The Saint Paul Logo Project: An American Experience
by Geraldine Kozberg and Michael Tempel
Geraldine Kozberg has been involved in issues of equity in public education for over 35 years, working as a teacher and administrator in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Boston, Massachusetts. The St. Paul Logo Project was one of the many staff development programs she initiated between 1981 and 1996 while she was Director of Staff Development for the St. Paul Public Schools.
Since 1986 she has been a volunteer with the Cambodian Children’s Education Fund and is currently working with students and teachers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Michael Tempel is president of the Logo Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing information about Logo and support for Logo-using educators throughout the world. He has also been an elementary school teacher and teachertrainer in the New York City Public Schools, worked at the New York Academy of Sciences developing science education programs, and was Director of Educational Services with Logo Computer Systems, Inc. Over the years he designed and implemented staff development programs for schools, schools districts, colleges and universities, ministries of education, and corporations throughout the world.
In 1980 Saint Paul Superintendent of Schools George Young asked Gerry Kozberg to conduct an evaluation of the computer education program in the Saint Paul Public Schools. Computer use was limited at the elementary school level to drill and practice software, while the few computer programming courses available at the secondary level had major inequities in the selection of students. Although these courses had no formal prerequisites, in practice completion of algebra was an entry requirement. As a result, most students in these classes were boys, with fewer minority students than in the school populations as a whole.
Determined to make computers accessible to all children, Gerry found a possible model in the Computers in Schools Project at the New York Academy of Sciences. This pioneer effort was a collaboration between the Academy, several New York City Public School Districts, Bank Street College, the Logo Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Texas Instruments, Inc. Superintendent Young and Deputy Superintendent Kenneth Berg visited the New York Academy, where they were hosted by Executive Director Heinz Pagels, and New York City public schools, where prototype versions of Logo were being used by students and teachers. They also met Seymour Papert, who had been leading the MIT Logo group for 13 years.
The Computers in School Project provided extensive professional development, including Summer Institutes for teachers and regular on-site school visits. Teachers were encouraged to use computers in constructionist ways. Young and Berg came away from their visit determined to see the Saint Paul Public School system move in this direction with its own computer program. The Saint Paul Logo project began in 1981 as one component of the aptly named Community/Schools Collaborative. Over the years many corporations, nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities came together to further the development of Logo: The Saint Paul Companies, 3M, LEGO Dacta, Logo Computer Systems, Inc. (LCSI), Macalester College, Hamline University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Minnesota Museum of Science, and The Logo Foundation. Some of these collaborators, including Seymour Papert and the MIT Logo Group, were involved in the Computers in Schools Project. Michael Tempel, who had been Assistant Director of Educational Programs at the New York Academy of Sciences, joined the newly formed LCSI and worked with the Saint Paul project under new auspices.
The centerpiece of the collaboration was the Saint Paul Public Schools or, more precisely, the Staff Development Department of the school system under the leadership of Gerry Kozberg. For 17 years the Saint Paul Logo Project has provided a comprehensive program of teacher education in Logo practice and philosophy for hundreds of teachers in dozens of Saint Paul schools. The project has also been a collaboration in a larger sense, with scores of educators from around the world coming to Saint Paul to participate in our workshops, especially the intensive Logo Summer Institutes.
THE U.S. EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Some background on the educational system in the United States will provide a context for the work we have been doing in Saint Paul. Education in the U.S. is more decentralized than in most countries. Although a national Department of Education funds various programs, there is no Ministry of Education to determine curriculum, set standards for teachers, or administer the schools. Instead, each of the 50 states sets its own standards and certifies its own teachers. The states also provide a portion of the funding for schools in their jurisdiction, but the actual administration and much of the funding rests in local school districts. These vary greatly in size from United States rural districts of a single school to New York City with over 1000 schools, 60,000 teachers and more than 1,000,000 students.
