Gina Powell’s Blog

Gina Powell is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network

Charging Stations

I have chargers to plug into the wall, car chargers, and portable chargers. My chargers have become a part of “What I Can’t Leave The House Without” ever! I’ll turn around and go back home to get them but I won’t turn around to get my lunch.

Samsung Galaxy S5 has a new commercial that says, “Don’t be a wall hugger!” You have people on the floor surrounding an outlet. My recent trip to Nashville, TN I actually witnessed people looking for outlets and standing by soda machines, behind trash cans, and in the bathroom! There were charging stations but not enough! On my next as we were descending there was a young guy sitting next to me and he asked me if I was was using a portable charger. I said yes and then he asked if he could use it because his phone had gone dead and he needed to let the people picking him up know that he had made it. I had already used one of my chargers and let him use the back-up I had. He didn’t really get a good charge but had enough to make a couple of calls. I took that time to share with him that purchasing a portable charger was worth the money. You could charge your phone and it could be in your pocket or for the ladies – in your pocketbook.

I never have to run around looking for power and huddling up with strangers by an outlet.  To my surprise there are still many people that do not know about their existence. I guess Samsung is capitalizing on this by coming out with a phone that says it has a battery that will last long. That’s great, but for someone like me, the portable charger is the way to go.

What type of charger should one purchase? I have two, one that I purchased at the Verizon store and one that I received as a gift from Discovery Education Summer Institute 2014. The Verizon charger is a “Monster” and only cost $39.99 plus sales tax. It’s as big as a credit card and fits into my wallet.  I purchased them for my children and my son said that was the best gift he ever received. He said everyone takes their phones to the back office and then constantly go back to check on them while he has his in his pocket and never has to worry. We get between 92% and 95% charge but I think it’s because I don’t really recharge it all the way.

My second charger does the same and it’s a “Power Bank” and this one is sold in bulk and can be personalized. I actually had one of the school’s in my school division purchase it for the employees last Christmas!

Best Buy  sells the Mophie, Kiwi, myCharger, Concept Green, and many more on their website. Prices range from $25 -$70.

When I am out shopping and then end my day with a nice dinner – this is when I really enjoy having a portable charger because I just dig into my pocketbook and start charging my phone. I get to relax and have dinner without asking for a table near an outlet and watching to make sure the waiter or waitress doesn’t step on it!

The next time you go shopping – think about if you are a wall hugger and if you are – purchase a portable charger!

This is Gina Powell and I am a DEN STAR!


King George Google Conference

I attended a Google Conference in King George, Virginia on August 14th. My sole intention was to learn about Google Classroom so that I can assist classroom teachers as they start to utilize this great feature in the classroom. The first available session for Google Classroom was full and I was a tad bit angry because I came here for that sole purpose. So I looked at other sessions but it was everything I already knew about and I decided to camp outside the next classroom for the next session. Fortunately, the Director of Technology – Dan Hopper –  saw me and escorted me into the Google Classroom session because although it was full – there was an extra seat (it didn’t have a computer but I had my own devices). Woohoo! He didn’t like me sitting on the hallway floor and I was so happy that I did because I was able to get in that session before 2:00 p.m.!

I missed the first 20 minutes but was able to easily catch up because Google makes everything so easy. In less than 40 minutes I created two classes, learned how to create announcements, assignments, and learned about how folders are made! Am I an expert – absolutely not! I attended the second session and since I was there from the start I was able to piece all the pieces together.

I also attended the Google Calendar session and although I thought I knew everything about the calendar – I found out about a feature that was right in front of my face and I just totally ignored it. Under the box that you would put the place for your appointment you can select map. This will allow you to


get directions for an event you may be attending, send people you invite directions, or maybe you may have to log miles to get reimbursed. I always tell the teachers that everyone can miss different features of tools you use on a daily basis and this is a fine example of how I use the Google Calendar everyday – all day – and missed this feature.


I’d like to thank King George County Public Schools for holding this event and I will be back next year!


The Answer Pad


Going Green

After leaving DENSI2014 I had new goals that I wanted to pursue and one of them was to blog more. After writing about my #becauseoftheden video debacle I started thinking about my next post. I found it interesting that I had to put a lot of thought into it and then Friday night it hit me (during an “insomnia-tic” hour) share about how I started “going green!”
I am that person with the post-it’s all over my desk and laptops. They’re in my wallet, nightstand and my husband and children can tell you about how I leave them notes as well. I have a stack of papers on my bookshelf in my office that I still need to go through so I can bookmark websites, order items, and read articles. I decided that during this trip to Nashville that I would GO GREEN!

