Final Days to Register for our online #MakerSpace Camp

Today (or tomorrow) are the last days to register for our The Educator Collaborative MakerSpace Camp in order to guarantee you receive your MakerKits on time!

Cadet and Admiral levels attend the full online camp and, while joining us live, will have a hands-on MakerKit to work along with us.

If you don’t already follow @TheEdCollab or subscribe to our mailing list (

Two nights of making growing  exploring + true STE(A)M learning!





(Streamed Free To Everyone!  Yes!  Free!)


laura newbio

Sunday, March 29

Laura Fleming

Member of The Educator Collaborative Team and author of Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School


Monday, March 30

Troy Hicks


Author of Crafting Digital WritingCreate, Compose, Connect! and The Digital Writing Workshop




Kits designed by The Educator Collaborative and our event partner Table Top Inventing

✧MakerKits For Cadets Only:


Sunday night: Dive into the kit and “make” right along with us!

☼ Monday morning: Try out “making” at your school!

☺︎ Monday day and night: share your “maker” inventions using #TheEdCollabMaker

Kit includes beginner supplies: paper cut templates, aluminum wire, clothes pins, clips, magnets, batteries and a class set of LED “blinkey lights” and more.  The kit is designed for one participant and one “class set” of additional items for use on Monday.  Additional items may be purchased anytime from our event partner Table Top Inventing.

We’ll invite you to supply a few creative items, too. That SECRET MISSION will come in the weeks before the MAKER SPACE CAMP.


✬MakerKits and Advanced Learning For Admirals Only:


✪✪✪✪ In Four, Follow-Up Sessions with Laura Fleming: Dive more deeply into the world of making. Exploring STE(A)M concepts that will take your making and makerspaces into the stratosphere.

Kit includes advanced supplies: LEDs, speakers, an oscillator board, an “Arduino” Board, and more.  The kit is designed for one advanced participant.  Additional items may be purchased anytime from  our event partner Table Top Inventing.

We’ll invite you to supply a few creative items, too. That TOP SECRET MISSION will come before your first FOLLOW-UP MEETING.

✬  Admirals = Extended Learning  ✬

Admirals will join Laura Fleming for 4 additional, online, group learning sessions!

Meeting in an intimate group, limited to only 9 members, Laura will support you in advanced makerspace techniques, structures, and robotics.

Admiral Mission Meeting Dates (a.k.a. Online Additional Sessions):

  • April 17th,
  • April 24th,
  • May 15th,
  • and June 5th

When registering, you will select your Admrial Group:

  • Group Alpha meets online 3-4PM EST/Noon-1PM PST
  • now closed, waitlist available: Group Beta meets online 5-6PM EST/3-4PM PST



In addition to Laura Fleming and Troy Hicks, we are excited to be joined by these special guests!

➢ Making as a Path to­—and Beyond—the CCSS and ISTE Standards

ziemkeChris Lehman Author PhotoChristopher Lehman, Founding Director, author of several popular books include Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Kate Roberts) and Energize Research Reading and Writing

➢ Empowering Teachers and Students as Designers: Game-Making as a Pathway to Deeper Learning

instituteofplay_logo_mainScreen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.10.44 AM




 J84A1180An Institute of Play “Making” Event

➢ “A Scoptti logoe and Sequence of Making”: From Leading Kids, To Giving Them The Lead

  • Steve Kurti, Research Physicist and “Chief Maker and Mad Scientist” at Table Top Inventing


▸▷>>>>REGISTER HERE<<<<◀︎◁

 Three Levels of Registration! ❖


Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 10.02.30 PM

Seats are limited at “Cadet” and “Admiral” levels. Waitlist available once seats are filled.


More information is available on our MakerSpace Camp page (link).


▸▷>>>>REGISTER HERE<<<<◀︎◁

Special Thanks to Our Event Partners:

Table Top Inventing

tti logo


Institute of Play



What About Income Inequality?

I haven’t often devoted a post to reactions from one article I’ve read – that’s usually more my twitter style to (re)tweet something I am drawn to.  But this article, and this topic, is cause to do so.