Large cities in the U.S., including Saint Paul, generally have a higher proportion of children from poor families than in neighboring suburban districts. Because of local funding, usually through property taxes, the per pupil expenditure in suburban districts may be two to three times what it is in the city. This is reflected in higher teacher salaries, smaller classes that are better equipped and supplied, and well-maintained buildings. Rural districts also tend to be poor, but the vast majority of the population in the U.S. now lives in cities and suburbs. The inequity inherent in the local funding of schools based on property taxes has brought about legal challenges to the system across the country. This has resulted in some shifting of funding to the state level. The Saint Paul Public School system with 69 schools, 45,000 students, and over 3,000 teachers is a “big city” school system. There are pockets of affluence, many working-class and middle-class neighborhoods, and many poor people. About half the students are from minority groups, including a large recent influx of immigrants from Southeast Asia.
In the U.S., decisions on the purchase and use of computers are made locally. Whether or not to use Logo is decided district by district, and in many places, including Saint Paul, this decision is left to individual schools.
In spite of the decentralization of education in the U.S., some states have significant national influence. Texas and California have systems of statewide textbook adoption. That policy, combined with the large populations of these two states, carries considerable weight with publishers and largely determines the textbooks that are available throughout the country.
Minnesota is not a large state, but with fewer than five million people, it has had a disproportionate influence on the development of educational technology. In the early 1980s the state-funded Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium (MECC) provided schools with software and support materials at a time when little was available for the computers that were just finding their way into schools. MECC initiated a licensing arrangement that was unique for that time. For an annual fee a school district would receive all the new software titles published by MECC that year. The district was then licensed to use them freely in all its schools. The appeal of this arrangement extended beyond Minnesota, with U.S. and international representatives attending the annual MECC conference in Minnesota. MECC has since been privatized and continues to publish and distribute educational software. One of the teacher’s manuals written and distributed by MECC was about Apple Logo. MECC also published EZ Logo, a program that made it easier for very young children to work with Logo. Logo received another boost in 1986 when the Minnesota State Department of Education made mass purchases of a half dozen software applications for all the schools in the state. One of these was LogoWriter. Although there was no mandate to use LogoWriter or any of the other packages, the state endorsement encouraged schools to adopt LogoWriter and teachers to use it.
Without this state support, the Saint Paul Logo Project would have proceeded in essentially the same manner, but it did make things easier for us, especially in our outreach beyond the Saint Paul Public Schools themselves to other Minnesota districts.
TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION
Like most districts, the Saint Paul Public Schools has a department in charge of educational technology. Its role is to acquire computers, install them in schools, and then train teachers on how to use them. The Saint Paul Logo Project takes a different approach. The fact that it lies outside the educational technology mainstream allows it to keep a clear focus on learning and teaching rather than on hardware and software. In a study done in 1984, Peter Fire Dog of the University of Minnesota Sociology Department found that in the judgment of teachers, students working with Logo had improved performance in school and that the benefit was available to all children.1 In her search for educational strategies and programs that would reach all children, Gerry Kozberg became convinced that Logo was the answer. The funding for teacher education and the computers themselves came through the Staff Development Department, allowing the program to maintain its independence and integrity.
THE STAFF DEVELOPMENT MODEL
The Saint Paul Logo Project has existed long enough to have witnessed dramatic changes in technology. We have grown and changed over the past 17 years. But the fundamentals of our staff development model have remained consistent.
We rely on a multifaceted approach, which has the Logo Summer Institute as its cornerstone. This week-long intensive workshop is the starting point for new teachers in the project and provides a periodic renewal for experienced teachers, some of whom have attended four or five Institutes over the years.
It is also crucial to have sustaining activities during the school year. Brief follow-up workshops are held two or three times a year for the same group of people who attended the Summer Institute. In some schools an afterschool workshop meets for two hours on a given day for a period of six or eight weeks. At various times support staff has been available for regular on-site visits to teachers participating in the project. Then there are the formal and informal mutual support systems that spring up in individual schools and in wider networks of schools. In order to encourage the growth of such support systems, one of the criteria we use in selecting schools for inclusion in the Logo Project is that several teachers from a school participate in the staff development program.
