Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday - Applying and Adapting

As mentioned before I do enjoy my weekends outside of work. But some weekends work spills into my
weekends and my weekends spill into my work. This was one such weekend. I attended the
Discovery Educator Network Westchester Day of Discovery. Whitney Milhoulides and the DEN Team
put together a wonderful day of professional development for local educators. As if I wasn't
already surrounded by EdTech greatness this week. The keynote on Saturday was Hall Davidson,

Mr. Davidson's sense of humor is infectious. I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times
through my interactions in the DEN. He asked me before he began if I would laugh in all the
right spots and help him out. That request for support is never needed when Mr. Davidson speaks.
Not only is he elloquent but engaging and dynamic. Again, I watched as the sparks of "oh
really?" and "oh, yes, we need to do this" go off in my head. We have the tools. Let's use
them. Unintentional cognition. We can get students to think positively about their own learning.
To begin to feel ownership of their own knowledge. Talk about differentiated learning at its

Session 2 - Ten Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Video – and Two You Did - Hall Davidson
I love that Hall makes his resources available on the Discovery Education speakers Bureau page.
But the wonderful thing (well one of the wonderful things) about seeing him live is he deviates
from his script and listens to his audience. Each presentation is customized to the needs of the
group. Be it a MAC or PC the playingfield is there to explore. Movie Maker, Jing, Camtasia,
Photobooth, etc. The right tool exists the search is part of the fun. The creation is the
product of the fun experience.

Session 3 - Content Creation with Web 2.0 Tools and Discovery Education -Cindy Lane
Creation seemed to be a theme the last few days. In another informal moment at TLI my neighbor
in the audience and I discussed teaching integrity and responsibility to use web tools properly.
Ms. Lane demonstrated how to use a few such tools. Animoto, Glogster, and Stixy can help our
students create, publish, add meaning to content, and express themselves when available. These
tools have been seen before but it is always good to see new examples of what others have managed
to create. The difference between a pencil and paper (simple tools) and the sketch by Leonardo
of a flying machine is an analogy which can be drawn between the simple tool of these websites
and student and teacher creativity. Wow!

Session 4 - Countdown to Student Engagement: 10 Ways in 10 Minutes - Max Brooks
This summer I was graced to meet Max Brooks just as he was joining the DEN Team. He encourages
collaboration, tells it like it is, and thinks ahead to how it should/could be.
I learned about a feature in Discovery Education Streaming. Did you know there are BCRs? First did you know what BCRs are? I didn't! But now, thanks to Max, I do. BCRs stand for "Brief Constructed Responses". Discovery offers many assets and elements behind your login screen. Apparently there are BCRs all ready for us to implement with students. At school we have been discussing how students need assistance with replying to questions and using evidence from the text. Again, Discovery hold a tool to help our students achieve.

Session 5 - Sharing Discovery Education with Your Students -Max Brooks
During the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute this July, I learned about the possibility
of having individual student accounts on the network. Teachers will be able to differentiate
learning once this is implemented. I worked this Fall with a teacher to create student accounts
in Discovery Education Streaming. What a wealth of curriculum discovery awaits! Permission
slips need to be approved and signed before this project can move forward. But now after
watching/listening to Max demonstrate the simplicity of the Classroom Management portal inside
Discovery Education, I see how easy it really can be. The teacher I am working with will
definitely be able to handle managing her own class after a little initial support is provided.
Thanks, Max, for preparing me for this next phase in student engagement about to happen at our

Phew did all this really just happen in only 2 days! Technology moves at the speed of light.
Finally NY State is coming on board. They are beginning to work with Discovery Education to
create a customized Tech Book for NY State students. I can't wait. The question remains, are we
ready to grab the comet and share it across the room, down the hall, across down, and around the
globe? As someone on Friday said, "I have drunk the Kool-aid, and it is GOOD!" I hope to continue
drinking the proverbial Kool-aid of various flavors...

Friday - Engage me. Engage them.

The second speaker during the TLI Kickoff was Wes Fryer. Recently, he also was featured during
the Discovery Educator Network Fall Virtual Conference on October 23rd. The audio at our in-
person event wasn't great during his portion of the day's virtual program at our location. It is
great that the session was archived. ( I was excited
to hear him on the DEN Fall Virtual Conference (a disembodied voice on a screen). I was even
more thrilled to find out that I would be able to attend TLI Kickoff and witness him in-person.

