Tech or Treat Virtual Conference – October 23, 2010

Copied from a post on my classroom blog:
http://evolvingclassroombethany.blogspot.com

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:
http://www.lovelylearning.com/den-webinar-resources.php
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:
http://hubforteachers.com/
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!

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 DiscoveryEducation.com. 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!

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:

http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/carolynstanley/

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!

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 jaycut.com, 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

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.

Yeah! Our CSV file upload was successful.

I just learned from our Discovery Education administrator that my school database of students finally uploaded successfully to Discovery Education’s database. Now when our teachers create classes, all of our students should be available in a drop-down list or menu. Hopefully, we can now expand our usage of all these wonderful tools at our disposatl through our Discovery Education subscription. More in my next post on how successful I am in setting up some classes.

CECA – Pre-Conference Day of Discovery

Hi, everyone,
There will be a Day of Discovery conference held in Glastonbury on Saturday, October16, 2010. I attended one of these events back in May in Massachusetts. It was a wonderful day-great training, really fun morning ice-breaker where we got to connect with lots of other educators from the area, a fabulous continental breakfast and a nice lunch. All this for FREE – who could ask for more? Whitney Mihoulides, our Northeastern DEN manager, is in charge of this conference, so I’m sure it will be terrific. I understand there are only 150 slots, so if you haven’t signed up yet – do so.

I also wanted to thank Discovery Education for my welcome package. Although my status was updated to STAR last spring, I had not received  the welcome package. I contacted Discovery, and today it arrived at school. What fun – a really nice star-shaped USB port, a lanyard, a pin, and a framed certificate. Very cool. I also ordered a training kit, and I can hardly wait to hand out the notebooks and pens at the next training I do at school.

Finally, I have been alerting the teachers to all the wonderful resources available to our parents and students even without a login to Discovery. We are still working on getting the names of our students uploaded to Discovery Education database. Anyway, I am so pleased with all the resources that Discovery Education, through parnterships with major companies, has provided to share with all. We recently did a hurricane team day unit with our 7th graders, and I directed them to the Classroom Emergency Preparedness resource found under Classroom Resources – Featured Content. It was a perfect fit with the unit, and the videos available there really helped the kids understand concepts such a storm surges and the eye of the hurricane.
I love you, Discovery Education!

Excited to be a Den Star Member

The summer vacation is half over. I have been trying to keep up with my professional development activities – even on vacation in Machias, Maine – way “downeast”. I was able to log into the webinar on Sketch-Up offered by Siemens.

At home, I’ve participated in a few webinars sponsored by Classroom 2.0 and hosted by Steve Hargardon. He provides terrific resources through Elluminate.

Right after school closed, I did a professional development class in learning about all the features in Discovery Education besides the streaming video. The teachers in attendance were excited about setting up classes for individualized learning. Since our district had not yet submitted student info to Discovery so all names would be available in a drop-down list, we contacted our Discovery Education administrator, and he will work on getting our information uploaded. I hope many more of our staff will start taking advantage of all the wonderful tools DE has to offer.

I am hoping to take some of the DE summer school courses being offered in August 2010.

Hello World!

Welcome to your new DEN blog!

Gee, I didn’t know this post existed. Well, here I am – excited to be a DEN Star and hoping to further my professional development in the remaining days of summer vacation. I am also committed to sharing all that I learn with my colleagues.

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