Midwest Summer Institute

The list of Illinois participants in the Midwest Summer Institute has been finalized, and I would like to congratulate the following active Discovery Educators who will join DEN members from several states in Chicago at the end of June for a five-day event that will cover a variety of topics including digital stories, blogs, and podcasts:

Caren Appel (Fairbury, IL)
Barb Baumann (Minonk, IL)
Charlene Chausis (Lincolnshire, IL)
Sunshine Echevarria (Wood Dale, IL)
Pam Fleming  (Murphysboro, IL)
Rita Januszyk  (Willowbrook, IL)
Dee Jonas  (Morton, IL)
Samantha McKee (Morton, IL)
Dawn Miles  (Morton, IL)
Lisa Miller  (Mt. Vernon, IL)
Pam Nielson  (Oswego, IL)
Chastity Pick  (Forrest, IL)
Erica Roberts  (Westmont, IL)

I would like to extend my thanks to each of these people for their efforts in sharing their expertise and insights with colleagues in their schools and districts and for their interest in the summer workshops. I am looking forward to working with all of them at the Institute.

Please use the “Comments” link below to introduce yourself to the others who will be attending the Institute and share your observations about the Discovery Educator Network and what you hope to learn during the workshops.


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  1. Rita Januszyk said:

    Hello, fellow attendees,
    I’ve worn a lot of hats at Gower School District #62 over the last 20 years and currently I am a 4th grade teacher at Gower West Elementary in Willowbrook. My great interest is science and improving science teaching and learning using technolgy. I hope to apply digital storytelling, and any other digital learning from the workshop, to our study of the solar system and space travel. I’m looking forward to reading about the other members of our group and what interests they may have!

  2. Steve Griesbach said:

    We are glad that you wear many hats. There is certainly a lot to do and flexibility is important!

    Digital storytelling can prove to be very motivational for students. Students will spend more time writing and revising to make sure that their projects are great–not just for themselves or the teacher but for their classmates, too! Writing for an audience raises the bar considerably. You might also look for ways to incorporate podcasts or vidcasts as other tools for students to demonstrate their learning.

    Enjoy your learning!

  3. Pam Nielson said:

    ¡Hola! My name is Pam Nielson and I am a junior high Spanish teacher and Language Arts teacher in Oswego CUSD #308. Although I am certified to teach both subjects, my main interest is Spanish. Since completing my Masters degree in Curriculum and Technology, I have tried to integrate my Spanish class with the kinds of technology that will motivate students to learn another language and culture. I am hoping the workshop and the participants will give me some more great ideas.

  4. Caren Appel said:

    Hello everyone,

    This will be my 6th year at Prairie Central High School in Fairbury. I teach in the business/computer science department and I am the building technology representative. I hope to learn more about digital storytelling. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and share ideas.

  5. Barb Baumann said:

    I teach fourth grade in a central Illinois rural community (Minonk). I am currently not only a teacher but also the lead teacher for our building (who has the superintendent part time as our principal) and a technology aide (to assist the tech director with anything that will help make her job go a bit smoother). I love using new technology and learning more about ways to incorporate it in my classroom. In fact, I now have an ACTIVBoard set up in my classroom, which truly keeps me on my toes and motivates even the most reluctant student. I just learned that I’m receiving a grant for introducing digital storytelling to my students, so I am in the process of picking out a laptop, camcorder, digital camera, microphone, and accessories to use this year.

    I’m hoping to learn enough to become comfortable with digital storytelling so I will be able to assist my students in this venture. I am looking for suggestions to utilize the equipment while still teaching my students the fourth grade curriculum. Any suggestions are definitely welcome.

  6. Erica Roberts said:

    Hi! I am Erica Roberts, and I am the Technology Teacher at Westmont Junior High School. I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grades. I just finished my 1st year of public school teaching after working in the computer industry for almost 25 years. This past year I was responsible for developing curriculum for 2 different year-long Enrichment Technology Classes. Next year I will be teaching the first “required” technology class that our district offers. I am also looking forward to working with some of the other teachers in my school to demonstrate the tremendous positive impact technology can have on student learning.

    After working with DOS and WIndows machines for 25 years, I recently crossed over to the “dark” side with my purchase of a MacBook. I am having a blast with all the software tools it came with. I am looking forward to working with the rest of you!

  7. Chastity Pick said:

    Hi everyone! My name is Chastity Pick the Media Specialist at Prairie Central Upper Elementary in Forrest, IL. I’m super excited about meeting you all. I love educational technology on all levels. Especially when we can use it to not only enhance, but truly transform the way our students learn. Digital Storytelling is an area that I have only touched upon, so I’m really looking forward to jumping right in. See you all there!

  8. Sunshine Echevarria said:

    Hello, everyone!
    I am looking forward to the Chicago conference! (It may be my only vacation!) I just finished four years of teaching second grade, and will be teaching Kindergarten at the Avery Coonley School this fall. I am working on a Masters in Technology in Education through National Louis University and look forward to learning new approaches to using digital media with my students. See you all very soon!

  9. Dee Jonas said:

    Hi! My name is Dee Jonas,computer lab aide for Grundy Elementary School in Morton, IL. I am very excited to be attending the Chicago workshop and to meet each of you. I look forward to all the new learning possibilites. I have loved teaching Movie Maker to our 5th & 6th grade students this year. They are like sponges! When it’s hard to get the students to leave the computer lab, because they want to keep working on their projects, I know that they have become engaged. It’s exciting to be a part of this learning.I and am looking forward to new opportunities to enhance our students’growth in digital storytelling. See you in Chicago!

  10. Dawn Miles said:

    Hello everyone,
    This was my second year teaching 5th grade at Lincoln School in Morton. I feel fortunate that installing LCD projectors in every room is a goal there. Mine was in place in May, so I had very little time to really get to utilize it this year. I look forward to ideas for not only me, but ways that the students can use this great tool as well. See you there!

  11. Pam Fleming said:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m Pam Fleming from Murphysboro, IL. I teach in CUSD #186, at M’boro Middle School. After teaching seventh graders for 11 years, I was moved to the 6th grade last year. Many of the language arts projects my seventh students were engaged with seem to work well with six graders, too. I try to implement technology into my curriculum as often as I can. I’m looking forward to the Chicago Conference and learning about digital storytelling. I want to incorporate this technology technique into my language arts curriculum, plus help any fellow teacher who would like to use it.
    Looking forward to meeting you all in Chicago.

  12. Samantha McKee said:

    Hello all! I too am excited about meeting all of you in Chicago. I am a First Grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Morton, IL. This will be my fourth year teaching and the first year I will be teaching a grade level that is not new to me. I am looking forward to working with some of the other lower elementary teachers and finding new ways younger students can utilize Digital Storytelling. Our building is in the process of equipping all rooms with an LCD projector, my hope is that by the end of the year I will be able to use mine on a daily basis to enhance student learning.

  13. Charlene Chausis said:

    Hi all
    It looks like I am one of the few folks representing the high school level! As the manager of Technology Training and Integration at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, I work with teachers integrating digital story telling and unitedstreaming resources in their class lessons. I am looking forward to making new friends and honing my skills to help boost the “digital literacy” of our students and teachers!!

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