“Like….wow!” Steve Dembo’s closing words to our group about our project pretty much tells the story of this past week for me. I hardly know where to begin to tell you about my amazing week at the Discovery Educator Network’s National Leadership Conference held at Discovery Communications Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. How does one sum up a week spent the week collaborating with some of the Nation's most innovative educators? When I walked through the door on day 1, I was humbled by their eagerness to learn to things and willingness to share their knowledge. How does one begin to describe the words of the inspirational speakers we got a chance to meet; Alan November, Steve Dembo, Hall Davidson, and Josh Wolff (discovery educator abroad) who talked about his experience in digital storytelling from an “in the field” perspective? I learned more things in one week than I can begin to list in this blog entry, but I will try to summarize as best I can and I thank each and every person who added to that list.
We participated in some great workshops on Inspiration, Timeliner, Interactive Powerpoint, Photostory, and the best hands-on podcasting workshop I have ever attended (thanks to Steve Dembo) I was assigned to an amazing group and although none of us had ever podcast before, we were able to put together a pretty good show for beginning podcasters. Check it out. And then there were the Oprah moments….Adobe premier for everyone, DEN National computer bags, and an opportunity to be the first to see Discovery Atlas: China Revealed, the new Discovery HD production premiering on October 1st. Take time to watch this because it was ABSOLUTELY amazing.
A highlight for me was getting a chance to listen to and meet one of the brightest minds in the world of Education, Alan November who spoke about how the real revolution in education is not the technology but in how we access information and communicate. He stressed that it's not about the wires; it's about what flows through them that really matters. He reminded us that we, as teachers of the Discovery Educator Network, are going to be in a position to help define Global competitiveness, to REDEFINE literacy, to impress on educational leaders that it is essential for our students to learn to work with people around the world and become self directed, self assessing and independent. I know I am only scratching the surface so click Alan November to learn more. I know that I for one am up to his challenge.
The following book titles kept surfacing over the course of the week. They are all ones we should consider reading this summer.
- A Whole New Mind: by Dan Pink
- Blink and the Tipping Point: by Malcom Gladwell
- The World is Flat: by Thomas Friedman
- Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson
- Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning by Marc Presnky
- Empowering Students with Technology by Alan November which I actually WON by bowling a strike on our final night at the conference.
The last day was for project presentation and I was blown away by the work that was done in one week--the range of products was incredible; podcasting, PowerPoint games, videos using Adobe Premiere and photo story, products using Inspiration and Timeliner, each one incorporating the excellent unitedstreaming resources which Discovery Communications provides to member schools. I came away from the conference with so many ideas and connections to other educators who are committed to using Unitedstreaming resources to improve student achievement. I am especially proud of our project http://discoveramerica.wikispaces.com/ and hope you all check it out and join us.
Like the DEN over the past year as a part of this amazing network of professionals, I too have been have been transformed and accept the challenge to do my part to ensure that we truly change the way we teach. My thoughts are best summed up by the words of one of my fantastic group leaders Brad Fountain, Field Manager of North and South Carolina. As a result of the DEN National Leadership Conference, “I am forever changed. The more I think about it, I am convinced that perspective is everything, and the more I learn about the DEN and education at large the more my perspective changes…changes for the better.” So to the field managers of the DEN, I give you MY 2 finger salute… for creating a network where educators can work together, and learn from one another ways to best prepare our students to compete in a global economy. To educators across the country, I ask you “what will you do this year to make a difference?”