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I am still processing DENSI2015, and today I spent some time going through the many #DENSI2015 tagged videos, specially looking for really creative ones. You see, I’m already trying to come up with something interesting and innovative for my own 2016 application video. I am sharing here a few that struck me in one way or another.
A School Librarian from North Carolina

The first is by Judy Uhrig, a school librarian just like myself. One of the reasons this video struck me is because like me, she is a high school librarian. We attended several of the same sessions at DENSI2015 as we have a similar view of our respective schools. We take on any and every content area and we serve our students and staff, no matter the requests. This is one of the reasons I love being a high school librarian, as no two days are alike, ever. No room for boredom or feeling like one is in a rut in this position for sure. Her video really represents that well. I know that for my own video, I did about 90% in an Animoto, mainly because I could create my video piece by piece, especially since I tend to put everyone else first and my personal projects last. My video portion and narration took place on a testing day when most of our students and teachers were encumbered, freeing up just a little bit of time for me. :) Her video REALLY represents what my typical day is like. I try to stay out of my office, visible, and accessible 80% of the day. Job well done Judy!!

A Technology Coach from California..and beyond

The next video I am sharing belongs to Dennis Grice, a Technology Coach who is starting his own new adventure in an International School this fall. I love the different approach he took in his creation. No less effective, viewers immediately pick up on his personality and dry wit! There were many with singing applicants, but his personal touch was spot on!


A Passionate Teacher from Texas

Finally, Lindsay Foster‘s video touched me as well. At the institute, we were encouraged to use our passions to reach others. There were many emotional moments as DEN members shared their story. It is easy to see how the DEN Community becomes such a close knit group, way above and beyond just the passion for teaching and learning that brings us together. Lindsay’s application video really showcased her passion well. way to go Lindsay.

Feeling Inspired 

All of the videos I have watched have given me something to consider as I begin planning for my next DENSI Application video. Meeting you in person was just icing on the cake. All the DENSI2015 attendees have seriously rocked my world–others who just don’t get it are going to think you warped me, and that’s okay too…as long as my passion for working in the education field continues to shine through. Thanks DEN Community and Discovery Education for allowing me to be a part of this and reigniting the fire for networking with an educational purpose.

First off, I’ll share my entire DENSI2015 flickr set:

Next I’ll share the #DENSI2015 Group set :

Note: Flickr has done away with the ability to share a set(now known as album) in show mode but a little search revealed that one can still add the word “show” to the end of the URL and then use the share feature to snag the embed code. It refers users to the older Flickr with its familiar toolbars and tools of old, but hopefully that won’t go away anytime soon.


#PhotoFail or #PhotoSuccess?

If you haven’t noticed, I failed miserably at capturing a lot of pictures. I really thought I would take photos of everything happening and selfies with/of everyone I met and made friends. But I wound up doing more preserving of my phone’s battery power instead. So I shared the pool of photos of which I did contribute my few.  Then I shared above the complete shared photoset from the #DENSI2015 group.  Happy I am to see more than 200 photos. I even uploaded my roomie Jessica Felker’s  photos.


Still making sense of DENSI2015

I am still very much processing the week’s events. My intention early on was to try and blog each day’s events. By my the 4th day (Wednesday) I was absolutely on information over load. Here are the sessions I attended, followed by a comment or two:

  • The session Level Up Learning! Gamified Professional Development led by Selena Ward was an eye opening experience for me. I’m not much of a gamer, but I can see where adding that “competitive” twist to PD might be just the catalyst I need for getting Ts to participate in our more often than not “optional” professional development. In my teaching context we have a few days before school begins and even fewer days after school begins for any required/mandatory training, so gamifying it just might be the solution to get Ts to participate!