THE LOGO SUMMER INSTITUTE
Summer Institutes are not unique to the Saint Paul Logo Project or even to Logo. Many teachers spend parts of their summers immersing themselves in learning. It is important to get away from the day-to-day concerns and pressures of school and to spend some relaxed time focusing on larger issues and on one’s own learning. In most years we have held two Institutes, in June and in August, in order to accommodate the large number of people wishing to attend.
An Institute begins on Monday morning when people arrive at the Board of Education headquarters with their computers, usually school equipment that they have taken home for the summer. We have a large conference room with tables and chairs arranged in clusters. It takes about an hour or so for all the computers to be set up. People who know how to do this help the novices. After coffee we gather for an introductory talk by Gerry. She relates the background of the Logo Project and tells the participants what to expect during the week and beyond into the school year. Michael opens the Logo Lab with a brief runthrough of an introductory Logo project.
Michael and Gerry are joined by other facilitators. For the past several years a stable group of three people have fulfilled this role: Darrell Mohrhauser, a science teacher at Como Senior High School; Kathy Ames, the computer teacher at Battle Creek Elementary School; and Ron Beck, a sixth grade teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary School. Because of the differences in their backgrounds and teaching assignments, they bring a wide range of experience and expertise to the workshop. After the introduction people get started with Logo, working on their own or in self-formed groups. We ask the more experienced people to help out for a while until the novices get started. By the end of the morning there are no more novices.
The introductory project is generally based on the documentation that accompanies the software that most people are using. Since the early 1990s the choice of the Saint Paul schools has been MicroWorlds and before that LogoWriter. The open-ended project approach of the materials that are packaged with these versions of Logo is in keeping with our view of learning and teaching. This initial project is usually an illustrated, animated story or a report. It is designed to give people an overview of the major features and capabilities of the Logo environment. With MicroWorlds this includes using the drawing tools, writing text, and using turtles as characters in an animated sequence. We introduce Logo programming as needed, usually when someone wants to control an animated character.
Participants who have been using Logo for a while with students usually have some idea of the kinds of projects they want to work on. They may have activities from the previous school year that they want to develop or some new ideas to try out. We also provide a range of project ideas and activities for people who are looking for new inspiration.
By far the most common kind of project is the multimedia story or report. This began many years ago and has flourished with the introduction of MicroWorlds. People combine drawings, written descriptions, images that have been scanned or taken from CDs and the Internet, recorded sounds, and music into elaborate creations. Among the varied topics are travelogues like Amy Woods’ retelling of her trip to the Atlantic provinces of Canada or Jeanne Walker’s Bermuda project. One year, when we had many participants from Minnesota school districts outside Saint Paul, a large group project combined many smaller projects into a Minnesota travelogue. These are most common during the August Institutes when people are just back from their vacations.
We’ve also seen many social studies reports. Patricia Loosli presented the history and geography of her native Chile. Teachers have done projects centering on the local history of their school neighborhoods. Also popular are fictional stories, either the retelling of a familiar fairy tale or Mother Goose rhyme, or original creations.
If the focus is creating multimedia reports and stories, why use the Logo environment of MicroWorlds when HyperStudio would be a good choice? Because the creation of these projects involves problem solving, debugging, and mathematical thinking. Programming a car to accelerate across the screen puts one in touch with the laws of physics in a way that cannot be matched by simply dragging the car and having the computer record the move. We also want to establish that computers are controlled by people, not the other way around. Programming is the way that people control computers.
The advantage of having a Logo-based multimedia environment becomes clear when people move from presenting information to creating simulations. Chuck Smith programmed an environment populated by cows. He could set the values of various parameters, such as availability of food and the amount of sunlight, and then let the cows loose to feed, grow, reproduce, and die. Diane Jackson from Australia attempted a similar simulation with kangaroos. Gary McCallister, a biology professor, simulated the growth and control of a mosquito population.
