Once in a Lifetime!


Imagine a place where a diverse population learns more in a few days than they otherwise would in years. Imagine a space where tinkering is encouraged and personally meaningful project development is supported by an expert faculty. Imagine a learning environment filled with books, art supplies, robotics materials, electronics, computers, cameras, musical instruments and creativity software. Imagine learners having the luxury of time required to realize their objectives and opportunities to work with some of the world’s most creative thinkers. Imagine learners making films, programming computers, building simulations, constructing robots, sewing wearable computers, creating animations and designing video games. Imagine a once-in-a-lifetime field trip to a see the future.

Now, imagine that these learners are professional teachers. This is not a fantasy. It’s called Constructing Modern Knowledge, a summer institute for educators celebrating its fifth anniversary this July 9-12 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Educators from China, Costa Rica and Australia join Americans from across the USA at next month’s event.

Constructing Modern Knowledge is built upon the simple proposition that you cannot adequately teach in the 21st Century, if you have not learned in this Century with the modern materials and technology that amplify human potential. How is a teacher or school administrator supposed to resource a classroom or teach in a way that takes advantage of the rich opportunities beyond the classroom walls without awareness and personal knowledge of what it feels like to learn with the tools of their age? Constructing Modern Knowledge participants are encouraged to take off their teacher hat and become reacquainted with their learner hat.

Even the most creative educators need a spa day for their mind where their passion, curiosity and ambition can be reignited. Constructing Modern Knowledge not only creates a fantastic laboratory for tinkering, inventing and creating, but it offers opportunities for educators to learn with their heroes. Constructing Modern Knowledge is a chance for educators to reinvent themselves.

Civil rights icon & best-selling author Jonathan Kozol visits with teachers reinventing the phonograph

In addition to an amazing faculty of gifted educators and pioneers, Constructing Modern Knowledge features remarkable guest speakers who spend time learning with and mentoring participants.

This year’s guest speakers include:

  • Casey Neistat – award-winning DIY filmmaker with millions of Web views and star of his own HBO series, The Neistat Brothers.
  • Mark Frauenfelder – Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine, Founder of BoingBoing.net and author of Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. Frauenfelder is at the forefront of the maker movement sweeping the globe.
  • Dr. Leah Beuchley – MIT Media Lab professor and Lilypad Arudino (wearable computing construction kits) inventor
  • Dr. Lilian Katz – Veteran educational researcher, early childhood specialist and proponent of “the project approach” to learning
  • Super Awesome SylviaTen year-old Web phenom, maker, tinkerer, learner, teacher and role model

Our “field trip” to Boston will begin with a reception at the world-famous MIT Media Lab, where much of the future is being invented.

On top of all that, Dr. Marvin Minsky, one of the world’s greatest living scientists, inventors and provocateurs will lead his fifth annual “fireside chat.” This year, Dr. Minsky will also be a participant in Constructing Modern Knowledge!

According to Wikipedia

Isaac Asimov described Minsky as one of only two people he would admit were more intelligent than he was, the other being Carl Sagan.[4] Ray Kurzweil has referred to Minsky as his mentor.”

Participants will have the opportunity to work on projects with or alongside of Marvin Minsky and our other distinguished guests! Previous CMK speakers have included Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Deborah Meier, Derrick Pitts, Lella Gandini, James Loewen and Mitchel Resnick.

Constructing Modern Knowledge is by its very nature an intimate professional learning event, but registration is still possible. Parents and citizens can certainly send their favorite teacher to “camp” this summer too. They’ll come back to school with a new bag of tricks and inspired to help students invent their futures.

Check out the learning stories from last year’s institute, teacher resources and videos at This is What Learning Looks Like!


2 Responses to “Once in a Lifetime!”
  1. John Norton says:

    Gary – sounds fascinating. In linking a PLP post to this one, I found that all your links out to the conference are 404s… there’s a missing “L” in the address. Should be


    instead of


  2. admin says:

    It’s fixed. Thanks!!!