George Stuart , Frank Withrow and The Jason Project ( Studying the Maya)

monday 037

The Maya , My Students and Me


Learning About MesoAmerica –

When I was a very little girl, I found arrowheads in the dirt on my grandparents farm in Dinwiddie, Virginia. I used to have a collection of arrowheads and found some interesting ones while digging in the dirt. They were obsidian. No television, out there or stores out there so I started learning about the Indian trading routes of ancient times in archaeology books. Then I learned that there were cultures called the Maya, Aztecs and Toltecs. I chose to learn about the Maya because of the obsidian arrowheads that  were found so long ago.

I wanted to know how arrowheads were made, and I began reading about the properties of rocks and minerals. Although I did see some demonstrations of how to make arrowheads, I never really made but one. It was hard work. I saw a demonstration in a museum. I tried it at home. It did not work ,so I knew that I could not teach kids to do it. I needed the Anthropologists from the Smithsonian to confirm, share, document knowledge. All I had was a book, not even maps.

*Technology was available then and now. Many classrooms are at the low end of technology integration and these are tools which can be used and which are now free.

I am not speaking of the New Mexico Turquoise Trail. I am speaking of a Native American trading trail that started in Central America and eventually was a part of Virginia and other states. My young male cousins sold arrowheads to collectors, mine , when they could find them, to a collector. Back then 75cents was to them a lot of money. Sometimes I reburied my cache of arrowheads.

One day I found a purple and white oddly shaped artifact. I taped it around my ankle ( I told them I had sprained my ankle and escaped back to Northern Virginia with that one) but my mother probably thought it was a rock and it disappeared.

Later I saw that purple and white treasure of mine as a Mayan artifact, but I did not know much about the Maya or the other people of MesoAmerica. So, to the Smithsonian I went. There were some exhibits, art and anthro-notes to read from and there was a wonderful collection of books.- expensive books, posters and cultural pieces to purchase. I was teaching 5th grade. I knew Mexico as a country, as art, as food. But I wanted to teach from the point after Columbus landed.

I took a part time job as a Stewardess to see Maya lands.( so long ago)

Learning. Reading, Dreaming.

I did not have a lot of money as a school teacher.When Voyage of the Mimi came out Voyage 2. No one objected.

The science supervisor ignored it, the history department did not care.. so I co-opted to use it in the Talented and Gifted Program. Actually I borrowed it on pre-view first.I loved it and I told them so.

See here.

It is still available and quite interesting.

While seated at a dinner for National Geographic teacher fellows, I met George Stuart, and I did not know of his work. He asked me what interest I had in the Maya.. I began to tell him how I borrowed the “Voyage of the Mimi 2” and loved it so much.. but that I had to send it back ( too Expensive) He asked for my card. The very next week my class and I had not only the whole Voyage of the Mimi, games, maps, teacher edition and all.

At that time,Frank Withrow was the Secretary of Education who encouraged this program. and there was the Jason Project which let us be sophisticated about the lianes, caves, the jungle and the areas of the Maya( the geography of where they lived). We had a laster disc.

New Tools
Here is a interactive map of the Maya.


Drone Technology has allowed for more discoveries in the jungles. Here is a picture from Langunita.These are rediscovered cities.

ESRI allows students to do story maps , and that is a new way of using technology in learning. It is powerful.

The Second Voyage of the Mimi was a twelve-episode American educational television program depicting a fictional crew of a sailboat named the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Southern Mexico. Along the way, they learn a lot about ancient civilization and also attempt to foil the plans of looters who steal the artifacts from the ancient sites.

The series aired on PBS and was created by the Bank Street College Thisof Education in 1988 to teach middle-schoolers about science and social studies in an interesting and interactive way.

In each episode, viewers are taught something scientific relating to plot events in the previous episode of the show. For example, an episode’s plot would be about deciphering Mayan writing, and the viewer also receives information about how the Maya wrote various words and numbers.

Elementary school teachers will find more than just springboards for archeological lessons in The Second Voyage of the Mimi, but also springboards for lessons in writing techniques, social studies, linguistics and history. People talk about STEAM. We had even more than that. We had the elements of culture with resources, but it gets better than that.

National Geographic magazines have always been my passport to the rest of the world . Through them I became mesmerized with the ancient civilizations of America. Then I discovered the library. I love that library.

