YES , THEY CAN!! If….Minority Students Can Achieve….

A Teragrid Outreach , Jesse and I partidipated in and learned a lot

Most of the people who are writing about the assault on a student by a policeman, have little or no experience working in the places of need and judge by what they think. Those students are not lost causes. They can be taught..You can shape an attitude. You can make a student love learning.

Larry Irving said this:

“No issue is more important than ensuring that our communities, particularly our children, obtain access to new technologies and become technologically literate. Our nation’s problems can’t and won’t be solved entirely by new technology, but these new technologies are tools that we can use to make significant changes in our communities.”

I like what Allan Jones wrote on the Internet.

He said ,”There has been a lot of debate over the young student who was forcibly removed from her classroom by police. It should never have reached that point. There is an old leadership principle I learned at the Naval Academy that has always served me well. It says simply, “Praise publicly and criticize privately.” If you are having a problem with a student in a class, don’t make a spectacle of the situation by humiliating the student in front of the rest of the class. You have the authority to win any argument in a classroom, but when you do, there is a greater loss. You lose any chance you had of having a rational conversation with the student you just defeated. But that is the minor loss. The major loss is the respect of the class for using your authority instead of your intellect to solve the problem. There is another old quote that applies to this situation. “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (John Wooden) Asserting your authority to win an argument means you haven’t taken the time to care about why the student is apparently misbehaving. It’s very important for students to care how much you know, so your have to show them you care about each and every one of them. — — That’s how I would have and always did deal with the situation.”

You can’t learn these skills everywhere..but certainly policemen or counselors should have these skills. Lots of people who have been successful with minority kids have a helpful attitude.

363_42724556326_8230_n copy

My dad taught in very difficult inner city schools and nothing like the assault ever happened. He did bring hungry kids home and one of the things that I remember is that he and another teacher bought a suit for the first black NBA player for his interview,and they were mentors to him. Earl Lloyd always remembered that and sometimes helped me when I was working the digital divide. He just needed that boost. Earl Lloyd remembered that and also helped students to conquer the various problems that they had to become literate.

Here is a funny thing. Once a student who happened to be white, committed a crime. Everyone was afraid of the student. He hid under my dad’s car and waited to ask my dad to take him to the police station. So it is not about color . It is about understanding…


One class I worked with was a class of mostly Hispanic and Black kids who were only not in jail because they attended this class in the Career Center where I was a teacher in residence. Ok , their main teacher was a policeman, and he wore cop shoes, but he knew how to work with the students. I also worked with them. The only problem I ever had was that sometimes they would tell me how to wear my hair.. some wanted me to use gel and I did not. But that was not a big deal.He read their faces as they came in. They were checking out the shoes of the adults who came in. Everything was not always peaceful but, he would do aside time, and some kinds of counseling. We did not lose a single student back to jail. We gave them confidence, and assurance and skills that they could use. We sometimes let them use educational games. Wow did I have a hard time keeping my scores up to challenge them. That was a challenge that they liked. I stayed up nights to learn those games.

What can you teach them? What about everything? This is a group of students seining who had never been seaside , or to a beach. Did they love me. You betcha. Did they learn. YES!!! Ok I used their love of crabs to get them there, but that is fair. ” Eat a Crab Lab?

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.

                               Seining at the SERC Center, Edgewater , Maryland.4894_115870586326_2833140_n

Another approach to students, is that of Dr. Jesse Bemley. He takes the best and the brightest and teaches computer science to them. In the middle o the ghetto…Very rigid. Specialized practice on presenting and being on point in sharing information. When I worked with him I watched in amazement as he transformed students. Students went on to work with the BDPA and other groups. Attitudes were left at the door. Besides, Dr. Bemley came from Mississippi and he could tell long stories about not having things, and a difficult journey to education. He would talk a student to death about opportunity … literally. I think the students were amazed at what he knew and his dedication to their achievement. If a child had an attitude it was locked at the door.

Dc Parents and interested mentors teach ESRI at the computer center on Naylor Road. We had help from people at the National Geographic to get ESRI and to start our project.

Dc Parents and interested mentors teach ESRI at the computer center on Naylor Road. We had help from people at the National Geographic to get ESRI and to start our project.

We went to conferences, did Saturday study and worked with Supercomputing for a long time. Dr. Bemley is still doing this work in his Naylor Road office. His son and daughter are computer scientists. ( It takes a village). He was able to bring a lot of students to a specialized event that SC had in our Washington DC area. Any attitudes that students had were parked at the door.

