Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Westchester Day of Discovery (as well as what PLN resources help me to grow as an educator)

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Also posted on the CT Leadership Council Blog

Today I attended Westchester Day of Discovery in White Plains, NY, and as usual, I came away from the experience energized and even more excited about how technology can add excitement and engagement and skill building for today’s students.You would think after a whole day at the conference, I would have said, “Enough is enough! ” But I still found myself drawn to my laptop to check my email, etc.
I came across an email from Steve Hargadon inviting me to comment on his Might Bell share site dedicated to “Teacher 2.0: Using the Web for Your Personal and Professional Growth.” He asked us to respond to a number of questions on how the internet has impacted our own personal learning, and I crafted the answer below. Because I mention my attendance at the Day of Discovery conference today, November 5, 2011, I thought it was appropriate to repost it here:

Oh, my gosh! I could write a book on this topic, but I’ll have to limit myself.

One of my favorite places to learn was actually inspired by Steve Hargadon – Classroom 2.0 – so ably run by Peggy George, Lorna Costantini, and Kim Caise where every Saturday morning they bring in a special guest to share his/her story and resources. I also have tuned into many of Steve’s Future of Education Webinars as well as webinars from the EdTech channel such as Seedlings and Teachers Teaching Teachers.

I also follow many of the top leaders in educational technology on Twitter. If even a day goes by when I don’t check into twitter, it takes me over an hour to skim through the tweets I’ve missed. Of course, I can’t click on every link, but almost every resource offered in these tweets have provided great professional development.

In addition, I read many blogs, including featured blogs from my Tech&Learning newsletter.

I also get good updates from eSchool News.

Next, I’m proud to be a Star Discovery Educator and rely on their site and the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) for an endless supply of great learning opportunities. In fact, I just attended the Westchester Day of Discovery face-to-face conference in White Plains, NY. I got to hear a keynote by Hall Davidson and also attended his two sessions on video in the classroom and on iPad apps and devices. He even showed us how we could attach an inexpensive microscope to the camera on the iPad, thus transforming it. Very Cool!  Then I got some great training from Cindy Lane on using Google Earth in the classroom. Finally, Max Brooks offered great tips for using DE classroom tools to individualize learning for our students.

I don’t have any one blog that I follow consistently, but those by David Andrade, a physics teacher from Bridgeport, CT, who blogs at , offers detailed explanations of his personal experience with many great resources. David is also a DEN star and a member of the Connecticut LC.

Of course, Richard Byrne’s,, is also a great site.

I have to admit that I spend WAY too much time on the internet reading, researching, contributing -and sometimes, I really just need to log off and go take a walk or bake some healthy muffins or read a book or watch a tv show with my hubby. But doing what I do is my passion, and even when I retire from my school system this coming June, I doubt I’ll be able to leave it behind.

Oh, and finally, how could I forget?????? I love getting a chance to watch TED talk channel -I hope I’ll be able to watch many more presentations when I have more time.

Oh, and then there’s PBS – and the Discovery Channel – and the History Channel –enough! I’m done! (Smiles!)

Updating my iPad2

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

One of the teachers at our middle school sent out a reminder to teachers to connect their iPads to their iTunes accounts on their computer to make sure everything was up to date. I have to admit that I hadn’t plugged in for a couple of weeks, so I decided that last night was the time to take care of that. I had heard that IOS5  would soon be available, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that would entail. Before I even got started, I was prompted to update my version of iTunes, so I did that and restarted the computer and all before plugging in my iPad. The first thing I did when I plugged in was back up my iPad before agreeing to install the new OS. I didn’t want to get that scarey warning about how the new software might wipe out anything I had installed since my last backup. After that was completed,  I crossed my fingers and clicked, “o.k.” to install the new OS. Everthing went smoothly, but the download and  install took a very long time. I actually went to bed around 10:30 pm because  the message telling me it was reinstalling my apps seemed to last forever.  I woke up around 11:30 pm and made my way, bleary eyed, into the room where the magic was taking place. Sure enough, the icon for my iPad was there in my iTunes menu which meant everything had installed properly. I clicked to disconnect and unplugged my iPad, but I wasn’t done yet. I then had to go through another whole process of accepting the terms of the new software, deciding whether or not to use iCloud (which I really don’t fully understand), and some other things I don’t even remember. And my iPad was back and functioning. I haven’t really had time to research the new options available, but after reading the comments on Gary’s post, I’m relieved the update went smoothly. Be forewarned, make sure you have lots of time available when you go for this update. Happy computing.

