DEN Star Dave's Blog

Innovate Wildly Unveiled

Hi friends,

I have been holding back on sharing with you a “project” that we are implementing in our school district this year. I held back because it wasn’t until today that we unveiled the “project” to our district wide staff. They got to hear about it first.

This “idea” is not a one-time event, not the next thing to come around. It is here to stay. It is to become part of our culture. It is designed to re-capture the joy in education.

Our “movement” is called Innovate Wildly! Our slogan, mission statement, catch-phrase, motto, call-it-what-you-want is “Unleash your passion for teaching and learning”.

I am tired of seeing educators figuratively beaten up by so many. Far too many teachers and students have had their fires extinguished. No more. We can sit back and let it happen, or, we can do everything we can to make a difference. We can bring the passion back into our profession. Innovate Wildly! will help us do that.

Innovate Wildly! was inspired by Rushton Hurley (@rushtonh,, a well known educator, speaker, and cheerleader for kids. During his closing keynote at the 2014 MACUL Conference, Rushton shared a story where the Superintendent of the Singapore American Schools, Chip Kimball, challenged his teachers to Innovate Wildly. I heard that phrase and my wheels started spinning.


I met with our Curriculum Director, Kristy Rogalla (@KristyRogalla), and shared my thoughts that we should encourage our staff to do just that: Innovate Wildly! She agreed and our project had legs.

The MACUL Conference at which we heard Rushton was an unusual one for our district in that we were able to send over 40 teachers and administrators. Kristy and I convened an informal meeting to capture the momentum of the conference and to push forward. During that meeting, we asked for volunteers to be part of a team do help us determine our next steps. Five teachers stepped forward: Kevin Groothuis (@MrGroothuis), Becky Steele (@beckysteele), Amy Hage (@amy_hage), Lori Barr (@LbarrBarr), and Kristin Terrigno (@KristinTerrigno).

At our first meeting with those teachers, I shared my “vision” about Innovate Wildly! I voiced my opinion that it is time to re-ignite the fire that inspired teachers to become teachers. To make a long story short, we are on our way. Our team has grown and we are ready to change our world.

On Tuesday, August 26, at our district school year kick-off, Innovate Wildly! was launched. Where it goes, we will have to wait and see. There is no manual for this. No recipe. We will build this as we grow.

To keep you in the loop, visit our newly created website where we intend to share our successes, failures, inspirations, and resources. Check it out here:  Follow us on twitter at #JPSiWild. 

Join us as we Innovate Wildly! and unleash your passion for teaching and learning.

This has been cross posted at other two blogs. Blog 1 and Blog 2.

The Power of the DEN Shines at ICE 2014

Last week I attended my first Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference in St. Charles, IL. Anne Truger, DEN Star and Past President of ICE did a fantastic job of recruiting DEN folks to present at this conference.  These are some of the DEN Stars that presented at ICE: David Fisher (Florida), DENnis Grice (California), Tim Childers (Tennessee), Patti Harju (Michigan), Kristy Vincent (Texas), Conni Mulligan (North Carolina), Rachel Yurk (Wisconsin), Cathy Houchin (Illinois), Karie Huttner (Wisconsin), Amy Klubertanz (Wisconsin) and Carlos Fernandez (Florida). Forgive me for those that I have overlooked.

The Power of the DEN was most evident during Karie Huttner and Amy Klubertanz’s session Discovery Education: Common Core and Creation. This session was attended by quite a few DEN Stars. Karie and Amy did a terrific job presenting.  As questions were asked, Karie and Amy responded confidently and openly. When they were unable to answer a question, they simply looked to their DEN friends for support and assistance. The DEN Stars chimed in when appropriate to support their fellow Stars. It was a remarkable experience as the presentation was comfortably expanded to almost a discussion among the DEN Stars with the other attendees benefitting from the event.

Afterwards, I thought back as to how others in attendance may have viewed the interaction among this small group of friends. I would guess that they were impressed that so many would attend a presentation to support two of their own. Further, I would guess they were intrigued by the way the presenters openly allowed input from those same folks. While Karie and Amy were the leads, the room became the presentation as others were encouraged to share. Finally, I would believe that those observing this interaction were curious as to the natural bond that brought all of these DEN Stars to this room.  Karie and Amy wrapped things up by sharing about the Power of the DEN. And the people attending this session left knowing that Discovery offers something quite unique and special. They saw that first hand.

Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute ~ DENSI 2014 Applications Now Being Accepted

Discovery Education has announced that the Discovery Educator Network is now accepting applications to attend the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute 2014 (DENSI – pronounced DEN Ess Eye). This years institute will be held July 13 – 18, 2014 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.


I have been extremely fortunate to be selected to attend this incredible event each of the last four years. This gathering of 125 Discovery using educators goes beyond expectations for any educational professional development. The lucky attendees will join forces to expand and enhance  teaching and learning experiences for themselves, their colleagues, and their students.

