The DEN National Event that took place in DC is difficult to describe to most teachers that have not attended a regional event, or were not at this event. However, I will do my best in this short (hopefully thorough) blog posting.
There was a quaint icebreaking social hour at the hotel to start o ut on Monday night where everyone learned names, discussed school districts, and shared unitedstreaming stories. I wore my attention grabbing Harry Otter shirt and was instantly pulled around the lobby (like showing off a new puppy) to meet a number of fans.
Off to bed and ready for the day of learning ahead…
Bright and early we once again met in the lobby and walked over to the immaculate headquarters of Discovery Communications. The state of the art equipment that lined every conference room matched the stunning atmosphere of the discovery tower.
It was apparent from the beginning that the mission set before us was going to consist of many components. Luckily, there were two vitally important concepts that kept recurring throughout the week. First, push yourself to learn as many new technologies as possible; and secondly, enjoy yourself as much as possible while working on the first.
Imagine you know next to nothing about: podcasting, blogging, wikispacing, chromakeying - as most teachers probably don’t. Consider creating a completely online curriculum and assessment component, subscribing to your students’ blogs and having them subscribe to yours, or even better subscribing to their homework… If this terrifies you, don’t worry because it also terrified some of the DEN members (supposedly elite unitedstreaming facilitators). Worry is usually not in my vocabulary, so the more these futuristic ideas floated around in my head, the more overwhelmed I felt.
The shining light came into the picture when I realized that the DEN as a community knew more than I did about these topics (as do most of my students), and that they would support me 100%. The youth want this revolution to occur in our classroom just as the youth wanted to build railways and explore the West. It is now really up to us to build it with the help of others.
One quote really stuck out in my mind from the week, “hey a lot of people with a lot more time than us have already figured these things out already – all we have to do is go learn from them.” (Steve “the man” Dembo).
Another statement (don’t know who said it, sorry) urged us to do everything we could to digitize our classroom to help prepare our kids – NOW! That urgency was deeply felt by me as well as others in the DEN.
I feel that many people in my district and possibly around the state are wondering when this guy with a phony French name is going to stop babbling and get to the meat of the conference… well sorry, that’s it! We had a mission, got TONS of support and we completed our tasks! Not to mention, we had a great time every minute of every day!
Savanna Oaks Middle School
Verona Area School District