Experience & Activities
Samantha Matalone Cook, MAT, is an educator, historian, writer, maker, and speaker. She has almost three decades of experience in education, program development, and the arts and is a dedicated mentor and lifelong learner. She has a BA in Humanities with an emphasis in Medieval History and Archaeology, and an MAT from the George Washington Graduate School of Education and Human Development, specializing in Museum Education. As an educator, Samantha has worked with both small and large organizations to create educational programming that centers and connects the learner to concepts and skills. She has taught in classrooms & private workshops, mentored other educators, and worked for and with many museums and non-profit organizations, including the Smithsonian.
Samantha was or is a founder or advisor of several makerspaces, including Curiosity Hacked, a non-profit hackerspace for kids and families, where she built international learning communities and pushed the boundaries of what learner-centered, alternative STEAM education could look like. She is a consultant and advisory board member for Home Base, a community education center for home-educating families, and an advisor and consultant for SEA, an international advocacy group for secular, academic education. Samantha has recently joined SEA as an editor for the magazine and to help build the SEA Publishing branch, to support other authors and midwifing high quality, interesting, and secular educational materials.
Samantha works on a consulting basis with both families and organizations and in leading professional development workshops. She continues to experiment with learning through teaching dynamic, project-based classes on History and the Humanities through the lens of art and invention (SHTEAM), expanding how her favorite subjects can be used as a catalyst for understanding, expression, and intersectionality. Samantha believes that learning should be consensual, multidisciplinary, and dynamic, and uses those values as a foundation for her classes. Her courses center on modeling passion for History and the Humanities and making connections for relevance and meaning. She enjoys building relationships with her students that are based on trust, humor, and limitless collaboration.
Samantha recently co-authored the book Project-Based Learning: Creating a Modern Education of Curiosity, Innovation, and Impact. Her next books to be published include a series of project-based learning-centered book studies inspired by the world of Harry Potter, and a multi-disciplinary curriculum for Ancient History, which is the first of a four-part series for Pandia Press’ History Odyssey (Level 2), with a companion curriculum designed to build students’ skills in historical research and writing.
Samantha co-authored the book Project-Based Learning: Creating a Modern Education of Curiosity, Innovation, and Impact, and What is Magic? An Unofficial Exploration of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is the first in a series of project-based learning centered book studies. She is now working on finishing History Odyssey Ancients, which is the first in a series of multidisciplinary Middle School/High School-level curriculum for Pandia Press, along with a companion guide designed to build students’ skills in historical thinking, research and writing.
When not working, Samantha spends her time painting, reading, cooking, gaming, and hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She also finds new adventures and manages mischief every day with her three teens, all home educated; the two oldest of whom have recently fledged into college. You can learn more and connect with Samantha at www.samanthamatalonecook.com
is to be welcomed and every pain avoided.
Research Boot Camp was a fun & engaging workshop that covered import skills I’ll use throughout my academic career.
This was an awesome class — Sam (the instructor) really engaged the kids, inspiring them and supporting their interests (and quirks!). There was quite a bit of material covered in the four sessions, with a great balance of demonstration, discussion, and tasks to complete on their own. Sam was also available for answering questions between sessions and posted the material (including video recording), which was very helpful. Our son loved this class and really looked forward to it every week. All the best!
Thank you! Thank you! Your fantasy map making class was fantastic. What my kids enjoyed is that it was in-depth, messy, and tactile. It was not elementary or overly cautious. It utilized real art materials and challenged them to think creatively and concretely about their ideas.
Your high school research class was informative, clear, and concise. Maya is now utilizing the tools she learned from you in her high school and college classes. Iâ€™m going to look for any class you are teaching in the future; and Iâ€™m going to recommend you to my friend circle. Iâ€™m so glad we found SEA online. If you teach on any other platform, Iâ€™d love to know.
Thanks again for great classes!
Books & Publications
Online Teaching Policies for Samantha Matalone Cook
Families will receive a full refund if they withdraw before the class begins. Families who withdraw after the class begins will receive a prorated refund based on the time remaining in the class. (For classes purchased on or after 10/5/2020: Refunds made more than 30 days from purchase date will be docked a 10% administrative processing fee.)
If the withdrawal is for schedule conflicts or a learner struggling with class content (that is either too easy or too hard), I am happy to work with families to try to find solutions.
I try my very best to avoid class cancellations. I often teach classes even if the minimum number of enrollees has not been met. However, I do reserve the right to cancel a class if the minimum enrollment is not met. I will do so 48 hours before class begins and issue full refunds.
