Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DENSI Update Day 4

Day 4 of #DENSI started this morning on such high notes (literally). A group of us #DENSI members gathered together to take a walk along the beach this morning. Tally (@TalzBee) and I decided to try geocaching along the way together. At first technology was a hindrance. Apps didn't want to work. Maps weren't precise. But finally it all clicked. A woman walked by us singing a good morning (not sure if it was more to her self or as a greeting to us). Either way it made me smile. Working collaboratively to navigate in the right direction, Tally finally found the microcache under a fence point joint by a beach house along the boardwalk. Still impressed with how quickly she did that. It was a wonderful feeling that surrounded me as I went about my morning after that coup. I had been out twice before unsuccessfully. This was amazing to participate in so early in the morning.

We came back and prepared for the conference to officially begin. Off to hear the opening session.

Steve Hargadon from classroom 2.0 addressed the assembled members of the DEN during the opening session today. He fired up the cloud and helped several discover their worth, find their voice, and renew their passion. I took prolific notes this morning. And yes, I resorted to the old fashioned method of note taking as the technology around me rebelled today. Was Mercury in retrograde or something and I didn't get the memo.

From today's opening session:
We were challenged with “Why is what's happening now different?”
A website was shared To me this is a cluttered site with a wealth of information only a click away. Mr. Hargadon quoted John Taylor Gatto in saying the factory model of education and schooling is broken. Perhaps the change that is coming can be precieved as more of a tidal wave approaching. I loved that he joked that Steve Dembo is Hanging 10 and tweeting from the crest of the wave.

Education will be shifting to an exploration and design from the bottom up instead of from the top down. Teacher, parent, and student are going to be given a greater voice in the educational narrative (of today? Of tomorrow?) The value is students are going to need it to participate in the 21st century skill world. Can they be a part of the conversation?

Structured reform: reform narrative testing and tasking
Freedom reform: freedom of flexibility engagement and individualize. We as educators are the new superheroes. But over-tiredness is this superhero's kryptonite. I took several photos during the session. I hope to turn them into a meaningful product here to share out. But that will have to wait for tomorrow as there was more to the day to be shared out. Yes, Mr. Hargadon inspired me to renew my desire to share information via my blog. I have renewed purpose and have reclaimed my voice. I hope you will utilize your voice and leave comments on my blog posts.

Session 1 – Jennifer Wagner
In recent days I have had several conversations with a distinguished woman named Jennifer Wagner, @JenWagner. I had the privilege of attending her session today entitled Show Off Your Stuff, A perfect segway from Mr. Hargadon inspiring us to find our voice. Jennifer offered simple solutions for how to share our voices (or that of our students) in a nonthreatening approach.

Suggestion 1:
You can take pictures of student drawings and upload into Flickr. Simple yet effective. This can then be shared home or abroad.
Suggestion 2:
Wordle based on data collected from a Google Form. As our district begins to slowly implement Google Apps for Education, I found this concept very encouraging. During larger collaborative projects the data collected can become unmanageable and rather ugly to focus upon. But turning it into a graphical representation makes it much more informational at a glance.

[insert pause here... I have found my voice. But I need to find my bed for tonight] My notes are in my Google Docs and I promise to share out the rest soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DENSI Update Day 3

Another great DEN day! Thanks for all the fun everyone. I love collaborating and sharing with the stars. What a galaxy of talented DEN stars we have! And my how brightly the stars shine.

Today was a long day with 5 interesting PD sessions. I took many notes but they aren't all finalized yet. If you would like a copy of my notes, please let me know and I will gladly share out after I make them a bit more universally readable.

But here are a few brief summaries of today's proceedings:

Main session summary:
The DENdy 500 race was begun. Jannita Damian discussed how the challenges on the road to leading with technology shouldn't be left as a hindrance. In conversation later with some friends from Maine, we discussed how our negative opinions of the way things HAVE been should be put into the Pit. They don't need to be discarded. They need to be modified, overhauled, and fine-tuned.

First breakout session:
Jeremy Davis presented an informative session on using self-assessment for evaluation. Two great nuggets I received during this session:
  • The classroom management system has been updated recently. Classes can be created globally by a school district to pre-load student information into the Discovery Education system.
  • In Discovery Education you can use the Advanced Search feature to find quizzes that others have created and tweak them for use with your students and/or staff.

Second breakout session:
Joe Diaz presented a stimulating session which demonstrated some ways to motivate students with digital content. He offered some suggestions as starting points. And then challenged us to dream up our own possibilities.

Some of his suggestions include:
  • Using wordles to help draw focus to a topic's content before revealing the topic heading.
  • Displaying ½ of a graphic for students and asking them to predict what the other half might be before revealing
  • Playing a video without sound paired with 3 transcripts. Have students identify the correct video transcripts.