Finally, the School Year 2011~2012 is Off and Running

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I cannot believe we’ve only been in school for three days. Due to Hurricane Irene, we didn’t greet our students until Tuesday, September 6. Of course, when I was growing up in Maine, I never remember starting school before Labor Day. Regardless, we had been scheduled to start on Monday, August 29 with a teachers’ only day – and then the kids were to come in on Tuesday, August 30. Fortunately, at my house, we did not suffer any serious effects from the storm except for a little water in the basement and a few downed branches. So, Monday through Thursday were like a reprieve, and I enjoyed every minute of the beautiful weather. The pressure I’d felt all summer about doing the Classroom 2.0 Featured Teacher spot was off, and I really had time to relax and recoup. I started playing around with a Posterous Blog – and I’m really liking how easy and spontaneous it is to post to it from my iPhone, iPad2, or my laptop. You can take a look here:
My middle school in Bethany didn’t get power back until Thursday afternoon -so we had our teachers’ only day on Friday, Sept. 2. Our opening on the day after Labor Day went well, but I was swamped with tracking down a large number of students who had not had their signed acceptable use policies logged in at our district technology office and hence, did not have activated folders. In other years, it hasn’t been much of an issue, but this year we’ve ramped up technology use so much at our school that the teams wanted the kids to have access right away – in fact, we got one of the teams logged on today so they could take a learning interest survey. Fortunately, after working long hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, most students had their forms in and folders activated, so the event was a success. There are a few stragglers, but they should have their forms in tomorrow. That is important because we need to get our new 7th graders uploaded to the Discovery Education database so they can start to access all the wonderful resources at home.
I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but we’ve only been in school for three days, and it feels as if we’ve been back 2 months. So, if we are not as far along with the kids as we’d like to be, we must relax a bit and stop beating ourselves up. It’s only 3 days, and there are 179 days of learning adventures left.

Featured Teacher Me – Really!

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

cross posted from

In the webinar I praised Discovery Education Resources and talked about how we added all of our students to the DE database.

On Saturday, August 27, 2011, I was honored to be the featured teacher guest on the weekly Classroom 2.0 webinar which airs most every Saturday at noon EST. I have been corresponding with one of the founders and moderators of the site, Peggy George. She and a number of other fabulous educators (including but not limited to Kim Caise, Lorna Costantini, and Tammy Moore) host a one to one and a half hour webinar “dedicated to supporting teachers with resources and practical suggestions for incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching and learning.”

Right at the end of the school year, Peggy invited me to share my story on one of the August sessions. Just a week prior, our own Megan Wilson (iPodsibilities), a special ed teacher in Orange was the special guest, and she taught the audience how to create eBooks. I was actually terrified to accept but equally terrified of passing up the chance to share my simple story of me as an evolving teacher who in small ways, combined with the rest of our wonderful teaching staff, has attempted to bring our school into 21st Century Learning. As I said in a disclaimer, there are hundreds of other technology integration teachers who are way more advanced than I am who could be telling their stories, but I would do my best to offer something of worth to other teachers. I hope I did that. Below is a screen shot of the intro about me and a link to the recording and all the wonderful links that the organizers, the participants in the chat, and I added to the blog.

Make sure to click on the link to the LiveBinder in the resources list. There are also tabs in the Classroom 2.0 LiveBinder to previous shows – including Megan’s.

DEN Summer School

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I can’t believe it, but I actually attended every session of DEN summer school that ran from Monday, August 1 through Thursday, August 4. Each of the sessions was rich with resources and advice to help us become better practitioners who help students to discover the excitement of learning and the satisfaction that can be derived in telling and sharing their stories.

