You’re Not in Kansas (or Oz) Anymore

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Maryann Molishus on 08-03-2009

I am the kind of person who sits with “strangers” at district in-service days, instead of with my usual group.  I am the one who joined this “DEN” group years ago – all by myself. But now, I am way comfortable with these DEN people.  I see them everywhere – live, during webinars, on Plurk, Twitter, writing blogs, in professional journals, in Second Life, etc., etc.

Do you feel very comfortable here in DEN-land?  I have just been reading a few things about how we find our tribe (such as in Ken Robinson’s The Element) and also about how we need to challenge ourselves by connecting with those who are not like us, who think differently than us (see David Warlick’s article “Grow Your Personal Learning Network” in Learning & Leading with Technology, March/April 2009).

And now I am sitting in Harrisburg, getting ready to meet new and past PA Milken award recipients.  This is not a group with which I normally mingle – and I think that is great!  I have been reminded that it has actually been a while since I have stepped out of my comfort zone and met a new group (although I love the old!!)  I’ll let you know how it goes.


“”Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.””
— Dean Gold

ps – I wonder if they will be giving out back scratchers!!!

Extreme Makeover – School Edition

Filed Under (education) by Maryann Molishus on 15-02-2009

Our K-6 school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is scheduled for an EXTREME MAKEOVER.  Aside from the packing, dust, and budget woes, this is a really exciting time for our school!  Right now, we are being asked for input.  What do we want?  What do we need?  While we know that this is just a brainstorming activity, and we certainly aren’t going to get everything we want (or need), we are sure that we don’t even know everything we need or want.  One thing we do know, however, is that the more educators we talk with, the better chance we have of making wise suggestions. 

So, my question is this:  What do you envision (or have) in an ideal school and, more specifically, classroom.  Consider not only the technology, but also the aesthetics, safety, environmental issues, and the diversity of our student populations. 

Have fun.  I am going to explore the Internet and see what I come up with.  And, in the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that our air conditioning moves from the “maybe” column to the “definite” column.  We can only hope!!!!!!!

2008 DEN Photo of the Year…

Filed Under (Discovery Educator Network, Photos) by Maryann Molishus on 31-12-2008

If you haven’t checked out the DEN photos on Flickr lately, there are over 1,900 amazing and/or really interesting images! Yes, if you ever need to prove how important professional development is, well, think twice about looking here :)  Actually, there are some really good photos mixed in with the “you had to be there” and the “wait, I can explain that” images.

I (yes, just me) voted and chose this as the DEN 2008 Photo of the Year.  Congratulations to Lance (photographer, right??) and Matt and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Institute! (ha,ha).

Professional Learning Experiences – Please Share!!!

Filed Under (Discovery Educator Network, Professional Learning, Uncategorized) by Maryann Molishus on 07-12-2008

Last summer, I was trying to relax, forget about school, etc.  (Actually, I never really forget about school!)  Anyway, I received an email in July asking if I would like to be a keynote speaker at our district in-service day in January.  I will be representing the elementary level, and there will be one teacher speaking from the middle school level and one from the high school level. Although I felt quite honored, I was, at the same time, extremely nervous even thinking about the idea of speaking in front of hundreds of my colleagues and administrators!  But I did say yes – I am always up for a challenge, and January was soooo far away.  Well, now January is not so far away, I am even more nervous, and I am still trying to gather my thoughts for my presentation. 

The topic of the talk is  “professional learning experiences and how it has impacted my craft.” I have had dozens of professional learning experiences with many of you (in real life, Second Life, during webinars, through blog discussions, via Plurk and Twitter, and so on), and I know that you, like me, are life-long learners who are always finding ways of learning, sharing, and growing.  What I would love to do as part of my presentation is share some of your thoughts about professional learning with my school district.  Think of it as a great time to “market” anything you think is a quality Web site, blog, tool, video, book, etc. to close to 1,000 educators at once – your own or someone else’s!  Since our professional learning networks are more than an occasional in-service day, I would love to make the most of the opportunity be able to spread the news about how educators are learning and collaborating any time, any place, and in so many different formats. 