In the early days most people were introduced to Logo through turtle geometry, using the turtle to create geometric shapes, patterns, and representational drawings. Some educators feel that the inclusion of drawing tools in MicroWorlds has undermined this very valuable area of exploration and learning. We don’t agree. It is true that people today rarely use the turtle to draw houses, backgrounds, and people. Instead, they use the drawing tools and the Shapes Center. We don’t feel that this is a loss. Creating an elaborate scene with the turtle is very timeconsuming. While there is certainly problem solving and debugging involved, the experience is often not very deep. The Minnesota travelogue mentioned above was done many years ago using LogoWriter. Two teachers spent the better part of a morning drawing a map of Minnesota with a sequence of Forward, Right, and Left commands. Today they would just scan the map or load it from a CD. The time saved would then be devoted to creating a more elaborate project in which programming would very likely be used in other ways.
People are still engaged by turtle geometry, which has not lost its impact or appeal. While it is not as central to our workshops as it used to be, many people still spend time exploring with the turtle. A few even become immersed in it. Olga Vilanova spent a week exploring geometric patterns and the use of variables in the Logo programs that drew them. Charles Lee elaborated on the idea of recursive tree designs to build a program that included a bit of randomness so that it drew a different forest each time it was run.
Another very popular area of Logo programming is video games, including adventure games, mazes, and shoot-emup type action games. MicroWorlds is more appropriate for some kinds of games than others. Sports games with their 3D perspective and fast pace are hard to match, but one can make a very respectable adventure game in the spirit of Myst. Children and adults alike accept the limitations and are satisfied because what they have built is their own.
Logo also connects to the world outside the computer. Logo programs can use information gathered from the outside world through sensors, and activate motors and lights that are built into devices constructed out of LEGO elements. LEGO Logo became a major activity at Galtier Magnet School, where Paul Krocheski worked with students and teachers to develop many original projects. Kathy Ames at Battle Creek Elementary School and Ron Beck at St. Anthony Park Elementary school have also made extensive use of LEGO Logo in their schools. An exhibit of student projects was held at the Minnesota Museum of Science, an institution that has offered Logo and LEGO Logo courses and workshops for teachers and students. The Museum currently has a web site where children’s MicroWorlds projects are posted2. When LEGO Logo became available in the mid-1980s, we introduced it in our Summer Institutes. But we found that it was difficult to include without having it take over the Institute. When we presented it on Thursday, people would be torn between continuing their other Logo projects and switching to LEGO Logo. The logistics and room setup are also very different for a LEGO Logo workshop. Fewer computers are needed, but more open space.
We eventually decided to organize separate sessions for LEGO Logo, generally as a follow-up workshop during the school year. This approach gives LEGO Logo the time and attention it needs and has the additional advantage of making sure that people have a solid grounding in Logo before they begin with LEGO Logo. Without this background, the full potential of LEGO Logo may not be appreciated, and it is easy, especially with the newer Control Lab™, to rely on the point-and-click aspects of the software at the expense of programming.
MODELING TEACHING AND LEARNING
The Summer Institutes provide a solid background in Logo programming and techniques. Teachers are prepared to use this experience to work with their students. But we are doing much more. We are modeling a constructionist way of learning and teaching, while setting up learning environments where these can take place. First of all, there is plenty of uninterrupted time as well as ample access to computers and software. We always provide at least one computer per person. Participants move around, interacting with one another and the facilitators. Very quickly, the projects take root, with varying levels of complexity and areas of interest. We encourage people to develop projects that are personally meaningful to them. Rather than tracking or ability grouping, learners of all levels of Logo experience are grouped together. Groups are formed as needed to address areas of interest or teach skills when several people are looking for the same thing. Otherwise, assistance and instruction are individualized. We encourage participants to seek help from one another. A question may be answered with “Amy over there just did that. Why don’t you go take a look and ask her about it?” The participants realize that the facilitators are not all-knowing but are often stumped by problems. They see each of us sometimes call on someone else for help: “Can you see what’s wrong here? I can’t get it.” We are comfortable saying “I don’t know” since we have the strategies to find the answers.