I wrote about income inequality and it’s effects on education in my post Education’s Own 47%, about how the education reform movement is focusing so much attention on improving the “failing” US education system, that they spend time on the fact that if our upper and middle class students were their own country, they outperform top ranking countries, included famed Finland. Poverty is an issue we cannot afford to ignore any longer… yet we continue to do so.


The article you must read and share is Stanford professor of education and sociology Sean F. Reardon’s New York Times piece on income inequality and its effects on student achievement, “The Great Divide: No Rich Child Left Behind.”   Read it, then pair it with this info graphic from another article he co-wrote last summer.

What Next?

“There is a lot of discussion these days about investing in teachers and “improving teacher quality,” but improving the quality of our parenting and of our children’s earliest environments may be even more important.” – Sean F. Reardon

Regardless of the current narrative about school reform/deform, there are an awful lot of schools working as hard as they can to support the development of their students. The wheels I have turning after reading this article is what role I, and the schools I work with, can play in being a part of developing both in school and out of school life.

  • Nearly every school has “Parent-Teacher” nights, but a smaller set (that could be larger) have “parent academies” to provide courses and support for parents throughout the year.
  • I was talking to a school recently that was lamenting how hard it is to get parents into school for events, though they recognized their parent population is a busy one. We talked about perhaps making “youtube”-esque videos that parents could watch at their convenience – short, catchy, meaningful.
  • Volunteering at neighborhood organizations, especially ones in areas you know you could most impact.
  • Thinking of our schools not as islands, but as a community, and brainstorming ways your school’s PTA can support a sister-school’s PTA.
  • Continue to make your voice heard about these issues of income inequality and their effects on student learning – write to congressman, write to your local news outlets, write blog posts, talk a lot.

I am not suggesting that schools shouldn’t continue to improve for our children (most schools want just that and are actively trying to do so), I am also not suggesting–nor do I think this article is–that parents should be the new scapegoat or early-childhood be the main focus.  Instead, I believe that creative and caring educators seek out as many avenues as possible to reach their students and these areas can be another way to do just that. I am also suggesting that educators need their voices to stay within the reform discussion, making certain that government and private funding and resources go to all areas of need, not just a few.

Thank you for working on behalf of all children.

Education’s Own 47%

Election season always becomes an inflated game of blame.  After all David is more David with a Goliath.

By now Mitt Romney’s despicable moment in the sun in mid-September is old news.  Not easy or even excusable news (it took him almost 3 weeks–as polls continued to slip–to say he was “completely wrong“) but it has been through the media spin and thrown back out again.  That one moment’s passing does not erase the fact that poor and middle class people have become this ticket’s foe – no need for Medicare, Welfare, Unions, Healthcare. No soup kitchen photo can hide this clearly stated platform: the 47% (or 30%) are the reason for our wavering economy, their future mooching will drag us all down.

Every faith, from Mormon to Catholic, Muslim to Buddhist, Religious to Secular, all contend that we must look out for the poor and in need.  Why not fight to support them?  No, no, they are to be feared. Unregulated, risky, predatory housing lending be damned.

Education Has It’s Own “47%” Scapegoat

Education has been having it’s own dramatic “47%”ing for sometime now.  You see, as the story goes, the reason why education is “failing” is because educators just “don’t care enough.” A small percentage of amazing teachers believe in kids, the tale continues, but most, especially those who work in high poverty schools, do not believe in the children they serve, their expectations are too low, and they in fact do not know how to teach. Goliath. Bad bad Goliath.  And here’s the thing, it’s not 47% this story aims at, instead the majority of education is in the cross hairs.

