DEN Community Member of the Week: Dawn Gardner

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! 

This week we’re checking in with Dawn Gardner, Instructional Technology Specialist at Richland County School District One in South Carolina. Dawn has used Discovery Education since 2009.
“The impact I have seen when teachers have experienced their “lightbulb” moment is priceless. I love to also have my school administrators go through the Discovery Education training with their staff so they can learn about all of the wonderful things Discovery Education offers all levels of educators. Since I am on the Leadership Council, spreading the word about Discovery Education has been my huge impact for teaching in the classroom and student achievement. Once teachers see the benefits, they feel comfortable sharing with students and then parents even can feel the benefit when streaming plus gives them the option to allow students to access quality content at home.”

How do you start your day?IMG_0683

I start my day with a good iced coffee and meeting with teachers to share ideas in the classrooms at all age levels. ‘Breakfast Bits’ also happen occasionally in my schools as well to give short integration ideas and help teachers continue to move forward in their technology integration journey.

Why did you become a teacher?

Growing up and watching my mother volunteer in the school as a Chapter 1 tutor, I witnessed first hand how much of a difference one teacher can make for students who needed a little extra help.

I wanted to make a difference for our youth today who were faced with many challenges that most students were not. Since Chapter 1 has changed to Title One, I have completed my teaching assignments in majority high poverty schools that were classified Title One. I deeply care about my students and know that teachers who teach in these high poverty areas are challenged daily with many challenges that others may not face. My goal is to help my teachers and students as best as I can. I am an advocate for my schools and know that these students can overcome adversities to be successful in their learning environments.

IMG_0843What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?

I love the “Tweet Tweet” for the SOS strategy. This is a great way to get teachers who are hesitant to get on the social media highway with their class to see how powerful it can be and easy to get started. I have used this lesson with as young as 2nd grade all the way to high school. Once the teachers see how excited their students are creating “tweets” for their classroom, the teacher tends to expand their mind and open their thinking for other small “baby steps” to continue making forward thinking progress.

What is a ritual you have in your classroom?

I have Technology Tidbits Lunch and Learn Bi-Weekly at one of my high schools. The students know that when I am on campus, they can come to me and we can share different tips and tricks that they use to make completion of their assignments a little easier for them to organize.

How are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?

I mentor teachers at all experience levels to make them feel welcomed to approach me when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. I also like to participate in parent nights to help educate them on today’s trends with social networking and teens.

What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?IMG_0848

Just take it in small baby steps. In my job role, I have the opportunity to model lessons for teachers and students. I then can set up a plan of action to continue the transition of technology integration for the teacher to feel comfortable to eventually move forward on their own pace.

What advice do you have for first year teachers?

Stay out of the faculty room during the first year of teaching if you have the opportunity to. Do not surround yourself with negativity and try to focus on the positive of what you can give your students.

What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?

I visit Simple K12, Edmodo, Symbaloo and the SMART Exchange to get ideas how to continue to stay on the cutting edge of education in today’s classroom.
My favorite resource is visiting the Facebook Discovery Education Summer Institute group is a great way for me to get info right away. I am so happy that I can post a question and within a few minutes one of my friends in my PLN responds almost immediately. What a great feeling to know that my DEN PLN Family is a short message away!

What other organizations/groups are you a part of?

I am a SMART Exemplary Educator, Edmodo Certified Trainer, Symbaloo Certified Trainer, SMART Certified Trainer.

What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?

My favorite experience with the DEN was attending the Summer Institute in Burlington, Vermont. I had fallen during the pre-con and tore a ligament in my foot. I ended up in a walking boot. My DEN family made sure that could participate in all activities that everyone else could so I wouldn’t feel experience left out. That experience was the most memorable for me I have had and this wanted me to share the DEN love with anyone who would listen to me. The DEN is family, period!

IMG_0844When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?

When I am not working, I am with my family at home. I am married and have 4 children that are ages 16, 13, 6 and 2 years old. I am also taking care of my parents as well. We are one big happy family!

What is your favorite kind of donut?

Blueberry Cake Donut

How can others connect with you?

My facebook name is Dawn Lee Gardner, Twitter Handle is @xanloglonmom, Edmodo is Dawn Gardner


Looking to expand your Personal Learning Network (PLN)?
Learn more about your fellow educators and connect with them!


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  1. Ketsana said:

    Hello, Dawn! It’s wonderful to “see” you here! Your smiles are so beautiful. I hope school is going well for you this year and you’re NOT having to be on crutches this summer, like in Vermont DENSI2013

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