Tag Archives: digital leadership

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How to Become a DEN (Discovery Educator Network) Star

If you or your school system has access to Discovery Education, you should consider becoming a DEN (Discovery Educator Network) Star. As a DEN Star, Discovery Education gives you a space on their website for your own blog as well as access to support, resources, and professional development that are exclusive to DEN Stars.

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I became a DEN Star last spring when I learned how simple the process was from one of the digital learning facilitators in my district. Essentially, you can go to the Discovery Educator Network link on www.discoveryeducation.com. Once you are there, you will read and watch a video that shares what the DEN Star program is all about. Then, you will be asked to host a Discovery Education event.

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A Discovery Education event is sharing resources from Discovery Education with three or more educators. Events can be informal sharing sessions, PLC meetings, professional development sessions, or even webinars. For my event, I collaborated with a media specialist in my school to create a one-hour workshop called Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning. We demonstrated how to use Discovery Boards and shared some projects students had made with Discovery’s Board Builder. We also included some non-Discovery tools such as Quizlet, FlipSnack, and Padlet.  As a result of the workshop, many teachers began using Discovery’s Board Builder (as well as some of the other tools) with their students with great success!

To maintain DEN Star status, you must report two events a year. I have just begun to more deeply explore the resources that are available to me as a DEN Star, and they look promising! I certainly encourage you to host an event with some of your colleagues over the summer if you would like to check out the DEN Star resources before the new school year begins.

Three Ways #Educoach Has Impacted my Digital Leadership

I just can’t say enough about my experiences with the #educoach Twitter chat.  I stumbled upon it last December, and I am so thankful that I did.  I highly recommend checking it out.  The moderators, Jessica Johnson (@PrincipalJ), Kathy Perret (@KathyPerret), and Shira Leibowitz (@shiraleibowitz), do a fantastic job of asking questions that solicit productive conversations.  The chat occurs every Wednesday night at 10 pm (EST).

Being an instructional coach can feel isolating at times.  Although I have contact with numerous educators and students each day, no one in the building has the same role as I do.  I am fortunate that my school district provides opportunities for me to collaborate in a literacy coaches’ PLC twice a month; however, there are so many pressing matters that sometimes I am not able to ask for help from my colleagues in our allotted time together.

The #educoach chat participants are solution-oriented, knowledgeable, and resourceful.  Every chat is a professional growth experience.  I am a member of a community of learners/experts who  are phenomenal encouragers and thinking partners.

Currently, the #educoach group is reading Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger.  I have almost finished reading the book, and I like it quite a bit.  Sheninger’s writing style is straightforward with compelling examples of technology’s transformative role in improving student learning, instructional capacity, community relations, and branding.   I have suggested using Sheninger’s work for a district-wide training for administrators on effective technology integration.  As a result of participating in the #educoach chats around Digital Leadership, three things have occurred that have upgraded my own digital leadership.

1. Tweeting in an #Educoach chat with Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal)

I mean, how cool is that? Being able to see Sheninger’s perspective in real-time was awesome.  His very first tweet in the chat definitely confronted one of my “cherished beliefs”: That the change process has to be slow.  It seems that I develop many of my projects at a snail’s pace because I believe that change must always be slow. That’s how we’ve all be trained.  Since the chat, I am beginning to think outside of that lens.  I am jumping into the “quick change” process both personally and professionally.

2.  Learning how to Obtain Google Educator Certification

So, one important aspect of leadership I’ve learned from reading Digital Leadership is modeling your own learning.  During our first Digital Leadership chat, one participant, Nancy Alvarez (@nancyalvarez12), discussed how she and members of her PLN are working through the Google Educator training together and blogging about it.  She even shared one of her colleagues’ blogs.  I always wonder how someone becomes a Google Educator, and I decided to jump in!  Since then, I have been working through the first module on Google Mail.  I have to say that I am not an expert in all that Google has to offer…yet.  But, I have set a goal for myself to complete the training by the end of August.  In the meantime, it’s more important to show myself as learner than as an expert in the process.

3.  Meeting with #Educoach Participants (via Google Hangout) About Blogging

During the last #educoach chat, several of us discussed our desires either to begin blogs or to re-dedicate ourselves to writing our blogs.  I fall somewhere in between (having just enough blogging experience to be dangerous!)  Kathy Perret (@KathyPerret) offered to host us in a Google Hangout last Sunday to discuss blogging.  Kathy, Julie Bauer (@jbteachr), and I met to discuss topics ranging from hosting options to writing topics.  Julie actually hadn’t blogged before, but that evening she completed her first blog entry at her brand new site http://julieebauer.com.  Julie is doing a great job, and I can already hear her voice coming through loud and clear (something I personally struggle to find).  Kathy was so open to share what has helped her too, emphasizing the importance of a blogging schedule, writing ideas in drafts for later development, and tweeting blog posts to those who might be interested in reading them. I took copious notes from our conversation, and I am steadily implementing the strategies.

 

As I continue growing, I will document my journey (along with other work) here.  Please join me (@kennycmckee), and leave a comment below about where I can follow you on your digital leadership journey too. Communicating our successes, struggles, perspectives, and projects is how we grow!