There was also Hilda Taba’s work. They were cards that you put in order to solve an ancient case study. I used them so effectively as we studied culture that a parent complained to my principal that she used to know who discovered America before I taught her child. I had to document differences from the 5th grade book. Oh boy was I in trouble at first!

I used it twice on loan, and while sitting at a dinner at National Geographic the program came into the conversation and I told them about it. Who knew that George Stuart was in on the program. He was sitting there, and he asked me for my school address. n

The five-hundredth anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic voyage of Christopher Columbus was coming 1992 in the United States.

The Smithsonian had a variety of exhibitions, public programs and scholarly publications to commemorate Columbus’ voyage to the Americas. All the programs and events highlighted the Quincentenary themes: (1) Magnificent Traditions, (2) Dynamic of the Encounter, (3) Continuity of the Encounter and (4) The Next 500 Years.

major Smithsonian Quincentenary programs such as exhibitions: “Seeds of Change”, “American Encounters”, “Where Next, Columbus”, “The West as America”, “Portraiture in the Reign of Philip II”, and the “Amazonia: The New World Explored on the Occasion of the Columbus Quincentenary”.


National Gallery of Art Loan Materials in Online Resources

Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration

Twenty objects illustrate artistic traditions and achievements from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas around (circa) the year 1492, when European explorers created new links among continents.

The Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration loan packet includes:

  • a 53-page booklet
  • 15 color study prints

a slideset with 20 works of art.


Seeds of Change

October 26, 1991 May 23, 1993

Museum: Natural History Museum

They focused on the horse, the potato, tomato, corn and disease and the resources are archived in the Smithsonian resources.
Disease and the horse had a dramatic impact on both continents. Indians in the Americas had no previous exposure to smallpox, measles, typhus or influenza, diseases carried to the New World by the explorers. The horse, which died out in the Americas during the Ice Age, was reintroduced by Columbus and played a significant role in the conquest and settlement of the lands.

Three food items, corn, potatoes and sugar, added variety and sustenance to diets worldwide after Columbus packed them in his return trip cargo. The exhibit depicts corn as an important dietary staple in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia. Farmers in the Andes in South America cultivated thousands of species of potatoes, a crop that subsequently became an integral part of European, Soviet and Asian diets.

An intimate journey through a Montserrat sugar plantation explains the impact of the slave-driven trade. Viola estimates that it took the life of one slave to produce one ton of sugar.Exportation of sugar dramatically changed European lifestyles as desserts and pastries of all kinds were developed.

A wealth of historically inspired recipes were compiled for release in conjunction with the quincentennial observance.

The “Smithsonian Folklife Cookbook” documented the origins of traditional American recipes with anecdotes and family histories. Divided into regional sections, the book profiled local specialties, many based on two of the “seeds,” corn and potatoes.

The tradition of giving food to friends, as Columbus inadvertently did, was important to the livelihood of regional cooks, explains cookbook authors Katherine and Tom Kirlin.

“These are the kinds of people who would gladly feed the whole world if they could just find a kitchen big enough,” Katherine added.

Examined the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes include the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World. Introductory film, on first floor, runs continuously.

The Office of Folklife Programs organized events such as the Festival of American Folklife “living exhibitions” which featured “The Caribbean: Cultural Encounters in the New World” (June/July 1989), the Festival’s 1991 and 1992 features of the indegenous populations of the Americas, focusing on cultures of the rainforests, Andean Highlands, Valley, Desert, Northwest Coast, Woodlands and Pinenut gathering cultures, also the symposia, “Seeds of the Past” (1988), “Seeds of Commerce” (1989), and “Seeds of Industrialization” (1990), including Folklife Programs in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways Records of music and verbal arts, Smithsonian Quincentenary radio programs highlighted living cultural exhibitions,there were teacher-training workshops and exhibition program books; and a Quincentenary multi-cultural curriculum which was five-units *bilingual

Is America Really a Digitally Literate Nation? Do People Really Understand Inequity?Social Justice?


Recently a lot of articles and workshops have come to us about the digital divide and that it still exists. It is a relief that people are coming back to the realization that we have an uneven learning landscape. Here is a whole article. The following is an excerpt. This is a lot of information, but it is very important to understand the challenges in education.
“For children in the U.S., their homes, their communities, and their schools both represent and perpetuate inequity. In fact, the inequity of childhood is increasing, not shrinking.”

