One reason why Constructing Modern Knowledge is gaining a reputation for being the premiere learning event for educators is the opportunity to work with world-class experts and an amazing faculty. Award-winning filmmaker and digital story-telling genius, Casey Neistat is one of the spectacular guest speakers participating in  CMK 2012.

Casey creates several super creative short films per week using consumer-level cameras and iMovie (samples). His films, entertain, inform, inspire and mobilize.

Today, Casey published a film he made documenting this week’s police raid on Occupy Wall Street. The film is arresting (pun intended), disturbing and deeply moving. Despite its simplicity, the film’s climax will take your breath away. In fact, Casey’s film may document this moment in history the way that The Execution Of Nguyễn Văn Lém mobilized Americans against the War in Vietnam or the photos from the Edmund Pettus Bridge led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Don’t you deserve four days of creative and intellectual stimulation this summer?

Super early-bird registration for Constructing Modern Knowledge 2012 ends December 1st. Register today and save $75 per person.


Although I am not fully unpacked from a triumphant Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011 in July, I have been working hard over the past two months to assemble a collection of world-class guest speakers for the Fifth Anniversary Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute, July 9-12, 2012 in Manchester, NH.

As you know, Constructing Modern Knowledge is about action, but once a day, participants get to interact with brilliant thinkers whose work crackles with creativity, commitment and expertise. We’ve featured historians, astronomers, mathematicians, education reformers, MIT professors, early childhood experts and artists over the past four years, in addition to the best faculty in the world.

All of the guest speakers for CMK 2012 will be announced in a week or two, but our first confirmed guest speaker is so exciting that I can no longer keep him a surprise!

Extraordinary filmmaker Casey Neistat is coming to CMK 2012!

Casey Neistat is today’s premiere digital storyteller. He is an award-winning film producer, activist, artist and star of the HBO series, The Neistat Brothers, a show in which he and his brother shared “homemade” films about their lives. Watch an interview about their work here.

Casey Neistat was born and raised in Ledyard Connecticut, a farming town turned Foxwoods casino town.  His mother bought a VHS camera from Sears on credit in 1989 and was generous in letting the kids use it.  Casey moved to NYC in 2001 to make movies with his brother Van. The two worked together exclusively from 2001 through the production their self-titled HBO series ‘The Neistat Brothers‘ in 2008.  In 2011 Casey won an Independent Spirit Award for his work as producer on the film ‘Daddy Long Legs’. He currently lives and works in New York City

Casey uses consumer quality cameras, along with clever, remarkably simple and whimsical animation techniques to tell stories that are moving, funny or provoke action. He is a prolific moviemaker who can turn what others might perceive of as mundane everyday moments into great stories shared by tens of thousands, even millions, of viewers. That is why I invited him to be a guest speaker at Constructing Modern Knowledge!

The Neistat Brothers first gained notoriety when they produced iPod’s Dirty Secret, a 2003 viral video that shamed Apple into offering replacement batteries for the iPod. (read the press coverage) Casey’s recent video activisim turned his $50 ticket for riding his bike outside of the bike lane into a hilarious video in which he crashes into all sorts of obstacles found in lanes designated for cyclists. This short video not only warns users about Facebook’s questionable privacy practices, but teaches you how to protect yourself  in an entertaining and informative six minute film.

The Constructing Modern Knowledge web site will be updated over the coming weeks, but you can register today for CMK 2012 by clicking here. Register by December 1st for the insanely great super early-bird discount.


HBO promotional video for The Neistat Brothers


Casey Neistat of HBO’s Neistat Brothers talks technology and filmmaking.


A remarkably poignant story told in the simplest fashion


Everybody wants to be an action hero!


A public service announcement

The work of Joey, one of my at-risk students, will be featured again this weekend on public radio’s This American Life!

Last October (2010), I wrote a blog post called, Try Not to Cry, in which I tell the story of Joey, an incarcerated teenager in the alternative learning environment I created with Seymour Papert. For three years, I helped lead The Constructionist Learning Laboratory, inside Maine’s troubled prison for teens, The Maine Youth Center (now Long Creek Youth Development Center). This work is chronicled in my doctoral dissertation, An Investigation of Constructionism in the Maine Youth Center.

In Try Not to Cry  I discuss how some students in the Constructionist Learning Laboratory engaged in radio production, including Joey who won a national radio-production award and created deeply poignant, sad and at times hilarious radio programs. You can (and IMHO should) listen to three of Joey’s radio programs and learn more about our learning environment here.

From Try Not to Cry

After my work in Maine ended, my partner came running into the house screaming that one of my “prison kids” was just on This American Life. I refused to believe it! Surely, there was no way that something from “The LEGO Lab” (as the kids called our classroom) could have made it to the best storytelling program on radio. I checked the web site and sure enough, Joey’s piece of Mike Wallace-style investigative journalism, “Who Peed in the Pudding?” was played on Ira Glass’ show from coast-to-coast. You MUST listen to this short piece to be reminded of what kids, all kids, are capable of and to hear Joey remain calm during a stressful situation when all of the adults around him behave badly. Hilarity ensues!

I met Ira Glass, host of This American Life, a few years ago and he told me that Joey’s piece was one of his all-time favorites. This American Life seems to repeat it at least once a year. (including this weekend)

This weekend’s episode of This American Life reruns one of their most popular shows, “20 Acts in 60 Minutes,” Joey’s contribution may be heard at the 13 minute and 33 second mark. I hope his work will inspire you and your students.


Veteran educator Dr. Gary Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. Learn more about Gary here.

screen-shot-2010-03-22-at-21148-pmI’ve written another article about teaching with computers for The Creative Educator magazine. The Genius of Print may be downloaded here (pdf) or you may download the entire issue of the magazine.

You may also download, read and share the entire issue of The Creative Educator magazine here.

screen-shot-2010-03-22-at-24048-pm

You might also enjoy reading two articles I wrote for previous issues of The Creative Educator about effective project-based learning.

Download and distribute:

  1. What Makes a Good Project?
  2. Raising Our Standards – Developing Projects that Endure

click to downloadclick to download

click article to download