WOW!! What a week! DENSI2013 was more than I ever expected. Awesome, fabulous, mind-blowing and inspiring are just a few of the words that describe the experience. I had been dreaming of attending a DENSI for a few years, but was never permitted. This year my dream came true.
From the second I arrived at the University of Vermont after my walk, yes walk, from the airport, I was met with positive people. Porter greeted me by name (Wow!) and Janita gave me a big hug (my CA buddy). Ana and Gina had arrived at the same time and the three of us bonded instantly and took off for downtown. They are now friends of mine for life. From there it just got better. Meeting all the people I had chatted with and lurked in on (yes, I was a lurker on Twitter) was great. Now that I have met all these fabulously bright people F-2-F I have been officially cured of my lurking ailment (well, mostly cured). In the evenings I have never laughed so much (thanks to Dacia). Being surrounded by positive, geeky teachers who love life and their jobs was great. Thanks to Terra Lee I even got a turtle tattoo (OK, so it was made by a not so permanent marker) but the memories are very permanent! Then I met Susan B. We had so many connections in and out of teaching, it was amazing. Another friend for life. My roomies from Idaho, Marita and Kim, were fabulous. Meeting Bev from good ol’ CA was a treat. I could go on and on with the people I now call friend (I am not one to call everyone “friend”). Thanks to all of them for the memories, resources and laughs!!
The learning was just as fabulous. The sessions we had were so inspiring. I learned so many new things as well as added to things I knew a bit about. There was not a wasted session especially after Janita and Porter gave me permission (and I think would have physically tossed me out) to leave a session that was not what I had expected. I hate being rude to presenters, but they said that I am there to get what I need out of a session and that leaving is not seen as rude. Thanks! The unconference sessions were awesome. I even got up the courage with Susan to host a session. We got what we needed and some. We started an Edmodo group and made many valuable connections. Learning about collaborative projects, like project Gnome, and others was exactly what I needed to take back with me. Learning new ways to use a green screen with puppets was awesome. Playing with BoardBuilders and the Science Techbook were very helpful. I can now be a better facilitator to my teachers. The amount of resources that were shared were mind-boggling. I haven’t even gone though most of them and am on overload…Good thing for Edmodo and Twitter to keep up the sharing and connections. Thanks a ton to all who shared, collaborated, inspired and encouraged. You all have made me a better person and teacher!!
The evening activities were a blast. From grant writing with Dacia to playing Artimus with Commander Steve Dembo… WOW! I had been looking forward to meeting Dacia and getting her expert advice on grant writing. I wrote one grant and posted it and am almost done with a second. She is an amazing, giving person (and a total hoot to boot)! I never thought I’d enjoy gaming. Marita and I tried it just to share with our grown sons that mom can be a “gamer”. We were hooked in minutes. We sent photos to our boys. His response was, “so, there is hope for you mom!” Thanks Steve, I mean Commander Dembo. The DENmazing race was an experience I will never forget. The image of “No Direction” coming down the stairs still haunts me…. The race brought out some very competitive (Gina) streaks. It was all in DENfun though, and many laughs were had, not to mention learning experiences including how to operate a GPS device. Other evening activities were tons of fun. Sorry, can’t name a T.V. or Movie tune in .5 seconds flat like some people…I think I laughed more that week than in the last 10+ years combined. It was a fabulous feeling. And yes, Jan and I are overachievers when it comes to the 5K (it’s the only way we would get an award because speed was not our thing). It gave us some extra time to network and collaborate, and a tiny trophy that sits (with pride) on my kitchen counter. Thanks Jan!
If I had to sum the DENSI2013 week up in one word it would be AMAZING. I guess the saying “FRIENDS are the FAMILY you choose for yourself” describes the DEN to a T. I have never felt like I belonged anywhere until DENSI. I could be myself and not worry about being ridiculed or judged. I was accepted for who I was. It was a great feeling. My family back home has noted a difference in my attitude and outlook. They said I seem happier. Thanks to all my new friends and great experiences I am a better person and am ready to face the challenges of a new school year complete with the greatest PLN in the entire universe. Counting the days until DENSI2014!