At the Broadband Summit hosted by the FCC and NTIA, I heard  stories of people who are new to technology and how difficult it is for some populations to embrace technology. Many people are still waiting to embrace the mouse. Of course now we can leapfrog to a tablet. But understanding is the key to embracing technology in meaningful ways. Outstanding were the NTIA projects that support the uses of technology in community ways.

Sadly, many communities are still not well-connected.



In February, there was an uncommon event. It was the 2013 Broadband Summit ( Broadband Adoption and Usage- What Have We Learned?)NTIA and the FCC shared the day in sharing knowledge.

The FCC is a leader in encouraging the safe use of electronic media by children.Educators are held to the idea of digital textbooks while many do not have connectivity in their schools. Students do not have the skills for workforce readiness. Many teachers don/t have the skills they need to be effective in the use of technology. Some of these ideas are shared in Digital Nation from Edutopia.

From televisions to laptops to cell phones, electronic media have become some children’s almost constant companions. The commission provides parents with a variety of resources to improve children’s safety in today’s complex media landscape, including:

At the SITE Conference in New Orleans… we will share the results of our work and research so that you don’t have to guess about resources . We have a Facebook Grant. The work will be published in the society’s journals.Here is a little information to frame the research that has been conducted.What is SITE?

We are the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education, and it is our mission to promote research, scholarship, collaboration, exchange and support.

SITE Conference 2013 – Teaching in Exponential Times!

Sheraton San Diego

The 24th Annual International SITE Conference will be held March 25 – 29, 2013 in New Orleans, LA, USA


Definitions of Digital Citizenship In Our Facebook Grant Work

“Digital citizenship” is an umbrella term that covers a whole host of important issues. Broadly, it’s the guidelines for responsible, appropriate behavior when one is using technology. But specifically, it can cover anything from “netiquette” to cyber-bullying; technology access and the digital divide; online safety and privacy; copyright, plagiarism, and digital law, and more. In fact, some programs that teach digital citizenship have outlined no less than nine elements that intersect to inform a well-equipped digital citizen. It’s an overwhelming array of skills to be taught and topics to explore.The source of the nine elements is

But while there is much talk about the importance of teaching digital citizenship in this information society, not many are sure what that really looks like. What tools are out there for teaching it? And how in the world can teachers make time in an already overcrowded curriculum?What  about those who do not have broadband access? Or limited bandwidth?

Digital Passport?


There are lots of users of technology. My concern is that there are people who do not use, know about or are interested in the use of technology , nor do they know how they benefit from the ways in which technology is used at the highest levels in Supercomputing. They innocently use GPS, weather resources from Supercomputing, watch on television the news from around the world, get climate updates, and earthquake and seismic information without thinking of the source. They get visualization and modeling examples daily, and do not think at all of computational thinking , problem solving and the math that is required to be able to participate in computing.Many people use the cloud without knowledge of what it is. A good reference or starting point is at

There is a higher form of computing that facilitates a lot of tasks for us and few people seem to be aware of it.

You will hear people say, I don’t need technology. Sure. Invisible uses are everywhere.

It is called Supercomputing.


This morning several  articles caught my eye. But more than the articles is the interesting interaction on-line and the discussions about have and have-nots. Friends of mine,  a professor, a code writer and a mathematician had a late night discussion following my posting this video by Jeannette Wing.

Dr. Jeannette Wing was the Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation.Social Media helps us to communicate, though we may not always agree, at least there is the opportunity to exchange ideas and to think deeply with reflection. Dr. Wing has moved into the private sector. Microsoft announced that it has hired Dr. Jeannette Wing as Vice President of its Research division. Microsoft Research is an expansive group of technologists, scientists, and dreamers that build technology that may, or perhaps more often may not make it to market.


Such interesting conversations I have on Facebook. This is what I am talking about as a model for use of technology. It is not happening in most inner city and rural and distant schools. People have the tools but not the pedagogical knowledge of integration . ( TPACK)

TPACK Image (rights free)

The TPACK Model
The TPACK Model was created in response to the need to provide a framework around the important pieces of innovating learning with a focus on Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge.  The overlap of these three components is where the 21st Century classroom is most powerful.

Here is general information on TPACK

Got Computational Thinking?

Computational thinking will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, lets add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Computational thinking is an approach to solving problems, building systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on the power and limits of computing. While computational thinking has already begun to influence many disciplines, from the sciences to the humanities, the best is yet to come.Looking to the future, we can anticipate even more profound impact of computational thinking on science, technology, and society: on the ways new discoveries will be made, innovation will occur, and cultures will evolve.