Some Examples of the 47%-ing
  • Kevin P. Chavous, “attorney, author, and education reform leader,” posts “Kids In Poverty Can Still Learn” and claims that  “far too many people blatantly say to [one school leader] things like “It’s impossible to educate poor black kids,” and “You need to change your school’s demographic to have any real success.”  While the post makes ridiculous and largely unfounded claims, the comments below it are full of honesty and worth a read.  Here’s one:

  • Dr. Steve Perry travels the country professing a reform agenda, and along with it blaming teachers – as he did on Melissa Harris-Perry’s Show, saying “teachers only work 8 months” and are overpaid: what “a 21 year old” makes starting out in education is “a pretty good deal.”  Pretty good compared to what other life-critical-profession? To starting doctors? Here is one clip (sorry it’s brief on this site), and here is the next when Melissa Harris-Perry is shocked by his comments.  The entire segment is worth a look. Which led reporter Joy Reid to tweet:
  • The Gates Foundation has had a series of back-and-forth posts with Anthony Cody, an educator, regarding issues in education.  In one of Gates’ responses titled “Poverty Does Matter–But It Is Not Destiny” the author states: “We also believe there are so many problems with our current [education] system that erecting barriers to educational success, that setting up false choices -i.e., dealing with poverty or helping teachers be most effective is an either/or choice – will only slow down progress for students. We need to address all elements of the problem.”  This response echoes the false argument of many “reformers,” that educators who talk about poverty are somehow making excuses.  It seems to me comments like these are actually the ones creating this false dichotomy.
  • NYS’s “reform agenda” – just one state of many using Race To The Top funding to push initiatives – involves teacher effectiveness rubrics, oodles of assessments, and test scores tied to performance evaluations. The message to many educators is that they have no expertise, and that non-educators like Dave Coleman know exactly what they should do with their time – despite not appearing in any classroom piloting these new “solutions.”

The Issue Is Not The Issue

There are some major problems here in this “trickle down” math problem:

That our economy is failing because our education system is failing because our teachers are failing.

Education is not failing, or at least not in the way everyone is saying

To watch the Chevron commercial, or hear any candidate speak, or watch the news, one would think all of US education is doomed.  Our science scores are worst in the world!  Oh no! Students literacy is failing! Foreshame! But turns out that is not exactly the correct picture.

Take the most recent data review from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) administration in 2009.  A test comparing 15-year olds around the world in math, science, and reading literacy.  An often sited source by reformers for the woes of US education.

(Note: All below images are from Highlights from PISA 2009, a data mining of that international testing data. Available for free at the link.)

First, US averages are nearly identical to the averages of other countries in science literacy. Now average does mean some students performed above and some below, but there is not an alarming difference.

Also, the science literacy scores showed improvement from the previous test administration, now on par with other countries.

Most eye opening is the literacy scale, which at first makes the US appear to be one of the lowest scorers of developed countries.

Finland! Grr, there you are with a combined reading literacy scale score of 536! Look at us down there, tied for 12th place. Korea, Japan, even Canada beat us! Say it ain’t so.

But now look at this.

If America’s high income schools (ones with less than 10 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) were their own country… scale score 551… they would perform well above top-of-the-list Republic of Korea…scale score of 539.

Add in more students with lower income households and the scale scores drop and drop and drop.

In fact if highest poverty schools (ones with 75 percent or more low income households) were their own country…scale score 446… they would just barely beat Mexico… scale score 425.

Poverty is a real thing

Know what else we barely beat Mexico in?  Our Child Poverty Rate.

Actually that data is a little outdated, it was from 2005.  Here is 2012.

No better, actually worse. US remains near base bottom of all countries for our abysmally low rate of keeping children out of poverty.  And hey, there’s our friend Finland again!  Hi you, way up near the top ! Our child poverty rate is 4 times as high as Finland’s.  …weren’t we all supposed to learn from them?

Star “reformers” have not left improving-poverty-success in their wake

For all of the reformers talk about educators being responsible for poverty, and the same reformers certainty that we just need to keep kicking and pushing and rating and pay-for-performancing educators into working harder; they have little to show for their absolute certainty.  Some of the movement’s largest stars: Rhee (formerly DC), Klein(formerly NYC), and our own US Education Secretary Duncan (formerly Chicago) all claim to have the solution for educational inequity – fix those darn teachers.  But note this: during each of these leaders tenures test scores rose–a point they all champion (well sort of).  However, individual poverty rates also continued to climb.

Poverty rates got worse, right along with everyone else. Why are we following these people again?

