Guest Speakers

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Learn with Extraordinary Experts

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2021 is committed to making connections between child-centered learning theories and the creative construction of knowledge with computers. In addition to providing a rich sandbox where educators enjoy the luxury of time to work on personally rewarding projects, there are occasional opportunities to interact with some of the greatest educational minds of our time.

We want CMK participants to return home able to say, “I spent time with one of my heroes,” or “My favorite education author helped with my project,” rather than “I heard X speak.”

See the impressive list of past CMK guest speakers here.


CMK 2021 Guest Speakers

Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy
Advocate for free-range kids

Journalist, author, speaker, and television host, Lenore Skenazy is president of the non-profit, Let Grow, and founder of the Free-Range Kids movement. After her column “Why I Let My 9 Year Old Ride the Subway Alone” landed her on every talk show and earned her the title, “worst Mom in America,”  Skenazy wrote the influential book, “Free-Range Kids,” and started a related blog to reject the factually inaccurate notion that kids are in constant danger. Allow children to enjoy a little more freedom and everyone wins. Let Grow, which grew out of that movement, is a national, nonpartisan organization making it easy, normal and legal to give kids some independence – a critical part of childhood. Her life’s mission has become helping children enjoy the sorts of childhood experiences their parents took for granted when they were kids.

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Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn
Popular education author and speaker

Returning to CMK for a 3rd time by popular demand, Alfie Kohn was a guest speaker during the first-ever Constructing Modern Knowledge, then in 2011 with Deborah Meier. His personal genius lies in his ability to cause educators to confront their compromises.

Alfie Kohn is the author of 14 books on education, parenting, and human behavior, including Punished By Rewards (1993), Beyond Discipline (1996), The Schools Our Children Deserve (1999), Unconditional Parenting (2005), The Homework Myth (2006), and The Myth Of The Spoiled Child (2014).

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Peter Martin

Peter Martin
Pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and Internet entrepreneur

Peter Martin is one of the most highly respected and accomplished musicians of his generation. He is an acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and entrepreneur. His touring career has taken him to six continents and to the White House twice. Peter performed on and arranged Dianne Reeves’ Grammy® winning release, A Little Moonlight. He appeared in George Clooney’s 2005 film, Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as being the featured pianist and arranger on the Grammy® winning soundtrack. Peter has performed, toured and recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Betty Carter, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

A consummate artist, Peter leads his own trio, is a member of Christian McBride’s all-star band, Inside Straight, and has been legendary singer Dianne Reeves’ accompanist and musical director for two decades. Additionally, Peter Martin is the co-founder and CEO of Open Studio, an innovative online music education website featuring jazz lessons from legendary musicians. Open Studio demonstrates how the Internet may be used as a platform for mentoring and learning-by-doing – the theme of Constructing Modern Knowledge. Peter creates a free 2 Minute Jazz Piano lesson weekly for YouTube and co-hosts the daily music podcast, You’ll Hear It, offering advice about listening to and playing music better.

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Gary Stager

Gary S. Stager, Ph.D. (13th year)
Founder & Host: Constructing Modern Knowledge 

Gary Stager is one of the world’s leading experts and advocates for computer programming, robotics and learning-by-doing in classrooms. In 1990, Dr. Stager led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools and played a major role in the early days of online education.

In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school STEM. Director. An elementary teacher by training, he has taught students from preschool through doctoral studies. Gary is the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators.

Dr. Stager’s latest book, Invent To Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom has been called the “bible of the maker movement in schools.”  Dr. Stager recently served as the Special Assistant to the Head of School for Innovation at The Willows Community School in Culver City, California. He earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and was part of a project that won a Grammy Award. Recently, Gary was invited by Fondazione Reggio Children to lead a public seminar in Reggio Emilia Italy.

Gary is also on the advisory board of the NSF-funded project, BJC4NYC: Bringing a Rigorous Computer Science Principles Course to the Largest School System in the US. 

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Read bios of previous guest speakers

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