Bette Nelson was one of two Discovery Educators representing Illinois at the recent National Leadership Conference hosted by the Discovery Educator Network in Silver Spring, Maryland. I was pleased that she could join us for this event, particularly since Bette has the distinction of being the first teacher to submit an application and be accepted to the DEN. Our total membership now exceeds 2,500 educators, but just a little over a year ago, our Network was just a fledgling organization and Bette had the courage and vision to be the first to join what has become a very dynamic group of people! Here are some observations she shared about her experience at the NLC:
"When my girls were little, I used to read them a book called, A House Is a House for Me. This story reminded us that everything on Earth is a house for something. For example a peach is a house for a pit. One line in this book goes like this, “Once you start thinking like this, you think and you think and you think…” That phrase came back to me as I sat down to write this blog.
My week in Silver Spring was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my seasoned life. I thought I was pretty savvy in technology as it pertained to my role in the classroom. Now I am thinking and thinking and thinking of ways to bring 4th grade to life through the digital media world. Let me explain.
The DEN National Conference was a very well orchestrated week. With a mix of speakers, food, breakout/work sessions, food, fieldtrips, food, movies, food, bowling, and food, every experience was well received. As a DEN member, I had read articles from people like Hall Davidson, Alan November, and Steve Dembo. Spending the week with these men, brought their knowledge to a different level…a personal one. They are genuinely interested in improving education through the use of technology.
Alan November challenged us to find a way of convincing governmental personalities to continue financing technology. Right now it is on the chopping block. No real studies have proven that technology has improved test scores. You can only imagine the outrage from the 38 educators in attendance. We all had many examples of how technology has enhanced our curriculums, has involved students in learning, and has prepared students for the digital age they live in. So how do we get that funding back?
During the week, we learned and used programs like PhotoStory, Audacity, Inspiration, Adobe Photoshop Premiere, and many more. We worked with pod casting and doing blogs. We received many incredible websites and links to take back and use in our classrooms.
It’s hard to pinpoint what my favorite part was. Touring Washington, DC, meeting gurus in technology, attending the premiere of Atlas: China, a cookout on top of the Discovery Center, having my first Starbucks with my incredible team, watching a motorcade leave the White House, or just learning so many new things to use in my classroom were all tops in my book. Betsy Whalen and her team should be congratulated on their hard work in organizing this incredible conference.
As Mary Ann Hoberman wrote, “and once you get started in thinking this way, you think and you think and you think…” I can’t stop thinking of ways to improve my teaching with the tools I learned at DEN National."
Bette Nelson (Morton, Illinois)