The Issue Is The Issue

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.  And this duck is that the United States has an extreme problem of poverty.  There is a highly good chance that your own school, or the school of your children, or the school of the children two towns over, is largely homogenized by income and sadly, probably by race. New York Times’ did a series of brilliant infographics on segregated New York City Schools (yes, Joel Klein’s 8 years as Chancellor district) and a stunning look through the eyes of children in a piece called “Why Don’t We Have Any White Kids?– if you follow no other link from my post, this is the one to read.  New York is not alone, nearly anywhere in the country we divide our children.

Children.  Let that sit with you a moment.

There is also a very good chance that the probably quite homogenized school a child goes to has quite homogenized test scores.  A quick, very non-scientific, review of NYC’s school testing data from two schools shows test scores across time from a low poverty and a high poverty school.  The low poverty school continues to perform at or above 80% students passing year to year.  The high poverty consistently below 40%, more recently below 30% year to year.

These were two schools in one city, this pattern plays out across the country. Anecdotally, when I step into a high poverty school often one of the topics that first comes up is “our students are performing at 30% passing, what can we do?” and when I step into a high income school I often hear, “our scores are really good, we want to figure out how to push our highest kids, but scores are not really an issue here.”  I hear this over and over and over and over and over.

How is it okay in American today that one could walk into a school on the border of Long Island and see high scores, high income families, and mostly white and asian students?  Then the next day drive 25 mins south to the far edge of Queens and walk into a low performing school, with extremely high poverty and see mostly black and latino students?  I have done that.  I have made that trip in NY and NC and WI and CA and WA and DC and each time have asked: how is this okay?

On statistics alone we can assume that it’s not that the absolute-ace-teachers are all in high income schools and the education-school-drop-outs are in the high poverty. I can tell you from being in hundreds and hundreds of classrooms across the country that that is not true. I have seen the small few – literally very few – who I would not want teaching my children in both types of schools. More often I’ve seen amazingly dedicated, responsive, reflective, hard working teachers in both places as well.  And those teachers are more and more stressed and burned out and demoralized than I have ever seen them before.

Poverty Is Not Destiny, If We Stop “47%-ing” Teachers and Students

Education reporter Dana Goldstein for The Nation, in a commentary on the movie “Won’t Back Down,” states this misunderstanding quite elegantly:

As an education reporter, I’ve visited many urban schools that are beacons of hope in troubled neighborhoods, but no school can find decent jobs for under- or unemployed parents who can’t put nutritious food on the table; nor can a school make up for the chronic instability of a young life spent in foster care or moving from apartment to apartment in a futile quest for safe, affordable housing. Volumes of research show such experiences affect cognitive development and children’s ability to focus in school; dedicated educators and counselors work wonders with such children each day, but they don’t rescue neighborhoods from poverty.

Is it okay that this is an election cycle where in one breath politicians talk about fixing schools and in the next are suggesting we cut all social services to support those most in need?

It is easier to create a Goliath. To blame the 47% for dragging our economy down.  To blame educators for not solving one of our most embarrassing societal issues single handedly.

We do not know all the answers.

I have worked with schools that have gone from terrible results to meeting AYP.  I have worked with schools that went from chaotic hallways to a dramatic shift in tone–right along the same time students became engaged in reading and writing and felt supported and listened to.  I have worked with schools where teachers used to shut their doors and now share — even have friendly competitions — with resources and approaches and classroom environments.

But, I have not been in schools that have solved poverty.  I have not seen a direct link between improved scores and a boost for all children – not just those scoring well.  For instance, high test scores have not resulted in crumbling ceiling tiles being replaced.  High teacher effectiveness rubric scores have not resulted in well paying professions for parents in the community.  Properly implementing RtI has not allowed a child to do homework at night instead of babysitting siblings nearly their age.

We do not have all the answers, but we will not have them if we ignore the full problem.

If we Race to The Top, then we compete. We do not collaborate.

If we work only on teacher practice, and not children’s full lives, then we – at best – only improve a small percentage of a child’s day.

If we blame educators, then we demoralize the very people we claim to want to help.

If we blame educators, we drive people away from the critical profession.

Mitt Romney Apologized, When America Said Something

I began this post pointing out that Mr. Romney did eventually say his 47% comments were “completely wrong.”  It took him nearly 3 weeks to do so, after first largely standing up for them (remember, they were not “elegantly stated“), but he did come back.  Why? Because Americans said enough is enough. Polls were dropping.  He had no choice.