  • I then went to Karen Ogen‘s session Augmented Reality Can Make Your Classroom Come Alive! I had two reasons to attend this session–one, she is SC’s DEN Leadership Council rep, and two, I wanted to see if there was anything new or different from what I had seen recently at ISTE. It was much of the same, but no less exciting. Some tools have changed names, such as coLAR to Quiver. But it is still much the same. Here is a link to her slides and the material covered, where she predominantly showcased her content, leaving us  extremely wowed. The other big difference in this session as opposed to sessions at ISTE, attendees really felt at ease asking questions and interrupting to get clarification.
  • Following our breakout sessions we had a fun session where the entire group reconvenes to physically vote on “Things That Rock.” Essentially the moderators, Dean Shareski and Steve Dembo created a slide set of topics, and the audience voted by lining themselves up on either the far right (strongly agree) or far left (strongly disagree) and those somewhere in the middle stood in the middle. It’s always fun to hear impassioned debate as attendees defend their positions. I could not believe the arguments about Starbucks of all things. All the topics were not pedagogical, but all were relevant to us as attendees at DENSI this week (i.e. topics ranged from “dry university” to “tenure.”)
  • The last topic of the day for the convened group was to plan out the next day’s unconference. I’ve never seen it done this way. My experience with unconferences is to have to audience somehow “vote” on the topics that make sessions. This time people lined up to write a topic on a card and then vocally proposed it, saying why they wanted that to be a topic for the next day. The Discovery Ed team ultimately decided what sessions made. After some combining, the schedule was displayed on the wall at first, then transferred to a shared google spreadsheet and corresponding doc for group notes. Excellent way to do this. I am not sure I’m allowed to link to the notes yet so I’ll follow up later if that is kosher.



Next on the Agenda, The Denovator Fair

Picture by Jessica Felker

This was the most incredible part of the day, seeing all that participants came up with to share at the Denovator Fair. Please look through all the photos in the DENSI Group (embedded above) to grasp the range of makerspace type activities we had access to. My own contribution was Upcycled/Recycled Tshirts, where I challenged attendees to create a bag or a pompom.

It ended too soon

Picture by Joquetta Johnson

It didn’t seem possible that Friday was already here when it did come. Thursday was spent going from unconfernece session to unconference session. Thursday evening brought on one of the WILDEST parties I’ve attended as an adult, our History Themed Costume Party. Again, just take a gander at the photos in the DENSI2015 group set to see the variety of costumes! I’ve asked our SCASL Pres and Pres-elect to maybe consider adding a Maker fair and Costume party to our annual conference. I’d do it. Would you, fellow SCASL members? In the end we were challenged to continue learning, sharing, connecting and more. And DE Leader Jannita Demian has tasked us with helping get MORE SOS tips/topics to DEN for future use and expansion.

Today was filled with lots of connections, sessions, and finally the DENmazing Race.

Making connections

At our group start-up meeting we were given an Bingo-like sheet that looked more like a DC Metro line map, just in a simpler format. As we network over the next few days, we are to get for each “stop” a signature to show that we are indeed networking and learning about, with, and from each other. Each stop is a DEN characteristic (i.e. Won a DENmazing race contest before, or Has taught for 20 or more years.) The “stops” really help you get to know other Discovery Education Network members well. One of the DENmazing race activities was to match names to pictures of attendees, and my group was able to QUICKLY match them, and I attribute that to the HIGH level of networking. The Dengo activity really did help me know names and faces in that activity.



This is where as I reflect my brain actually starts to hurt! Most of these sessions were focused on tools, but it wasn’t just an introduction to a tool. I’ve been “tool-focused” sessions a plenty (i.e. 60 apps in 60 minutes) that just superficially scratch the surface of the tool. The sessions today that focused on tools were significantly more meaty, giving me lots of application ideas AND making me reflect and think of more ways I might use them in my own teaching practice not only as a school librarian working with classes, but also as a Tech Trainer working with Teachers. Often I lament that tech conferences now a days do not give me new material. Thank you DEN for great material today, and I can’t wait to get more great material tomorrow!


Favorite QUOTE of the day:
When the smartest person in the room is the room, make sure its your room. –Hall Davidson


List of Apps/Tools/Material I want to dig into deeper now that I have new insights and ideas aplenty:

There were PLENTY more than this short list, but these captured my attention for various reasons, and of course I will dig into them a bit more.


The DENmazing Race

The DEN organizers created a scavenger hunt type game loosely based on the Amazing Race reality tv show, and teams of four worked through the activities, some of them challenging and brain teaser-ish for sure! We find out tomorrow how our team stacked up.

