I had an amazing week at DENSI 2013 in Burlington, Vermont!
I was so blessed to be chosen to go to the Discovery Summer Institute again this year. This is the most incredible learning opportunity for educators! I tried to capture the highlights of each of the days I spent there. If you want to see some of the sessions, or browse through the resources, be sure to check out the website at http://www.densi2013.com
- Today was an un-conference for all members of the Leadership Council.
- I learned about iTunesU and how to set up an individual or district account. If you set up an individual account, you can keep the rights and privacy of the content. You can then give the exact link to your students, and a security code that they use to enroll in your course. When making an individual account, you only have the option of creating courses. When setting up a district account, one person is given administrative rights, but then teachers can be given rights to upload onto the channel. You can create collections, courses, and other options. When you use the district account, all content is made public and searchable through iTunesU.
- I also had a great discussion with a group about finding ways to do inquiry projects through globally connected classrooms and groups. We will be using DENConnects to do this, and helping to write inquiry questions for the Classroom-to-Classroom Connections. We are also working on a Symbaloo of resources for Connected projects!
- Greenscreening was a great session! Even though I do many projects with green-screening with my students, I learned a bunch of new tips and tricks! For those who are looking for an iPad only way to green-screen, the app VeeScope may be what you are looking for! Get the paid version, and you will have many options. It is easy to use, but can only use still pictures as the backgrounds at this point. If you are looking for a great stop-motion video app, try Easy Studio (3.99). It is an incredible app that teaches kids about stop-motion video, and can even be used with Kindergarten. It also has advanced levels for older students.
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!
This was a great day of service and fun! We made sandwiches and sack lunches for the local shelter, and made cards of encouragement for parents taking care of foster children in the Burlington area. We welcomed the rest of the DENSI participants in the afternoon, and headed out to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory for a tour!
We kicked off DENSI 2013 with the amazing Kristin Wilcox, producer at Discovery Education. You can follow her on Twitter at @sharkweekgirl. She shared about her journey to becoming a producer, and the importance of nurturing creativity in all that you do! We saw the preview of Shark Week – Snuffy the Seal. Kristin is the lead producer of Shark Week, and it is one of her favorite projects! We also had a great presentation by Lance Rougeux, Vice President of Learning Communities and Instructional Implementation. He talked about the importance of having diversity in your PLN. He related our different personalities to different types of doughnuts, and discussed the roles that a variety of personalities can bring to the community. It is important to include all, and to include yourself into groups that you may not necessarily feel comfortable with. He encouraged us to step out, broaden our PLN, and include all types of personalities in our groups. Everyone has something to contribute. You can read more about Lance’s doughnut philosophy on his blog! Lance Rougeux Blog.
Today was an adventure day! We went on a field trip to the Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms. Be sure to check out the amazing exhibits and displays that can be found at the Shelburne Museum. I spent a lot of time touring through the barns and learning about the carriages and wagons. I also loved learning about weaving, print making, blacksmithing! They took our group picture in front of the Ticonderoga ship! Check out the website to see all that we learned about! The Shelburne Farms was an unbelievable experience! It is located on the banks of Lake Champlain. They are a non-profit organization that is promoting sustainable living. They are not only growing and raising their own food supply, but they also promote a conservation effort for a sustainable future of a community. We spent a lot of time discussing how schools-cities-and communities can work together. They have summer institutes and workshops for teachers if you are interested in learning more. Several people from our group were able to milk the goats and cows! I learned so much at the Farm, and wished we could have spent days and days there! I was able to pick up a couple of great educator resources: Shelburne Farms Project Seasons. It is a 300 page resource book of hands-on inquiry activities for elementary students for discovering the wonders of the world. My second resource is a workbook for teachers and administrators on how to connect service-learning to the curriculum. This resource will help you design, plan, and assess a service-learning project in your school. Tomorrow we are back to sessions! I can’t wait to get my geek on!
