DE Webinars for the 9/11 Anniversary

Written on September 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm, by jbrennan

Just saw a Tweet from fellow Wilkes instructor Lance Rougeux about a live Discovery Education webinar that he’s preparing to moderate on Wednesday, September 7th. It’s the first of four live broadcasts featuring members of communities who were personally affected by the September 11th attacks. Here’s the schedule:
Wednesday, September 7, 1:30 – 2:30 PM Shanksville Stonycreek High School · Shanksville, PA
Friday, September 9, 12:45 – 2:15 PM NYC iSchool · New York, NY – Moderator, Paula Zahn
Monday, September 12, 1:45 – 2:45 PM Wakefield High School · Arlington, VA
Tuesday, September 13, 12:30 – 1:30 PM American History High School · Newark, NJ  – Moderator, Danny Forster
These webinars are intended for high school students and older due to the sensitivities involved. You can register for any or all of the programs at
Lance’s Tweet actually originally lead me to his “teacher duck” web page where he shares “Eleven Things to Explore for Teaching about September 11.”

Is the Classroom Obsolete?

Written on August 31, 2011 at 11:59 am, by jbrennan

DEN blogger Tonya Wilson tipped me off to this Prakash Nair article from last month’s “Education Week” and it got me thinking. As a retired high school teacher, I miss the classroom – somewhat. As an online instructor in Wilkes Instructional Media program, I miss the classroom just a little bit too. I wish we could have one meeting face to face just to see and hear each other in real time, interact and share. But we would not have the benefits of sharing a class with such a diverse, widespread group as I usually see. From Alaska to Florida, Hawaii to Europe, I have enjoyed the work and challenge of teaching educators spread across time zones. I (and they) have also enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of ongoing discussions and sharing video projects without a rigid schedule or commute.
But I digress. I switched gears on you, reflecting on my current role working at a distance with motivated, well educated teachers. Back to the title, is the classroom obsolete? Is it just a matter of architectual design? It has been a long time (and even then it was rare) since I have seen a classroom set up like church with all the desks in neat rows facing forward. Is it leaving home and going to another building? I personally can’t imagine young students not getting the human touch to help them shape their learning. What do you think? Scheduling? Length of day or school year? A combination?


Written on August 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm, by jbrennan

For those of us old enough to remember that day ten years ago, those three digits carry with them a flurry of memories and emotion. It’s hard to believe that most of our students may not share any of that with us. This fall’s high school seniors were just starting second grade in 2001. When I read Porter Palmer’s post on the DEN Global blog a few days ago about the two part Discovery special, “Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero,” I must admit I began bracing myself for what I know will be a host of reminders over the next two weeks. Even though I was born almost nine years after the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7th was a date I knew as well as any family member’s birthday from as early as I can remember. I am pretty sure that September 11th now holds that place for generations to come.
I have two thoughts and a couple of resources to share before I leave you to your own reminiscing about that date and perhaps how your school will memorialize it.
Believe it or not, my thoughts are pretty positive. Soon after the details began to come out about the suicide pilots and the conspiracy, a Muslim high school student of mine in full burqa really felt like a spotlight had been turned on her. I mentioned that this might be a great opportunity for her to be an example of her faith and spirituality to our school community while she had their attention. (Not that she needed any coaxing from me, she was already a positive role model in so many areas of our school.) Last fall I found out she is now a Muslim chaplain at a major university. In my own family, we will be celebrating the first birthday of our youngest granddaughter. The date has taken on a life of it’s own, but life goes on.
As for resourcesDiscovery Education streaming (which all Wilkes EDIM students have full access to) has over 150 items returned after a search on “9/11.” The WTC Tribute Center, which is “based on the concept of Person-to-Person History,” offers a free DVD as part of its outreach.

Help for Busy Teachers

Written on August 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm, by jbrennan

After a quick summer off, Kathy Schrock’s S.O.S: Sites of the School Days is back with timely and helpful websites to help educators get the most out of Internet resources. This week’s tip is a compilation of “Icebreakers, Energizers, and Back to School Ideas…links from the Schrockguide to help you get ready to start the new school year.” And quite a list it is with fun and practical ideas to help you get up and running for another year.

Speaking of new things, do you have an opinion about BYOD (bring your own device)? “Tech & Learning” magazine has a quick poll gauging educators’ eagerness to see tablet devices in the hands of all their students. Add your thought and check the numbers at their survey page.

DEN Diigo

Written on August 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm, by jbrennan

The “Daily Dose of DEN Diigo” is a little project Heather Sullivan has going over on the Discovery Educator Network blog to get us to share and make us aware of “aggregated content from Discovery Educator Network events, institutes, conference presentations, webinars, blogs, and workshops.” Her recent post linking to learning a foreign language got this old Spanish teacher’s attention de pronto.

