DEN Community Member of the Week: Karen Zilhaver

With Karen at DE VirtCon

Karen is a classroom teacher at Hilton Head Preparatory School in South Carolina. She has been using Discovery Education since 2006. She shared “I started using DE back in 2006, when it was still called United Streaming. The impact, as I have become more educated in all that is possible with DE, has been immense, not only for myself, but my students. Being able to assign videos related to what is happening in a particular subject as homework, brings another level of learning into the class and frees time for us to delve deeper into a particular subject. Using Board Builder to show learning and understanding has been a hit with the students, as well as myself and other teachers. We have used the boards for Inventors during the Industrial Revolutions, Native American Indians, The Life of a Cell, and Food Web to name a few. Boards are popular because students can add their own work, or other resources, as well as DE resources, and of course the fact that they can design the look makes it all that much better! SOS is another DE resource that has impacted my teaching for the better. When I’m looking for that something extra to bring to a lesson, I know that there are so many ideas to draw from. Also the virtual field trips have become an important part of my classroom, allowing student to experience things we couldn’t otherwise. This past year alone we made it from the Arctic to Ford’s Theater and many places in between, bringing another level of learning to the classroom. I would have to say DE has had a tremendous impact on my teaching and my students learning, and it continues to as I continue to grow with Discovery.”

How do you start your day?
With a delicious cup of fresh ground coffee! While enjoying that first cup, I read the local news, and check social sites online.

Why did you become a teacher?
I always say teaching was my 10th career. I was working in a school as a Development/Financial Director and the Principal asked if I would be interested in setting up the first computer lab in the county and teaching students. How could I resist an offer like that! I left teaching for a number of years due to life, but returned 10 year ago and have loved every minute! Having been a Media Specialist, Technology Integration Specialist and Classroom Teachers has allowed me to work with all levels of students, faculty and staff, which is really what I love about teaching – the people.

What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
One of my favorite ways to use Discovery Education is to help struggling writers by using videos, sound clips and photos to help ignite ideas and expand their vocabulary. These resources help students to better express themselves not only on paper, but verbally when we discuss what their understanding of a certain piece of media means to them.

What is a ritual you have in your classroom?
We have a morning classroom meeting after our school opening. Students take turns sharing at least one thing they did to help someone, and then if they choose something in general like going to a friends house for the evening. The purpose of having students talk about how they helped someone is to hopefully make them aware of things they can do at any age to contribute at home, school or greater community, and to help them see the importance of looking beyond themselves.

Participating in the NASA Virtual Field Trip

Participating in the NASA Virtual Field Trip

How are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?
I volunteer time to older adults helping them stay current with technology and use devices they own, set up software, apps, etc..

What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
Just try, and if you are afraid to go it alone, I’ll come by and help you!

What advice do you have for first year teachers?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know who the master teachers are and seek their wisdom, they will help you through the rough spots, and be your biggest cheerleader.

What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?
Facebook – DEN Friends, DEN Maker Space, Teacher Ready/Alum Association; Twitter; Edmodo; Linkedin; American Library Association; Education World; to name a few. There are so many great sites and people to learn from that my list is continually changing.

What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, and Association of Independent School Librarians; P Buckley Moss Society

What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?

With DEN Friend Dave T.

With DEN Friend Dave T.

The most memorable experience was at FETC in 2009, I believe, and I attended a session presented by Lance Rougeux. He brought so much to life for me, and I left wanting to know more about DE, the people involved, and truthfully any person who had ducks in their classroom was sure to be a role model I wanted to follow. It was the best decision I have made, following through on his advice to get involved, and because of this most memorable I have had many more memorable DEN experiences!

When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
Traveling, with my friends, off to learn something new, reading, or at the water (pool, ocean, gulf).

What is your favorite kind of donut?
Warm homemade donuts with glaze icing

How can others connect with you?
Twitter – @MsZ1600; Karen Zilhaver on Facebook, Linkedin, Edmodo


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