I had another friend,Manorama Talaiver, who taught in rural schools in Virginia and she worked with students who were minorities. She wrote grants and got funding and connected teachers and students to learning . What she did every Saturday? She provided opportunity. She wrote grants and did Robotics First with kids .. that was something else to watch. All of her students achieved. All of them. She built their confidence and involved them in team building.


My friend Mano works in areas of need in rural Virginia. There are lots of us who have the aptitude to teach students. Permission is something else.

My friend Mano worked in areas of need in rural Virginia. There are lots of us who have the aptitude to teach students. Permission is something else.

We need to make sure that all of our schools, not just those in affluent suburban communities, obtain computer technology., have access, and the teachers have professional development to fully use the tools . The tools are the first step.


Larry Irving also said

“Additionally, we need to make sure that all of our schools, not just those in affluent suburban communities, obtain computer technology.” this is extracted from a speech he made a decade ago.. and so we must add computer coding to the list.

Larry Irving 1998 Speech

Larry Irving 2015 Speech( It is awesome on it’s own)

Use technology to disrupt poverty!


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

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

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

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


This is from a supercomputing model at TACC

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



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

OK Glass!!

OK Glass!!

MapMaker Interactive

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


Have You Got This Tech? Cyberlearning?

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

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

The 2015 Teacher and Learning Video Showcase is available from the

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

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

GOT SUPERCOMPUTING? Visualization and Modeling? Big Data?


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

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

Being involved in transformational education through NASA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is from Family Days at AAAS.

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

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

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

It’s Everyone’s Job to be a “Job Creator”

I am tired of hearing about jobs programs and job creators. There is something in these terms that implies that there is a small, elite group of people who serve as the job creators, while everyone else prepares for and competes to work for these people and their jobs. In my opinion, that is a deeply flawed view of what makes the American economy great. America became great because everyone has the potential to be a job creator. What we are doing in our Tracy Learning Center (TLC) program is creating a new generation of job creators, not just workers. But frequently, when I tell people about what a great impact the TLC program is having on its students, people look at just their academic performance numbers to validate my claim. Our students do very well academically, but that is only a small part of the overall impact of the program.

To use an analogy; life is like building a house. TLC provides an education that prepares the person to be able to build the whole house, and even be the developer who builds the community. A traditional school focuses only on teaching students how to drive a nail. Clearly our students will be able to drive a nail, and remarkably, they will do it very well. So, if getting a job means being able to drive a nail, we’re good. But we’re much more than good.

Students in our program are taught how to get a job. But they are also taught how to start a company. The career program includes a unit where they work in small teams and have to take an idea and build a business around it. In other courses, TLC students work in small teams solving problems. Tis model of learning ensures that they master the traditional academic content, but it also does much more than that. As a result of their team problem-solving approach, the students learn a broad assortment of high performance skills such as teamwork, communications, problem-solving, researching, creativity, responsibility, reliability, innovation, planning, etc. Our program gives students the confidence and skills to create their own jobs, and potentially jobs for other as well. Every student coming out of school has to feel like he or she is a job creator, not just a worker. The TLC model does that very well.

On one of my trips to the school, I happened to be there on the same day that one of their graduates had chosen to return and thank the school for what it had done for him. He had transferred to the TLC as a high school student because he was having all kinds of problems in his old school – not just academically, but behaviorally and even problems with substance abuse (possibly including dealing drugs to other students). He had come back to the school that day to thank the teachers for not giving up on him and to tell the next generation of students to listen to the teachers because they care and they are right.

A couple of years earlier, he was coming to the end of his senior year and because he lacked the credits to earn a diploma was not going to graduate. As a result of the work with his teachers at the TLC, he realized how important getting the diploma was, so he asked for permission to spend another semester at the school to earn the diploma. Permission was granted, and he did earn it. He worked with the teachers and counselors, wrote letters, and got scholarships that allowed him to attend a local vocational school to learn the HVAC trades. He now has a job in the field, is seeking additional scholarships to further his education, and is already planning to start his own business. All of this success was directly related to the program and teachers at the TLC.

At the other end of the spectrum, I should also mention the story of the young female student who earned her associates degree at the local college while attending the TLC and then enrolled at UC Berkeley as a junior the fall following her high school graduation.

These are just two examples. If you take the time to sit down and talk with virtually any student at the school, you will hear some variation of these stories. The program reaches every student in some individual way. It gives them the knowledge and skills to be successful. But more importantly, it gives them the self-confidence to try.

