Wanda-Hanley's Blog

Wanda-Hanley is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network and a Wake County 4th Grade Teacher

First Week Blurrr

I survived my first week of my eighteenth year teaching.  Each year I marvel at the amount of effort that we as teachers put into  starting up a year.  Last week seems like a blurr to me now, but my heart stirs inside of me.  I love seeing the the faces of my new and old colleagues light up with passion and excitement when they have a new idea to share or a “come see what I did moment”!  We are building a team on our 4th/5th hallway as teachers stop to talk for a fleeting moment, as they walk down the hall taking their kids to lunch, to stop and share an idea with each other, a strategy, or a moment with a student they had.  We shout out good morning to each other as we enter the hallway. We share tweets, websites, comings and goings.  We are building the blocks.   Just this week one of the youngest teachers cooked more dinner than needed the previous night and brought in and shared with us.  Then others brought in something extra and added to the dish.  It turned out great!  Spontaneous!  If filled the air with excitement, passion, something different!  Others have shared success stories, complimented each other and thanked teachers for being positive.  That bright light.

Communicating, smiling, talking, the body language we share with each other.  It is simple. We build. We as teachers, are passionate about our jobs and we can bring that into our hallway, classrooms, school community.  It just takes willingness to be happy at what we do.  This community that we are building will only help us become better at our craft.  I had planned on writing about introducing the kids to DE and how excited they are, but my hands just typed about building a team of teachers.  I guess I will save my DE and SOS strategy for another night.  But tonight it was about building a community in our hallway.  Short but sweet.


I just attended the most incredible professional development of my life!  Walking through the airport on the way home to Raleigh, NC, I did not want to take off my name tag as I did not want the experience to end.  But having been home one day, I realize that it is not over as I have gained many new friends and we are all still communicating on line in various ways.

I had no idea what I was in for a week ago when strangers picked me up from the airport and had me dancing, but now that it is over and I have drank from the fire hydrant.  I want more.  More passionate teachers, more Keynote speakers that make your hairs stand up and then laugh so hard, more video demonstrations, more knowledge about on line tools, more research based strategies to use in the classroom, more, more, more.  The word more is so simple yet, so meaningful to me now.

Trying to wrap my brain around everything I have learned and wanting to storm the doors of my school on Monday and say “Hello Tree Frogs I am back from the most amazing professional experience of my life and shout it from the roof tops, just doesn’t seem enough.  I want more!


  • The DEN (Discovery Education Network) is truly a family of educators who except you for who you are and where you are on your professional journey.
  • Living in a dorm on Vanderbilt University brought us together to connect, experience, laugh and drive each other.
  • Passion. I love that word now. Passionate educators are alive and well, spread out all over the United States.
  • Learning who the Den Gurus are was amazing.
  • Putting a face to the Discovery Education Team and hearing their stories  inspired me.
  • Loved the Den Speaks, which is a take way from Ted Talks.  The DEN Stars who spoke stirred my core and made me want to do better.
  • Learning how to Tweet and manage my twitter account was fun and building my PLN is now evident.  I get it!  Follow me @twhanley I went from five followers to seventy-five!
  • A huge thanks to Sandy MacDougall for guiding me through the process of setting up my blog and the ins/outs of blogging. I am excited to share my weekly learning with Discovery Education in the classroom.
  • Kelly Hines presented on literacy and the powerful tools you can use to build literate readers and thinkers in your room.
  • Dave Tchozewski talked out the importance of your “Go to People” Teachers need to connect and communicate with each other.  Boy was he powerful!

I must admit, I really didn’t get what it was to be a DEN Star until I experienced DENSI2014.  Now I get it and want more!!

I could go on and on, but I am new to blogging and need to start getting my classroom ready for the new school year, which starts in a week.



Application to DENSI2014

Thursday March 14, 2014 a gold nugget was dangled in front of me from my TLC trainer Katie Higgins when she told me about a professional development opportunity called Den Summer Institute.  There was a rigorous application process, which included a video of yourself using a Discovery Ed resource in some way with the students.  Great I thought!  I can so this I want  to do this.  So after some research I dove in!  I found myself at the Apple Store in South Point Mall learning about i-movie.  Of course I had to use my 8th grade sons new laptop.  A week later I had submitted a video and explanation of why I was deserving.  All I had to do now was wait.

The Big Reveal Day was March 31st.  I had waited all day as I was on break at a camp ground.  After checking my email several times it came through I was in!!!!  I did the happy Dance!!! I jump up and down and yelled with my youngest son!  Beaming I called my colleagues and could not believe they choose me!

My journey had taken a twist!

Hello World!

Wow! What an adventure I have been on since discovering DEN!!  My mind at times is overwhelmed with the possibilities in the classroom which will enrich the lives of my fourth graders and my colleagues as I share what I am learning!  Just finished my first week of school for the new 2013-2014 school year and today I am going to set up my classes in DE and start on some assignments which will help ease my fourth graders into the digital literacy world……