6 Takeaways From #DENsi2015 – Day 3

Today was the first full day of sessions from DENsi 2015 and I couldn’t pick just 5 takeaways so you get 6 memorable moments from the sessions today.  It was chalk full of rich learning opportunities.  We had our opening morning session as well as 2 morning and 2 afternoon session that we were free to choose from.  These presenters are teachers and DENstars from around North America and England.

** (I recognize this is finished a little later, but I needed time to synthesize the learning I experienced).

1.  SOS Call for Digital Integration Session with Jannita Demian

Learning with Jannita Demian was a treat.  We discussed how not all technology is created equally and not all lessons are created equally.  Jannita discussed how our profession is to bridge the gap between pedagogy and technology.  I couldn’t agree more.  If you make the conversation about learning you connect us all.  However if you make it just about the “tech” or start with tech first then you risk losing the people you want to engage.

What I loved about this session was how Discovery Education has created a Spotlight On Strategies created by teachers.  They are accepting of more strategies and are adding and revamping this section constantly.  These strategies are flexible and able to be used across subject areas.  The strategies are searchable within Discovery Education and is accessible with your account that your district has.    Each strategy gives you examples of how to use it in your classroom.  They will also be sortable/searchable according to your purpose.  You can even save your favourite (I am Canadian) and come back to it another time. 😀

Some Strategies discussed and shared at the session are:

Fakebook – Imagine a Facebook Profile that is editable within Discovery… or print one off and have your students fill out.

– AEIOU strategy

– Table – Top Texting

– Interactive Journals (draw something and then write out on other side)

– 3 Truths and 1 Lie

– Take images from discovery education and populate your screen savers

– 25 Things they didn’t know strategy … create their own boards using board builder or poster boards.

– SOUND CHECK is a Strategy Using ambient sound (have access to audio files)

Reading (or listening!) Between the Lines

Update their own Instagram Picture

SOS: Tweet Tweet!

2.  Another take away was listening to Lori McFarling – Chief Marketing Officer of Discovery Education speak at the beginning of the day.

One of the virtual field trips she outlined was Auschwitz 70 The Past is Present.  It was created from Shoah Foundation in connection with Discovery Education.  They shared the survivor stories from survivors around the world in their own words with the students in our classroom.  By getting these stories out there and connecting them to real life places for students you are giving them greater opportunity to build empathy and put the focus on the stories of the survivors rather than the ideologies of Hitler.  Bringing families of survivors with the survivors to Auschwitz.  Bottom of discoveryeducation.com …. lots of content available.  I know knew I want to attend the Echoes and Reflection session tomorrow.

3.  One thing that I found very cool was the 3M Young Scientist Challenge who with Discovery Education pair a young scientist up with 3M Innovator.  The winner ended up on Ellen in 2013.  This challenge was introduced to me by Kyle Schutt of Discovery Education.

4.  David Fisher – DEN Speaks

Meeting and learning from David was a treat for me this week.  He presented his DEN Legacy project by inspiring others to spend speaking 5 minutes on something they are passionate about in front of the 150 DENsi audience.  David’s premise was we have all kinds of students in our classrooms.  Let students who struggle do the same thing as everyone else.  Everyone is on their own journey and some just need more building blocks (teacher support) to continue on the journey.  It requires a lot of effort but the home run is worth it if your non communicable student walks up to you and says, “You taught me gravity.”  I was impressed by his perspective during our conversations and in sessions I attended.

5.  Creativity in the Classroom by Emily Murn

link to presentation: https://discovery.app.box.com/EMurnDENSI

Thank you Neene for compiling the notes below from this jam packed with ideas session.  I have added some of my thoughts below to her notes.  I loved the many ideas Emily brought to this session.  Some of these were new to me while others had me thinking… oh ya… I could have them show their learning this way.

What is Creativity?

The ability to transcend traditional ideas and create meaningful new ideas – a process that ebbs and flows

  1. Cognitive Abilities
  2. Behaviors
  3. Attitude – ability to have thought about the world around us
  4. Skills – combination of other three ways – ability to share out with the world

Are students re-creating or creating?

Devices can help our students be creative. Glitter and Glue and Scissors can now be even more sparkly with Digital Tools

Creativity is not new. It has always been around. It is just taking a greater step to the front.

It is now about thinking creative-ly in our classrooms.

Sir Ken Robinson – Creativity now is as important as literacy, and we should treat it.

Think Creatively.

Create new and worthwhile ideas

Padlet – http://padlet.com virtual sticky notes and can be used as a virtual word wall or collaborative space.  I love this idea on how to be collaborative outside and inside of the walls of a classroom.  In order to work as a team you need to be prepared to ask your own questions

Working in a group through kinesthetic learning.  Movement to songs such as Lodge McCammon – lodgemccammon.com and through DiscoveryEducation.com (search term “lodge” will bring up many).  Including music into my teaching practice is something I have done sparingly over the years.  I learned Lodge has many interesting songs about a lot of learning topics.  One of the ideas is pick one of his songs, pass on a verses to groups of students, have them think of ways they are going to act out the lyrics, start the video camera, and then have the groups roll through the screen acting out and dancing to their verse until it is done and then the next group jumps in.