Many teachers find this model difficult to accept themselves and to follow in their schools. They may see students for only one or two periods per week. In self-contained elementary-school classrooms time is more flexible, but computers may be few and the teacher’s attention may be pulled towards other activities. Many teachers have a deep-seated feeling that they must always know everything and always be fully in charge. Still, many teachers want and are able to work with students in constructionist ways. The kinds of projects that the children develop during the school year turn out to be very similar to those the teachers build during the Summer Institute. The topic may be insects or the history of the school’s neighborhood. One could create a multimedia report, learning about the subject matter, Logo skills, and MicroWorlds techniques in the process. With this background, teachers could then encourage their students to build similar projects. They could begin the new school year by showing off their own projects to the class. This is a very powerful approach that lets the students see their teachers as learners.
While many Institute participants do this, others stand these projects on their heads. Every Institute has teachers who use Logo to create instructionist software. Instead of a report on insects or a neighborhood history, they write a quiz. The teacher has had a constructionist experience making drill-and-practice software, but the students’ experience will be very different.
This may seem like the natural thing to do. How do the facilitators react? We raise the issue, just as we are doing here, and suggest alternatives. When someone is devoting so much time and effort to building a project, we don’t want to simply say that it is all wrong. But what if we take this stood-on-its-head Logo project and flip it one more time? Instead of using it as instructionist software, present it to the children as a model of what they could do. They can then write quizzes of their own.
DIALOG AND DISCUSSION
Around 80 percent of the time spent at a Summer Institute is devoted to Logo Lab. This kind of learning requires a lot of time. But it is also important to place this Logo learning in a larger educational and social context. One way we do this is through dialog groups. A dialog is different from a discussion, as explained by Peter Senge. We ask people to read this chapter before joining the Institute. A dialog encourages a free exchange of ideas without the pressure to convince others or arrive at a conclusion.
The dialogs are held on three days for about an hour each time. Readings are designed to set a framework for the dialog, but the goal is not to discuss the readings. Each year the collection is different. We have used chapters from each of Seymour Papert’s three books, Mindstorms, The Children’s Machine, and The Connected Family. We’ve also included futurist writings by Alvin Toffler and Nicholas Negraponte. as well as articles about educational trends and developments that are relevant to how we teach and learn Logo.
A case in point is TESA (Teacher Expectations Student Achievement). This staff development program is based on research that shows how dramatically our expectations of students affect their performance.
Over the years it seemed to us that teachers in Logo environments tend to have more open expectations and fewer preconceived notions about their students. We also think that the positive effects of working with Logo that were shown in Peter Fire Dog’s research are mediated through the expectations of teachers. This has been an important dialog topic.
But teachers must make concrete plans for implementing their Logo experience in their schools. To include this as a topic for discussion, we have organized planning discussions in various ways. Sometimes we set aside time slots during the week to pull together groups arranged by school, grade level, or subject. In other years we have taken a less formal approach, suggesting that these discussions continue during the lunch break, which has been stretched to 90 minutes to allow time for this to occur.
One year we decided to try a more formal approach to provide background in disciplines related to our work as teachers. Two Macalester College professors each gave a series of lectures: Chuck Green in political science and Walter Mink in cognitive science.
During another Institute we decided to go out in the world looking for “Logo-like thinking,” whatever that might mean. We split into small groups. Some went to 3M and other local corporate offices. Others had appointments at labs and offices at the University of Minnesota. A few of us went downtown to see what we could find by wandering around. After a couple of hours we came up dry and went to the landmark Mickey’s Diner for coffee. We watched the cook while she juggled as many as four or five orders on the grill at the same time. We’d found what we were looking for. Here was procedural thinking and parallel processing in a real-life situation. The other groups did not do as well in finding a comparable example.
Then there are our extracurricular activities: the Minnesota State Fair, which usually coincides with the August Institute, and the annual barbecue hosted by Kathy Ames for the out-of-town participants. Baseball fans can also watch the minor league Saint Paul Saints.
