DEN SaturdayCON in Austin!

Who needs Saturday morning cartoons! Instead, spend a Saturday morning with the DEN! In the family of VirtCon, SciCon, TechBookCon, and Chili Con Queso, the DEN SaturdayCON will be a fun day of learning technology for the classroom!

Join discussions on how to support your classroom instruction with Discovery Education’s streaming and Builder Tools. Explore web resources that can support your Gifted and Talented students. Prepare for the Texas Technology Literacy Assessment with Google and Discovery Education tools!

Teachers will spend time on their laptop computer during the day developing new technology skills that can be immediately used in their classroom. Partake in educator dialogue about how you use these tools with your students and learn from others.

This workshop is on Saturday, January 26th, from 9am to 3pm, at the Skyline Technology Building in Austin, Texas. Lunch will be provided by Discovery Education. Please bring your laptop or other instructional computing device. (Google Map to Skyline Building: , which is just north of Oltorf on IH 35.)

Please RSVP!  Fill out my form! Please RSVP!

Directions to Skyline Technology Building in Austin
For more information, email Howard at .

Please complete the registration below to save your place TODAY!

Make Picture Sets For Class Writing Projects

365squarez.jpgIf you have experienced your own blog fade, podcast fade, or journal fade, (the slow death to a regular writing piece), getting started in a new one can come with some trepidation.  Last fall, a friend introduced me to a new type of blog, the 365 pictures blogs.  After I started in January, I actually found it quite fun. Here’s my first attempt at a 365 Photo Essay. has a large community of photo users that are posting photos every day with the idea of taking at least one photo a day for 365 days. Some groups specialize in nature photography, some and random photo, and others mandate the selfie – self-taken photos of yourself.  There are youth photographer groups as well, such as this one for teens and this one for high school photographers. It can make for a nice visual break in the day when you check out the day’s new pics and the creative capturing of others.

How does that have anything to do with classroom blogging?  When I got started, I quickly realized that I wanted to put a short description to each photo. As I put more photos in, it slowly became a collection of stories for me to look back on and remember the events.  What a great concept for the classroom!

The 365 Photo blog, or maybe just 188 Class Days Photo blog,  could be a nice project for a classroom community.  Not only do you have a visual collection of pictures showing change through the year,  but the job of writing descriptions can be undertaken by students.  Much like the written blog, the descriptions can help the parents keep in touch with what is going on in the classroom.  Your 365 Photo Blog can be made private on Flickr so that you can include student faces, but can also be shared with families so they can be included.

Photo blogs can be a short unit blog. Have students take a picture each day during the American Revolution unit.  They will have to stretch their creative muscles to capture a big idea from the day in a single picture.  The description will be a review paragraph.   The Flickr slideshow tool makes a visual review of photos, and unit big ideas, a simple and quick task.

Uploading to your Flickr ‘blog’ is easy, whether it is straight from the website or if you use Flickr upload tools like Flickr Uploadr.  I found that the iPhoto 09 connection to Flickr is strong enough to reduce the need to actually go to Flickr since iPhoto 09 can edit, tag, and create descriptions that will be used by Flickr online.

As you think about opening up new avenues of creativity for your students this year, think about the quick daily photo for recording events or retelling a story over time. Happy clicking!

First Impressions of iLife 09 Facial Recognition

Well, I finally got my copy of iLife09 installed and thought I’d share my first impressions. After an easy install and restart, iPhoto came up pretty quickly.

The first slow down was the indexing of facial recognition. After waiting over an hour for the 10,400 photos to index, I got tired of waiting and went to bed.  In the morning, my first attempt to use the facial recognition froze up my computer. (Honestly, I was starting up Fireworks, running email client, and hit the ‘Names’ button in iPhoto.)  I restarted and things started working much better.

You have to select a picture, hit the name button, and the software looks for faces. I selected a few of my photos and a few of the wife.  iPhoto quickly recognized Amy, but for some reason, I kept coming up as ‘unknown face’.   *Insert ‘He has a forgettable face’ joke here.*

When it makes a suggestion, it gives you a question mark to confirm that it is who they think it is.


I eventually got lucky and it recognized me a couple of times. After selecting my kids, known to the internet as Mancub1 and Mancub2, it worked a little better.  Usually, they would be guessed fairly accurately.

Being that Mancub 1 and 2 are related and share facial features, there were a few times where it would pull Mancub2’s picture and suggest that it was Mancub1. Don’t tell him, but iPhoto thinks he was his younger sister in this photo.


Slowly it became more accurate.








 Not telling me anything that I didn’t already know, sometimes my kids are just not too recognizable.   This photo was pulled up after a good number of face matches with them.  I’m not sure how it would screw up the guessing power of iPhoto if said that the twisted mugs and funny faces were the same person. I left these as unknown.








I kept going and starting finding a few humorous selections.

In this photo, iPhoto didn’t pick up Mancub2 in the top right, but thought the blank space beside her was Mancub1.  There were more than a few times where a small picture within my photo was picked up as a known face.