As this annual event grows in popularity among DEN Stars, the competition to be selected gets tougher. Without a doubt, this institute will see a record number of applicants. Best of luck to all applicants for the remaining 124 spots as I hope to secure one of the 125 available.

If you are a DEN Star, you are eligible to apply to attend this special weeklong event. See the links below for more detailed information.

Become a DEN Star (Make sure you take 3 minutes to view the Getting To Know The DEN video. My DEN friends share their passion.)

Apply to DENSI2014

Dave’s Discovery Summer Institute Reflections

It has been just over one week since the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute (DENSI 2013) ended. I have read a number of posts by DENSI attendees and each person has done their best to communicate the experience in words. I am just now attempting to put my experience into words that best express the impact that it had for me.

When someone asks me about the week spent in Vermont, I often hesitate, and then respond with “It was absolutely fantastic”. I hesitate when responding because it is difficult to try to find one single phrase that sums up the experience. Simple words rarely do justice. I suppose a better response would be “Do you have half an hour? I’d like to share with you some of what we experienced”.

So, if I could grab them for half an hour, I would tell them that this event is a family reunion of sorts…but one that folks actually want to attend. It is like a summer camp for educators. I would share that this event is one that exhausts AND invigorates. You stay up very late with the other attendees because you don’t want to miss out on anything. DENSI is like drinking from a fire hose. You take in as much as you possibly can, and then take another gulp. They would hear from me that you truly need to experience it to understand the impact.


I would share that DENSI is more about making connections than it is in experiencing “things”. You meet old friends and make new ones. And those friends will become invaluable contacts that will help you become a better educator. I would tell them that I have had hundreds, maybe over a thousand, of post-DENSI connections in the last week on Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo, Glide, email and texting from the United States and Canada.  Those connections make be a better person and educator.

I would share that the common bond for all of us at DENSI is that we are enthusiastic Discovery users. They would be asked to consider the quality of the Discovery resources and transfer that quality over to a week of immersive, engaged and exciting interactions with those resources and much, much more.

At this point, my hopefully “captivated” colleague would then get a chance to share in the DENSI experience as I would share the collective resources that we have in the website. They would get a brief overview of the site so that they could navigate on their own to connect with attendees, view the collaborative notes, videos, and pictures.

They definitely will hear about my “take-a-ways” from the institute … the things that made the biggest impact on me. The things that I want to take back to my district are summarized below.

Take-a-way #1:  Without hesitation, I want my co-workers watch the Joy video from Discovery’s Dean Shareski (view the video here). As a long time educator, I have seen the passion and energy in colleagues diminish due to media attacks, legislative oversight and standardized testing. I will challenge them to find their own way to put Joy back into their daily work. I will offer my assistance as helping others achieve Joy will provide me with my own Joy.

Take-a-way #2:  I will challenge my co-workers to look at the value of staff and/or student produced videos (see samples here) as shared by Discovery’s Hall Davidson. We will discuss how captivating videos are in instruction and entertainment. When they are created by classmates, students are more engaged. I will offer my assistance in helping staff and students further the video creation learning experience. This will give me Joy.

Take-a-way #3:  Finally, I will challenge my co-workers to make better use of the available Discovery resources. Far too many of my colleagues believe Discovery is only used for streaming videos. I will offer my assistance and leadership to help our staff better utilize this tremendous educational resource. This, too, will give me Joy as they discover the richness of all things Discovery.

Discovery Educator Network

My experience with all of my friends in Burlington will serve to energize and drive me as we enter the 2013-2014 school year. Thank you to Discovery Education for providing such an amazing opportunity.




Livestream of a Bird’s Nest ~ Discovery Style

Bursley Elementary has a guest and that guest number will grow very soon.

A mother Robin has built her nest on the window ledge outside of one of the rooms. At the request of Principal Rané Garcia, I have configured a livestream of the nest. Below is the “live” video. It actually has about a 40 second delay, but we will call it “live”. Here is a link to the livestream in case it is not showing below.

Because this setup utilizes a free Ustream account, you will see occasional ads pop up. Such is the price of FREE. Be aware, I don’t have any control over the ads that appear, so use with caution when viewing with younger kids. I encourage you to mute your computer when viewing.

Free desktop streaming application by Ustream


I had not set up a livestream system before, so I used this as a teaching/learning moment for me and my son, Matt.  We worked together to figure this out.  Here is what we used for the livestream setup.

  • 1 digital camcorder
  • 1 tripod
  • 1 MacBook
  • Ustream Producer software

Using a firewire cable, we connected the camera to the computer. We have the camera running on camera mode, plugged into electrical power.

I downloaded and installed Ustream Producer. Producer is software that is necessary to broadcast the video.  A Ustream account is required to stream the video.