Please share.  Send me a link to a site, video, etc., an email, comments, documents (click the “connect” button on the retaggr on the right).  I will be assembling a scrapbook of sorts. The only thing I can’t include are items from sites that are blocked in the district such as Facebook, YouTube, etc. (unless I do screen shots or conversions). I also can’t show anything live, which would have been really cool, because our network is having “issues.”   If you want to “speak” directly to us in any comments, recorded messages, etc.,  – we are the Council Rock School District

I look forward to hearing from you!  And thank you in advance for your help!

Get Ready Early for the Iditarod!!

Filed Under (Discovery, Project Approach) by Maryann Molishus on 22-11-2008

I was so happy to see that Discovery was featuring the Iditarod in a series this year. When I meet parents for the first time at the beginning of the year, one of the first questions I hear is, “Are you ‘doing’ the Iditarod this year?”  I would imagine that there aren’t that many classrooms out there with parents asking that question!!  Our Iditarod project has become such a hit with students, but even more exciting, the project is a hit with FAMILIES! It is because of the fabulous resources available through the official Iditarod Web site as well as other resources, which now include Discovery’s addition, that makes this project possible.  Look through your district’s standards.  I bet you can find a way to link standards to this historical/current event.  I have some great resources if you are interested too.  One of our favorite pre-race events is a huge banquet with singing and dancing, presentation of our “classroom mushers” by our fifth grade buddies/sponsors, and, of course, food! To prepare for the banquet the children spend time creating themed-tablecloths, learning manners, writing poems, and learning all about the real Iditarod that they are about to follow.  Mark your calendars.  The race begins Saturday, March 7.  Don’t wait to start planning…

Thank You, DEN

Filed Under (Discovery Educator Network) by Maryann Molishus on 17-11-2008

I want to send out a great big THANK YOU to all of the DEN members who have extended congratulations and best wishes to me on being awarded the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.  It was quite an amazing week!  The students at my school now think I am the “rich teacher.”  I received so many wonderful notes and phone calls from family, friends, colleagues, and students that have truly made me feel that I am “rich.”

It is quite an interesting way in which the Milken Foundation searches for candidates for their award.  One thing they are looking for in educators is their contributions outside the classroom.  They are also looking for future potential for success.  I think that being involved in such organizations as the Discovery Educator Network has played a role in my development as an educator and as a life-long learner.  Although I already know the value of our network, I have been seeing more and more that the value of this network and similar organizations  is changing.  The people who are involved with one another are not only sharing professionally, but also making personal, caring connections with many amazing people who they would not otherwise have met or stayed in touch with.  I found that to be true when I received the many emails, Twitter and Plurk messages, and blog posts and responses form all of you, some I have met and know, and others I might only know as a screen name.  But all were kind, excited for me, excited for us as we celebrate what we all do!

I know we will continue to celebrate the future successes of so many outstanding individuals who are connected through DEN.

Really Young Scientists Take the Challenge

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Maryann Molishus on 10-06-2008

My second graders are hooked on filmmaking.  If that is all we did this year, I think they would be happy (I don’t know about their parents though.)  It all started in the fall when I decided to ask the children, “What do you want to do?”  They came up with some wonderful ideas.  To make a long story short, one of the ideas turned into a book review television show written and hosted by the student who had the idea.  Along the way, many other students got involved as the class learned about the many jobs it takes to create a TV show, commercial, movie, etc.  We even had our own security guard–a much prized job!! Our finished show even made it to our school district’s cable channel. Our class was thrilled beyond words!

