 percent lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1 percent from 2011, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4 percent from 2011.
  • 41 percent of Americans living on Tribal lands (1.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband
    • 68 percent living in rural areas of Tribal lands (1.3 million people) lack access.
  • 66 percent of Americans living in U.S. territories (2.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • 98 percent of those living in rural territorial areas (1.1 million people) lack access.
  • Americans living in rural and urban areas adopt broadband at similar rates where 25 Mbps/ 3 Mbps service is available, 28 percent in rural areas and 30 percent in urban areas.
  • While an increasing number of schools have high-speed connections, approximately 41 percent of schools, representing 47 percent of the nation’s students, lack the connectivity to meet the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.

This Report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way.  The FCC will continue working to accelerate broadband deployment and to remove barriers to infrastructure investment, in part by direct subsidies, and in part by identifying and helping to reduce potential obstacles to deployment, competition, and adop

What about the use of the Internet in Rural Areas?

President Donald J. Trump signed on Monday two orders aimed at improving internet speeds in some of the country’s hardest-to-connect areas, a move he described as “the first step to expand access to broadband internet in rural America.”

The first executive order aims to make it easier for internet service providers to locate broadband infrastructure on federal land and buildings in rural parts of the country. The order notes that one of the consequences of slow, expensive internet service is that it hinders schools’ ability to “enrich student learning with digital tools.”

I found these items after a long search. Many of these articles are lost to parents, communities and interested advocates. The news is full of other things. Maybe these groups have to advocate for education as the press does not usually share important information, like the Horizon Report, and ISTE Standards.



Parents and communities often have their own definition of what works in education and they may not be up to date on the reality of change within education. This report from the Civil Rights Commission probably is not seen by those without access to computers and technology.

An illustration picture shows projection of binary code on man holding aptop computer in Warsaw

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

What do you know about Schools and the use of technology?What you know might be gated by the school or community in which you live and learn.

This is a briefing that should be shared by schools, parents, communities and school boards. Education-Inequity.pdf.


There are a lot of people who do not have a problem with screen time. They have little access to technology. A new group is looking to find a way to use CRA funding to help the communities most impacted by lack of connectivity.

There are a lot of people who have a screen or two, but who do not use the technology effectively.

Sometimes there are programs funded within a community by groups trying to erase the digital divide.  HUD has a program that is supposed to help make the change. Connect Home.  What might be a group within your community that is trying to solve the problem?

Connect Home is a public-private collaboration to narrow the digital divide for families with school-age children who live in HUD-assisted housing.

Connect Home creates a platform for community leaders, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private industry to join together and produce locally-tailored solutions for narrowing the digital divide. Through these stakeholders’ specific commitments to provide free or low-cost broadband access, devices, and digital literacy training, Connect Home extends affordable access to low-income families, ensuring that high-speed Internet follows our children from their classrooms back to their homes.

                                     How Connected is Your Community?

Here is a map to check your connectivity.

How are You Connected? ACCESS MAP



STEM? There are free resources at

Groundbreaking and deeply digital learning
In recent months the use of technology has helped us to see disasters and to use big data to visualize.

This is an ESRI Story map of the recent weather event in the US.

Does your educational community take advantage of free resources, mentoring to schools and teachers in the ESRI Space?

What Can We Learn about the World using GIS?

There are free online mapping resources for schools.



STEM..Many ways to learn. Many Choices..STEM, STEAM, After School Initiatives.. just do it.

I started after school science teaching when my brother was in grade school to amuse him and keep him learning.  We went to Catholic School so there was  essentially not much science.

I lived in Alexandria, Va . and  I would take him to the Smithsonian to learn things. There were all of the Smithsonian buildings and projects to learn about. It was not so easy as now, finding all kinds of things, programs and resources for him. No technology then except in the museum. But what was in the museum was like magic.

Family Outreach Days at AAAS Family Days - Teragrid Booth

Students explore visualizations of the oil spill.

After school then was anything he wanted to learn about. We built things and made things and constructed a boat inside a bottle.  We waded streams and raised animals and went on excursions to aquariums and zoos. Talk about maker. My dad was a Shop teacher, that is electrical, bricklaying, and woodworking shop. You know we made things!!! Lots of people did in the CTE space.

When I  became a teacher there was no much interest in science. In the schools I taught in reading and math were the main focus. In urban schools the joy of learning was over shadowed by drudgery.

Holidays and pull out classes wrecked the schedule so we did not get to teach much science, history or other subjects. I think science was reserved for the “elite” or that people did not think that anyone but boys should do science. I did not like basal readers and the booklets, and tablets and worksheets that went with them. I was a reader and I loved science. I remember being told that science was not fun.

I fled teaching and went to Europe. Teaching there I had choices to make and I could be innovative

Starting Hands On Science

Eventually ,I made my way to Arlington Schools. Innovation was being supported. CUSEEME was a project i did.It was technology at the National Science Foundation.


I began to take NASA classes and learn about space. The support was posters, professional development and mentoring. I found that children liked, .. well loved science. NASA was free, I just had to donate my time and interest. We called STEM then SMET.

AAAS had a class which I took that gave me all , or most of the resources to teach hands on science with and that was a very supportive way of letting teachers change the way science was taught. ( NOT reading out of a book).