In the event of an emergency that requires me to cancel an individual session, I will work with individual learners to find a sufficient make-up strategy. This may include a recorded session or a rescheduled session.
In the rare event of an emergency that requires me to cancel a substantial portion of the class, I will either find a substitute or issue prorated refunds for the class. If I must find a substitute, families will have the option to receive a prorated refund instead of continuing the class.
I recognize that students have different comfort levels and experience with participating in online class environments. Students are welcome to participate in the way that works best for them. While I prefer students to appear on camera and participate via microphone in live classes, I am also okay with students who do not want to appear on camera and use only the microphone or chat box.
In some classes, there will be times where students are asked to turn on their cameras for discussions. Students may also interact with the instructor and other students between classes on the course Discord channel.
My classes tend to be fairly involved, so there are often assignments between live meetings for live classes and throughout any other format. Assignments may include reading, writing, research, hands-on projects, and more. I highly encourage students to complete all homework assignments on time as I have designed them to scaffold future work.
If students cannot complete homework, they are welcome to reach out to me for guidance or a possible extension on the due date.
If families choose not to do some or all assignments, learners may stay in the class. However, I will only issue letters and certificates of completion to students who have met the assignment threshold as explained in that particular class.
Students and their families may choose to get a letter grade from me upon request. Grades (optional) and certificates of completion are based on the completion of assignments and projects, participation in class discussions, and meeting the criteria of the specific rubric for that class.
Basically, I welcome families to do what works best for them, but I believe learners will get the best experience if they complete the work assigned.
Generally speaking, I try to work with students to make the class work as well as possible. If there is a good reason that a learner needs an extension on a due date, please reach out to me. Work that is turned in late may be late receiving feedback. There will be a point for every class (typically two weeks after its end date) where I can no longer accept assignments.
My policies also extend to the way I treat learners in the classroom. I believe that respect and connection are the foundations of positive educational experiences, so I have the following policies in place to help ensure that my respect for learners is centered in my interactions.
- I will call learners by their preferred name and use their preferred pronouns.
- I will announce methods to get my attention in the case that a learner is having trouble being heard in class. These can include using the “raise hand” button, sending me a private message, or creating alternative ways for a learner to participate that works best for them.
- I will do my best to accommodate requests for alterations that help make materials accessible.
- I will be available for questions outside of class and answer those questions in a timely manner (generally within 24 hours).
- I will give feedback in a constructive way that respects the efforts learners have made.
- I will be understanding of learner differences and individual personalities and be as flexible as possible as I strike a balance between keeping the class productive for everyone and allowing room for everyone’s individual needs.
- I will model kindness, curiosity, and a passion for the subject(s) we are exploring.
- I will mentor the learners in my class towards achieving their own goals and finding their own voice on the subject(s) we are exploring.
It is important to me that all students have a safe and enjoyable classroom experience, so I have some behavioral guidelines to reach that goal. My general behavioral guidelines are as follows (and will also be announced directly to students in an age-appropriate way):
- Mute microphones if there is excessive background noise
- If we are in a large class, you may have to use the “raise hand” feature before speaking
- No mean-spirited comments in discussion boards (disagreements should be handled respectfully)
- Students must wear clothing when on camera
- No flooding the chat with off-topic content
- No name calling, bullying, or unwanted private messaging
- No sharing contact information with other students without parent permission
- No disruptive behavior that distracts other learners (such as constantly changing background screen, changing screen name to something silly, making faces at the camera, etc.)
- I expect students to communicate with me on any issues they are experiencing so we can work on a solution together.
My top priority is that all learners get the best experience they can out of the class. This means that my response to behavioral concerns is to address the individual problem with the least amount of disruption to the student concerned as possible. In general, I try to mitigate a specific behavior rather than remove a student from the classroom or limit their participation.
Here are some examples of ways that I may address behavioral issues in order from least to most invasive:
- Disable particular functions of the online classroom (for example, turn off private chat, manually mute microphones, turn off a video feed)
- Privately reach out to students to ask them to stop the behavior during class
- Reach out to students and their families to brainstorm a solution to a behavioral issue outside of class
- Require a parent/guardian to be present during live sessions in the event of repeat behavioral violations
- Remove a student from live sessions but allow them to continue in the rest of the course and send recordings
- Remove a student from the class
In the very rare event that a student is removed from a class for behavioral concerns, a prorated refund will be given.
In each class, I reserve a space for a scholarship student to make my classes accessible to many. If your learner would like to take my class and you would like more information or to apply for the scholarship space, please email me or use the contact form below.