There were so many film projects the children wanted to complete, but it was quite challenging to get to them all.  After all, they are second graders and still need a good deal of support.  When the 3M/Discovery Young Scientist Challenge appeared, I decided to check it out.  We watched a webinar (some of it–the video was blocked in our district) and we got some ideas about how we could do our own similar challenge with a science topic about which the second graders had become experts this year–insects.  We brainstormed five broad questions that could be addressed related to insects (such as “How do you identify an insect?” and “How do insect protect themselves?”).  I searched through some other contest sites and created a rubric that suited our needs.  We entitled our project The 2008 Second Grade Insect Film Festival.  This would be our “pilot year” to test whether this could work.  We had until June 3 to complete the filming, since that is when our insect presentations needed to be ready for parents, etc.  The children were divided into six groups of 3 or 4 students.  They chose their topics, researched the material, wrote their scripts, directed the project, filmed it, and acted in it.  Because of time issues, I had to do some of the editing, but we made it.  Six films (in what I would call draft-ish versions) were ready by June 3. I wish I would have filmed the entire process because it was amazing to see what the children could do (and quite funny at times).  We even spent a day learning about appropriate use of video clips and searching and downloading videos from Discovery in case they wanted to/needed to use them (thank you!!).  Months before, when the children were learning about filmmaking (thanks also to AFI), we were discussing the green screen effect.  We had all kinds of ideas about using it this year but just never got to it.  Well, I asked one of the groups if they would like to try it since they found a video clip that could be used in their background.  I set up some green bulletin board paper.  To my amazement, the first words out of one of the group member’s mouth was that she couldn’t be in it because she was wearing a green shirt!  So the really do listen!!!  Luckily, our trusty Discovery lab coat, with the sleeves rolled WAY UP, came to the rescue.  Too cute! 

In the end, we didn’t score the films with our rubric because the children really didn’t have the time to fix them up.  But the children and parents were very impressed with their projects.  It was great to see each group complimenting one another–knowing how difficult it was to complete the job.  They took their research about individual insects and expanded it to a broad topic, which was a difficult thing for them to do at this age.  And, they had to work together to get the job done.  Each group had a director who was in charge–and they really took that job seriously.    

I am hoping to start off the next school year prepared to share what this group and I have learned about filmmaking.  It definitely takes practice, but it is well worth the effort.  I even noticed a change in their writing on their end-of-year writing assessment.  At first, I couldn’t figure out why some students were writing a certain way, and then I realized that it was the film process that was affecting their style.  Very interesting!

Thanks to Discovery for all your help over the years!  I does make a difference. Joe Brennan, keep posting and sharing.  You make it way easier!!

It’s Time to Go to Alaska!

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Maryann Molishus on 18-02-2008

This is my favorite time of year.  While it looks like Discovery will be in Alaska in person soon, my second grade class travels to Alaska “virtually” every February-March to participate in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  Through standards-based, classroom lessons, fun activities, and an at-home independent optional project, the children learn about the history that led to the actual Iditarod race.  They also learn about the importance of following rules, volunteering, good citizenship, how to navigate a Web site, animal care, etc.  And, there is tons of fun to be had as well. Our kick-off celebration is our Iditarod banquet.  Our fifth grade buddies/sponsors join us as we eat, sing, dance and prepare for the start of the race.  The winners of last year’s Classroom Iditarod also return to give a speech of encouragement to the second graders.  Then, beginning the first Saturday in March, we begin tracking the “real” mushers in Alaska until they have finished the race–about nine days later for the first place winner.  The children come racing into the classroom each morning with news about what is happening, who dropped out, who is hurt, who is in the lead.  That tells me they are reading about it at home-via the Internet and with many parents getting just as excited as the kids!  You see, you couldn’t do this project without the wonderful technology and fantastic people who put together the Iditarod Web site, videos, and images that are available, mostly for free, to anyone who is interested.  You should check it out an share it with your class. Here is a link to my classroom Web site page that shows some images from last year’s banquet. Check out the children’s drawings that were part of the banquet table cloths.  Too cute!! I hope you will be able to join us for the LAST GREAT RACE.  Even if you are not a sports fan (I know nothing about any sport!!), you will get excited about this event.


Filed Under (PETE&C) by Maryann Molishus on 10-02-2008

Attending a professional conference is a great time to work on skills, tools, and projects that you just can’t get to during the busy school year, like setting up a blog.  Let’s see how far I get! 

Hello World!

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Maryann Molishus on 31-08-2007

Welcome to your new DEN blog! This is your first post. Edit or delete it, and then start blogging!

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