Of course, many of the sessions went a a breakneck pace, and I found it hard to keep up. Thankfully, the magnificent Porter Palmer kept everything on track and made sure that all of the sessions were recorded, so we (and others who missed the live presentations) could go back at our leisure and sample segments we wanted to review. The link to the archives was just posted recently:

Those were lovely summer days, and being tied to my laptop for 4 hours was a bit of a challenge. I even suggested to Porter that they need to build in a little time for “potty breaks.” However, the new things I learned really made me excited to go back to school in a few weeks rather than dreading it. Also, the fact that I was able to set up my laptop on a table at the back of my garage, which is all screened in and looks out on the back yard, really helped the experience.

In a future post, I intend to highlight four or five of the resources I learned about and then found the time to explore.

In the meantime, my thanks goes out to all the wonderful educators at DE for their tireless work in helping us become better teachers and learners and for offering such exciting resources for our students.

Tech or Treat Virtual Conference – October 23, 2010

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Copied from a post on my classroom blog:

Last Saturday, I attended the face-to-face CECA pre-conference sponsored by Discovery Education at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT. This Saturday morning, while sitting in my nightgown at my laptop, I tuned into a virtual conference. There were a number of sites (not in CT) where educators were gathered together ( some in Halloween costumes) to watch the live steam projected onto a wall, but there were also hundreds of other educators tuning in from their homes all across the world. I did not plan to stay but a few minutes, but I ended up absolutely glued to my laptop as one presenter finished, and another began. I participated in the conference from 8:30 until 11:45 a.m. Then I had to force myself to shut down the computer and go for a lovely ride with my husband through the beautiful fall scenery . We went to Lyman Orchards; my husband had a craving for apple cider donuts. Luckily, I care nothing about donuts, so I wasn’t tempted to have more than a donut hole. The place was mobbed, and I was glad to see folks outside enjoying the lovely fall afternoon instead of sitting home glued to their computer or the t.v.
Anyway, getting back to the virtual conference, Steve Dembo moderated it. He is a man of amazing energy, but, as I said in an earlier post, he does not let his ego get in the way. He is a wonderful, enthusiastic educator.
The first session by Gail Lovely offered hints on “It’s not the Technology, it’s the Education. She went through a slew of wonderful resources. All of the sessions were recorded and will be available on the DEN site soon. That is great because I’ll have to go back and watch the session again in order to digest all the great information. Of course, that is no substitute for being able to participate live in the chat, sharing your ideas and getting feedback from others in the room. Here is the address she provided with the links to her presentation uploaded to slideshare:
Next, Porter Palmer gave us “Out of the World Ideas for Showcasing Student Work.”
This should be a very helpful resource to meet our goal at Amity to share more of the wonderful projects our students produce.
Finally, I was about to close the cover down when my hero, Whitney Mihoulides, our Northeast representative who encouraged me to become a DEN STAR, presented her session entitled “Digital Storytelling in a Web 2.0 World.” Needless to say, she did a terrific job, and it will take me a lot of time to investigate all the wonderful resources she introduced us to. She introduced us to a brand new resource from Discovery Education on tools to help students tell their stories digitally. While it is aimed at K-5, there are many resources there which can be adapted for older students:
She also told us about Photo Peach, an online site where one can upload photos and tell a story through a web-generated slide show.
Well, it’s nearly Sunday, and I’d best get to bed.
I hope someone reading this blog will find something useful. Please leave me a comment.
Thanks! and Good-Night!

Our 7th and 8th graders Logged in Successfully!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

With the exception of one  8th grade team, we have had success with all of our 7th graders and most of our 8th graders able to log into The teachers are excited about being able to easily create classes and to deliver content to their students. They are also excited to have a tool available that will facilitate the task of individualizing instruction. The kids seem very excited to have this tool in their learning toolkit. I have asked many studenst to give me feedback once they’ve logged in at home and have used Discovery to explore personal interests as well as reinforce learning of tasks assigned by their teachers.

Tech Support at Discovery Education is Great!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

First, as you can read in an earlier post, I was having trouble accessing the link to my blog when using a Foxfire browser. Well, that got corrected, but something else messed up, so that whenever I clicked on the link beside my name in the DEN tab, I got an error message. I couldn’t access any other blogs, either. It seemed to have something to do with my login script, because when I accessed the blog by typing in the direct address:

it went to blog as long as I had NOT logged into the Discovery website.