It is this that we learn with. So we had a person who writes code, a scientist and me, a teacher.. in a late night discussion with a professor about the video.This is one of the things about social media. It cuts the silos. Ground truths in social media.


In this interview from the Education Technology & Change blog, Henry Neeman from the University of Oklahoma describes the increasing accessibility of HPC.

“You may not see the supercomputers, but every single day supercomputing is making our lives better. Everything from the cars we drive to the weather forecast on TV to the movies we watch to the detergent bottles in our laundry rooms are made, or made better, by supercomputing. Today, there are a number of ways for citizens to access supercomputing. Often, these are known as “science gateways,” and they provide a simple interface to a complicated back end. An example is nanoHUB, which K-12 and postsecondary students can use to do nanotechnology simulations. In fact, the nanoHUB website has curricula and teaching materials that any teacher can put to work in their classroom.”

Early exposure and interest

early exposure and interest through outreach

This article caught my eye because it says the things that I have been blogging about, talking about and sharing for some time.

The article is entitled “By the Numbers: Teachers, Tech, and the Digital Divide” it extracts information from the latest Pew Report which is here. The new Pew Research survey of more than 2,400 middle school and high school teachers released today shows that, while teachers believe technology has helped with their teaching, it’s also brought new challenges — including the possibility of creating a bigger rift between low-income and high-income students.


Reading first.. . and there is free technology of excellence….Many of us know the challenges first hand . Many of us work at different levels of understanding of the difficulty. Often people dismiss what we who are on the ground , in the classrooms and in the places of need as if what we are saying is untrue. We have children who cannot read. Technology can help solve that problem. Early learning is important. Books and technology work too.

We know that people use the tools of technology, but that expense is a problem. We know that the cell phone has brought many people to a mobile use of technology and that “bring your own device” has become the salvation for some schools.Mobile use was shared in the Wireless Technology conference.

                         Wireless EdTech Beyond Being There – The Mobile Future of Learning ( in case you missed it)

There are a few other pieces of research that affect those of us of diversity in very important ways. We have always known that the digital divide is a problem based on access to broadband, hardware and access to teachers who may not have achieved the transformational skills to use technology in meaningful ways.

Some examples of ways in which people are trying to help are:

By Sean Cavanagh in Education Week

“Can online graphic novels help teenagers cope with difficult social situations?

Are 3-D technologies a tool for helping English-learners acquire language skills outside traditional educational settings? And what about the potential for mobile apps that let students manipulate on-screen images with their fingers to help them learn fractions?”

“A federal program, still in its infancy, is supporting research that seeks to answer those and other questions by wedding partners that often operate in isolation—educational technology and scientific research on learning—with the goal of transforming teaching and learning in schools.”

The federal government has been funding projects focused on technology and education for decades, and it has backed research on cognition in many forms. But the relatively new program, called Cyberlearning: Transforming Education , is the National Science Foundation ’s attempt to create a space within the agency devoted to supporting research on advanced learning technologies.

Some of the beginning steps of the program were shared in a conference .

NSF Funds Research to Identify What Works

Jeremy Rochelle of SRI

The conference, which was hosted at the National Geographic, involved SRI ,  and NSF

you can find the portal here.They invite you to help write pages for the cyber-learning topic areas listed below. Their aim is to develop definitions that are strong enough to show the direction of the field but open enough to allow for innovation (see Defining Cyber-learning, below). If you have expertise in any of these areas and would like to be involved in editing these pages, please email to request a wiki account.

Here are the topics:

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) project is also defining key TEL topics

This is the portal for this important work.(
There are many teachers, educators, administrators who are still learning to understand these topics and so even with help from various groups trying to make a difference, the leap of faith is a broad one. Edutopia has a program that starts to share why we must go digital.
There are still people who resist personal and educational use of technology for various reasons. Many teachers have the tools,but not the know how or support or the ideational  scaffolding that is needed to be technology fluent. The Pew Report outlined many of the things that I would say, but also lets us know that it is not just
those of us who talk about the digital divide and social justice who are complaining about lack of broadband, access, tools and support for learning the technology.
Edutopia has videos, blogs, and all manner of resources to share with educators on how to use and integrate technology into good practice.
There is no cost for exploring good practices in education at the site.