VISITORS ARE WELCOME
The Logo Summer Institutes are not just for Saint Paul teachers. We include as many as a dozen outsiders in a group of 25 to 30 people. A creative tension between the two of us has always existed over this issue, with Gerry wanting to focus on Saint Paul and Michael wanting to extend the project’s influence to the world. But the balance has been a good one. Since the majority of participants are from the Saint Paul Public Schools, the Institute maintains a focus on the Saint Paul Logo Project. The outsiders benefit from gaining experience with this model project, while they enrich the Institutes with their variety of experiences. Diversity is a good thing.
Most of the outsiders are teachers from other school districts. They discover the Institute through Logo Update, the Logo Foundation newsletter, the Logo Foundation web site8, or word of mouth. Often a district will send several teachers to an Institute, sometimes over a period of years. We have had regulars from Delhi, Iowa, and Chicago Lakes, Minnesota. Districts with major Logo projects of their own — Bellevue, Washington; Ladue, Missouri; Lubbock, Texas; and the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica — have also sent teachers and administrators to the Institutes.
Some people, not all of whom are classroom teachers, come on their own. College professors have included biology professor Gary McCallister, who then inspired his colleagues in Colorado to start their own Logo Summer Institutes. We have also had several home schoolers and a graphic artist with a personal interest in Logo. For several years we had a group of engineers from 3M, a major corporation with headquarters and other facilities around the Twin Cities area. These volunteers attended the Summer Institutes and then worked with children in classrooms where Logo was being taught. In 1986, when the State Education Department purchased LogoWriter licenses for all Minnesota public schools, the Saint Paul Logo Project was called upon to provide staff development services in Logo. This included a brief introductory workshop for the personnel of regional training centers, attendance at our Summer Institutes, and follow-up workshops by teachers from across the state.
In 1988 and 1989 we made presentations and offered workshops at the annual spring conference of the Minnesota Educational Effectiveness Program (MEEP), an organization that mostly serves educators from the smaller cities and rural areas outside the Twin Cities. At the 1989 conference Seymour Papert gave the keynote address. We were somewhat overwhelmed by MEEP. There are so many MEEPers that they have two annual conferences back-to-back: one from Monday morning through noon Wednesday and a rerun from Wednesday afternoon through Friday. Fifteen hundred people attended each conference.
Two of the Minnesota State Techmobiles were also at the conferences. These buses, stripped of regular seats and equipped with 10 computers, served the rural areas of the state, where they were used for workshops. They parked at Madden’s, the Brainerd resort and conference center where the MEEP events were held. We used them to conduct an ongoing series of short Logo workshops for five consecutive days.
People leave the Summer Institute with wonderful plans and intentions for the school year. They must be supported in order to follow through effectively. We provide this support in several ways. Two or three times during the school year we schedule short follow-up workshops. A very successful format has been to begin with a 4 PM to 8 PM session on a Thursday evening, including a light supper, followed by a full day on Friday. Instead of using the Board of Education headquarters, we hold these sessions in one of the schools. This requires freeing a computer room or library for the day, but staff and administrators are generally happy to cooperate.
The topics for these workshops vary. The fall session has usually been devoted to LEGO Logo. The second workshop is on a specific Logo topic, such as game programming or Logo and mathematics. The last workshop in the spring is devoted to assessing and extending students’ work. Teachers bring samples of children’s projects to share. We then discuss them and look at how to proceed from there.
Another follow-up modality is a regular weekly afterschool workshop that meets for a six-week period. Kathy Ames has done this frequently for the teachers at Battle Creek Elementary School. Here the focus is on a single school rather than the Summer Institute group as a whole. At times funding has been available for a full-time support person. For several years Mike Hopkins provided onsite support for the teachers in the project, visiting each school regularly and tailoring his activities to the needs of the students and teachers.
For a while, during the late 1980s, a local electronic bulletin board provided a virtual support group for those teachers who took advantage of it. John Olson, who taught at Murray Junior High School, set up the bulletin board using LogoExpress, a system that was both ahead of its time and behind the times. It was easy to set up and maintain, and ran comfortably in an Apple II computer. One could transmit not only text messages, but complete LogoWriter pages. It is now routine for e-mail to carry “attachments” of any file format, but at that time this was uncommon, which made it a major advantage of LogoExpress. On the other hand, LogoExpress bulletin boards were isolated. As the Internet grew, LogoExpress, along with other simple local boards, faded away.
