Allen Distinguished Educators Program Launches Resources for Innovative Teachers

By Jenny Burns, Community Coordinator for the Allen Distinguished Educators Program
November 5, 2015

The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) program has developed new resources that will inspire, empower and enable teachers to create student-centered classroom projects. These resources, now available at, feature the 2014 ADE honorees and their award-winning projects that bring innovation to engineering and/or entrepreneurship curriculums.

“The hair on the back of my neck stands on end when I see a kid discover his passion in my classroom,” said Glenn Corey, a Novato, CA, high school teacher and Allen Distinguished Educator. His and three other classrooms are subjects of three-minute microdocumentaries showcasing the value of project-based learning where students are engaged, excited and applying their knowledge to real world challenges, partnering with their communities and learning through hands-on explorations. Each video is designed to inspire administrators, parents and teachers to look beyond traditional teaching practices and seek innovative learning experiences for their students.

Another series of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guides document projects from each of the same four ADEs, including one from Mike Wierusz that outlines how to build a classroom activity around the question, “Can I ride 53 miles on a bike from the energy of a single burrito?” The DIY packages include interactive guided tours of the project, detailed plan materials and downloadable transcripts. DIY Guides cover a spectrum of activities:
  • Glenn Corey, Novato, CA, with the “52 Minute Challenge”
  • Regan Drew, Spokane, WA, with “Design Learning”
  • Scot Swaaley, San Diego, CA, with “MAKEShift Poetry”
  • Mike Wierusz, Kenmore, WA, with “53 Miles per Burrito”
In addition to the DIY Guides, teachers are encouraged to apply for DIY grants for up to $1,000 in order to implement one of the four projects in their own classroom. The ADE Program is specifically looking for teachers who work in school environments different from those of the ADEs who created the DIY packages to enhance the replicability and adaptability of these projects. The short applications are due December 4th of this year for funding of projects for implementation in the first half of 2016.
The final resource category featured on the site is a series of roadmaps where each of the four ADEs provides advice on how their programs were created and the best practices used to overcome hurdles.

“The more relevant and useful information we can give to teachers to lead them through the potential transformation of a classroom, the more students we can engage in 21st century learning,” said Dave Ferrero, senior program officer for education at Vulcan Inc. “We know teachers are hungry for ideas and students are ready for the creative challenge.”

The ADE Program is currently reviewing more than 80 submissions from exceptional teachers vying to be the 2016 cohort of ADE honorees. The awards will be handed out at SXSWedu in March of 2016. Additionally, the 2014 cohort of ADEs will be leading a panel discussion at SXSWedu with the provocative topic of “Why Your Startup Should Hire My High School Students.”

About Allen Distinguished Educators Program

Inspire. Enable. Empower. The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) Program engages teachers in greater innovation around computer science, engineering and/or entrepreneurship. The work of ADE-recognized teachers can lead to new opportunities in classrooms across the nation. A Paul G. Allen initiative, the program includes: a $25,000 award, do-it-yourself project guides, grants for DIY projects, microdocumentaries and video roadmaps for implementing an ADE Program.

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