By Phil DeVol

The Under-Resourced Learners Summit workshops for teachers was an aha! Process conference with a very new look and feel. Completely different! Going GREEN! Instead of three-ring binders packed with handouts, we’ve got wikis and blogs, texting and twitters, flip videos and cell phone photo exchanges, and interaction with educators across the U.S. using Epsilen’s social networking service. The conference also includes specially-crafted remixes, dancing, and oohs and aahs! The energy for participatory learning was high—partly due, I’m sure, to a certain amount of anxiety for those who aren’t real smooth on the dance floor or aren’t from Generation Y (those under 30 who completely get high-tech devices).

Educators who came from 18 states and Washington, D.C. started the day by watching a clip from Born with a Wooden Spoon, a documentary report on poverty in the U.S. For many, this video seemed to bring home the reason we are doing this work. It certainly did for me! The participants gathered to learn and share best practices about homelessness, current research on brain development and how it is affected by poverty, African-American boys, redesigning high schools for all learners, math strategies, understanding students of Hispanic/Latino descent and their parents, and creating a climate of support for children from poverty at school, to name a few.

It’s a room full of America’s most highly motivated, well informed, and skillful educators! More from Houston later.