The inundation of LogoExpress by the Internet is just one of the technological changes that the Saint Paul Logo Project has adjusted to. In our first workshops we used Apple Logo. Most of the projects involved drawing with the turtle. Our first taste of animation came in 1983 with Sprite Logo. LogoWriter and LEGO Logo were introduced in 1985 and MicroWorlds in 1992. The Saint Paul Logo Project has always been on the leading edge of technology. This is largely due to our collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Logo Computer Systems, Inc., the developer of all the versions of Logo used in the project, and the Logo Foundation. New LCSI software developments were generally brought to Saint Paul before they were available to the general public. Prototype systems from MIT, such as the Programmable Brick, also enhanced our workshops.
Right now we are moving towards an era when all computers will be connected to the Internet. Sharing of projects and accessing resources are undergoing fundamental transformations. Some of the Saint Paul Schools have already networked computers with full-time Internet access. Others are still working with stand-alone systems in isolated classrooms.
Our Summer Institute logistics will change so as to provide for networking among the participants’ machines and onto the Internet itself. We have held some of our workshops at St. Anthony Park Elementary School rather than the Board of Education headquarters, because the school is connected to the Internet.
These technological changes have resulted in more userfriendly environments where more people can find a level of comfort. Less time is devoted to the mechanics of file management, printing, and keeping things working. More time is devoted to thinking and learning. But the fundamentals do not change. We still use Logo as a constructionist learning environment.
IN THE SCHOOLS
Over the years hundreds of teachers have been involved in the Saint Paul Logo project. What has happened in their schools? In the classrooms and computer rooms we saw projects that were similar to those modeled during the workshops, with the level of complexity and sophistication, both in terms of Logo and the presentation of subject matter, varying with age and grade level. Logo did not take hold in all schools however. A number of factors have contributed to its acceptance and use.
In most schools where Logo has had a strong presence there has been at least one teacher who has taken the lead, offering expertise and providing encouragement and support. In some cases this has been the computer teacher: John Olson at Murray Junior High School, Charlotte Coan at Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School, Paul Krocheski at Galtier Magnet school, and Kathy Ames at Battle Creek Middle School.
But often a regular classroom teacher has mentored other teachers, such as Ardyce Erlich, an English teacher at Humbolt Junior High School, and Jeanne Walker, a mathematics teacher at Highland Park Junior High School.
Sometimes only a few teachers are involved with Logo, but Ron Beck, a sixth grade teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary School, has managed to engage most of his colleagues. The school has a computer room, as well as computers in classrooms, but no computer teacher. Teachers bring their students to the computer room and remain to work with them. Ron maintains the computer room and provides technical support for other teachers, but they do the teaching.
In some schools collaborative groups have emerged with a number of teachers working together to support one another in their Logo work. At Como Senior High School teachers of art, science and English as a second language (ESL) work with Logo. Nearly all the teachers at the Adams Spanish Immersion School have used both English and Spanish versions of LogoWriter and now MicroWorlds. Logo has also been widely accepted in the Saint Paul district’s two Montessori schools. In some cases individual teachers work largely on their own. Judy Ronei teaches a self-contained fifth grade class at Mann Elementary School. For years she had one computer in her classroom that was constantly running Logo or LEGO Logo. Occasionally her work took center stage at the school, as when Middle Ages Expo, held for the entire school, took over the gym for a week. Different classes put up displays of their creations relating to the theme of the Middle Ages, with stories, drawings, and constructions of all kinds. Judy’s own class used Logo to develop an interactive quiz about medieval history for visiting parents. Another display was of computer-controlled jousting knights built out of LEGO Logo.