WE, the public, must speak up loudly again. Not just for our profession, not for ourselves, but because if we reamin silent we sweep the plight of children under the cover of “bad teaching.” I hope for a conversation in which reformers aim to reform the entire system, let’s talk improving teaching and learning and living.  It’s a harder question, but the most essential one to have.

Enough is enough for education’s “47%-ing.” Now is the time to speak up.

A Must Read from Scott Rocco

Scott Rocco is co-moderator of what is fast becoming one of my favorite chats (even despite the fact that it is at the bitter early morning hour of 7:30AM Saturday… though does repeat on West Coast time at 7:30 PST.  So, technically there are no excuses for an East Coaster like me).

What I find so appealing about #satchat is not just that it is a group of [mostly] educational administrators using their weekend morning hours to talk more education, but that it has become a place for extremely positive and uplifting problem solving.  This past Saturday, for example the topic was:

A morning spent considering ways of recognizing teachers and students?  Lead by administrators?  It’s better than coffee… a point I think I make every #satchat I am able to join. It truly is a jolt of energy at the end of the week, just read the #satchat archives for examples.  (If you are new to Twitter Chats my how-to tips are here.)

Scott also has a very active blog “Evolving Educators” in which he shares his efforts to support the learning of his staff, peers, as well as his personal ever-evolving instructional practices.  I find his blog just as positive and supportive as the chat he co-leads, woven with a belief in every child and every adult.

  • This post on his district’s efforts to embrace tools for being more connected (including tools I only just learned of through this post.)
  • This one, his advice to other ed leaders: don’t forget what it was like to be in the classroom.
  • Or this, that as I think of all the districts taking on technology initiative feels like perfect timing for thoughtful values to keep in mind.

I’d encourage anyone to join #satchat… yes, even at 7:30AM (I promise you’ll forget what time it is a few minutes in)… and subscribe to Scott Rocco’s Evolving Educators.

Happy evolving!

So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat: From Lurker to Chatter 101

This post is intended to help anyone who has been a twitter lurker (some of my favorite people are still lurkers) into being a twitter chatter.

An older edweek post circulated on Twitter today: Why Educators Should Join Twitter.  In it Peter describes that in his early-to-Twitter, are-you-really-sure-this-is-for-me uncertainty, he suddenly became converted after joining a twitter chat (in his case the terrific #elemchat).  As you probably know, I’ve become a bit of a twitter evangelist myself, professing it’s power everywhere I go and for me, just as with Peter, joining in chats has been not only powerful professional development but also emotionally uplifting in those times that I find myself in a deep funk.  Like this recent #edchat archive, where I left the hour feeling amazing.

I’d like to share how I set myself up for an education chat on twitter to help you do the same.

Go from Twitter Lurker to Twitter Chatter

And just so you know, I personally think this post would be a million times better if it were actually a 1950s educational video on a grainy black and white film reel, but we’ll do the best we can.

(I’m very proud of that graphic, everyone.)

Step One: Find a Chat

Chats are typically one hour discussions, usually on a regular schedule (like every Wednesday at 9pmCST). Think of them as a party of smart people that you are mingling within, not as a typical workshop.  There are many people meeting to talk about a topic (depending on the facilitation they could be conversations led with questions or just very open) but it is nearly impossible to pay attention to all comments.  So your first step is just finding a topic you want to mingle about and the time the party takes place.  Here are some helpful ways:

  • Cybraryman (he calls himself a twitter librarian) has a very thorough twitter chat page:
  • Here’s a non-education-specific list from ReadWriteWeb that is a touch outdated but many of the chats are still active.
  • Or I often find chats when suddenly everyone in my twitter stream is using the same hashtag…

Step Two: Set Up

I like to have both my computer and phone, though you could do this with one or the other.  I find it helpful to have three websites open on my laptop:

  • I  have my phone next to me, using the Twitter App.  This seems to help me notice when someone has sent me a direct reply (more on this later in the post).
  • What’s nice about tweetchat (and there may be other clients, please feel free to suggest in the comments) is that it automatically follows that hashtag for you , meaning it only shows tweets that include that hashtag in it’s text.  It also automatically puts the hashtag in for you when you type, saving the correct number of characters automatically.  Like so (note – if your mobile browser is not displaying the images below, be sure to view on “Full Site”):

Log-in. Type in the # to follow (in this example #edchat). You can even adjust the refresh rate.