Third breakout session:
Clare Devine discussed exploration and reflection/rethinking. How do you equip students with the ability to attain the objectives that you set out in the motivation/opening of your lesson? What experiential learning will help students explore the big ideas and questions to achieve desired understandings?
Among the many samples Clare gave she sparked renewed interest in Discovery Education Skillbuilders. These gems have much to offer. You can search for them in the advanced search feature. It was great to get to rethink about this oft forgotten section of DE streaming. What wonderful nuggets for introduction or review await under the skillbuilder category.

Fourth breakout session:
Sarah Johangiry shared ideas for tailoring instruction for individual students. Differentiated instruction is meeting kids where they learn.

Differentiated instruction is flexible and fluid (groups can change based on progress and assessment). She also pointed out the existence of a site that hosts lyrics and worksheets to accompany several of the RockBot songs that are contained in Discovery Education. These can be found at Definitely worth exploring for future use in the classroom.

Jannita Damian gave us a glimpse into the activities of the Discovery Education professional development teams recent interactions.  An adorable video was played to refocus us on "Who are you? and Where are you going?" 

During the wrap-up session this evening, the lovely Renee Henderson stood and shared her excellent viewpoint with us. Many agreed she spoke with eloquence.

Social experiments:
The evening was completed with some great DEN mingling. An ice cream social was hosted. DEN members gathered for cool refreshments on a beautiful patio. Conversation was both fun, fun-hearted, and productive all at the same time. I just love that combo. 

 Then the DENmazing Race took place. Congratulations to all the winners. It was great entertainment watching our colleagues scurry about completing tasks. The pronouncement of the winners were overseen by the DEN royal court of Lance and Martha Rougeux. And the official proclamation was decreed by Princess Porter.

After the winners were announced DEN members continued to socialize, network and strategize into the night. Good conversation, good people and good weather... good times and good memories!

Over the last few months Steve Dembo started an intriguing idea that caught on. He hosted the Fit42 challenge. Members of his online PLN participated in networking and sharing focused on the theme of becoming more physically fit, active, healthier and possibly losing weight. Thrilled to say I have lost 13 pounds since that experiment began. And the great ideas continue flowing. Tomorrow morning we will rise early for a walk to the beach before the sessions dawn on Day 4 of #DENSI. Obviously it is time for me to sign off or I won't be able to participate in the Fit42 activity. I can't wait to see what the DEN has in store for us tomorrow...

Monday, July 11, 2011

DENSI Update

I promise I will organize my notes and share soon from the third day of ISTE.  But in the meantime I am a participant at #DENSI from Discovery Education.  So it is time to blog out a bit from this event too.  I don't want to fall into bad habits of not being a good digital citizen and connected educator.

Day 1 of DENSI summary:
A great day of connecting will old friends, new friends, and virtual friends.  The best of all words bringing your expanded personal learning network to life.  After some trials and tribulations traveling here, I arrived.  Found a lovely group of ladies who were kind enough to include me in their local excursion.  Target, pronounced /Tar-jay/ if you want to be a bit more dignified then us, provided much amusement and amazement.  Many items available for procurement and an automated cart lift that astounded onlookers seeing it for the first time (not one of the first time viewers).

We had a lovely barbeque on a terrace overlooking a beautiful site of the valley.  Then we were graced with a presentation from Danny Forster,, host of Build it Bigger.  He entranced and engaged us tired #DENSI members with stories of the how and why behind several buildings around the globe.  Wish he was being recorded so my tired brain could redigest this information another day.  He graciously signed autographs and mingled with the DENSI guests.  How very kind of him to extend his stay in such a meaningful way to be with us.

Checked in with the roommates for a quick catchup reconnecting with some and meeting a kind new face.  Then off to sleep to refresh for Day 2.

Day 2 of DENSI Summary:
Awoke bright and early.  I must have been anticipating something great... Oh right I was, day 2 of #DENSI and an excursion to SeaWorld.  What an amazing day.  Everywhere my dear friend @plnaugle and I turned there was another DENSI shirt clad member of the DEN.  What a good feeling running into so many familiar friendly faces!  I love the DEN and the key is the people in it that make all the difference.

Patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait... but in the moment when asked to wait, I can get rather unhappy.  Waiting for the line to move for the Blue Horizon show at Sea World was almost my undoing.  But we were offered amazing seats.  I couldn't have had better if I requested the best seat to film from.  I stayed dry and had a great vantage point in the center of the "stage".  I will share my videos soon. I will upload them somewhere and share out shortly just not tonight.

Tonight was topped off by a casual and informal room party.  Thanks to the educators who gathered to share refreshments and refresh our interest in technology tools.  It is amazing how much sharing can happen so quickly when the right group gathers and collaborates.  Thanks to all that were part of it!

Okay off to get ready for tomorrow and recharge tech gadgets and myself for round 3 tomorrow...