I only had my iPad and my iPhone and not ONE post-it or piece of paper! I thought about it a lot while in the airport and even more on my first flight headed to Nashville. After my Starbucks coffee in North Carolina’s airport I decided not to fret about it and instead, make a plan. I’m an ETNJ (Myer’s Briggs Personality Trait) and this will help me stay on my path. Why did I need to write anything down? Apps, web tools, phone numbers, email addresses, and notes about all of this stuff.

My Plan

1 – Download apps – what was I waiting for?
2 – Bookmark the web tools
3 – Create contacts in my phone
4 – Add emails in my contacts and/or email whoever it was that I needed to request something from.
5 – Use my “notes” on my iPad

I had my plan and now I was going to try it. I was nervous, but I was going to do it.

During DENSI if there was something that was on paper that I wanted to keep I would take a screen shot.

I read an article on that said, “The truth is that every single thing we do every day has an impact on the planet — good or bad. The good news is that as an individual you have the power to control most of your choices and, therefore, the impact you create: from where you live to what you buy, eat, and use to light your home to where and how you vacation, to how you shop or vote, you can have global impact.” I clearly understood that I have the power to control and said to myself, “I’m going to go green.”

I survived DENSI2014 and when I went back to work on August 4th I have continued going green. The article stated, “Embracing a Greener lifestyle can improve your quality of life.” I didn’t have a ton of papers that I needed to add to my pile. I have everything I need in my iPad (backed up in the cloud) and I’m not thinking about it anymore.

There is so much that people can do in addition to conserving paper, recycling trash bags, and repurposing bottles for vases, etc.. I watched Bill Nye’s Discovery Education video called, “Bathroom Science” and found out that the average person flushes the toilet 140,000 times in their lifetime. I also learned about other ways to “go green” but to save water we all need to get a waste reducing toilet. As you can – there are many ways to save our planet by going green and if everyone could try to conserve just one thing – we could save the world!

My name is Gina Powell and I’m a DEN STAR!
Stuff Happens with Bill Nye: Bathroom Science Channel,  2008 . Full Video.
Discovery Education. Web. 10 August 2014. <>.

Verchot, Manon. “10 Reasons to Go Green Starting NOW.” TreeHugger. Mother Nature Network, 10 Aug. 2014. Web. 10 Aug. 2014.


As I prepare for “New Teacher Orientation” I realized that I had not submitted my #becauseoftheden video to Katy Stanevitz. I started creating the actual slide show  during breakfast on the last day of #DENSI2014 and finished it up at the airport. When I got home I created the video BUT never uploaded it! :-( I’ve sat here and pondered this morning about what could have been the reason for my brain dysfunction and came to a startling conclusion – I became an active Facebook user and have been so busy on social media that I totally forgot about it.

In my defense for not submitting my video I’d like to share that I have made some additional progress while being on Facebook. I applied to run the DEN STAR Ambassador Program in my district, I will be a part of the DEN Voices Connect and have already recruited a kindergarten teacher in the parking lot last week! She has agreed to be a part of the DEN Ambassador Program and she will also be a part of the Virtual Egg Farm Field Trip! I have 197 friends on Facebook and 590 on Twitter. My PLN has grown and I am grateful to have dedicated educators to reach out to!

Because of the DEN I know that it my last school year great – but this year is going to be awesome! Thank you!



DENSI2014 Reflection

My DENtastic Experience!

I subscribe to other blogs and I started my DENSI2013 blog post but thought too much and never showed anyone. As I was dozing on my first flight headed home from DENSI2014 I started thinking about what everyone shared at the closing session and what I was going to do differently this year.

Last year, I went back and although everyone should know this by now, I started tweeting. I became the webmaster for my division, had a Google Tip of the Week, Web Tool of the Week, and created a YouTube Channel. I told my Superintendent that we needed to kick it up a notch for the 2014-15 school year and created a Facebook account. I realized why should I stop there, so I created an Instagram account for my division too. I created myself a Facebook account as well. I came to DENSI2014 and once again, I learned so much more and sitting back getting comfortable thinking I’ve learned all I need to know is a false statement.