Well, long story short, the kind folks at DE streaming Tech Support got it fixed. Now I can get to the blog through the link, and I can get to my Dashboard, so I can add new posts.

In my troubleshooting, I clicked on a lot of different state blogs besides CT, and I was absolutely amazed by all the wonderful info that is out there. Pennsylvania had a particularly impressive blog – as does CT. There is no shortage of good professional development opportunities on the web. The only drawback is finding the time to utilize them.

Thanks again to DE Support!

What a Rush!

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

discovery meThe CECA pre-conference at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT, was awesome. I learned many new things. I can hardly wait to test the Smart Board media player with a streaming video. I did not know until today’s session offered by Howard Gunther and Robin Metaj that picking up one of the markers will pause a video playing in the Smart media player. You can annotate right on the still clip and save that to a Notebook 10 file by clicking on the camera icon. Next, you click on the red x to get rid of the writing, put the marker back in the tray, and the video continues. That is such a neat feature. The session by Steve Dembo on 50 ways to Spin a Digital Story was also very informative. I learned about several new tools that I had never heard of before. I am most anxious to try, an online video editing tool. I also got more information on Google Earth and am encouraged to learn even more. Glogster was at the conference, too, and they announced that they are starting an anti-bullying campaign on their site very soon. That message needs to be spread far and wide.

Great bagels and coffee and juice for breakfast; nice sandwich box for lunch; great prizes to end the session; and the conference was offered for free. Who could ask for more. This is the second face-to-face conference I’ve attended organized by Whitney Mihoulides. I understand she has organized and managed another 16 in addition to the two I attended. She is amazing. Steve Dembo, who is in charge oso excited to be with celebsf the whole Discovery Education Network, is also an incredible human being. He’s really a celebrity, but he’s real people. I didn’t pick up on any ego at all- just a real belief in his product and a great enthusiasm for sharing.

Could it get any better? Yes! I won one of the prizes. I got a small DVD player, a collection of Discovery videos including one on Nefertiti, a mouse pad, and a polo shirt with a Discovery Logo. Guess what I’m wearing to the CECA conference on Monday! My hubby and I are staying at a hotel in the area, and I’ve plugged the DVD player into the large screen TV in our room. The video (watching one on sharks, now) is awesome on the big screen. Thanks, Discovery for a really great day.
I can hardly wait to share what I’ve learned with my colleagues back at my middle school.

Finally, thanks to Smith Middle School for hosting the conference. You have a gorgeous school. What a nice environment for collaborating and learning. Oh, and  I can’t forget to thank the Connecticut DEN Leadership Council who helped organize and run the conference. Great job, guys! Love your blog.

Conference Weekend

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I am very excited about attending the CECA Pre-Conference Day of Discovery tomorrow and then CECA on Monday. While attempting to post to my blog, I encountered some interesting issues. First of all, one of the teachers in my district loaned me one of the iPads she has for her special education classes to experiment with this evening.
I was able to successfully log into Discovery Education on the iPad, and when I went to the DEN, I found the link to edit my blog. I was able to add the title, but when I tried to edit in the “post” area, all I got was a “copy” box. I am not sure why the title field was editable but not the actual post.

So, I logged into Discovery Education on my laptop, went to DEN, and the links to my blog were missing. It has to be a setting problem on my laptop, because I have the links beside my picture on the computers at school and on the iPad. I’ll have to see if anyone has ideas on how I can adjust my internet setting so the links will show up.

Anyway, I logged back into my account on the iPad, found the URL for my blog, and typed that in on my laptop. Success, I am now editing my blog. It’s a “go figure.”
So, I’d better get to bed soon because I’ll have to be up early in the morning in order to get to the conference on time. I went to a Discovery Education conference this spring at a high school in Massachusetts, and it was awesome, so I’m looking forward to learning even more tomorrow. As a result of my attending that spring conference, all of the students in my district have been uploaded to Discovery’s database, so now it will be much easier for my teachers to utilize the great tools in Discovery Education for delivering content to individual students and classes. What a wonderful tool to facilitate the individualization of instruction.
I’ll report out after the conferences.