What better way to get to know one another than a BBQ? The answer is, “There is NO better way!” The University of Vermont treated us to a delicious BBQ served al fresco where DENSI attendees new and old mingled, exchanged gifts, and of course, ate! The gift exchange was so much fun – it was great meeting the gift giver, and also the gift receiver! This is my first time at a DENSI and I was volunteered by my table to get an extra, left over gift, so after hurrying my pudgy pregnant self up there, I managed to walk away with two great gifts! Thanks Melissa Robison & Terra-Lee Gratton! Y’all are too sweet!
The opening session for the DEN Summer Institute for 2013 started with a bang tonight (or maybe a “splash” might be a more appropriate choice word choice)! We started the evening with a great speaker, Kristin Wilcox (@SharkWeekGirl), a producer of Shark Week, North America, and other great Discovery programming! Kristin shared so much with the DEN community, including how she came to be a producer, why she loves it, and a teacher that inspired her. She also included the secret to life (I don’t think she would mind me sharing), which is “Do What You Love”. I think it is something we all already knew in our hearts, but having it put into words and said aloud adds new meaning and depth and confirmed what we already knew to be true. Hopefully as teachers (or tech people, principals, Discovery people, or whatever) we keep this thought in mind and reflect on whether or not we ARE doing what we love, because if we’re not, we’re not doing ourselves, our students, or our communities any favors. Kristin also shared a clip from North America that had us cheering (and come to find out, the North America series is on Discovery Streaming Plus) as well as our favorite commercial, featuring Snuffy the Seal, and a sneak peek of a NEW show for this year’s Shark Week which features a new Shark Cam! Be sure to check out Return of Jaws on the Discovery Channel later this month during Shark Week!
After a hilarious SNL spoof featuring Kyle Schutt (@ktschutt), we were introduced to Lance Rougeux (@lrougeux), our fearless DEN leader, who welcomed us to DENSI 2013 and explained some of the “quirks” of DENSI for us newbies, such as the DEN finger and why people were so interested in the fact that he was actually wearing pants today. Lance also inspired us by stressing the importance of working together and opening your door to other teachers. In case you missed the reference, Lance suggested reading Tom Witby’s blog about being a connected teacher (he is also on Twitter – @tomwhitby). Lance discussed how vital it is for us to support each other and to use our time here at DENSI to build our PLN both professionally AND personally! He also summoned a special guest…CHOMPY! Together, Lance and Chompy unveiled the new Back-to-School features that can be found through Discovery Education, including Streaming Plus (linked to the Common Core Standards), Board Builder, and the new Student Center.
Finally, the DEN Princess, Porter Palmer, awarded the DEN Finger to Zulma Whiteford (@zwhiteford) for her work on her passion project which included assembling lunches for the homeless of Burlington with a group of Leadership Council members this morning. In addition to that, we were also able to surprise Lance and his wife, Martha, with an $850 donation to their nonprofit group, the Purple Feet Foundation. Funds were raised through the purchase of “DEN Love” shirts and bags. I think that Lance and Martha were very surprised, but I think we can all agree, very deserving. Great job, DEN members for making the world outside of DEN a better place!
I was put on a team with Dave Fischer and am so excited about my “team of change”, also known “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, DEN Fish” (not “dead fish”). Tonight was mostly introductions and I am eager to get to work with all of the fish in my group!
That was it for the scheduled DEN fun today, but that just wasn’t enough for us! We also got to take part in an unplanned fire drill! Luckily, nothing was on fire, other than Steve Dembo (from what I overheard in the hallway), and everyone is fine. We definitely got some excitement for the DEN News out of it though!