A pic of the screen in Chad Lehman’s session, my ground roll for the DENmazing Race, my DENmazing team, and the DENGO networking activity/challenge.


I still need to get three more “stops” on my DENgo game, and we have a day filled with great sessions again tomorrow, followed by the Dennovator Faire (a maker faire amongst the DEN!)


Most of the morning was spent in downtown Washington, DC at the National Mall exploring/touring several monuments. It all began with a bus tour of “embassy row” where our tour guide shared interesting bits of knowledge about each embassy and other establishments, like the vice president’s residence, the location of Hilary Clinton’s residence, the National Cathedral, and even a “wanna-be” embassy that is actually a family residence tucked in this residential area where the embassies are located.

The tour guides provided by Discovery Education enchanted us with facts and anecdotes about not only the embassies, but also a couple of specific monuments, including the Jefferson Memorial, the the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument with a view also of the White House beyond, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, a walk along the tidal basin, and of course the Vietnam War and Korean War Memorials.

After lunch on the steps of the Natural Museum of History, we were released to scavenge the area of all the Smithsonian Museums at our leisure until 4PM. We returned from our touring day to crash. A scheduled independent night tour of the monuments was available to those wishing to see more after dark. (I skipped this because I had done a similar tour the last time I was in DC.) We just hung out for the rest of the evening. My legs and feet will be so sore tomorrow!

Here are some pics from the day that I grabbed from the DENSI2015 Group Pool.

Made with Flickrit

Today was a long, long day for me with my travel to DC that started with a 7AM flight, a short layer over, and then arriving finally at 11:15ish. One of the DENLC from Raleigh, NC (Katie Bollinger) provided an airport shuttle service today which was quite helpful. It was nice to not have to worry over cabs, uber, the metro, or any of that. Katie had been here for a few days for Leadership Council things, and so was willing to help us out. As a first time Discovery Education Summer Institute (DENSI) attendee, this was extremely helpful to me.

A BIG Welcome

Upon arriving at American University, my carpool mates and I went over to the AU cafeteria for some lunch. I got to see Karen Ogen, our SC DENLC leader. The group there was sharing tips on how to get through this week.

At 3PM, we were processed for check-in, which included room keys and quite the assortment of gifts.


Welcome swag from DENSI2015


A DE Photo-op

We had a photo-op later with Lance Rougeux, the Vice President of Learning Communities and Educational Consultants at Discovery Education where he leads the Discovery Educator Network professional learning community, among more (read about him here!)

Picnic Dinner with More Swag
Next up was the kick-off dinner, picnic style, followed by our big welcome. We listened to welcomes from Porter Palmer, Lance Rougeux, RJ Stangherlin, and guess speaker Trace Dominguez of DNews. Each and every one was extremely inspiring, filled with community, and all about making each and every one of us a better educator. At this opening event we were showered with more Discovery Education Swag.  I hope to blog a follow up that details some of what is in this picture. Some of theses items have a very interesting story.

Featured: Sharkweek DEN Bag with a Sharkweek sticker, another DEN sticker, a selfie stick (boxed), a Shark foam hat, a Discovery Educator Network pen/pad set, a “Welcome to DENSI” attendee gift of Tony Packo’s Chili (from Cheryl Lykowsi), and Team Meeting goodie (mini magnifying glass.)


Secret Attendee Gift

I need to blog another time to explain the significance of some of these items, but I will go ahead and share that Cheryl Lykowsi‘s gift I happened to have the honor of receiving is famous from her area because of the tv series MASH. The Hot dog sauce was referenced many times by Klinger in the show, and there was even a complete episode about the infamous hot dog sauce. Read about Tony Packo’s and the sauce, as well as its connection to MASH here. Wish I’d been that creative with my gift brought and given to another attendee.


Trace Dominguez, DNews

I especially enjoyed Trace Dominguez. I tried to embed a Twitter search that includes his user name and the tag #DENSI2015 so as to give viewers a context for what we enjoyed. Tonight it looked pretty good. Hopefully tomorrow and later on it will still be good.


