Lessons From 70+ Ignites

Over the past 18 months, I’ve hosted 8 Ignite Events as part of my role as Community Manager for Discovery Education. If you’re not familiar with these events, here’s a brief invitation I created for our upcoming event in Vancouver.

I’ve heard superintendents, principals, teachers, community members and students share over 70 of these talks. Mostly hosted in pubs or restaurants, there are several factors that make this one of the best networking/learning events I’ve been a part of.

  • Location: The fact we hold them in a pub is important. It’s purposely not in a school and not just because people can drink, although that can helpful. 😉 An offsite location immediately relaxes people, let’s them know this isn’t necessarily work related as well it represents a neutral meeting space. In addition, the less fancy, the better. Each location has had its challenges in terms of viewing screens and hearing speakers but those constraints actually make people work harder to support one another.
  • Social first, learning second: The order is important. In most professional learning environments, social is at best acknowledged, at worst ignored. Our focus is on the networking. We create time and space to have conversations. For many
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My Best Work This Year

IMG_1016This was another incredibly satisfying year professionally. My work with Discovery Education continues to evolve and my role as Community Engagement Manager is one where I get to work with so many wonderful people. I spoke to thousands of people in keynotes and workshops. I collaborated with colleagues on many projects and contributed to lots of content online. However this year my best work came in the form of a passion around storytelling.

A few years ago I saw a great series of videos produced for Prudential Insurance called Day One Stories. These were short videos featuring people on their first day of retirement. While that may or may not sound very interesting, they were shot beautifully and told simple but compelling stories.

I immediately considered both how a similar concept could be used within the Discovery Education Community. Having dabbled with video over the years, I relished the opportunity to create something based on these stories. The DEN (Discovery Education Network) began in 2005 so this was our tenth year. We celebrated in various ways and I was given the opportunity to celebrate by creating my own version of the Day One Stories.

Ben Grey, who … Read the rest

Critical Literacy


In case you missed it, Discovery Education offered a free virtual conference in October that centered around Kathy Schrock’s 13 Literacies for the digital age. Unique presenters all shared in 30 minutes or less many perspectives on these various literacies. All of them have been archived and edited so they are great for review and sharing at staff meetings or PD events.

I closed the event with a presentation on critical literacy. There were some new elements I had to explore and had a great time putting together this talk. My colleague and friend Steve Dembo did some fancy editing to remove the 10 minute debacle that took place as I lost sound to my computer and had to transfer my slides to another machine. All in all, it worked out and here’s the presentation if you care to watch.

Critical Literacy, featuring Dean Shareski from Discovery Education on Vimeo.… Read the rest

Why We Work

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz remains one of my favorite TED talks.

The insight and wisdom from Schwartz come through in his latest book Why We Work. Of course, we all seek work that is satisfying and fulfilling but Schwartz provides an interesting historical background that in my mind parallel the way in which public schools were created. The default perception of school tends to be something students have to endure. Much of this was borne out of its history. Schools were designed to address the needs of the industrial revolution and were developed from a factory model.  Educating the masses required a system built on efficiency. The needs of the child were not considered nearly as much as the needs of society. And while this is changing, its impact and structures remain.

Schwartz points out the industrial revolution and mass production of goods created a need to convince people to do menial tasks. Previously, most people earned a living by doing things they were good at and were self-sufficient. Getting someone to do repetitive tasks was difficult and thus the way to convince people to do these tasks was through monetary incentives. Before this, working was … Read the rest

Those Goofy DENny Awards Videos

IgniteISTE.001

I’ve been a longtime fan of this quote. It’s this premise that gives me permission to try new things. It’s with this quote that I took on the task of promoted the DENny Awards. The DENnys are Discovery Education’s way of recognizing and acknowledge a variety of community members and the great work they’re doing. It’s not an official award so and there’s no voting or lobbying for winners but just a fun way for our team to say thank you to great teachers and leaders in education.

My teammates asked if I could make some videos to get folks attention about the event. Earlier last year I found several apps that allowed you to clone yourself in a photo. I wondered if something like that existed for video. I found Split Lens Pro 2. With it you could place your iPhone or iPad in a stationary position, set the timer and record yourself up to 4 times using a variety of framing options.

It took me a few tries to get all the settings right since I wanted to put them on instagram which meant keeping the videos to under 15 seconds. I recorded the clone part, … Read the rest