Now that the busy week is over, I finally have a chance to reflect on the events of the Midwest Summer Institute in Chicago. I met so many outstanding educators from Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri, and I also had a chance to get to know the great DEN members from Illinois a little better as well. I heard many very positive comments about the event, and I hope that all who attended came away with some new friendships and a wealth of ideas to take back to their schools. There were too many events and experiences to summarize in detail, but here is a quick look at the Summer Institute:
Day One: Hall Davidson started us out with a wonderful and entertaining overview of the concept of digital stories and shared some great practical insights and sample stories to help us to begin the process of planning and creating our own projects. The combined dinner and presentation event was a great way for all of the participants to get to meet some new people and see old friends.
Day Two: We were very fortunate to have Will Richardson join us for the entire day and share his expertise on a variety of Web 2.0 topics including blogs, podcasts, wikis, and several other social networking tools that teachers can use for their own preparations and with projects they create for students. By the end of the day, we had many people creating their own blog posts for the first time and adding information to a wiki site that we created just for our Midwest Institute. Later, after a nice walk past many of the architectural wonders in Chicago, we feasted on classic Chicago deep dish and stuffed pizza at Giordano’s. Many people closed out the day on the observation deck at the Sears Tower or at an outdoor concert at Millennium Park featuring Yo-Yo Ma.
Day Three: Armed with all of the great information that Hall Davidson and Will Richardson had already shared with us, we dug in to focus on creating some original and compelling digital stories. Thanks to the many Discovery Educators who gave some great presentations on a variety of topics during the day: Joe Brennan (Illinois), Charlene Chausis (Illinois), Lori Franklin (Kansas), Patricia Hawkenson (Wisconsin), Anna Heffernan (Missouri), Eric Langhorst (Missouri), Laura Miller (Indiana), Rita Mortenson (Wisconsin), Mary Mueller (Missouri), Julie Myrmel (Michigan), Keith Schroeder (Wisconsin), and Diane Zoellmer (Michigan).
When you add to that some short presentations by Katherine Aiken, Sherri Bailey, and Steve Dembo from Discovery and some beginning work on the story projects, you can tell that we had a very full day at the University Center. Dinner and some blues music at the unique Kingston Mines Restaurant capped off the day’s events.
Day Four: With all of the main presentations completed, the participants now had a chance to really focus on their own stories. Armed with digital cameras, digital camcorders, and microphones, everyone headed out into the city or the meeting rooms to gather images, search for royalty-free music, and record the narrations for the projects. As an added opportunity, Rachel Yurk (Wisconsin) took several interested teachers to the new Smart Conference Center in Chicago to show them the latest interactive white board technology and new software features.
From there it was off to Navy Pier for a wonderful cruise on Lake Michigan and an evening on the Pier and Millennium Park. Some of the Illinois Discovery Educators followed their Michigan friends and used their hands as "portable maps" to point out their home towns.
Day Five: Thursday was show time for the Midwest Institute, and we spent a wonderful morning looking at a series of outstanding digital story projects. The subject matter and themes ranged from serious to humorous, and while some projects were more complete than others, it was clear that everyone had mastered the basics of storytelling with digital media. As I watched, I marveled at the creativity and energy that each person brought to the projects.
I had a great time this week, and I hope that all who attended had a very valuable and enjoyable experience as well. Thanks to Discovery and to Katherine Aiken, Linda Chiles, Kristin Furdak, and Jan Wee—my colleagues in the Discovery Educator Network—for their help and support in making the Summer Institute such a success.
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