Helen Kraft’s first graders studied animals. In their Logo Animals9 project they used Logo to draw animals and the text-processing component of LogoWriter to describe them. Helen provided a collection of tool procedures to make their project development more efficient and satisfying. Geometry learning was also added to the project, with four sizes of three geometric shapes: circles, squares, and triangles. An interesting aspect of this work is that most of the students were not reading when they began the project, but through it they learned to write. Enthusiastic teachers and a good support system form only part of the picture. The school principal has a significant effect on how much and how well Logo is used in a school. Some principals support their teachers by recommending that they attend the Summer Institutes and by providing for released time and after-school workshops. The widespread use of Logo at St. Anthony Park is due in part to the enthusiasm of principal Tom Foster. Luz Serano has also given Logo a big boost at Adams. Administrative support enables enthusiastic teachers to thrive in many concrete ways. At Galtier Magnet School classes were scheduled in the computer room with regular teachers and the computer specialist at the same time.
Although double staffing might seem inefficient to many administrators, it is a good way to encourage the classroom teacher to take ownership of the Logo program and to sustain it in the classroom. Administrators may also find money for software and equipment and arrange released time for teachers to attend workshops. More generally, they can set a tone of approval and encouragement for a program, which motivates teachers to pursue it. Occasionally a principal goes a bit further. Kate Anderson “mandated” Logo for all teachers at Dayton’s Bluff. Although unclear on exactly what this meant, we immediately agreed when she approached us to introduce Logo to her staff. She asked us to do three sessions of an hour and a half each. The entire staff, — teachers, aides, the librarian, lunchroom people, and the custodian — rotated through these three sessions. This seemed like the worst possible format: sessions that were too brief with groups that were too big and no provision for hands-on experience with Logo. But somehow it worked. We were enthusiastically received and Logo went into high gear. It would not have been sustained without Charlotte Coan who worked with students of all grade levels in her computer room. She came to many Summer Institutes and follow- up workshops with piles of disks and printouts of her students’ work.
Kate Anderson left Dayton’s Bluff to go to another school, where she also “mandated” Logo and encouraged more teachers to join the Saint Paul Logo Project. Charlotte Coan continued to teach Logo at Dayton’s Bluff until she retired last year. At that point the computer room was turned over to an instructional learning system (ILS) and Logo was eliminated.
Logo has found a place in many Saint Paul schools for varying periods of time. We have changed some schools and affected hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. But we have not changed the underlying school culture, which is mostly out of tune with constructionist ways of teaching and learning, even though three superintendents fiercely supported Logo for over 18 years. When there is the right mix of enthusiastic administrators, teachers, and sometimes parents, Logo thrives. Often when those individuals move on, so does Logo.
The experience at Dayton’s Bluff is now being mirrored and magnified in the Saint Paul Public Schools as a whole. Gerry Kozberg retired in the summer of 1997. The new administrator, whose responsibilities include the Logo Project, has focused all her efforts on program and staff development that impact student achievement as measured by standardized tests. Logo does not fit that agenda. This administrative change did not come as a surprise. We fully expected that without Gerry the project would at best be under pressure and that its support by the central administration might not continue.
But this is not a story with a sad ending. Teachers and children still use Logo, and we had other plans in place. Remember that the original name of the project was the Community Schools Collaborative. The importance of the collaborative aspect becomes very clear as two other partners, the Logo Foundation and Hamline University, plan the next series of Summer Institutes and carry the project forward in new ways for teachers in the Saint Paul Public Schools and in other districts in the Twin Cities area. In a broader sense the Saint Paul Logo Project has already established permanence by continuing in other places. During the summer of 1998 the Logo Foundation is cosponsoring Summer Institutes with the Spence School in New York City and Mesa State College in Colorado.
The staff development model we developed in Saint Paul is followed in these Institutes and in the many others that the Logo Foundation has sponsored over the years. Like computers themselves, the Saint Paul Logo Project is no longer rooted in a specific geographic location. Our “computer” is now the World Wide Web, not just the machine sitting in front of us. The Saint Paul Logo Project has evolved into a collection of Summer Institutes, workshops and Internet-based support activities that have educators using Logo around the world.