Science and the new technologies were promoted by the Dept. of Education, Frank Withrow and Jenelle Leonard. I was an instant follower.


Dr. Phoebe Knipling ,introduced the kids and I to the Outdoor Lab. I did not have much choice. It took a couple of lessons, a few courses and outdoor experiences before I felt accomplished. Parents and children were supportive. And there were places to take great field trips in our area.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) is dedicated to providing high quality educational programs that incorporate SERC research with hands-on and inquiry-based learning. Their programs are led by SERC staff and highly-trained volunteers, and emphasize the practices of science – one of the major components of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). While our main activities focus on grades K-12, we also offer programs for organized groups and teacher professional development. At the time the field trip there was so exciting that I had as many parents as children going on the trip, and also liking the followup. Eat -a Crab Lab.

She was the supervisor, so I learned


We took classes on birding, weeds and wildflowers and learned to explore areas in streams for living things. This was getting to be fun. It was school science but the learning, professional development and courses were in my after school space. The field trips were a part of the offering of the school. There were courses through the school systems offerings. CEU credits were offered and sometimes resource materials.

Classes spent the night at the Outdoor Lab.


Moving along with Science.

The Smithsonian had resources for pixellation, and information on Mars that was a part of science education. Powers of Ten, that was a great exhibit at the Air and Space museum.  The Smithsonian had an exhibit on Living in Space, with plants, moon rocks, ideas to tell /share about living in space and information on the Astronauts.


Marsville, Mars City Alpha , Hubble Institute initiatives, these were really not allowed in the curriculum space. There were ways to work it in. I taught it after school and in project based learning. In a school space, there was a county wide initiative on Wednesdays at the Career Center. We did not call it the Maker Movement. We called it Children’s Choice and we created a set of lessons that kids could sign up for. We also created a set of lessons that were on Saturday from 9:00 to 1:00.

Cooking, Animal Husbandry, Pets, Face painting, Computer Construction, Sewing 101 and Woodworking, Theater Arts, Coding. small projects like that. There was math. Teachers from the country volunteered their time to teach. We thought we replace the time that parents and grandparents used to give to students.

Our students learned cooking with a real chef. They cooked and made pizza which they ate and carried home. I don’t remember everything they made but they had projects like donut making, making cupcakes.


We did astronomy and space science education and every project that came our way through NASA. There is this one…

I like it that the kids, and parents innovate in the program. It is also true that they build a telescope. It is an awesome program. It was a STEAM project.

Here is a different math program.

I liked the math in Fly By Math and here is a simulator.

Five Distance-Rate-Time Problems for Grades 5-9
FlyBy Math™ consists of five Air Traffic Control (ATC) Problems that address the safe separation of two planes.In each problem, students:

  • Conduct an experiment that simulates the airplane scenario.
  • Use guided paper-and-pencil activities to determine the number of seconds it takes each plane to travel a given distance along a jet route.

Student Materials
Each problem features:

  • a Student Workbook containing the experiment, paper-and-pencil calculations to support the experiment, and a student analysis of the experiment and calculations
  • optional pre- and post-tests
  • video clips to introduce students to the nation’s air traffic control system.

Teacher Materials

  • Each problem is accompanied by a Teacher Guide with a full set of answers and solutions, as well as suggestions for implementing the specific airspace scenario.
  • To learn more about FlyBy Math™, see the Educator Guide.


In addition to the FlyBy Math hands-on experiment and print workbooks, students can now run and solve each FlyBy Math problem electronically on the Math In PlaneView Simulator. The simulator uses the highest level of the 6 math approaches offered by FlyBy Math: graphing a system of linear equations. The simulator helps students connect the movement of planes and the associated linear equations and distance vs. time graphs. To access the simulator and the accompanying classroom materials, use the link on the FlyBy Math website.


The Audubon Society, let me learn weather as it was taught then. We learned quadrat studies too.

There were grants to write within the county, the state and nationally, there was funding for Wednesday classes at the Career Center for students from all over the county.

We made up a list of interesting things for them to choose from. We imagined that back in the day grandmothers and uncles share with the kids.We met Cosmonauts, we met geographers, we did the Jason Projects,  Earthwatch , and the National Geographic inspired us. When the projects began they were not so expensive as they are now.

Now STEM is on everyone’s mind and is a big business. Teachers can compete with some programs, but there are schools that have not done but rudimentary participation in after school science.

Some communities give support to STEM in Boys and Girls Clubs. There are dedicated universities that deliver programs for 4H in a state.

I did a brief stint with the   

The MadScience is an afterschool initiative that is global. It is about an hour of performance science with a take home tool or toy. I enjoyed teaching it, but as an experienced teacher there was a penalty to pay for my experience so I was passed up because their lessons don’t require academics, they teach a set program and provide all of the resources. There is no magic in that program for being a seasoned educator,cheaper to hire people as contractors. I think it is a good, after school program.




















Kids in a Network Learning Science, Geography, GIS, Computational Thinking and all of that Jazz worked!!


Many people embrace what is called STEM at this time. There was SMET before there was STEM.

There was a time when science was pushed aside and people who dared to advocate it were not in the right political space. We suffered but continued the practice of good teaching.

We had our champions, and one of them was Dr. Robert Tinker of who got great funding for a number of revolutionary programs and projects and many of them were for K -12.