If you are not already a Diigo member or use Delicious and would like to expand and cross post, Diigo has a transfer tool and special accounts for educators. Share what you’ve found and tap into the collective wisdom of many, many of your colleagues.

Back to School Webinars with Discovery Ed

Written on August 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm, by jbrennan

Beginning this week and then twice a week through August, Discovery Education is offering webinars to help you help your students get the most out of Discovery Education‘s resources.
On Wednesday August 17th it’s Providing Students Access to Discovery Education
Did you know that access to Discovery Education is not just for educators, but for every single student as well? Learn how to provide student access, and in no time they will be exploring videos, images, and more from home, school, or anywhere they have an internet connection.
On August 23rd and 24th it’s Engaging Students with Discovery Education
With unique logins students can browse grade-specific content and access personalized assignments. In this webinar we will demonstrate new ways to deliver resources to motivate students, engage higher order thinking, and achieve curriculum learning goals with the support of the newly released Classroom Manager and Assignment Manager.
And on August 30th and 31st it’s Supporting the Learning Process with Discovery Education
Explore different simple and easy tools and practices that you can use to check for understanding and differentiate your instruction. Along the way we’ll highlight the back-to-school enhancements inside Discovery Education streaming and Discovery Education Assessment and explore how to assign materials and view results within the unified Classroom and Assignment Managers. Finally, we’ll demonstrate how easy all of these tools can be used to monitor student learning and provide effective instructional feedback!
Sit in on one or all to make sure your students get the most out of Discovery Education streaming.

From the DENBlog

Written on August 13, 2011 at 9:49 am, by jbrennan

But before we get to celebrating The Dot, there are a few other items of note over on Discovery Education’s Educator Network Blog:

Planning Ahead to Dot Day

Are you a fan of Peter H. Reynolds? If you aren’t sure who he is or about the great things that he and FableVision do for kids and learning, stop reading this right now and go visit his webpage. Seriously. Go!
If you are back, or just still here, then you know that Peter H. Reynolds and Fable Vision are responsible for some amazing kids’ literature that focuses on finding their own creativity, their own stars. He is also an advocate for educators and offers us wonderful resources, like his free, downloadable posters. One of my favorite books of Reynolds’ is The Dot, which has become so beloved around the world that it has become its own day!
Help your students find their own mark by celebrating International Dot Day on September 15, 2011. Read The Dot together as a class and find ways to have students make their own marks. Need some ideas for inspiration and activities? Check out Reynolds’ page for The Dot at his website. Start planning now! Be prepared to share your mark with other educators in September!
(Kelly Hines, NC Leadership Council)

Fall Registration

Written on August 10, 2011 at 8:30 am, by jbrennan

Wilkes U./Discovery Education Master of Science Degree in Instructional Media online classes begin again on September 6 and, though many of the sections are already filled, there are still a number of openings for the two, seven week fall sessions (9/6-10/23 and 10/24-12/11). If you are not familiar with our online masters program designed with the help of and supported by Discovery Education, then you should give the EDIM site a look. Enjoy classes that prepare you to lead your students into their future, not our past. Put what you learn on Friday right to use on Monday. And students in the EDIM program get full access to Discovery Education’s streaming suite of online resources.

Admin Academy for All

Written on August 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm, by jbrennan

Did you know that Discovery Education has an Admin Academy blog? I don’t think it’s just for administrators. Since you are already reading this blog, I have the feeling that you are a leader and the Admin Academy is a good place for you to check in on often. Does this quote from Jerry Jennings’ recent post strike a chord with you?

“Can more of our students be successful?  Can schools adapt and change to meet the learning needs and styles of many more  students.  Can technology be leveraged increase the learning of more of our students?  What is the role of school leaders to accomplish this? My reactions to these questions is: Intentionally working through change that will increase student learning is the work of educational leaders  today.  Just maintaining the status quo, given our challenges, makes no sense.  Are we ready?  Are we willing to participate and adapt?”

Then this is definitely a place you need to visit on a regular basis. You’ve heard all the quotations about preparing our students for their future. How will you help them with that?

Bloom’s Taxonomy – Web 2.0

Written on August 4, 2011 at 7:51 am, by jbrennan

Shakespeare had his Leonard Bernstein (“West Side Story”) and more than a few others. As Wilkes instructor Katie Leach has pointed out to me, Bloom has Differentiation Supported by Technology student Kim Zimmer and Web 2.0: Impacting Learning Environments instructor Kathy Schrock breathing new life into his system by applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to the access and the tools that students have today.
Kim shared this site matching apps to his taxonomy and Kathy put together her own list to show the relevance and depth of today’s tools in the light of Bloom’s venerable work.

To misquote the bard, “To taxonomize, or not to taxonomize, could that really be a word?”