Type what you want to say into the box – you must stop at or before “0” characters left.

Et voilà, tweetchat plugs in the hashtag for you when you hit “update”.

As an alternative, you can do a similar move inside of the Twitter App by clicking “Discover”. Just be sure to click “All” in order to see everyone’s tweets, not just from those you follow. And note: while in “discover” the app will put in the hashtag for you, outside of that you need to remember to type it in yourself.

Step Three: Chat!

Depending on the size of the chat, it can sometimes feel really overwhelming.  My advice: start by replying to individual people.  In a very large chats it’s often easier to have small conversations than to try and follow the whole room — as I said earlier, think of it like mingling at a dinner party, not attending a workshop with a main speaker.

Advanced Tweet Chatting Tips

Here are a few more tips that help me (I’d love for you to add any others in the comments).

  • Mind your Qs and As. Some chat hosts list questions in an order: Q1, Q2, Q3…  And then participants can indicate which question they are responding to with A1 (for Q1) , A2 (for Q2), and so on.  If you come late to a chat watch a bit to see if there is a numbering system (not all have them), so you can be on the lookout for the next question.
  • Adding links for others. In the Twitter App you just need to type in the link and Twitter automatically shortens it (HootSuite does the same, as do a few other apps). Tweetchat for some reason does not, so that’s why it helps to have that 3rd page open – or or whatever other url shortener.  You just plop your mamoth url address in and it makes it use less characters. for example turned this

Into this

Same link (56 characters) , shortened (now only 13 characters)

  • Keeping track of links people post. I often find it hard to both follow a chat and open links, so many people use the “favorite” feature (the little star in the Twitter App and on Tweetchat) to hold something you want to read for later.
  • Keeping track of the fast moving conversation. Two bits of advice:
    • One, as I mentioned earlier in the post: in tweetchat, adjust the “refresh” speed.
    • Two, have your phone next to you using the Twitter App, it helps so much. For example, I have my iPhone set up to buzz me and preview a twitter reply to me (called “mentions”).  So in a busy chat if my phone buzzes, it’s an audible notice that someone said something directly to me in the room. I’ll look for it on the Tweetchat screen or if the chat is really busy, I’ll just pick up my phone and chat with that person through my Twitter App (note: in that case you have to remember to write in the hashtag yourself or it won’t show up in the main “room” for everyone).

You Can Always Read the Archive Later

If you feel like you missed a lot in a chat – which is very likely.  Look for (or ask the person hosting for) a link to the archive of the chat.  To be honest, I find them impossible to read in any logical way because it is often just a literal print out of every tweet, in order.  But you can still find a lot of really helpful advice and links. Just go into an archive thinking you’ll get a general sense of the chat and you will look for some helpful threads of conversation.

You Learn by Doing – and messing up is okay

Like anything, it just becomes easier the more you do it.

I hope to see you in twitter chats soon, not just lurking but sharing. Feel free to tweet me if you have questions or need some advice on chatting – or to any one for that matter already in a chat.  I find every education conversation I join in to be warm, welcoming, and supportive. All of us actively chatting in the education community on twitter really, really, really would like you to join us.  So don’t fear messing up–we’ve all done it before.

Happy chatting!


Follow Chris on Twitter and his Blog.

Learn how to have him work with your school or organization.

Dear @Google Chairman @EricSchmidt, You Are WRONG About Educators

CBS 60 Minutes this evening broadcast an interesting piece about the Khan Academy, #flippedclassrooms and responsive instruction. I was right with them until Google Chairman @EricScmidt said this (key line bolded, best to watch it in action – link below):

60mins: Eric Scmidt, the pioneering chairman of Google, says he’s seen a lot of failed attempts to integrate technology into education. But says what Sal Khan is doing is different

@EricScmidt: Many, many people think they are doing something new, but they are not really changing the approach. With Sal, he said, ‘what we’re going to do is not only are we gonna make these interesting 10 min videos, but we’re going to measure if whether it works or not.’

