Presentations and Workshops

We should all be PROUD!!!

The School District of Palm Beach County has been recognized by netTrekker for our commitment to keeping our students safe online and providing educationally sound Internet resources for our students and teachers.  Each year netTrekker recognizes the top 100 Districts based on the usage of their educational search tool, and this year WE RANKED # 7  OVERALL!!

To see where we ranked compared to some of the other districts in Florida and the nation click on the award.


As a reminder,

netTrekker is available to all students, teachers, and family members of the School District of Palm Beach County, and is available via a link on the Learning Tools website.  This is a direct link from school, and inquire at your school to learn more about access from home!

To learn more about netTrekker… check out the netTrekker Support Page, and KEEP SAFELY SEARCHING!!!

As many of you may remember, Lee Kolbert wrote an entry on September 2nd about a very rousing and motivational speech given by Dalto Sheman, an amazing student in Texas.   At the time the post provided a link to the video that was not viewable within our district’s network.  Someone recently reminded me of this young man so I thought I would re-post with a version than can be viewed from school!  Well worth sharing with your students!


We’re happy to announce that the Palm Breeze Cafe is back online for a new school year and can currently be seen on Comcast Channel 19 in Palm Beach County as well as in the classroom using the webcast from The Education Network. (You’ll recall from last year’s season-ending cliff hanger that Lee Keller and I were doing our best to examine whether or not technology can have an impact on learning.) And of course, we’ll be doing our weekly live, online video conference from the Cafe on Wednesday afternoons for our teachers and media specialists and giving away lots of free software during those sessions. Our first live session will be held on Wednesday, September 6th.

We’re happy to have a brand new set for this year’s show as you can see in the segment below. Hey, we get to stand up this year! Not to mention the addition of a new dynamic member to our team. You’ll definitely want to drop in the show to see our new star! (Hint: She’s a classroom teacher from a school with the initials BRMS.)

As always Palm Breeze Cafe focuses on instructional use of computers and the web and how teachers, parents, and students can use technology in their educational endeavors.

So, watch the clip, and if you can, try to join us on Wednesday afternoons where we have a live discussion to go along with the video clips that we pre-record. It’s a unique experience and one worth taking time to attend. You can see our schedule of upcoming shows at the Palm Breeze Cafe home page.

And finally, we’ve added an entirely new show this year, based on requests from our audience. Our new show is available on T.E.N. only at the moment, but look for episodes of Computers for the Completely Clueless coming to a video hosting service near you soon. This show focuses on computer basics, with Lee and I doing our best to inject a good dose of humor and fun to the topic.

(crossposted from GeekyMomma’s Blog)

Last week, I had the pleasure of coordinating a Day of Discovery for 200 teachers of our district’s elementary International Baccalaureate program. Our Day of Discovery included bringing in one of our best teachers, Louise McGinnis. (a DEN Star and  who generously gave up one of her summer vacation days to facilitate her workshop for us -many thanks to you, Louise) AND we also had one of Discovery Education’s most dynamic speakers, Brad Fountain. Discovery Ed is always very generous when we want to coordinate some type of training event and this time was no different. They not only flew Brad down from Illinois to present his keynote, Consumers To Creators; Finding The Way To Teach Today’s Students, and his workshop, but they also sent 200 tote bags, posters and teacher guides.

The day began with all of the teachers gathered together in the cafeteria to hear Brad’s keynote. In his keynote, Brad gives compelling reasons why teachers need to make changes to their teaching styles today and pulls in examples from so many Web 2.0 resources that the teachers couldn’t write fast enough. When Brad was finished, the teachers not only clapped, but I heard a few “woots!”

From there, everyone divided into groups to attend their breakouts which included my session, Louise’s session, Brad’s session and lesson-plan writing faciliated by the IB manager.

Those who stayed with Brad, explored the IB theme, Sharing The Planet as they learned about our beautiful planet’s limited resources and how easy it is to incorporate resources from DE Streaming! Brad showed them 50 ways to use DE Streaming!

While with Louise, participants explored the IB theme, How The World Works and the many ways teachers could use DE Streaming science resources to create interactive assignments, quizzes and writing prompts. She also integrated those assignments with our parent-school communication portal, Edline. Teachers were shown how to incorporate those links generated by the DE Assignment Builder into their Edline pages so students could access them easily.

In my session, the teachers and I explored the IB theme, Where We Are In Place and Time. I took them on a journey through recent history incorporating DE Streaming videos, speeches and images. I also shared a few Web 2.0 resources where history lessons could become that much more relevant by using VoiceThread, BubbleComment, In addition, I was very excited to introduce our newest sharing resource, MediaShare, because now our teachers have an easy, quick method for sharing their own content and for accessing content created by other teachers in our district or content created by members of the Discovery Educator Network (DEN).

Each of us took a few minutes to introduce the Discovery Educator Network to our teachers and encourage the teachers to sign up. Since our district already uses DE Streaming, it makes perfect sense that those who are passionate about using technology in their classrooms would apply to be DEN Stars! Teachers are looking for support, staff development and resources and the DEN is the perfect place to get all that and more!

The day was scheduled tightly with 45-50 minutes for each session and we presented each session six times. The goal was for me and Louise, who were in the computer labs, to give the teachers an opportunity to explore hands-on, but it was a real challenge having the full 45 minutes each session (with everyone arriving on time, interruptions, etc.). Brad’s session was not expected to be hands-on, but still 45 minutes is never enough time to reach everyone’s level of experience and take them that one step farther. The three of us are so passionate about what we do and about sharing that we tend to get frustrated with the lack of time.

I think in many ways, the teachers probably felt like we were feeding them a sip of water through a fire hose. So, as I always do when presenting, I ask the teachers to invite me to their schools to present to their faculty or work with grade levels or some other creative way to reach their teachers for a larger block of time. I hope they’ll take me up on it.

I can confidently say the Day of Discovery was a huge success. Everyone left with smiles on their faces and goodies in their arms. Thank you Brad, Louise and Discovery Education for making the day such a huge success! Thanks also to the principal of the school, Mary Stratos, where we held the event (taking over a school building is quite a burden on a school site and the principal was most gracious), and also thank you to the 200 teachers who met us with open minds. The day was awesome!!

NOTE: Brad’s and Lee’s PowerPoint presentations can be found and downloaded by logging in to MediaShare and search for keyword ibpresentation.

One of the things I found innovative at NECC2008 was the use of backchannel networking during presentations or forums. The facilitators would set up a chat channel using something like the free version of Chatzky. Participants each have access to a computer and are logged in to the chat application. A central computer displaying the scrolling ensuing chat is projected onscreen. While the presentation continues participants are encouraged to engage in “backchannel” discussions about the topic at hand. Typically, links are shared as well as additional resources adding rich collaborative learning to an otherwise linear presentation. It also serves to keep participants highly engaged. Chat transcripts can then be saved and posted for later reference.

Read David Jakes’ blog post about ChatCasting.

Backchannel chats can be initiated using free resources such as Jaiku, Twitter and SMS, PlurkAIM, Skype or paid services such as Adobe Connect.

What are your thoughts about incorporating something like this in your next workshop? Do you see any value to something as “edgy” as this? Are there risks?