His projects were much needed to change teaching and learning .

More alphabet soup.

You may ask what is TERC?

For more than fifty years, TERC  introduced millions of students throughout the United States to the exciting and rewarding worlds of math and science learning. Led by a group of experienced, forward-thinking math and science professionals, TERC is an independent, research-based organization dedicated to engaging and inspiring all students through stimulating curricula and programs designed to develop the knowledge and skills they need to ask questions, solve problems, and expand their opportunities.


What is really important is that there was extensive broadening engagement and the vision that TERC and Robert Tinker had was an immersive imagining of a future in which learners from diverse communities engaged in creative, rigorous, and reflective inquiry as an integral part of their lives—a future where teachers and students alike are members of vibrant communities where questioning, problem solving, and experimentation are commonplace.

This ideational scaffolding worked.

One of the projects was the NGS Kids Network , standards-based, online science curriculum that allowed students from around the world to investigate topics and share their findings.

Students explored real-world subjects by doing exactly what scientists do: conducting experiments, analyzing data, and sharing results with peers.

You will remember the climate march and the scientists march. With Bob Tinker we marched with our fingers and minds exploring real world science and the ideas are still being used and referenced.

There are pieces of this work that are still relevant. There was an extensive set of resources for teachers at each topic.

You can explore the Unit TRASH here.

You can explore the topic “What’s in Our Water?” here.

Here is the background for water. 

You can explore SOLAR ENERGY here. It has been updated.


A National Geographic Summer Institute was where was introduced to me. I believe I met Dr. Tinker however, at the NSTA conference. or at the George Lucas Educational Foundation in a round table discussion.  There we learned about probes. The way we worked was revolutionary in science , and we true pioneers got some push back. We had Dr. Tinker as a resource and the information was free. The promise of the Internet for all has never happened , but if you could get on the Information Highway, well, Concord was there for you.




If you ever taught a National Geographic Kidsnetwork Program and did it well ,you know that it changed the face of teaching and learning. Here is a research report that explains the way in which it worked.

The National Geographic Kids Network

REFERENCE: TERC. (1990). The National Geographic Kids Network: Year 4 Final Annual Report. Cambridge, MA: Author.

In conjunction with the National Geographic Society, TERC created The National Geographic Kids Network as a resource for improving elementary science and geography instruction in classrooms around the world. Since its inception in 1986, more than a quarter of a million students in over 7,500 classrooms had then used the network to collaborate on science and geography projects ranging from the study of solar energy to acid rain.( old data)

The primary goal of the National Geographic Kids Network was to promote science and discovery in elementary classrooms by combining hands-on science, geography, and computer technologies with telecommunications activities.

GIS 1The topics were the beginning of real science study for many students.

The National Geographic Kids Network includes seven 8-week curriculum units focusing on “increasing the time spent on inquiry-oriented, hands-on science instruction, strengthening science process and data analysis skills, raising public awareness of the value and feasibility of appropriate science instruction, and publishing and widely disseminating curricular materials that further these goals.” While students research, collect, analyze, and share data with their peers they also problem solve and collaborate with students at other schools. In addition, the network also features a scientist who works with students electronically to evaluate their data, make comments, and offer suggestions. The seven 8-week units include:

  • Hello!  This was a special introductory unit that let us learn how to use project based learning and collaborate with other classes.
  • Solar Energy
  • Acid Rain
  • What Are We Eating?
  • What’s in Our Water?
  • Too Much Trash?
  • Weather in Action

The beginning unit was very special.

Students and teachers and community collaborated and shared , giving information, history, geography and data about where they lived. They got mail. This was a personalized way  , it was a pre-social media of talking with and learning with students in other parts of the world.

How excited my students were to link with a school in Moscow, Russia, or to figure out what animals were pets in some places of the world that we considered pests.



For those of us who used the units , the task of classroom management was quite different from that faced by teachers employing the traditional instructional methods of lecture, discussion, and seat work. Geography was a huge factor in the work. Sometimes there was application of the arts, and yes, there was purposeful reading and writing. The face of the working classroom was changed. Extensive resources were shared with teachers.

Students were involved in an inquiry process and reported back to a scientist who helped them analyze their data . There were geographical teams of students sharing information , and collecting data and sometimes telling their stories. I was a teacher of the Gifted, but I was able to use technology to transition into being a classroom teacher for all. Parents and community members were excited about meaningful  uses of technology.

With NGS Kidsnetwork, students spend the majority of their time working on their own or in small groups collecting and doing research.

Teachers often spend their time participating in projects as peers , with community interface of experts, parents helping with the data.




Why Do We Have Minority History Months?

Black History Month,Asian American Month,Native American Month.Hispanic American..etc. I think that is because the real history is rarely taught. Sometimes it is taught without talking about the problems that people had in this country. Native Americans who survived the two new worlds coming together, suffered a lot that has never been taught. We don’t teach history and geography well. Many students never grasp the idea of the global exchange that is the world today.

Try this method. We have lots of ways to explore our histories today. We have technologies and books and real and virtual field trips.


I had a teacher who used dates. She would say 1492? What was happening in the world?

We had to learn to create something that would tell her this information.  Some students would have the dates before and after.You could not just memorize the data in a book or a chapter. It was a very interesting way to learn about what was going on in the world. ( Dr. Dannie Starre Townes- Virginia State University.