We all come to DENSI with so much knowledge but there’s always something else out there that we can learn. Do we have to be great at everything? Do we have to learn everything? No, take what you feel is going to work for you and if it’s just one thing – use it to the best of your ability.

What do I do now? At the Nashville airport I sent Jannita an email to do the Ambassador program for my school division. As I started to doze off on the plane, I was thinking about what else I needed to do – BLOG! I sat up and started this one. 2014-15 goal: Will blog. How will I make sure of it? Put it on my calendar as part of my schedule.

Is that it? Absolutely not! I am going to meet with the principals and share with them what Discovery Education is all about. I realized that maybe they don’t know about the features (i.e. Student Center, Board Builder, Audio Files, Images, all of the series) and it’s my responsibility to let them know so when they have their curriculum planning they can make sure teachers are including it in their plans. I will recommend DE resources to teachers that are aligned with their curriculum guides and not just rely on them to search – I’ll also be able to save them some time as well as allow them to see that DE has more to offer than digital streaming.

I have added to my “Who To Call List” and Tim Childers and Rafranz Davis were just two of my PLN people that I reached out to last year.

Monique Lyles & Barbara De Santis – when I need assistance with the apps they’ve shared with me.
Carlos Fernandez, Sandi Dennis, & Selena Ward – back channeling
Connie Mulligan – green screen & puppetry
Karen Ogen & Kat Staton – aurasma
Anne Truger – Google Plus
My roommate – who gave me a pair of reading glasses and it allowed me to write this while I’m flying, Ana Hale. She’s going to help me with me along with my new once-a-year masseuse, Laura Murphy with the Ambassador program.

I have more but I don’t want to bore you.

Finally, the DENSI experience makes you grow, become more innovative, causes you to change and become someone you were scared of. I too can be that person that kahoot’s, blogs, tweets, and posts! I am excited to share my knowledge and this school year get teachers in my division as excited as I am – if not more.

Until the next time – I’m Gina Powell from Virginia and I’m a DEN Star!

DENSI 2013

What is DENSI 2013? It’s event you’re missing right now! The DEN is the Discovery Education Network and the DENSI – is the Discovery Education Network Summer Institute 2013.

I am presently in Burlington, Vermont with the Leadership Council learning about new things and mingling with some great folks from all over the United States and Canada!

Last year I went to Bozeman, Montana and had the opportuntity to go to Yellowstone National Park and see the geysers!

You want to be a part of the DEN? No problem! Maybe next year we can travel together. Just log onto Discovery Education and go to My DEN.

I’m leaving to go on a boat ride on Lake Champlain so I’ll update you more tomorrow if I have time because I’ll be going to visit the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory! :-)

Watching the sunset on Lake Champlain! Wish you were here!


     Voxer allows you to turn your cell phone into a walkie-talkie! If you have a Smart phone you can download the app for free and talk to friends & family. I think this is a great way to connect with people especially when you are driving. You can send a message and keep your eyes on the road. You can also have groups and send the same message to everyone at once.


Tappahannock Elementary School & Discovery Education

     As teachers prepare for their winter break they received a some pointers for integrating Discovery Education digital media into their classrooms. As the school district’s ITRT, I shared how they can view DE videos and add to their content library. When they return we can collaborate and create assignments and quizzes. During the regular classroom day everyone gets busy and an extended break is a great opportunity to explore DE. Teachers can begin 2013 with resources that are exciting, interesting, and aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning by just making a few clicks!

Ready! Set! Discovery!

We has a successful Professional Development in Essex County! Teachers learned how to utilize the student center by creating folders, adding video segments, making assignments, quizzes and writing prompts for their students. During their first 9 weeks in the classroom I will be going to their schools to observe them put Discovery Education in action.

They were very excited the teachers included a magnificent music teacher, a fabulous french teacher, and spectacular special education teachers! I am looking forward to seeing them use Discovery Education in their classrooms and will post thier success stories soon!

Professional Development

I’ve been working on preparing for my Professional Development all day and I keep finding the greatest things on Discover Ed as well as the DENSI12 Edmodo group. What this means is that I get sidetracked and have not accomplished much for my PD but I have learned so much more from my peers!