Listening to him truly energized me again towards changing the education process. Shifting from
media consumer to media producer. As he stated with today's technology advances is there any
reason that students and teachers are not creating their own ebooks? How amazing technology is!
Not only is he absolutely right, we should be creating with free/inexpensive tools. But we can
save, document, archive, portfolio compile, etc. In fact, he amazingly posted not only his
resources and slides. But also the audio from the day. All available at

The more I listened the more engaged I became. The more engaged I became the more I discovered
that I had to bring back to my staff and students. As a member of the assembled audience I am
thinking to myself:
  • We have to connect with Mr. Fryer.
  • We have so much to learn from him.

Apparently, he had been kindly informed about our school district's FCC grant program that is
launching. I have been involved in some of the research and design of this project. So it was
great when he mentions that he would like to connect with the school district involved with the
grant. It was a pleasure to represent my district and state "I am here from there." I should be
seeking Mr. Fryer out. How wonderful that he was as equally willing to connect with our
district! I definitely plan to help build the bridge between this man, steering a well built
technology integration ship and my director of technology, helping to prepare students for
whatever ship comes their way in the future. Many moments in life during my work day are
memorable ones. Those aha moments when the spark of knowledge acceptance comes across in a
visible way. But I must say, this moment will be remembered as a favorite. To paraphraze it is
a big deal to upload thoughts from our brains to a trusted spot on the web. I was thoroughly
engaged and nodding in agreement of how powerful the cloud is becoming. How distance no longer
separates our learning. Case in point. This respected technology integrator is willing to
collaborate from afar with our district. Digital contact information was shared so that we can
"meet in the cloud." Before meeting in the cloud, we met over a lovely lunch at the Edith Macy
Conference Center. Another gentleman from the audience joined the informal conversation around
the table over our salad and entree. These are the moments I love in Edtech. Twitter, panoramic
software, Evernote, Classroom Blogmeister, Comments for kids and more were touched upon. This
reminds me of some of the greatest take-away moments I have from the Discovery Summer Institute.

I have so many ideas swimming in my head for digital portfolios, digital creation, the need to
share, and more. I love my weekends but Monday through Friday becomes more appealing with an
internal excitement such as this. Mr. Fryer challenged us to share like this. And then share
some more. We are no longer islands in our classroom. Ready to set sail?

Friday - Absorbing and Reassessing

I was granted the opportunity to attend the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute (TLI) Kickoff.
The featured speakers were Lisa Johnson, Kentucky and Wesley Fryer, Oklahoma.

Lisa Johnson described previous projects that she was involved with at her school district. She
discussed their strengths and their struggles. And explained a desire to chart yet another
course in technology integration with a focus on student centered instruction.

A fascinating web tool was employed. ( is described as "Wiffiti
was designed for the "Lean Back" experience of viewing user-generated content from a distance (at
a bar, a public location or a conference) as well as the "Lean Forward" experience online or via
text messaging.

New Wiffiti messages are instantly displayed center screen and are easily viewable from a
distance. Older messages then fade back and move as an animated cloud, providing enough ambient
activity to continually stimulate audience attention and encourage engagement.

Interactivity is multi-modal - it can happen at the location via mobile phones, or online via
easily embeddable website widgets. Incoming content streams and web and mobile messages update
across all instances of the addressed Wiffiti screen automatically."

The audience was challenged to think and reflective on several conversation starters and then
text responses anonymously to the large display screen in the front of the meeting space. A cool
little tool that randomly displays results into focus and sends others to the background. This
facilitates discussion by the group in an unsual way compared to other text your answer sites.

The difference between creation and point and click instructional practices were explored. The
following screen made me wonder though, although teachers and students need these skills should
this be the focus of instruction. Or should we be more content focused? I see the value in "I
can insert, resize, and position graphics". But perhaps the question should really be "How
should I display this to bring digital meaning to the thought behind the image?"

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Ms. Johnson. Her kind heart comes through in her
suggestions for how to help students embrace their learning and create meaning. Listening to her
speak has me looking at our curriculum with a fresh eye. Perhaps there are ways to empower our
students and teachers into finding ownership and becoming "digital content writers".   

Thursday - The Need to Share

Thursday, I had several discussions with staff members in our district about the need to share
knowledge.  Knowledge is said to be power.  We need to make each other more powerful.  We need to
share! Began thinking about new things to bring to my blog.