When you launch Ustream Producer, you are prompted to log in to your account. Once you do, you choose a few settings and click on Broadcast.  I chose not to record this event as it will be running over the next several weeks, but it is possible to record your event for future viewing.

Since JPS teachers have access to Discovery Education, here is an added resource for you to enhance the Robin viewing and learning experience.

  • Login to your Discovery Education account.
  • Click on this Discovery Education link. This will take you to a specific page within Discovery that has materials for Robins as well as other birds.
  • Click on the “More To Explore” tab. Here you will find more images, videos, reading passages (with audio support) and quizzes.
  • Add any/all of these resources to YOUR Discovery “My Content” and assign to your students for school and at home viewing.


Spring is alive in Michigan!


This post has been cross-posted at my other blog,

Keeping An Eye On Your Kid

Recently, my son took a week long trip to Florida with his Orchestra classmates as part of a program arranged by his Orchestra Directors.  While my wife and I have often chosen to chaperone such events, this time we sat it out and gave our son some space.

That doesn’t mean we weren’t able to keep an “eye” on him.  We were able to follow his journey by using technology enabled on his smart phone.  You see, he recently bought a smart phone, an iPhone.  We had him enable Find My iPhone on the iPhone.  Doing so allowed us to log in to and trace his steps using the web based app Find My iPhone.

This app will look for a wireless signal from his phone and show the location of the device on a map. You can see an example of a map showing his location below.



Several asked if our son knew we were “spying” on him. Yes, he was aware were watching his progress. Not spying, but staying involved with the trip from a distance.  We are quite familiar with the Disney Parks and it was fun to “see” where he was and be able to talk or text with him about the particular ride or attraction he was going to ride.  The first time we “saw” where he was in a park, we texted him and asked if he was on a boat.  He responded with a yes as he was on a riverboat in the Magic Kingdom.  The Find My iPhone app had him smack dab in the middle of a lake.  Wow!

While this was a nice way to keep in touch with him and follow his journey, the Find My iPhone feature has some other nice benefits.  If you take a look at the the bottom of the image above, you can actually do three things to the phone once you have found the phone’s signal.

Play Sound

Let’s say you have misplaced your iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch, you can choose Play Sound to have the device play a signal to help you locate it.

Lost Mode

If you have lost your device, you can enable a lock code on the device that a user must enter to be able to use it.  You can also send a message to the device stating that it has been lost and if found, please call a posted number.

Erase iPhone (iPad, iPod Touch)

In the worst case scenario, you can remotely erase all the content from the device. I hope you never have to hit this button!

Enable Find My iPhone

Enabling Find My iPhone on your device is easy.  Simply go to Settings / iCloud and scroll down to Find My iPhone. Tap to switch to On.  That’s it! You can now track your iPhone online.




Tracking Your iPhone

To track your phone online, simply go to the website: When prompted, enter your Apple ID and Password.


Then, click on Find My iPhone.


In the upper left corner of the screen, click on Devices to see a list of devices registered to that Apple ID.  The software does the rest.  When you see a green dot next to a device, it indicates that the device has been found.



Click on the device to see a map of its location.



I encourage you to enable this feature on all of your devices.  The benefits can be quite satisfying.


Note: this post is cross-posted by the author at

Dave Tchozewski

Director of Information Technology

Jenison Public Schools

Discovery Assessment from the Technology Directors Seat

Dave Tchozewski

One year ago, our district had a decision to make. We could continue using our already paid for assessment from a another provider or we could switch over to our new subscription with Discovery Assessment.  The decision was not hard to make.  Discovery Assessment won.  Actually, our students won.

From where I sit as District Technology Director, I am in favor of the assessment program that serves our students best.  To be perfectly honest, I am MOST in favor of the one that provides the best for students AND is the easiest to prepare for student testing. Discovery Assessment won.  Actually, our students won.

There are a several reasons why I really like Discovery Assessment.

Reason #1: This reason is from a preparation perspective.  Discovery Assessment was easy to set up. Uploading student information was fairly simple.  Templates are available for assistance in uploading large amounts of student users, teachers, and class rosters.  Download the template, fill it in, and upload.  Access to the newly uploaded information is not immediately available, so make sure you leave yourself a buffer of a couple of days to make sure it is uploaded.  If you upload around the beginning of the school year, give yourself more time as they will be swamped with districts uploading data.

Reason #2: Another reason why I like Discovery Assessment is best seen by describing the process of using our previous product.  With our last assessment tool, I would physically head back to my office at night to upload the testing results for the day.  You had to guarantee that no one was actively taking a test and that no computer was left on that had the testing program active.  To upload the results, I had to use a Windows based computer. We are an Apple district.  You start the upload of testing data and wait.  You hope no errors would occur, but rarely was that the case.  I had a phone brought over to the work station so that I could be on the phone with customer support to assist with troubleshooting.  This process occurred nightly during the testing window of several weeks.

