A Reflection From the DEN Central Regional Conference

By guest blogger: Kristine Rebstock

I am new to DEN conferences, new to blogging, and a newbie STAR DEN member.  These three are the reasons are why this blog is LATE!  However, better late than never…someone very famous and interesting once said. Day 1 – Being new to DEN conferences, I have to admit that I am AMAZED and excited at the amount of talent, resources, and work that is involved in putting together a 2 day conference that gets you so busy that the days fly leaving one exhausted and energized at the same time.  (I have to admit that those last words came from Justin Karkow, but he wasn’t tellin’ a fib!)  We spent Friday, 8:00 am-8:00 pm, WORKING!  I feel privileged to have participated in such a productive day of learning, sharing, and producing.  Not only were we provided with some amazing skills such as using DE material (video, audio, images, quizzes, etc…) embedded in to Google Earth, interactive Power Points, Photostory, Movie Maker, and Web 2.0 sites, (all before lunch), but we were challenged to use these tools to create projects that our students can use when we start up another exciting year of teaching.  Work began…and did not stop.  Even after a yummy barbeque dinner, there was work to do.  We spent the evening working on a video scavenger hunt around the beautiful SMU campus quad.  There are many a blog with evidence of this zany task…Ann Jablonski has hers already posted in her DENblog.  I’m sure there are others.  The prize for participating in this hunt, which by the way happened during the heat of the afternoon…above 100 degrees in the shade…was and ice cream social with really good conversation recapping the day and planning the next.

Day 2 – Most of us would think that the last day of a conference would be kind of slow and just winding up loose ends…well, nope.  Not with Justin and Mike at the helm of this super useful beast of a conference.  We met for breakfast at 8:00 am and then promptly moved on to create a video message for the New Jersey Conference on the steps of Dallas Hall.  Boom De Yada mixed with a little song we all know and love, “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” was a blast.  I’ve never been on You Tube before…hope they enjoyed the welcome message for their conference.  Heading back to the meeting room, we all had a sense that things were going to get even more interesting than the day before.  It was a day to wrap up our projects, share, and post, but it was also a day of more resources.  Many of the DEN Leadership Council members participated in the DENliest Catch; a competition to see who could offer the most useful web 2.0 tools that could work with DE materials.  Based on applause…it was a 5 way tie.  Visit the TexasDEN wikispace to find out more about these resources!  WOW!  Lots of work was accomplished by all, and friends were made along the way.  I will DEFINITELY apply for more conferences.  I walked away with work I can use immediately…supported by an incredible resource in Discovery Education as well as many other compatible tools that cost (as Elaine Plybon likes to refer) “ZERO DOLLARS”.

I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime, connections to others who are dedicated to enriching students’ lives through integration, technology, and fun, as well as memories of a first conference that can only be the beginning of a wonderful new direction in my teaching and learning career.I hope to see you at a DEN event soon!

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