Our opening keynote speaker was Richard Byrne. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, I would highly recommend it – @rmbyrne. Richard challenged us with thinking about the limitations of teaching our kids a specific set of skills. Jobs and success in the future will require our students to have critical thinking skills – we are headed toward the “Thinking Economy”. He discussed important concepts for teachers to keep in mind when working with our students:
- Create responsible users of information
- Encourage collaboration
- Education happens everywhere
- Encourage creativity and imagination
- Encourage them to try & embrace failure on the path to success
My first session was learning about DENConnects. What a great resource for teachers! You can sign up with DENConnects and you can participate in units and collaboration with classrooms around the country! There are 4 themes/units for next year. You can find them at DENConnects
Kyle Schutt shared some great resources in another session. He talked about the FREE resources that are available through Discovery. If you go to http://www.discoveryeduation.com and look under Teachers or Students before you log in, you will find TONS of resources!
My other great take-away from the day was Patti Duncan’s session on Engaging Science demonstrations! She is a great presenter if you ever have the chance to see her in action! She had the whole room “hooked” for the entire session. I will definitely be using every idea she showed us! If you would like to watch her presentation, you can see the archive on LiveStream – Patti Duncan.
We ended our day by participating in the DEN-mazing Race! This is an awesome challenge/scavenger hunt type game that is played in teams and all around the university campus. We bounced balloons, created a giant pangea puzzle, identified DEN Stars by picture/name, found information on posters, picked up noodles, and found pom poms by geocaching with a GPS (not very successfully for me! :)) The race takes 1 – 2 1/2 hours to complete, and you are exhausted and sweaty when finished. Our own Casey Boothby from Idaho won the Sportsmanship Award, which earned him the right to throw out the opening pitch at the baseball game on Wednesday night. Way to go Casey!
Our opening keynote speaker was the amazing Hall Davidson! You can find him on Twitter at @halldavidson Hall is an incredible speaker, and you always leave with your head swimming from all of his ideas! Hall has also been sharing his Google Glass with everyone this week. He loves to let you try them on and play around with them a bit. Pretty cool stuff for a bunch of techy people. You can check out all of Hall’s amazing resources at one of his sites:
Hall talked to us about his work with the California Student Media Festival. We talked about the power of video with our students. Be sure to check out one of the most popular clips and sayings at DENSI 2013: That’s so chocolate bar!
I went to a great session on the SOS Strategies that Jannita Demain posts each week from Discovery! Be sure to check them out on the Blogs inside Discovery Education. Another session I attended was “Putting the E in STEM” with Michael Bryant. He did a great job showcasing the features on the Science Techbook. I also learned all about the virtual labs and integrated science simulations in DE. Cool stuff! I loved the session “Ready, Set, Create” with Zulma Whiteford and Tracy Carpenter. These are two dynamic ladies who do amazing things in their classrooms. They created a garden at school and turned it into a giant project based learning opportunity for their students. If you would like to learn more about their projects, you can find them in this Scoop It.
We ended our day by attending the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game! We flash mobbed with Gangnum Style, and had a great time cheering on the hometown team. The Lake Monsters lost, but after the game we were able to run the bases!
Thursday is always the giant unconference day! We post our ideas and spend time learning from one another. I love this day because of the variety of topics you can always find! I learned about HAM radio in the classroom, how to become Google Certified, and all of the Web 2.0 tools (plus extras) that Steve Dembo wrote about in his book. If you haven’t bought the book yet, I HIGHLY recommend it! It is called Untangling the Web. It contained the top 20 2.0 web tools that you can use right now in your classroom. It explains what they are, and how they can be used.
One of my sessions was on my favorite topic – creating videos with kids! I learned some really cool tips from DENnis Grice and Andy Losik on creating videos. My favorite tip was learning how to use PowerPoint and Keynote to create slides/backgrounds/videos that you can then use to import into iMovie for green screening! Cool stuff!
My final session was on Web 2.0 tools. Dave T. has a ton of resources ready to use! You can check out his list at
Goo.gl/65gqm and look under Web 2.0 tools.
We ended our day by attending a costume party with costumes representing each of hometown states. What a ton of fun!
Friday is always the bittersweet day. Sad to see the sessions end and leave good friends, but exhausted and ready to go home to family. We finished by spending the morning sharing with Porter all of the cool things we learned from the week. You should definitely check out the DENSI 2013 website to see all of the videos and notes from activities during the week. Each day there is also a DENews team that reports on topics of interest. I learned a ton, and am very thankful to have been able to come to DENSI again this year!