I have yet to be involved with the uploading of test results to Discovery.  Nice.

Reason #3: With our previous assessment tool, our testing of only 30 students at one time in a building would test our network performance as it was server based.  When we went to two buildings testing as the very same time, our network would reduce to a crawl.  A phone call to customer support generated this nugget that was not shared when signing up with this group: you will want a separate server dedicated to each building for testing purposes.  Really?  Seriously?

We have successfully implemented Discovery Assessment this fall with 5 elementary buildings.  Each testing period had the potential to have 60 laptop computers simultaneously connecting to our wireless network, in EACH building.  No problem with Discovery Assessment. Nice.

Reason #4: This reason does not deal with the technology aspect of testing.  Discovery Assessment offers assessment options very similar to other testing organizations.  You find diagnostic testing with any group.  What sets Discovery Assessment apart from the others is the superb, integrated prescriptive resources aimed at improving weaknesses in the testers.  While determining areas of weakness is nice, it is of little use without a plan for attacking the areas of low performance.  Discovery Resources allow you to drill down into specific standards and questions to find appropriate resources aimed at strengthening those areas.  Those customizable resources area accessible with a simple click.  Nice.

I’m glad we switched to Discovery Assessment. My workload is lighter.  Beyond that, with the resources offered beyond the actual testing, our students learn more as a result of using Discovery Assessment. Nice.


Collaborating with Another DEN Star

I was involved in something really cool last Saturday.

David Fisher, DEN Guru, DENvisory Board Member, DEN Star and more, and I Skyped today to collaboratively complete an application to present at the 2013 ISTE Conference.  What a neat way to get our work done.

ISTE offers a downloadable help file for concurrent sessions detailing the items that need to be provided for the application.  So, I opened up that file and started a shared Google Doc with ISTE items outlined in the doc.  We were both able to provide needed information on the Google Doc that could be copied and pasted into the application when needed.

Visualize this: On a Saturday morning, we are both sitting in our home offices, me in Michigan, David in Florida. We were both wearing our Saturday morning best. Coffee in one office, tea in another.  Fishers’s dog was resting comfortably on the office sofa while his daughter bounced around the room trying to distract our process. We had a video Skype session active. We each had the shared Google Doc open. David had the ISTE app open.  We were able to discuss and edit in realtime.

This was one of the most productive 1.5 hours I have spent collaborating.  We would both read the same section, discuss, edit, review, edit, review, copy and paste.  We would converse to get a better sense of the “sound” of our written work.  Each of us could edit the Google document and the changes appeared in realtime.  The final step was for David to “share his screen” with me for one final review of the ISTE proposal.




Reflections on a Week With Discovery Educators

It has been just over one week since I returned from Bozeman Montana where I spent a week with about 150 enthusiastic like-minded educators.  The common denominator that brought us together is that each of us is a Discovery Educator Network (DEN) Star Educator. The event, officially titled, Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute 2012 or DENSI2012 was celebrating its 7th annual event.  Attendees are selected via an application process available to all DEN Stars.  It has been my privilege and honor to have been selected to attend each of the last three DENSI events.

The DEN Summer Institute has become the most beneficial educational professional development event that I attend.  In over 25 years in education, the institute provides long lasting connections and resources that I have not found in any other PD event, and I have been part of many events.  I share a feeling similar to many of my DENSI friends that the most important take-a-way from the institute is the relationships that are developed in one short week.  The bonds are created quickly and they are deep.

This week is like a family reunion … but one that folks like to attend.  The setting this year, Montana State University, was fabulous.  The accommodations, well, were far from luxury. We got to revisit our college days by living in non-air conditioned dorms in extreme heat and eat college cafeteria fare. Many ran out to the local department store to scoop up a fan. It is tough to travel home with a fan in the luggage, so most chose to leave it behind for Allison Bakken, a Bozeman local and DENSI Star.  She will take them back to her school for use in the classrooms.  At my last count, there were at least 25 fans in the lobby of the dorm waiting for her to take back to her district. Nice.

In the week that I have been home, I have received two phone calls from DENSI friends, Mary Carole Strother and David Fisher, one Skype discussion with Discovery folks in Silver Spring, Eren Koont and Rama Mandadi, and countless email updates from Edmodo and Facebook.  Like it or not, we are connected across the miles. Personally, I love it. I love hearing from my DENSI family.

Magical stuff happens at the DENSI. It is difficult to put into words…so I won’t attempt.  Suffice it to say that you have to experience it to understand it.


Awaiting DENSI 2012

Looking forward to the upcoming Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute in Bozeman Montana.  This is one fantastic gathering of top notch educators from around the world.