Spotlight on the CT DEN STARS

What are some of the outstanding things our CT STARS are doing?

June 2010

Patti Schippani is a Technology Resource Teacher in Ridgefield, CT who provides services to six elementary schools. As a technology integrator, Patti works with teachers and students to infuse technology throughout the curriculum. She maintains websites for students and teachers with specific curriculum connections, she assists teachers in the planning of lessons and curriculum, she models lessons for teachers and provides technology professional development to all elementary teachers in the district.

Although Discovery Education has been available to Ridgefield teachers for a year and a half, in the past 3 months, Patti has provided 30 sessions of training for 110 elementary teachers in DE Elementary Science, Streaming and the Teacher center. As a result of this training, each elementary teacher was able to create their own DE classes and start assigning content to their students.

Patti continues to work with teachers to integrate digital content into their curriculum. First grade students, learning about likenesses and differences in people and places around the world, utilized DE content to learn about different cultures. Fifth grade students are finding appropriate video content about the African country they are researching. Students will download, edit and insert the video into a PowerPoint presentation about culture, economics and the geography of the country. Another group of fifth grade students are creating blogs as a character in their core reading. They will be looking for DE content to add to their blog that will help to show where their character lives, or the time frame in which it lived. Students also have the option to upload the DE content to their Voicethread account to create a source of discussion.

Patti has been teaching for the past 33 years. She was a classroom teacher in Stratford for 25 years, and taught every grade, K through 4. While teaching in Stratford, her biggest accomplishment was creating the first Multiage K-1 Program, which was a Literacy and Integrated Technology model for the district. She has presented at local, state, regional and national conferences. In addition to her DEN Start Educator status, Patti is also a SMART Certified Trainer.

Patti has two children. Next school year one will be a senior in college, one senior in high school. Her favorite thing to do is spend time in Wellfleet, MA where she has spent “off times” for the past 26 years.

Patti loves technology because you can NEVER know everything…there is always something new to learn!

May/June 2010

This month in the CT DEN Star Spotlight I am pleased to feature my colleague Mansfield Public Schools Grade 5-8 Technology Coordinator Jim Griffith, of Mansfield Middle School in Mansfield, CT. Jim is a veteran technology educator coming to Mansfield three years ago after working as a classroom teacher and technology coordinator in a neighboring school district. Jim came to education after a retiring from a career as a U. S. Navy Submarine Officer.

Jim is a delightful colleague with a generous spirit and a great sense of humor.  We have worked very hard in the past few years in our district to revamp our school and town technology departments into a blended unit of shared resources. We have also transitioned to a virtual server infrastructure across all schools. Jim’s personality is a big reason we have made it from a bunch of isolated clanging parts to a smooth running machine (well, a smoother running machine).  His Navy experience (and humor) showed through in the transition. When we hit rough spots and he would offer comments like, “I am smart enough to understand when I am being told the correct answer.”

Jim has a fine flair for ferreting out the most cost effective solutions and is willing to experiment with novel ideas if he thinks we might save few bucks down the road. With Jim on board we have learned the ins and outs of combing state contract awards to see if vendors are willing to extend those prices to the local level. Next year he is moving his teachers from a proprietary content management system to a free version of Moodle and he is leading the district charge into running virtual desktop machines in classrooms and labs.

With Discovery Streaming and Discovery Middle School Science Jim feels that he students truly benefit from dynamic multimedia content. It really makes the learning come alive. Teachers at his school love the fact they can access and develop content away from school better fitting their individual schedules. In Jim’s view one of the most important benefits of Discovery is that it can deliver content that is current and immediate. A good example is the current Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Discovery is able to present Phillippe Cousteau’s in a classroom webinar, Spotlight on the Gulf Spill, How it Affects Us Now and in the Future. Questions, Answers and More Uncertainty on June 2. Teachers in Jim’s school will be watching!
March 2010

Jessica Cooley is a grade five teacher at Stafford Elementary School in Stafford, Connecticut.  During her five years of teaching, Jessica has always used Discovery Education to enhance her lessons and to build background knowledge of her students. In 2009, she became a STAR educator and is anxious to share the wonderful things Discovery Education can do with other educators, especially the elementary science.  She earned her teaching degree at Central Connecticut State University in 2004, and is currently working on her master’s degree in remedial reading instruction at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys running 5k road races and playing with her dog, Taylor.

Jessica was chosen as the featured STAR educator in March for her innovative use of technology in the classroom.  Recently, Jessica used flip video cameras with her students during math class.  Each group of students recorded themselves solving a math word problem about elapsed time after creating paper flip chart movies.  Their vidoes are here.  Keep up the great work Jessica!


  1. Carolyn Stanley said:

    This is a fabulous exercise. The kids really had to understand what they were doing to create these videos. In addition, I liked the way they were presented on Glogster. That is a tool I’d like to learn more about. I have shared this idea with one of the 7th grade math teachers in my middle school in the hopes that we can come up with a similar project.

  2. Whitney Mihoulides said:

    And now Jessica is a part of the CT Leadership Council… yay!