First DENSI2015 Team Meeting

We are known around here as the DENtastic Ten, and we connected tonight. After serious housekeeping (reminder of policies, tomorrow’s sight seeing details, and more) we did an icebreaker activity that was fun. We had to say four things about ourselves as an introduction, but one of the statements was a myth (or lie). It was fine to have the group try to determine what was a lie. The miniature magnifying glass was a way to remember our team ice breaker activity. We quickly brainstormed how this could be used in classroom settings.


…starts a fun filled day of sight seeing in Washington, DC with this large group of educators from around the world (around 150.) It’s late even as I blog this, but I felt it was important to share while it was fresh in my mind. Most of my roommates are already asleep. Hopefully, I’ll check back in tomorrow!

This article written by Karen Yi of the Sun Sentinel has been making rounds amongst my PLN.

My own screenshot of the headline for an article from SunSentinel posted July 9, 2015


As many knee jerk and make complaints, my response is what else is new? Testing is just a part of the school atmosphere, and like it or not, we have no control over that. We can hope that eventually the emphasis on high stakes testing will lessen, but for now, we just have to deal with it.

Yes, closing the library happens in many places, even my own teaching context. I hate to tell ya, but it’s not always just testing that closes our doors. No use crying over it–the  directive to close the library, be it testing or otherwise is above my pay grade. The question is how do YOU deal with it? I know there are plenty of creative ways to get books into the hands of students who cannot access the closed library. I’m thinking library on a “tricked out” cart with a laptop or ipad for searching/circulating. I as the LMS am allowed to come and go even if we’re closed for testing, and I can get whatever a student requests into their hands…maybe not immediately, but shortly after such a request.

SHARE your work around.

Favorite Person?

Sue Levine grabbed a selfie with me, first day!

I met up with Sue Levine upon my arrival in Philly. Sue allowed me to room with her at the Home2 Suites right across from the convention center, and it was divine! Almost a full kitchen in our room, Sue especially took advantage, storing all kinds of items to create smoothies, snacks, and more. We each had a thermostat to control the room temperature where we slept, which I very much took advantage!

Favorite Events  (How do I decide?):

  • Numero Uno on my list was the #DENisTen evening event held Monday at the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in Philadelphia.  It was great to connect with so many fanatical Discovery Education Network friends.  I had to choose between this event and the Google Mixer (Google Certified Teachers only), and I finally opted for this one since I will be attending the DENSI2015 (Discovery Education Network Summer Institute) next week. It was not a mistake. I dropped by the Google booth in the exhibit hall several times to connect and take in mini sessions, and I also visited the Google Tools Playground. Hate I missed reconnecting with my GTA cohort though. Right after visiting the #DENisTen gang, I went over to the Hard Rock Cafe for the Tweetwood Mac get together, featuring Kevin Honeycutt‘s band and plenty of live music, dancing, karaoke, and connecting with even more friends. It ran a close second to the DEN get together as a favorite. After munchies from both of these gigs, I didn’t even need a supper.
  • Each morning a gang of us showed up at the Down Home Diner in the Reading Terminal Market. Orchestrated by Kevin Jarrett, we had anywhere from ten to fifteen meet up each morning over there for breakfast. My northern friends were astonished at my choice of “grits and eggs” for my breakfast fare, but not nearly as much as my southern lilt. It was a great way to start each day of ISTE.


Informal Learning Highlights

So much of what draws me back to ISTE each year has to do with the depth of informal learning that happens. There are so many impromptu opportunities to gain at this conference from conversations, birds-of-a-feather, walks to and from sessions, posters, even standing in line one can engage in meet-and-greet style learnings. The bloggers cafe was a rocking place to meet up as well. I choose this place for both the opening keynote featuring Soledad O’Brien and the Tuesday Keynote, just so I could bounce ideas off people as we watched. Even connecting with the #TLNews folks for their live broadcast from ISTE’s PLN Lounge (another informal gathering spot) was a smash in my book. I reconnected with so many friends–far too many to name without leaving someone out.



