Community Building

Joebrennan Joe Brennan is a Discovery Educator who serves as the Visual Literacy Facilitator at Niles West High School and Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois. Joe was awarded a scholarship from The Discovery Educator Network to attend the T+L Conference in Denver last week, and he has written his reflections of a very productive and enjoyable week in the Mile High City:

"We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child,but we tend to forget it takes families to make a village. Nine strangers who are active educators gathered with a number of Discovery Education employees (many of whom have been teachers) at the National School Board Conference in Denver on the last Tuesday in October. By the end of dinner on Wednesday night we were a family, ready to help start a village that can harness the videos, images, and tools of unitedstreaming to help raise students with 21st Century skills and access to 21st Century resources.

It all started with an inspiring workshop on Digital Storytelling with Bernajean Porter on Tuesday ( We broke into six teams and attempted to harness a variety of skills to turn Walt Whitman’s mid-19th century poem "O Captain, my Captain" into visually compelling stories for early 21st century citizens. By the end of the day we were able to blend our just-in-time acquired skills of storytelling, sound production, image manipulation, and video editing into six quite different and moving videos based on the same piece of literature.

The conference itself started on Wednesday and we fledgling DEN members found ourselves free to roam and learn from the many fine presentations and scores of vendors. After the regular sessions ended we met for an hour with John Kuglin ( who gave us an idea of the synergy possible with current technologies and Discovery/unitedstreaming resources. That night we gathered around a huge round table in a our own circular room for a traditional Italian family dinner. In spite of the daunting distraction of the Chicago White Sox sweeping their way to the World Series title, we ate and talked and ate some more as we shared our own personal stories and gained appreciation for each other’s work.

Speaking of appreciation, Thursday started out with us coming together as a Discovery Education focus group. What an empowering feeling it is to be able to share your opinion and have an opportunity to discuss your vision of everything on unitedstreaming, from the interface to the actual content!

I am truly looking forward to the upcoming months as the discussion and DEN family/community building continue."


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