A New DEN STAR experiences DENSI 2011: What A Trip!

After only playing an active role in DEN for one year, I embraced all that Discovery had to offer while sharing as much as I could. Becoming a DEN STAR was a pretty easy task, but my interest in DEN continued to grow with every sharing opportunity, so after applying to help with events and blog posts, I ventured further, applying to experience DENSI.

Before even boarding the plane for San Diego, I knew I was in for a real treat, communicating with other attendees, realizing we were all looking for the same kind of networking and sharing. I was able to connect with Rita Mortenson, DEN Guru from WI who took me under her wing. Upon my arrival at USD, the sharing began, whether it was formal sessions or informal conversations, everyone was willing to learn, grow and share! What A Dynamic Group of Educators!

The first night was inspiring, as Danny Forster shared his passion in “Build It Bigger,” conveying persistence and bravery regarding his productions, much like what we must endure as we pursue the cutting edge of education. As his sharing ended, ours began, making wonderful connections with people from around the nation.

Of course my own mental clock was ready to wake by 6 AM, but guess what? My room- mate Linda Rush (TX) was right there, sharing all kinds of excellent iPad apps and ideas! So all my roomies had a pajama DEN session with me in our room every morning!
(4 people in one room really was a great idea!)

Sunday, we headed to Sea World where our networking and sharing with each other grew, and by the time we had returned, we formed our “Teams” and continued to share into the evening. I knew I was in the right place when a new friend Kim Adair from PA offered to set up her green screen and computer to teach me how to use this amazing tool… it was 1:30 AM – and we were still sharing and growing, (Yeah – that is 3:30 AM Wisconsin time and I’m usually in bed before 11PM). Up on Monday by 5:30 AM PDT – doing more pajama iPad sharing before the formal sessions began!

The Discovery Team members did a wonderful job organizing and running all the events of the week! Each day was packed with sharing of ideas while supporting each other’s professional needs! Yet one day was left as an Unconference where the DENSI attendees chose the schedule and topics of discussion.
I put my brain in high gear, learning how to integrate Blabberize and Audacity with DENnis Grice (CA) and Traci Blazoski (DEN Guru from PA), More Green Screen & Jay Cut with Cynthia Brown (DEN Team member), Mark Perlman and Kim Adair (PA), and Movie Maker from Rita Mortenson ( WI), Genny Kahlweiss (CA), and Jennifer Morrison (CT). There were so many more people who were willing to help me grow professionally, working through their lunch break…. I thank everyone for their support.

You can buy a great green screen kit by “Yoo Star” $20… I even bought 2 kits and since returning home, I have transformed my formal dining room into a green screen studio – My children LOVE it!

Beyond professional growth, I saw the power of caring educators come through as other needs arose throughout the week regarding ill DENSI attendees and lost, foreign children.

The week came to a close with Hall Davidson wrapping up the week with a keynote – which summed up the week of sharing dynamic 21st Century creations by students and teachers. I could tell Hall was truly a dedicated teacher as he demonstrated ideas and tools to use in our classrooms including a cool little $5 microscope of 45X, attaching it to the ipad camera using a $1 grommet!

You can peruse the DENSI photos here.

Lisa Thompson of NC has pooled some resources here.

There were so many great experiences beyond what I can convey here, you just need to experience DENSI for yourself. It will be one of the best professional development events of your career guaranteed!

Posted on behalf of
Peg Hartwig
STEMath Teacher
Marshfield, WI


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  1. Margaret said:

    A $20.00 green screen, I can’t wait. It might be just the tool for digital storytelling I’m looking to try!

  2. Neene said:

    Peg and Porter thanks for sharing this blog post. Loved revisiting all the happy memories. And I had not seen Lisa’s compilation of resources. What a great find! Have a great time digesting all that we learned and experienced.

  3. DENnis Grice said:

    It was great to meet you at DENSI San Diego. It’s hard to capture the energy and learning that happened last week in words and accurately convey it to others. It was definitely a mountaintop experience. My challenge now to take that energy and channel it back to the valley of the real world.
    Going into work this week I can feel that post DENSI depression kicking in. I miss the late night and early morning “pajama DEN” sessions (as you called them). No doubt I was spoiled spending a week with amazing educators who shared the same passion for tech & learning, but now its time to take that learning and put it into practice.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mike Gorman said:

    Wow…sounds like an awesome time. Not only that… you have found a useful way to use a formal dining room. The STEM academy should be fun! Excited to see you learning and getting even more into tech and STEM. We need more people like you in education! Keep up the great posts! – Mike

  5. Nancy said:

    Thanks Peg for bringing back some fond memories (I’m only ‘just’ catching up on my reads!)

    OK, so searched high & searched low (and even searched amazon) and COULD NOT locate the green screen you are referring to (at least not for that price). Do you happen to have a link. Thanks a bunch!

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