Implement Creative Ideas

        Board Builder within Discovery Education is one tool that could be used. It was originally created with students in mind. They can add own text, video, and resources. Now group boards are available. Multiple students can edit the same Discovery Education Board Builder board.  It is a secure site and only viewable by other Discovery Education users. Teacher moderates the sharing to the Discovery Community. I feel fortunate that our district (Surrey) is a Discovery district.  I look forward to making sure my class is set up with their usernames and passwords near the beginning of the year, so we can take advantage of this tool.

  1. Teaching Creatively
    1. Go beyond identifying a word. Perhaps substitute another word. Be engaged, demonstrate understanding.
    2. Emily is presenting a list of verbs to bring our own teacher vocabulary up a notch – slide 30 from presentation –https://discovery.app.box.com/EMurnDENSI
    3. Consider writing an original poem that is inspired by the original but shares their own creativity
    4. Rather than just creating shapes, arrange shapes to create a new image/shape
    5. Spotlight on Strategies – SOS from Discovery Education offer many ideas for how to be creative in the classroom. There are over 70 strategies currently available. And more will be coming soon. [denblogs.com]
    6. Lively lessons series –http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2015/06/14/lively-lessons-interactive-resources/
    7. Virtual Field trips can spark engagement on interesting topics: inside the white house, egg farm http://discoveryeducation.com/events
    8. Webinars for teachers, administrators, and more ex: 5 Ways to Use Discovery Education webinar series.
    9. Join us on DENFriends group in Facebook – comment/post questionshttp://tinyurl.com/DENFriends

2. Teaching for Creativity

See slide 43 – https://discovery.app.box.com/EMurnDENSI : offer students choice, empowerment, scaffolding/coaching, be safe

Some quick ways to spark creativity in daily activities

  • Brainstorming – model is appropriately in daily activities Ex: create a quick list of things with one category hot? old? sour? animals that exist in the rainforest? Students will be able to go from the mundane to the instructional when the thought process has been modelled
  • Caption images – goal: help students think concisely and go beyond. Ex an image presented and look for caption that would summarize it. Consider exploring the “6 Word Story” SOS to integrate this concept in your classroom
  • Forced Associations – example How is a Window is like a pair of glasses? Teacher is like a dictionary? How is a number like a letter? Students may share things that need revisiting or further exploration
  • Brain Break Ideas: board games, drawing starters, moving
  • Get Moving – Go Noodle Brain Breaks – (I signed up for an account today and had fun dancing with my kids at home today.  http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2015/01/21/brain-breaks-with-go-noodle/
  • Brandon Wislocki shared with Emily how his students use paper and crayons and a camera to “present” their ideas and knowledge. Emily shared the video with the crowd.
  • Use songs as the backgrounds to student videos to interact, create, and share their learning
  • Heidi Morgan shared with Emily that no one app or tool did what they really wanted. So they started App Smashing to combine tools to create something closer to what they would like to really be sharing to demonstrating their learning  http://goo.gl/g3Cr2K
  • Karie Huttner’s blogs icreateilearn.weebly.com / DENBlogs.com Karie shares many resources and ideas through both her own blog and the DENblogs.
  • Creative writing with smartphones, http://goo.gl/hrSLBi
  •  – what makes an image something you like looking at
  • Think about careers – http://learnhowtobecome.org
  • Additional Resources will be forthcoming
  • Quote: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” the more you are creative with students the more creativity will bubble up.
  • Follow @EmMurn to continue the conversation

6.  Hall Davidson spoke next prior to our sessions today.  He is a bundle full of energy and hard to keep up with.  However his energy is contagious and I love his passion for what he talks about.  In thinking about his presentation I think he talks with others in much the same way I do.  He speaks in tangents in an excited voice that you can’t help be energized by.  Besides his motto of the smartest person in the room is the room is something I’ve believed in for a while now and is a big reason to why Genius Hour is something I am passionate about.  Students bring their passions and knowledge to the classroom daily and share it with each other.  Often I find myself referring students to other students when they are needing help with something.  I am a big believer of the smartest person in the room is the room.  Hall is an engaging personality that goes off on quick and passionate tangents throughout his presentation.

He talked about many different tools to help students and teachers to ask questions make sense of their own learning.  Some of these ideas included:


Jet Propulsion Laborotory

– HyperDuino

Leap Motion

Google Cardboard

Osmo – Masterpiece

Download Quiver and draw in Osmo



Building Lessons using Pinterest

We all have the ability to use Powerpoint  and save them as pictures and airdrop them into ipad and use a lot of different applications on ipad to manipulate content in meaningful ways to learners.  Some ways he suggested were:

Puppet Pals

Puppet Pals 2

Kahoot – Game Based Learning in the Classroom – Goal to create questions that make you think. Answer the questions

Think Before You Link in School


Young Scientist Challenge – Mentored by 3M Scientists as mentioned above.

A link to the Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips


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