60min: He was the guy to sort of make this happen? Why do you think it was him and not some person who was an educator, who had a background in this area?

@EricSchmidt: Innovation never comes from the established institutions. It’s always a graduate students or a crazy person or somebody with a great vision. Sal is that person in education in my view. He built a platform. If that platform works it could completely change education in America.

Full video, the text does not do it justice (the interview happens at 11:25):

CBS 60 Minutes: Khan Academy: The Future of Education?

Mr. Chairman, I hate to say it but you are dead wrong, insultingly wrong, about educators.

Educators (who are probably some of @Google product’s biggest fans) are indeed innovators. What is the main difference between daily innovations and Khan Academy software? Funding. Bill Gates and Google (e.g. you) stumbled upon Khan’s youtube videos, (first made in his closet, by himself) and thought to fund it. Now, with a team, offices, software designers, backed by tons of financial support, Sal Khan can run as far as dreams can take him. I applaud him, don’t misconstrue my point here. I think he’s a really smart guy, doing really smart things, that hit a very lucky break that helps him continue to grow.

Imagine what could be possible if you funded more innovating educators.

Educators are innovators. For instance, the things you love about Khan Academy are not new. Could Google commit to funding more innovations from “established institutes” (e.g. classrooms, schools, universities) so they grow at the same impressive rate?

  • Teachers and other “established institutions” are innovating student centered, not teacher centered, instruction. Thousands of teachers learn together, study together, read professionally together–and most importantly study students together–all to get better and better at seeing student work more clearly and responsively teach to it. What if you funded classroom educators enough to give them their own teams of helping hands to increase these innovations? Co-teachers, web designers, more time for professional conversations during the day?
  • Flipped classrooms are everywhere, just one of many innovations “established” educators are studying. Use your own Google to google the term – there are Youtube channels, websites, blogs, teachers innovating ways of allowing students to spend more time on task in class and provide more student feedback along the way. What if you funded those educators trying to make more time for student practice in class? Or help us with our bigger stumbling block: connecting students who do not have access to the internet or technology at home. It’s a regular point of conversation and debate in the education community, helping students and families connect in a more connected world.
  • Monitoring student progress and responding to it, a constantly innovating and developing practice led by “established” educators. A computer-based system is interesting, but, teachers have been innovating how to notice and record student achievement and respond to it way before screens. One example is what we call “conferring notes” and again, teachers have been studying these, perfecting these, all with the attempt to see student growth more clearly. Actually there is an app for that…but it started on your competitor’s devices. What if you funded teachers to develop and tailor their own systems for monitoring progress, instead of just creating a pre-packaged one way, why not fund ways of letting innovative educators innovate and build systems in real time?
  • Teachers in “established” institutions, with low funds, often need to innovate to get the supplies their students need. I wrote about the “book gap” in our schools in an earlier postwhy not fund additional supplies, not just tech, but books or science labs or math supplies, or music instruments or art?
  • Teachers are innovating professional development. Use your own website to search for “edcamp” and insert almost any major city in the US and you’ll find thousands of educators rethinking how professional development is done. Why not fund edcamps or other conferences?

I love Google (well, mostly, google docs is sometimes more complicated than it needs to be but the idea is good), but my love for Google feels a bit scarred by your troubling statements. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, your comments show how much you do not know about educators. We innovate constantly, Twitter alone is full of educators spending hours and hours in the evenings in group chats discussing ways to innovate (#edchat, #engchat, #educoach, #ccchat, #kinderchat #1stchat, #2ndchat, etc.).

Educators. We know stuff. And we actually would really love to share it.

Maybe ask us?

Or even fund us? Or how about support the funding of our students (we’d actually like that even more)?

It takes a village.

I welcome your reply.


(For anyone not @EricSchmidt, consider tweeting him or his company @Google – or even tell @60minutes that ran the story – about your own innovations and/or leave some in the comments.)

Just a Few Tweets from Innovative Educators about Innovative Educators: