AltSchool East Village — Reinventing Education

I recently started as founding Head of School at AltSchool East Village. AltSchool has eight lab schools that are focused on personalized, whole-child education — building agency and independence in children through project based learning. AltSchool is a startup that has 50 educators and 50 engineers on staff. We are building technology to superpower teachers by connecting them with great teaching practices — leveraging the network effect.

Here’s a recent story in which I appeared:

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The Takeaway Book Club: ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I recently took part in a book club conversation on WNYC’s The Takeaway about ‘Between the World and Me‘ by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Here’s the audio:
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I have learned a great deal about the history of race in the United States over the past few years by participating in the CARLE Institute and Undoing Racism. I have also worked with colleagues and friends to speak more openly about race and how it negatively impacts both people of color and whites. Seeing the privilege I have as a white man and learning to work against oppressive racial systems has become an important part of me. ‘Between the World and Me’ provides a perspective that is difficult to read, but important for people who identify as white to hear.

I’m thankful to Abel Bartley and Anita Romero Warren for being so open and honest during this conversation and to The Takeaway for selecting me to participate on this panel.

What are you learning about your racial and cultural identity? How do you keep this critical topic at the forefront of the work you are doing?

Summer 2015 Reading

It’s summer, and that means summer reading.  I have done much of my reading this summer through audio books, as I listen while doing chores — painting rooms, doing dishes, etc.  Two themes for this summer: Race and Adolescence.


Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.  Irving does a compelling job of describing her racial awakening. Her stories of growing up in a white household that didn’t speak about race resonate with me. The questions at the end of each chapter are great opportunities to reflect alone or with friends.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates describes his growing up and coming of age in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York City in this book written to his 15 year old son. A powerful perspective that I’ll write more about.

Takeaways:  We need to be be having conversations and race in the United States. The culture of silence needs to end. As a white person, I don’t have to engage in this conversation, but if I don’t, I’ll be leaving my children and students a world that is worse off than it is now.


The Teenage Brain, A Neuroscientists Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt. A thorough description of current adolescent brain research and it’s implications for parents.

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence by Laurence Steinberg. Sternberg similarly describes current adolescent brain research an adds a number of chapters with concrete recommendations for parents and educators, specifically targeting recommendations for adding physical activities and mindfulness activities to improve self-discipline for adolescents.

Takeaways: Adolescents is a period of great brain growth (brain plasticity). The more we provide positive reinforcements for intellectual pursuits, physical activities and self-discipline, along with clear boundaries in places where adolescents can get into trouble, the more positive development we will see in adolescents in society.

What are you reading?  Where are you stretching yourself?

What I’m Reading. What are you Reading?

I am interested in the conversation about where education needs to be in 5, 10, and 20 years.

Below are a few of the books I’m accumulating for summer reading.  What else would you recommend?

Daring Greatly — Brene Brown — Definitely check out her TEDx Talk too.  Brown tackles vulnerability and shame. Her work has changed the way I approach leadership  teaching, and my family.  Engaging your family, colleagues, students from alongside and working to see what they see and feel what they feel.

The Secrets of Happy Families — A great book on parenting and being a better parent in our intensely competitive and over scheduled world.

Creating Innovators — Tony Wagner — What we should be doing/thinking about in education to prepare our students for their futures.

If you’d like to discuss what books you are recommending and how you are helping your faculty look towards the future, please let me know.

NEIT2011 Take Away’s…

Here are my closing remarks for the 2011 NYSAIS Education and Information Technology conference. It was an amazing three days that really inspired me to come back to school and make some change. You’ll see some of my goals in this presentation:

NEIT2011 Closing on Prezi

Here are the sessions I attended and some of my take away’s:

  • danah boyd – Take away: We need to ask our students how they are using technology and be cultural anthropologists.
  • Unconference
    • The future of SISs – Take away: I’m as confused as everyone else.  There are some possibilities out there, but we really need to build this.
    • Smartphone policies: Take Away:  We need to start talking about PLD – Personal Learning Device program instead of laptop program — Kids should be able to use the tools they carry with them.
    • Google Apps for Ed – Take Away:  Only a few weaknesses vs. Office.  Lots of benefits.  Use the right tool for the job.
    • Makerbot 101 Take Away:  We need to make to learn.  How do we find more time for this.  Action:  Looking at engineering/building programs for Math/Science in 8th Grade.
    • Running Effective Meetings – Alex Led: Take Away:  Using our time together better.  Let the structure set you free.
  • Gaming Panel -Take Away:  Advertising and Game design is way beyond schools for teaching and learning. We need to be looking into how games can teach us to operate in society.

iPad Project, Year Two

At Collegiate School, we have entered year two of our iPad Project.  In year one, we asked these two questions:

  • “How can we use the iPad in a class with one teacher?”
  • “How can we see using the iPad in a class where all the students are equipped with iPads?” (from Essential Questions for iPad UserGroup)

The first question changed a great deal on the release of IOS 4.3 that enabled us to mirror the iPad with a VGA connection.  Many faculty used the iPad as a projection device in the Spring and are continuing to do so this Fall. 

As our faculty UserGroup tested their iPads and explored different apps last year, they found numerous ways to use the iPad with students.  Melanie Hutchinson, Lower School Curriculum Coordinator explored many of these ideas with Lower School students in these two posts:

In the Spring, after numerous UserGroup meetings and lots of interesting conversations with faculty, we decided to enter year two of the project by deploying two shared sets of shared iPads in Lower School and Middle School.  In the Upper School we decided to test the iPads in a 1 to 1 roll out with two classes (one in the Fall and one in the Spring), much like Reed College did with its iPad Study.  As you can see from the previous post on this blog, we deployed 15 iPads for Art and Religion this fall.  We’re running an action research project around the students in Art and Religion and will post results from that in the Spring. 

In the Lower School, our faculty will continue to use the iPads with interactive apps to support skill development, the creation of comics and illustrations,  writing and anything else the faculty can dream of — including creating videos or composing music in Garage Band. 

In Middle School this Fall, the main use of the iPads has been with in class research.  We’re deploying Google Apps in the Middle School and will be testing that along with numerous other apps on the iPads. 

In addition to these school sponsored iPad projects, we’re continuing our 8th grade UserGroup and adding the 7th grade to that mix.  Once students earn their iPad drivers license they will be able to bring their personal iPads or Tablet Devices to school.  This training will review acceptable use as well as train them on Google Docs, Evernote or Noteshelf and GoodReader. 

Our question  for this year is, “How does the iPad change the way teachers teach and students learn at Collegiate?”  We’ll be exploring this big question over the year. 

How does the iPad change the way teachers teach and students learn at your school?

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