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions-Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions 

Essay by

Allan C. Jones, President

Emaginos Inc.- Engaging Every Child Through Customized Education

Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Education in the No Child Left Behind era is all about answering “who, what, when and where” (4W) questions. But the questions that really matter are why and how. In a European history class, students are asked, “Who fought at the battle of Hastings?”, “What armies fought in the battle?”, “When was it fought?”, and “Where is Hastings?”. I can still remember that the English fought the Normans led by William the Conqueror in 1066. I don’t remember where Hastings is, if I ever did know it. What I don’t know is why it was fought and how it affected history. In considering what I know and don’t know, it seems like the stuff I know doesn’t matter and the stuff I don’t know does matter. In general, what matters is the stuff you learn by asking why and how.

The country’s leaders constantly complain about today’s students not learning enough about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). STEM topics are boring if you focus on the 4W questions.  But if you focus on “why and how” they come to life. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in the southern US before the civil war. Boring! Why did he invent it? How did it work. How was it powered? Why was it important? What recent inventions have had a similar impact on a nation’s economy? The last is a “What” question, but not a recall question. These are the interesting questions about the cotton gin – and they lead to a rich discussion of STEM.

Let’s make the issue more contemporary.

We tell children to use soap when they wash their hands. When they ask why they need the soap, the typical response is that soap gets the hands cleaner. This is usually where inquiry stops and authority takes over – just do it! But any healthy, curious child is thinking, “How does soap work?” The answer is, “Soap makes water wetter.” What does that mean? Soap breaks down the surface tension bonds between the water molecules. So the next obvious question is, “Why does that matter?” Because it allows the water to penetrate the dirt better to float it away. It also emulsified the grease molecules; allowing them to detach from the object and rinse away. I like to give the students another use for this piece of knowledge so I tell them that the next time they find a tick and are trying to kill it, the easiest way is to drop the tick into a cup of tap water. Initially, the tick will appear to float. (The little suckers are really hard to kill.) But ticks are not buoyant. They are not floating. They are standing on the surface tension. Add a drop of dishwashing liquid to the water and the tick will sink like a stone and drown.

We were recently at yet another STEM meeting where the people were all excited about an excellent robotics activity that they were proposing to engage more girls and minorities in STEM. Robots are cool; and designing and playing with them can be engaging and instructional. But why go the expense of creating an artificial world for STEM learning? Students are surrounded by STEM every minute of their lives. Some questions they might enjoy answering could include:

  • How do they get stone-washed denim to look that way? Do they really stone-wash it?
  • Why do the tires on a mountain bike look so different from the tires on a racing bike? Do car and truck tires have the same or different tread designs? How do they decide what is the best tread design for different uses? How does changing the amount of air pressure affect the performance of the tires? When do you use low tire pressure and when do you use high pressure and why?
  • Why does it get easier or harder to pedal a 12-speed bike when you shift the gears? How does the Derailleur work? How is the Derailleur different from a manual transmission on a car? Why does a manual transmission need a clutch and an automatic transmission does not? How does the clutch work? Why does a clutch burn out?
  • How do iPods store all that music? What other options are available to store it? Why was the one they use chosen? What may be the next better storage mechanism?

If you want to tie it into history, ask how people 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1,000 years ago did what we do routinely today. What did tires and treads look like at those different time periods? How were vehicles propelled? How was music stored and enjoyed? How does communications technology affect social unrest? Which technologies that were originally invented for military uses have become everyday household products? Did you know that microwave ovens came from radar technologies developed for guiding missiles?

The list of fascinating STEM topics is endless. More importantly, they are an integral part of everybody’s world. All of the inventions and the underlying technologies were designed and built by engineers and technologists based on work by scientists and mathematicians. STEM is not some remote esoteric set of knowledge reserved for nerds. It’s a fascinating set of knowledge and skills that make up the world we live in. The 4W questions are only interesting if they are used in the context of why and how.

Dropout prevention is another big issue in education. Because understanding why and how something happened are much more interesting than the 4W questions, students get more engaged in their learning when seeking answers to why and how. We need to get away from the model where the teacher asks the 4W questions and students answer them. We need to pose problems that require the students to determine what the questions are that they need answered in order to solve the problem. If you put the students in small ability-level based groups and frame the questions as problems to be solved, every student is actively engaged in learning. This student-centered learning environment also allows the teachers to work individually with every student and customize the learning for each of them.

Going back to the battle of Hastings, knowing why and how it was fought and how the result of the battle impacted the subsequent history of England might be of use in looking at the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Can we learn any lessons from Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq that will enable us to make better decisions about the value of those strategies?

We need to change the questions we ask our students and the way we pose them, not only in class, but also on assessments. There is an old axiom that applies; “You get what you pay for.” Since educational institutions get ‘paid’ for good assessments, they will structure the teaching and learning activities to produce what is assessed. So we need to do less assessing of who, what, when, and where; and start doing a better job of assessing students’ mastery of why and how.