Guest Speakers

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Learn with Extraordinary Experts

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2022 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 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 2022 Guest Speakers

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 in 2008, 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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Kate Shuster, Ph.D.
Researcher, educator, curator, and activist

We are thrilled to welcome researcher, activist, and curriculum developer Dr. Kate Shuster to Constructing Modern Knowledge 2022!

Kate is the director of the Hard History Project, which works with archives and historical sites that collect and bring history to life about race, racism, slavery, and settler colonialism, often with digital technology. As part of this work, she became the Educational Director for Freedom on the Move, the world’s largest archive of fugitive slave advertisements.

She managed the Teaching Hard History initiative for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project and led an interdisciplinary team that created the world’s first K-12 framework for teaching the twin histories of slavery and settler colonialism in what is currently known as the United States. As part of this effort, she produced several short films and the Teaching Hard History podcast, which has more than a million downloads.

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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 is co-author of Invent To Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools,” by Larry Magid of CBS and The San Jose Mercury News. Invent To Learn has been translated into nine languages. Dr. Stager’s most recent book is Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work.

He earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and was part of a project that won a Grammy Award. Recently, Gary has been invited to speak and teach in Reggio Emilia, Italy by Fondazione Reggio Children.

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