We had to learn what the leading influences were in the time frame that she gave us and then we had to present it to others.


I had a principal who had a book, the “Book of Where”, and she encouraged us to let students explore the travel of their families through the years.
The Book of Where: Or How to Be Naturally Geographic: Neill Bell
Published by Scholastic Inc, 1994
ISBN 10: 0590480154 / ISBN 13: 9780590480154

We made family maps and did International Day and learned about many cultures. Also the National Geographic had taught me to let kids draw a free hand map of the USA.

The family map was personal. It could be national or international. Cultural elements were inserted. Recipes were collected and shared.We shared family stories and history.

We explored geography and the US.

Now there are new ways to explore our history, our roots, our family stories.

Who are the people in your family ?

Where did the family originate?

Have you and your family always lived in the USA?

Where in the USA has your family lived, visited, what are the places that people have gone to school, and or work and or family vacations?

Is there another country that your family originated from? More than one?

Geography is a template for learning about the world.

Museums do tell the stories , the Smithsonian does workshops for interested people and there are exhibits. The Smithsonian had the exhibit years ago, Seeds of Change that used plants to tell the story of two worlds merging. Two old worlds merging and changing culture, or not from each other. The map above is a very simplified diagram. We have tools and technology now to tell the story better. There are new ways to explore museums. There are new ways to explore cultures. Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is a way to learn about cultures. You can explore using technology as in this virtual tour of Egypt.. (This is a view of the great Pyramids of Giza.)

There is this project that lets you learn from artifacts in a museum. It is the Smithsonian project X3D.

“The SIx3D viewer offers students the ability to explore some of the Smithsonian’s most treasured objects with a level of control that has never been possible until now. We hope this revolutionary level of access to the Smithsonian collections will spark your students’ curiosity and that the exploration of these objects will enable them to build lifelong observation and critical thinking skills.”

“With few exceptions, SIx3D also offers access to these data sets. Hailed by many as the third industrial revolution, 3D technology is molding a new K-12 STEM model. Students can use the same tools as professionals to become creators themselves. Whether students are printing invaluable museum objects or inventions of their own design, we hope the chance to bring objects to life will give students the opportunity to create imaginative and innovative work.”

To help you introduce 3D and its possibilities to your students, Smithsonian educators are working on new resources for K-12 classrooms.

Rather than glimpsing art & photography in the confines of rectangular frames, step into them in virtual reality with the Google Cardboard for supported smart phones. Here is the link to start those explorations.

Traditional Museum Resources? So many museums online.

This is one that lets us frame the thinking about the two old worlds that came together.

Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind was a 1985 book by Henry Hobhouse which explains how the history of the world since Columbus linked America to Europe and has been changed by five plants.[1] It describes how mankind’s discovery, usage and trade of sugar, tea, cotton, the potato, and quinine have influenced history to make the modern world. The museum used that book as a beginning way to tell us the story ,it was fascinating!!

The focus  seeds are: sugar, corn, the potato, disease, and the horse, selected says Viola “because of the human dimension to their story.” From the exhibition has also came another book called “Seeds of Change,” edited by Viola and and Carolyn Margolis, assistant director of the museum’s quincentenary programs. ( You may notice that tobacco , which was a seed of change was not addressed.

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The ideas merged and produced an expanded concept for the exhibition “Seeds of Change” that would focus on five seeds chosen from a list of nearly l00. As Viola says, this exhibition focuses on “an exchange of peoples, animals, plants, and diseases between Europe, Africa, and the Americas” over 500 years that began when the New and Old Worlds met.Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Article excerpt

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Learning history can be fun!!


What is History?

“History is for human self-knowledge. Knowing yourself means knowing, first, what it is to be a person; secondly, knowing what it is to be the kind of person you are; and thirdly, knowing what it is to be the person you are and nobody else is. Knowing yourself means knowing what you can do; and since nobody knows what they can do until they try, the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is.” R. G. Collingwood

Knowing other people’s stories helps us to understand sometimes their ways of seeing the world and their elements of culture. Simply we can cite, food , shelter, clothing, systems of education, and customs or traditions. But it can get much more complicated than that. See here . Elements of Culture.  We made T-Shirts to define regions in the US. Other countries may also have regional differences, linked by the language, land and available food sources.

What is Geography and what does that have to do with History?

How Do We Learn it? Why Study Geography?

Sometimes, even effective, fun award-winning web and mobile study apps aren’t enough to sustain motivation to study Geography, if you don’t see its relevance to your life. It is not just about beautiful visuals and interesting places, The truth is that geography is a highly relevant and important type of knowledge for anyone to have.

Here are some top reasons why you should study more geography.

  1. Global Awareness /Where is that place?
    Let’s be honest: we all care about what other people think of us. That’s why our first important reason for studying geography is that it makes you look smart. Knowing basic geography can help you avoid embarrassing moments, impress a people, increase your knowledge of the world that we live in. In addition you see and hear about lots of places that are dots on the map. What do you really , really know about the places and the people who live there?

2. Put the News in Context
How are you supposed to understand the news if you don’t know geography? Knowing geography helps put current events in context. Recently there has been a lot of news about immigrants. Who are they , why do they come, where do they come from and what do we need to know about them or immigration in an historical sense. I was amazed to be in a city in Europe from which many Italians came and to see their letters of credit on a rope that was put up into the ceiling each night. This was when Italians were coming to America in droves from Naples.

For example, knowing that Hong Kong is a city in southern China can begin to help a person understand why it is politically different from the rest of China: it’s geographically isolated.

Hands on a globe

3. Chart the Course of History
Geography not only puts current events in perspective, it help us understand history. A person can’t understand World War II without understanding the roles of the continental Russian Winter or the English Channel. Geography shapes the course of world history. Want to better understand history? Study geography.

The various months help us to know the history in the United States of the groups who were brought here, who were already here, and those who immigrated here. I learned oter people’s history too. Here is a reason that people immigrate.

4. Build Navigation Skills
The most basic skill in navigation is understanding the “lay of the land.” Studying geography helps develop spatial thinking. Those skills could come in handy if you get lost driving around town or in the wilderness!Whoa.. did I forget the GIS? ESRI skills? You can build a story of the places you are studying on a map.GIS 1

5. Travel Smart Whether doing Virtual or Real Travel.
Without a basic sense of geography, it’s impossible to get the most out of travel experiences. If you’re heading to Spain, do you want to see misty mountains, rocky coastlines, or searing-hot cities? These questions will decide whether you head to Torla, Basque Country, or Sevilla. Study up before your next vacation or VR Experience..You don’t want to do eye candy where you just look at pretty pictures without the content.


6. Understand Your Home
Geography allows you to understand the place where you live in the context of the world as it is. Why did people settle in your town? What is the cultural heritage of your town ? Your region?The people who live there? I just found out that the city that I grew up in was the home of slavery. Alexandria , Virginia. People were sold from that city to the south. I never knew that!.It was not taught to me. I went to a Catholic School at first, run by Irish Priesrs and nuns from the Oblate Sisters of Providence. I knew the history of Ireland, and of New Orleans from where the nuns came.

People settle in specific places because of the landscape. For example, cities are almost always built on a river or other reliable water supply. What is the history of the place you live? How has the geography affected the area? These are the questions to ask to gain a deep understanding of your home.

7. Get a Grasp on Globalization
Globalization has been one of the biggest forces in world history for decades. The saying “it’s a small world” reflects this change: the world is as big as it always was, but it’s just more interconnected than ever. Understanding the changes that have swept the world as a result of this interconnection is impossible without appreciating the geography on which it is taking place.


8. Make Sense of Different Cultures
Human culture is fundamentally place-based: the land determines or influences the cuisine, clothing, architecture, even social relationships. Every aspect of a culture is affected by its geography.

Geography helps you understand and appreciate the incredible diversity of cultures around the world. Like with news, geography puts culture in context. To understand a people, you have to know something about their land.


9. Prepare for the Future
Geographic skills guide important decisions every day. From architecture to politics to business, the physical landscape frames the debates happening today that will be in the history books tomorrow.

Most people don’t get to learn geography. It may be shared in the context of a place name on the news, or as  a part of personal history, if there is interest.

Do your personal exploration and share it with others.

Field Trips, Flights of Fancy, VR and Reality for the Holidays

There are many new ways to take field trips and many new ways to enrich the learning that takes place in the classroom or at home. There is a world of opportunity at your finger tips.No matter which holidays you celebrate there are resources on line.iuri

hol. In a round table discussion with people who are in charge of learning places, museums and outreach at the Center for Cyberlearning  Conference a remarkable thing happened . We broke down the silos and talked face to face about how to involve students in learning in places that are not school. Transportation and time are issues. Teachers do not often know the offerings of the local museums nor interact with the people who staff workshops and outreach.

New technologies change what and how people learn. Informed by learning science, cyberlearning is the use of new technology to create effective new learning experiences that were never possible or practical before. The cyberlearning movement advances learning of important content by:

  • Applying scientific insights about how people learn
  • Leveraging emerging technologies
  • Designing transformative learning activities
  • Engaging teachers and other practitioners
  • Measuring deeper learning outcomes
  • Emphasizing continuous improvement

Sadly, lots of people are still mired in the difficulty of getting access, and the tools to use technology. We can’t allow people to stand still in technology as it advances on. We must broaden engagement by involving as many people as possible in the sciences of deeper learning and the technologies of the future. Museums, AI, VR and other tools help us to do this. Watch “What is CyberLearning?” to get an idea of what they are doing at the Center for Cyberlearning. And you can go to their website to learn more or to get engaged in Cyberlearning.

For another perspective on Cyberlearning go here.

We need to be Futuring..

I am writing about the future while many go into the past to teach students what we learned 20 years or more ago. That is why I have picked this topic on field trips to show the differences that technology can make and why we must equalize the opportunities for all.

At an ISTE conference we were introduced to Google Cardboard.

You can use Google Cardboard to take a virtual field trip. Say, to New York during the Holiday Season. MASHABLE shares this possibility with us .

“New York’s annual tradition of rolling out incredibly elaborate holiday-themed store window displays in December is as much a part of the city’s seasonal tourism as the Thanksgiving Day parade or celebrate Winter Holidays. “ Christmas in New York?

3D Panoramic Views

The experience is called Window Wonderland, with most of the displays offering an audio narrative from the window’s creative director. Along with narration, the windows offer 360-degree panoramic images as well as high-resolution galleries that essentially allow you to “walk” past the windows in much the same way as you might if you were actually in New York.

You won’t get to buy a NY hotdog, or a pretzel, or roasted Chestnuts, or feel the cold wind on your face.


For 12 years now, an entire generation of excited kids have spent Christmas Eve with their eyes glued to the computer watching Santa Claus circle the globe. Over the past few holiday seasons, Google has pulled out all the stops for an interactive holiday experience that runs from the start of the month until Christmas Eve. Google Santa Tracker is fun.It is a much better experience than the quick hit on the news that most people miss.

The Field Trip? Discovery shares regularly scheduled field trips here.

That is one kind of a field trip. Drones have also let us explore real places. Drones also change the Christmas experience in some places.nintchdbpict000282857405

Drones? Here is information if you need it. click here


Virtual Christmas GIPHY’s? They are here. A lot of people share a lot of ideas that are virtual.

One of my unexpected Christmas gifts was that a child I taught made , actually drew her own card and printed it out to take home. Her mother shared it with her employer , a national hotel chain, and it was used as the card that the hotel mailed that year. Sometimes taking the time to introduce a child or adult to progtams that let them express their creativity brings wonderful rewards.


What is CyberLearning?

I live in Washington , DC near the mall, and am steps away from many learning opportunities. So are many students but when I briefly taught in Washington in my own neighborhood there were children who had never , ever been to a museum or a zoo or a learning place. All school systems have rules and management for actual field trips.When they match it is wonderful. Who goes to museums and why? Sometimes the cost, and the time of transport are a problem. But there are many new ways to access museums.p011nryz

Here is a favorite of mine. It has actually been around for a while.

The Smithsonian

They welcome educators with this message

Welcome educators to SIx3D! We are excited about the possibilities of using 3D objects—and the data sets that make them possible—for K-12 learning and believe that they offer an excellent opportunity to excite and engage students in a valuable, interdisciplinary education experience.

The SIx3D viewer offers students the ability to explore some of the Smithsonian’s most treasured objects with a level of control that has never been possible until now. We hope this revolutionary level of access to the Smithsonian collections will spark your students’ curiosity and that the exploration of these objects will enable them to build lifelong observation and critical thinking skills.

With few exceptions, SIx3D also offers access to these data sets. Hailed by many as the third industrial revolution, 3D technology is molding a new K-12 STEM model. Students can use the same tools as professionals to become creators themselves. Whether students are printing invaluable museum objects or inventions of their own design, we hope the chance to bring objects to life will give students the opportunity to create imaginative and innovative work.

To help you introduce 3D and its possibilities to your students, Smithsonian educators are working on new resources for K-12 classrooms. Click here to be kept up to date about new 3D related education resources. To access the page for educators and the places to sign in use this


You can connect to learning places, and museums in many different ways. There is also the Google Cultural Institute. It offers daily news, and a guide to cultural things around the world.

The Kennedy Center does programs for families, and for some families the most important thing is to know the possibilities. Nutcracker? Do you know the background of it/ and the music. It is here.


In Arlington , Virginia  I was able to manage field trips, walks and use the Metro to extend my student’s learning in the real world. I had a principal who felt that museums were for all children and she created possibilities for teachers to take workshops, for parents to go on school busses on Saturdays. We did a community grant to do this. Parents and teachers volunteered to participate. It was a great success. Arlington has an outdoor lab facility. Teachers are and were trained to use it for class trips. You can be a community activist for the real field trips while arranging online resources as well.

When teaching in overseas schools, it depended on the location of the school and transportation. So virtual field trips work too, if they are managed correctly in that the content has meaning.

Ok, I cheat. I live near the Smithsonian Mall and love the real museum interaction. But the online is great.  One last goody.. the Chemistry advent calendar for last year. It is awesome.



In the Digital Age, Digital Equity is an Essential

Excerpt by Larry Irving /Fast Forward by Bonnie Sutton

The day America married the Internet

In 1993, the Internet was the province almost exclusively of scientists and hobbyists, with only about 2 million users worldwide. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore saw huge potential in connecting all of the United States to the Internet.

They believed that a robust Internet would provide immeasurable benefits to the U.S. economy, would create jobs and would improve the provision of critical services to the American public, including education, healthcare, library services, public safety and government information and data.

As importantly, they believed that the Internet could spur needed private-sector investment and innovation in both the underlying infrastructure and in the platforms, applications and services that would ride on that infrastructure.

They were right on all counts.


The vision

“Imagine you had a device that combined a telephone, a TV, a camcorder and a personal computer. No matter where you went or what time it was, your child could see you and talk to you, you could watch a replay of your team’s last game, you could browse the latest additions to the library, or you could find the best prices in town on groceries, furniture, clothes — whatever you needed.”

The above paragraph was the opening paragraph of the Agenda for Action — 20 years ago. It was an eerily accurate vision of a then-distant future. Sometimes having a coherent vision helps propel progress. The administration knew where it wanted to go and knew it needed a plan to drive the progress required to get there.

The plan

The Agenda for Action laid out a series of principles and proposed actions to support them. Virtually all of those principles remain the cornerstones of the United States’ domestic and international technology policies today.

The Agenda for Action stated a strong preference for private-sector development and deployment of the Internet. The administration felt it important to state that preference clearly and unequivocally because of fears that the government would attempt to build the Information Superhighway using public dollars.

In light of the U.S. government’s efforts at that time to encourage increased investment in our domestic infrastructure and to promote privatization of telecommunications networks abroad, the administration clarified its preference for private-sector investment to build the Internet, supported by tax and regulatory policies that would promote an investment-friendly environment.

The Agenda for Action presaged virtually every major policy debate surrounding the Internet and delineated a comprehensive policy approach that protected the rights of consumers while also providing increased certainty for industry and innovators by calling for the following: extending our historic commitment to universal service to the Internet; seamless, interactive user-driven operation of the Internet; information security and network reliability; improved management of wireless spectrum; protection of Intellectual property rights; and increased coordination with state and local governments and with other nations to ensure that the Internet would be fully global.

Looking back today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore got much right. Their vision for the Internet was realized more quickly and more completely than any of us had any right to expect.

Reading the Agenda for Action today, the administration accurately predicted the power of the Internet to increase access to information and to be a key economic driver. As importantly, the administration provided a forward looking and flexible policy template that would underscore the growth of the internet over the following decades.

The astonishing growth of the Internet in the mid-1990s was driven in large part by the innovation, talent, ingenuity and passion of many in the private sector, principally the Internet pioneers in Silicon Valley and other creative centers, as well as the Internet service providers who built the physical networks.

It is unlikely that the Internet’s growth would have been as explosive or that we would have seen as much early acceptance and adoption domestically and internationally without the administration’s leadership and use of the bully pulpit to drive policy prescriptions and procurement efforts designed to support and encourage private-sector investment and innovation.

At a time of increased skepticism about the role of government and widespread derision of visionary leaders, it’s important to note that sometimes the government and its leaders get it right. The United States and the world is at another inflection point today as wireless technology, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, social networks and data analytics become drivers of economic and societal changes.

Revisiting or restating fundamental policy principles to ensure that they provide an environment that will promote investment while also protecting the rights of consumers would seem to be as necessary today as it was 20 years ago.


Advances in information technology (IT) are reshaped the U.S. labor market. The demand for workers who can read and understand complex material, think analytically, and use technology efficiently will continue to increase. Congress established the 21st Century Workforce Commission to assess current and future demand for IT workers and the education and training needed to fill IT jobs. By conducting field hearings and site visits and reviewing pertinent research, the commission identified nine keys to success that leaders at all levels can apply to build a highly skilled workforce prepared for high-technology job opportunities in the 21st century. The keys are as follows: (1) building 21st century literacy; (2) exercising leadership through partnerships; (3) forming learning linkages for youth; (4) identifying pathways to IT jobs; (5) increasing acquisition of IT skills; (6) expanding continuous learning; (7) shaping a flexible immigration policy for skilled IT workers; (8) raising student achievement; (9) and making technology access and Internet connectivity universal. During its work, the commission found many examples of how stakeholders at all levels exerted the leadership to put the keys into practice. (Ten tables/figures are included. Concluding the report are a list of the commission members and 85 endnotes.) (MN)

Fast Forward 2016   Are We A Nation of Opportunity for All? Not Yet!!

We still need a plan to engage, inform, educate and create possibilities for all communities.

In the Digital Age, Digital Equity is an Essential


 NCDE  Puts forward an Action Plan

We are , in America still trying to solve the problem of the Digital Divide. EDC has allowed us to have a solution. Not to talk about the latest tool, or gadget or even coding.


Not in an hour to talk about problems, but a whole day to define, to work across communities , schools, libraries, businesses, teacher groups and government to find solutions and to learn from each other.

Dr. McLaughlin  shared thoughts as a framework for our discussions

 Principles for Designing and Evaluating Digital Equity Investments and Initiatives

They were well focused on achieving not only digital equity but also locally determined economic, educational and social impacts.  fostering digital equity not just for its own sake but for its critical contributions to other more fundamental locally determined priorities for equity, social justice, and well-being.


Systemic- providing equitable( free or low cost) access to the full array of essential resources for digital inclusi0n, lifelong learning, workforce development and economic opportunity including:



-computing devices with keyboard ( and assistive devices for those with disabilities}

-multilingual tech support

-librarians skilled in guiding learners to high quality content and tools, keyed to their learning priorities

-low interest financing (or full subsidies) for gamilies with weak or no credit so that when devices are not free they can afford to finance them and still support their families

-educational and productivity apps and software

-open and “Deep Web”educational resources that are universally designed.

The initiative will publish, share videos and the outcome ideas of our Digital Equity Symposium


The National Coalition for Digital Equity will publish these in greater detail the outcomes of the symposium.




The KKK? Let me count the ways I learned about it!!

stone mountain

Ku Klux Klan rally cross burning, Stone Mountain, Georgia. © 1986 Robin Nelson

Here is the exchange on television that caused me to write this blog.


With all of the the hype on the news about the KKK, and the recent CNN confrontation between two broadcasters, I thought we might revisit the KKK and what a minority person like me knows about it.

The featured picture was my go to, when I did not feel like studying. There were several pictures of people who were victimized for learning to read.



From literature these are images in my mind. In college I saw the real photos. They were my motivation to learn, to read more and to be excellent in education. It was my revenge for the slaves and people who suffered , I thought.


Wikipedia says

“The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), or simply “the Klan”, is the name of three distinct past and present movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically expressed through terrorism aimed at groups or individuals whom they opposed.[6] All three movements have called for the “purification” of American society, and all are considered right wing extremist organizations.[7][8][9][10]”

“The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders. With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal enforcement. Members made their own, often colorful, costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be terrifying, and to hide their identities.[11][12]”89118333ed6NEU

“The second group was founded in 1915, and flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, particularly in urban areas of the Midwest and West. It opposed Catholics and Jews, especially newer immigrants, and stressed opposition to the Catholic Church.[13] This second organization adopted a standard white costume and used similar code words as the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades.”

“The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after 1950, in the form of small, local, unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[14] It is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.[2]”


“The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to America’s “Anglo-Saxon” blood, hearkening back to 19th-century nativism.[15] Although members of the KKK swear to uphold Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination has officially denounced the KKK.[16]”

The last photo , of a lynching, is the one that often comes to my mind. My mother and dad opened a black high school in Salisbury , Maryland.  I was born in Salisbury , Maryland. When I asked why they moved, my mom would say because it was too far from her family.My dad would say, it is all your mother’s fault.

My mother tried on a hat in Salisbury, Maryland . She put it onto her head. That was not allowed . Black women were not allowed to try on hats. My mom tried it on anyway.So the local KKK invited my dad for a ride. The people in town liked him so they did not lynch him. They showed him the tree where people were hanged and told him to take care of his wife to make sure she goes by the rules. They moved. Mother acknowledged the story.

The Ku Klux Klan sought to re-establish Democratic power in the South at the time when Radical Republicans and carpetbaggers dominated Reconstruction. It was founded by ex-servicemen of the Confederate Army in 1866, led by Nathan Bedford Forrest. The original group opposed the reforms enforced on the South by federal troops regarding the treatment of former slaves, often using violence to achieve their goals. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, but many of its groups in other parts of the country ignored the order and continued to function.

As a teen I knew to avoid White men in groups, in a car, or in a crowd because of the fear of being raped or groped or being victimized. Black women were routinely assaulted in the south and there was little consequence to rapes.

       The Klan Gets Diverse in Hate, Adding more Minorities and Religions

A second distinct group using the same name was started atop Stone Mountain near Atlanta in 1915 by William J. Simmons. This second group existed as a money-making fraternal organization and fought to maintain the ways of the past by fighting against the increasing numbers of Roman Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Asians, and other immigrants into the United States. This group, although preaching racism, was a mainstream organization with 4 million members at its peak in the 1920s. Its popularity fell during the Great Depression, and membership fell again during World War II presumably because of mass enlistment or conscription to the Armed Forces.

                                         The Violence of the KKK

The violence conducted by the Klan was often sexualized in nature. Although the Klan openly stated their reason for existing was to protect white women from black men, some had no moral qualms about their members sexually abusing or mutilating black men and women in order to show their authority. Often, Klan members would both assault and rape black women (Hodes 66). An example of sexualized violence was given in by the U.S. Commissioner from Raleigh, A. Webster Shaffer, concerning a freed woman named Frances Gilmore. A group of disguised attackers had assaulted her by whipping and beating her, then taking her clothes off to be whipped with a board, and finally forcibly having her pubic hair burned off before she was cut multiple times with a knife (Report 36-37). Gilmore was unable to identify her attackers due to their disguises, and no arrests were ever made.

Another example of sexualized violence was committed on a black man who, because of a simple labor conflict, was forced to cut up his genitals with a knife (Hodes 65). The Klans use of sexualized violence on women and men shows their willingness to assert their social authority over blacks, by any means necessary.

Victims of Violence

The Klan seemed willing to use whatever means necessary to regain political dominance of the South, even if that meant instilling terror via sexual abuse.

Did You Know?
At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.

Where can you find out more?

The Book, Mississippi Burning 

Photo: “Civil Rights and the KKK” At the link.

The Newseum  has lessons on Civil Rights and the KKK.


According to John Hope Franklin (From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, 1967), “in the last sixteen years of the nineteenth century there had been more than 2,500 lynchings, the great majority of which were of Negroes.” The early twentieth century did not see a significant decrease: “In the very first year of the new century more than 100 Negroes were lynched, and before the outbreak of World War I the number for the century had soared to more than 1,100.” Lynchings declined in number but continued in ferocity during World War I. They were seized on so effectively by the Germans that, despite his Southern sympathies, President Wilson issued a statement against lynching and mob violence, But after the war more than a few returning black soldiers were lynched, some in their uniforms. The “Red scare” of 1919 was eclipsed by the racial violence and lynching fever of what James Weldon Johnson termed “the Red Summer.” Riots and killings, some of them lynchings, occurred in Chicago, Texas, Washington, D.C., and with particular brutality that October in Arkansas. Although lynching was by no means an isolated, aberrant occurrence in the 1920s when the Klan was resurgent or in the 1930s when the depression fueled the hunt for racial as well as political scapegoats, the phenomenon was no longer virulent enough to claim one victim every two to three days. In its sporadic occurrences over the next decades, lynching continued to be a vehicle of terror and a last resort in opposition to the drive for political and civil rights through the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.