One of the Best Emails You’ll Ever Receive

The feelings leading up to the DENSI2014 email notification was akin to a teenage girl waiting on that ONE phone call from THAT guy. Last year I looked forward to a new experience that DENSI would present. I had just spent my first year as an Instructional Technology Specialist and still had a LOT to learn. I had no idea just how excited I should have been. I met the most amazing educators during my week in Vermont. What made these educators amazing wasn’t just their technology expertise, it was their willingness to collaborate and share. With high stakes testing being a part of a teacher’s life, sometimes educators are reluctant to ‘share’ the wealth of their knowledge. I was blown away by the generosity of all of the people who came along my path in Vermont. The generosity continued, as I stayed connected through Edmodo, Twitter, and Facebook throughout this last year.

So here, I sat all day long waiting for that email. Surely, they will not make me wait until 6:00 pm to find the answer to my burning question. I was sitting in a restaurant with my daughters and a friend texted and asked if I had gotten my email. I quickly checked my email to find the great news I had been waiting on. I screamed in the middle of the restaurant and embarrassed my daughters nicely.

I am humbled and beyond thrilled to have been selected. I am looking forward to growing my PLN & my knowledge of technology.

ACCEPTANCE EMAIL = ONE HAPPY GIRL

DENSI…the Gift that Keeps on Giving

I know…I know…I already did my reflections on DENSI2013, but I felt compelled to write again. I want to share my love of my PLN on Twitter. I remember a teacher asking me about Twitter last year and thinking, “Whatever, it is not my job to keep you abreast of your social connections!” I even complained to fellow buddies about the audacity of this staff member! Wow, do I ever regret my response!

Before attending DENSI2013, I used Twitter sparingly. I have teenagers and knew what they used Twitter for and I really didn’t see how it was going to apply to me. I discovered a #edtechchat about a month before I set off for Vermont. My interest was a little peaked and it got me thinking how to get connected. I would say I had around twenty to thirty followers & the same amount of people that I followed.

After DENSI2013, my PLN exploded. I started taking part in weekly chats within Twitter. I loved being able to say I actually knew some of the folks chatting and offering wisdom. The highlight of my Twitter experience was being part of #ITSnewbiechat. I was taking part this past week and the commentators threw out the request for a book for a book club. I immediately thought of the awesome Steve Dembo (@teach42) and Adam Bellow and their amazing book “Untangling the Web.” The crazy thing was, they had already zeroed in on that book. I cannot wait to dive into this book some more with great educators across the country.

I also saw Selena Ward (@thetechtiger) name come up with using Evernote, and how lucky was I to be able to say that I sat in the conference and she is THE guru!! Then I saw Karen Ogen’s (@karenogen) name pop up in a random search for QR code lesson ideas. I went to one of her sessions and she blows me away!

I guess I will continue to be blessed with the amazing gift of DENSI and all it has given to me personally and professionally. Get to stepping on your DEN & PLN, peeps! Iron sharpens iron.

DENSI duh to DENSI WHAT?

I will be the first teacher to admit that I only used DE for videos in the classroom. I loved how easy it was to use and find resources for my classroom. I then became an Instructional Technology Specialist last year. I got a little more involved with DE after obtaining this position. The beginning of my ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’ came with Shayla Rexrode coming to speak to my district. I was a wee bit curious when she mentioned DENSI. I was able to take some of Shayla’s suggestions and put them to good use. I trained some teachers and got my DEN Star status. I had several fourth grade teachers getting on the bandwagon (drinking my Kool-Aid) and using DE for more than just videos. I was involved with getting the Spring Virtual Conference off the ground in our district. We had almost 50 teachers come out on a Saturday to get connected.

But, the real life changer for me was getting accepted and attending DENSI2013 in Burlington, VT. I was semi-excited about going, but didn’t realize the full potential of the week. It was, by far, the best professional development I had ever been involved in.

I got off the plane and several people greeted me (Darcy, Del, Taryn, and Verna). It helped that I was wearing my DEN love t-shirt! Kim and Mark were on hand to give tired travelers rides to the campus. We arrived on the campus and were greeted, and by greeted I mean hugged like a true Southerner, by the DEN Princess herself, Porter Palmer. The kindness never ended from beginning to end. It is hard to explain how awesome DENSI is to people who haven’t been. I want to encourage other teachers to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, but am a little selfish in wanting to keep it all to myself.

The sessions were hopping and kept me on my toes. I can’t wait to unpack it all in the upcoming school year. I really liked the format of the Unconferences. I was able to continue to network and learn all at the same time. I absolutely loved being part of the DENfit group. We had great conversations as we worked out together. Thanks to Steve, Alli, Jessi, Sonja, Bev, Marci, Kate, Gina, Linda, and Shelly for the motivation and laughs. I didn’t go away to college when I was younger, so sharing a dorm room and (gasp) a bathroom was kind of new to me. And it was awesome…couldn’t have asked for a better roommate and now friend. Thanks for the connection to Darcy, Porter, it was much appreciated.

It is encouraging to me to know that there are so many great educators out there getting those Digital Natives who sit in our classrooms. I learned so much in five short days and came back DENbrained. Thanks seems so trivial and small when I compare it to what I am taking away from my first experience with DENSI. But, thanks it is from this clueless newbie.

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