DEN Community Member of the Week: Jeannine Shields

Jeannine (Neene) Shields is a Instructional Technology Facilitator and also works on a variety of Google and STEAM projects for the City School District of New Rochelle in New York. She has been using Discovery Education for many years and shared “I have been using Discovery Education since it was United Streaming and provided for free by channel thirteen. The impact it has made on my teaching? I literally broke down in tears when Thirteen no longer offered it to us. Thankfully Dr. Coleman then came on board and purchased Discovery Education for all teachers. Discovery Education challenges me to grow, try new ideas, and expand my own possibilities as a teacher. This then has a ripple effect on many students and staff.”  

How do you start your day?
I try to arrive at school early before students and even before quite a few staff members. I enjoy the “quiet” to prepare myself for my day. I brew a caraffe of coffee in the S.T.E.A.M. Cafe. And when teachers and staff visit I answer questions, plan projects, and collaborate. I enjoy these moments with a cup of coffee and my colleagues.

Why did you become a teacher?
I believe it stems from being raised with an ethic to help others. Educating our youth is a way to help the future. I looked forward to assisting students with finding that spark where reading skills begin and would take them to new worlds.  Then along came advances in technology which now help us reach further. Today we connected with a class in Ghana. I’m sure students will remember the impact the partner teacher and I made today.


What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
I love the photographs and images available through Discovery Education. Taking one and looking deeper or adding layers can be magical. One project we did this year: I showed students an actual photo of an insect blending into their surroundings. They were then asked to draw a picture demonstrating how insects apply this in their lives (a great check for understanding). Then they all colored pictures of an insect and chose the best background image to overlay that insect. This was a much deeper lesson than just a brief discussion or passage reading on camouflage/adaptations/and environment.

What is a ritual you have in your classroom?
This year scheduling was quite disrupted for the first 3/4 of the school year. But last year I did offer Refresh Fridays where teachers could drop by and ask questions while having some refreshments. This ritual provided a little break for staff and an informal way for them to receive professional development. This then offered many ideas for teachers to take back to their classrooms and students.
This year I created a S.T.E.A.M. Cafe (Science Technology Engineering Arts. and Math Community Area Focused on Education). Every morning I make a large carafe full of coffee for staff. I also have an area with treats and Kcup machines and supplies. Some teachers have taken to arriving early or staying late to have a little coffee or tea and discuss technology ideas. The space has also been a success as the beginnings of a makerspace. But do to the scheduling issues alluded to above, the instructional moments were less frequent then desired. But the framework is now in place for expansion next year.

How are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?Jeannine7
Depending on the facet of my role in education I have a few blogs. Most of which all funnel into I serve on our district’s technology committee. This year I have mentored one new technology facilitator officially. And unofficially mentored/collaborated with a new staff member in our building.

What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
Our students are wired this way now. You will have much more of their attention if you embrace the multimedia, multidisciplinary, multisensory possibilities. Technology makes these possibilities available. And the possibilities are magical. Perhaps you don’t know how to do something. Challenge your students to help you figure it out together. They will remember that learning moment much more favorably then anything they read on a single static page.

What advice do you have for first year teachers?
Reach out to others. Build a PLN. Focus on the P in PLN. So many have so much to offer if you are willing to ask and listen. I am most grateful to my DEN-ln. If you don’t have one yet, start building one now. You won’t regret it.

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

What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
I was a Common Sense Media Educator – need to renew
I connect with several ISTE organizations through Twitter (Mobile Learning Network, Online Learning Network, Learning Spaces Network, Arts and Technology Network, Computing Teachers Network, Edtech Coaches Network, Digital Storytelling Network, and Innovative Learning Network.

Jeannine3What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
My beginnings with Discovery are moments I will never forget. Ronique Hicks had introduced us to the DEN concept at an in-district professional development session. I applied. I was accepted. Two weeks later I was invited to a private DEN event with Hall Davidson presenting at a Dave and Busters. I remember being awestruck sitting so close to him projecting in such a small location. Amazing evening of learning and fun. Two weeks more and a contest was offered “Would anyone be interested in attending a NASA Satellite Downlink?” Of course I through my name in the running. I was selected. Admit I didn’t realize it was an in person event at a Discovery Store with students. Scheduling busses is a huge expense and involves quite a bit of paperwork in our district. Discovery offered to take care of it all. So I was able to bring 30 middle schoolers (use to work in 4 buildings) to our local Discovery Store to listen to astronauts currently (at that time) on board the International Space Station. These are all not normal every day teaching experiences. The DEN provides so much amazing support I am always just amazed at how DENmazing the DEN is.

When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
Seems like I am always connected. If not researching something for work, I’m researching something for my own learning. I enjoy connecting through my PLN so much of my “downtime” is spent online. Every once in awhile I do like to take some time for myself. In those rare occassions I can be found enjoying a cold cup of Dunkin Iced and reading a book. I love to be by the water and my hometown thankfully borders the Hudson River. Local parks are within close proximity. I enjoy sitting and watching the water roll by. And Sunday evenings my husband and I attend a weekly classic car show. We are club members and help with the setup and organization.

What is your favorite kind of donut?
Familiar with Lance’s theory. Favorites are the more chocolate the better and the more pretty (decorated with sprinkles) the better. Guess that tells you a lot about me.

How can others connect with you?
http://jeannineshields, @neene


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