I sometimes feel that God is watching over me, and I think iPhoto saw something that I didn’t.  A co-worker pointed out that there was a cross in the ceiling over the third unknown face.  Hmmm.







 And my personal favorite, much like finding the Virgin Mary in a loaf of bread, iPhoto will probably find some other great miracles in some of my photos.

 Well, I’m off to look at the new iMovie. I have great hopes that it will be the mix of iMovieHD6 and iMovie08 that I really want for my classrooms.


TECA Pre-Conference Joys!

Justin brings his style of teaching to the Texas History Museum.

Once again, teachers are walking away from a DEN event in Texas with an excitement for using media and tech tools in new ways or in better ways.  Justin, Jannita, Mike, and Brad came a wow’ed teachers from all over Texas while at the Texas State History Museum.  Teachers enjoyed breakout sessions as well as a scavenger hunt through the museum.  I’m really looking forward to all the new sharing sessions that my teachers are bringing back to their schools now.

Thanks DEN for all that you do for teachers in Texas!

Last Year’s Film Festival

Using film in the class has been used since the media club knew how to roll the projector down the hall and thread film. Fortunately, through AFI and DEN institutes, teachers are learning how to actively use video as a teaching tool and as a student product tool. Using video with students can be the passive activities like just watching and discussing, hands on opportunities to embed into their digital products, or really hands on by creating their own video products.

In Austin, we will be in out 8th year of sharing student video products in our Austin Student Digital Film Festival. The purpose from the beginning was to share what teachers are doing in the classroom so that we can learn from and celebrate each other’s efforts. There have been some very high-quality films presented and a lot of, um, lesser-quality film as well. The great thing is that we are seeing that students are using video to tell their stories and actually use for class products as well.

We are looking forward to another great festival this year on May 30th. It is purposefully as late in the year as possible to allow for more films and to give the requested cushion around state testing. (Many administrators still see testing practice as a higher priority than applied student learning.) Below is the promo we created to showcase some of last year’s student work. Enjoy!

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

The Austin DOD Was A Success!

Austin’s Day Of Discovery!

We had a great time on the 6th with Justin Karkow from Discovery Education. Over 50 teachers came from all around to spend the day learning how rich media can have a positive impact on the classroom curriculum. Teachers were shown how to better utilize the powerful tools in Discovery Streaming to enrich their daily teaching. They saw great examples of using PhotoStory, MovieMaker, iPhoto, and iMovie to tell meaningful digital stories that could enhance delivery of language lessons as well as be a platform for meaningful student products. Teachers were able to practice the different ways to embed audio and video media into Powerpoint presentations. And they were presented with 50 ways to use Discovery Streaming in their classroom as well.

The entertaining sessions, the great BarBQue, and the wonderful opportunity to talk with other educators and share ideas all made for a great day.  We are already looking forward to getting back together in Austin for more fun soon.

Many thanks to Discovery Education for supporting this fun quality time for teachers.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Austin Day of Discovery!

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, and the day is finally upon us. Justin Karkow came into town to lead 75+ registered participants in a Day of Discovery. There are great things planned and I hope all of the teachers enjoy and take some useful things home from the day.

As for me, I will be presenting “Wow, You Can Do That with PowerPoint and DE Streaming?”, made famous by Brad Fountain and Justin. Brad’s original presentation can be found on his DEN Manager blog. Planning for the unforeseen problems, teachers in this session can use the password I give them to open this wiki for media files.

Resources to walk away with:

I am anticipating a great day with teachers and meeting many new DEN teachers.

Summertime Learning

Hello and welcome. This is my initial blog post using the Discovery Education Blogs. This will be my professional ‘Blog Home’ for this year and I look forward to posting tips, teaching ideas, and technology support that I pick up through my Professional Learning Network and from active classroom teachers.

So, it’s 4am and there is a hoot owl outside my window. I’ve heard him out there off and on during the last year. I’ve never seen him, but he (or she) sounds like a substantial hoot, uh, owl. A lot of the blogs I follow are like that owl. I hear or read them occasionally but have no idea what the author looks like or who they are. I recently had the opportunity to meet some of my owls this summer at the National Educational Computing Conference or at a Discovery Education National Institute.

Both NECC and the DEN Institute provided learning experiences and technology tools that can have a great impact on the educational technology support I provide to my campuses and teachers. But they also gave me a chance to get face to face with extremely talented educators who successfully implement technology as a part of the student learning process. There were some who were great with blogging, some with integration ideas. Some shared a tool or web resource I hadn’t seen before and others used ‘old’ tools in great new ways.

The face to face was great because we could go deeper into the conversation that we could online. But when you realize that the person you are talking to is the ‘smeech‘ or ‘glad2be‘ or ‘shoemap‘ that you have been reading and responding to online, it’s like you finally get to see the wise owl you’ve been listening to for over a year. I learn much from my network of learners and look forward to sharing much of that with my teachers and students here in Austin.

Welcome to my blog and I hope to hear you hoot sometime in the future.