  • This year I had so much going on at the homefront that I couldn’t get to ISTE early for any of the pre-events (like the Hack-Ed event and the Mobile Learning gig.) Both were said to be extremely dynamic, so I am disappointed I missed them.
  • This is not really a regret, though I have read from several in my PLN that it was a waste of time–the sessions that featured tool after tool after tool. I have to confess half of these sessions did not impress me, but I do love to hear certain folks at every conference (i.e. Kathy Schrock, Leslie Fisher, etc.) and so I purposefully attended them to be wowed by something new, build a little gadget lust, and be entertained by good speakers–both of them ALWAYS manage to engage me. If I’m feeling tired, I know these people can rejuvenate me. So guess what? I’ll attend their sessions next year too.
  • Ignoring the Exhibit Hall – I didn’t spend hardly any time in the Exhibit Hall this year. The ISTE Expo definitely catered to those looking for Learning Management Systems–there seemed to be a plethora of those–many I’d never heard of before, as well as the typical swag and exhibits the featured small classroom setups. I sat through only one, but made sure to visit a few vendors that I use regularly in my school library. I missed getting trinkets, pens, buttons, candy, and other fun gadgets that I usually bring home to put in prize packs for teen read week. Shame on me. I only brought home two t-shirts, and I didn’t get either one in the Exhibit Hall. I needed some of those freebie tshirts for my upcoming Denovator Faire at #DENSI2015 (which I will likely blog about next week.)
  • I didn’t take near enough photos. I really thought having my phone with me would make me take more. Oh well, #fail.


Favorite Sessions!

  • There are some who confess they never attend a single concurrent session, banking on the informal gatherings, poster sessions, special interest groups’ gatherings, and more to provide where many find sessions lacking. I too value those informal areas and groups for learning. But I am nerdy enough also to utilize the ISTE planner and read through sessions, selecting ones that appeal to me based on content or knowledge of a speaker or panel. Some of my favorite speakers this year were in “ticketed” type sessions, so I missed them in sessions, and instead tried to follow them and interact in the informal spaces instead. Others I found provided many conflicts in my schedule, forcing me to pick and choose.
  • My absolute favorite session without a doubt was George Couros’ session “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset.” A packed room received a heartfelt session, and George’s passion showed throughout.  He pointed users to this link, and the posts he references are very much worthy of a read! The session was amazing, and I am not lying when three or more times his presentation brought tears to the eyes of attendees momentarily. It was emotionally moving several times. He was fascinating and thoughtfully engaging. Spot on with his message and presentation.


Best New Tool I learned about:

One that is coming soon, MotionSavvy – I am speechless and cannot wait to share this with some friends and teachers!

Chemistry4D – an amazing tool that uses Augmented Reality to show/teach chemistry and the periodic table of elements.  Freaky!! I first saw it in the Librarians Playground, but then saw it demonstrated several more times in sessions and in informal spaces. COOL.


Best Tool Attendees Brought to ISTE:

The selfie stick was seen throughout the conference over and over.  My own roommate Sue Levine had one and used it QUITE a bit to capture “selfies” (which were renamed “us-ies” and “Weesies” by Leslie Fisher during ISTE 2015, and she also renamed the selfie stick the “narcisstick.”) While the name calling by Leslie was funny, I found myself captivated looking at the many photos in my friend and roomie Sue Levine’s timeline on Facebook. I reckon I’m a sucker for it as well.


Until next year….I hope to make it to Denver in 2016. I am enjoying reading the many ISTE 2015 reflections and rants.  What was memorable to one seems to be a complaint to another. Isn’t it always that way?

I can’t wait for my summer learning opportunities and interactions with current and future friends and PLN members! I will be attending #ISTE15 and #DENSI15. I’ll be sure to share my takeaways.

Now to just shake this summer cold! Bah!

I just watched this Classroom 2.0 Live Webinar in the following recording, and I’m excited. I served on the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning when Canva was selected for 2014 as a winning site, and I have used it a good bit. But watching the webinar today has given me tons of new ideas for using it with students, teachers, and even for myself!  Lookout folks, my creative juices are flowing out of control.


Here is a link directly to the webinar’s archived video.

Okay, so we’ve been common “crafted.”

Wow, a Library Common Craft Video. I can’t decide if I’m happy or sad that it has come to this–needing a video from Common Craft to explain what we do. And in a school setting, it is even much more complex.  But yay, at least libraries are getting represented!

See all the other videos they have here.

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