2015 Year in Photos/Videos

This completes my 7th year of taking a photo a day. Inspired originally by D’arcy Norman, who is 2 years ahead of me, It remains as just something I do. Like Alan Levine, I do occasionally miss a day, but not more than a handful a year.

In addition, I like to create a compilation of my year via video. Here are my past efforts:

2010 (aka, the year I tried something crazy)

I wasn’t sure I was going to make one for this year but in a surprising twist, one of daughters said, “When are we going to see the year in photos?” Each year I’ve made them watch it they usually groan and complain, make snarky comments about too many golf and conference photos but also have many memories sparked about their own year.


I tried to get this under 20 minutes but couldn’t quite as I know some folks attention spans are minuscule. I didn’t include every photo but most every. So if you have 20 minutes, enjoy. If not, move it along but many of you are in it. Leave a note if you are. 🙂

2015: My Year in Numbers

20 years ago, we would have a New Year’s Eve party and send our kids to their bedrooms to sleep and be quiet while the adults partied. This year, my kids had parties and asked us to go to our bedrooms and be quiet. Circle of life? Not sure, but it did give me time to make this.

This is my 4th year doing this. Starting in 2012 continuing in 2013 and 2014, it’s something I can put together in an evening. It’s equal parts reflection and creativity. Maybe that’s what data should be. I don’t know. Anyway, without further ado.

2015 Year in Numbers from shareski on Vimeo.

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 helped create 59 in 59 in his district, spent time with me sharing his expertise and insights as I set out to create the DEN in TEN stories. Over the next few months, I shot and edited 8 videos featuring 9 community members. We showcased educators from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.  From elementary and high school teachers, principals and vice-principals and district leaders and coaches and even retired educators, the Discovery Education Community is diverse and full of great stories.

For example, here’s RJ Stangerlin. She’s a founding member of the community, retired educator and cancer survivor. I was privileged to share her story.

DEN in TEN: RJ Stangerlin from shareski on Vimeo.

You can view all the stories here.

While I say it was my best work, I’m fully aware of the flaws and areas that need improving. I’m not a professional videographer but am passionate about storytelling. I’m grateful for people like Ben who are so willing to share and offer great feedback.

For those interested in the technical side or process here it is.

I began each project with a Skype call to do a mock interview. As you might be able to tell, the videos follow a pretty basic plot line. Your role as an educator, your personal life and interests, your connection to the community. A 30-minute pre-interview gave me a better idea of what I would like to capture. I arranged to travel to the subject’s location and tried to capture the audio first. Using a snowball mic and a quiet space, we mostly just talked. I wanted to capture as natural a conversation as possible. Usually, I ended up with anywhere from 15-30 minutes of audio. Then we went to film. Knowing that none of the audio from the video would be used, simplified the process. I used a Canon Rebel ti3 DSLR with a 50mm lens. I tried to only use footage that was shot from a single position. No panning or zooming. I didn’t always keep this rule but tried. The challenge came in shooting in classrooms. I tried to use a variety of shots so that classrooms didn’t become generic. I captured about an hour of total footage.

Editing always began with the audio track. Using Audacity, I essentially tried to find snippets that might be useful. Rarely were these longer than a minute. I ended up with 6-8 minutes of audio and then tried to edit it down to 3-5 minutes. This was the most difficult part of the editing but the format I used meant that after this was done, the rest would be much easier. I used iMovie to do the rest of the editing. Having access to the Discovery Music library I looked for minimalist soundtracks that did nothing more than kept the story moving at the appropriate pace.

I could talk for hours on the nuances of this kind of storytelling, not as an expert but as someone who appreciates and is trying to learn this craft. I hope to continue telling these stories and more importantly, hope the help you understand better the Discovery Education Community.

The Language of School

I was asked to sit down and share something I was passionate about in education during ISTE 2015. The use of language is something I’ve been noticing for a while and in my estimation doesn’t get enough attention. It’s a one-take video full of ums and stutters, but take hopefully there are some ideas in here with exploring and discussing.

What About Snapchat?

Snapchat has been around for years. Educators were quick to file it under “bad social media” as people focused on the ephemeral nature of the tool and essentially thought of as a way for teenagers to share inappropriate images and videos.

I had a conversation a while back with my then 15-year-old about her use of snapchat. She was drawn to it because it enabled private conversations with her friends. I find it ironic that we’ve been telling kids to guard their digital identity and be aware of their privacy and when a tool comes along that supports this, we tell them not to use it. Weird. I get it, images can be screen grabbed and shared without permission, but even snapchat alerts you when this happened. But yes, like all tools, they can be used nefariously. My daughter continued by telling me that in the same way she and her friends talk in her room without adults they want spaces like this online. That doesn’t mean they are doing inappropriate things, but they need ways to share things without adults hovering over them.

A few years ago I found a story format called 5×5. 5 videos, 5 seconds each and try to tell a story. I made this one.

I’ve always been fascinated with these types of story forms. Snapchat stories fascinate me. Recently, snapchat enabled collaborative stories with limited access. Major League Baseball allows fans to contribute to a shared story. Interestingly, they aren’t saving these but again, that constraint and feature is what makes it compelling.

Casey Neistat does save his stories and uses them as his vlog. Thus far, he’s the one doing the most interesting work I’ve seen.  I’m looking for other examples. Here’s my first story. I don’t know how much I’ll continue to use it but for now I’m in full play mode. Follow me if you want to play along. username: shareski



Before you start thinking, “what about snapchat in schools?” Stop it. That knee jerk reaction to immediately think “<insert new tool/app> in the classroom” needs to end.  If blogs and social media were around 50 years ago I’d worry we’d see things like, “Ovens in the classroom”, “5 ways to use Lawn mowers with students”, “Top 10 radio stations to engage students”. Not every technology or app has to be jammed into curriculum or school. In other words,

“Not every technology needs to be “edufied” but in a world that there are so many new things that we are still learning about and figuring out, I think it is important that we have some credibility in the conversation.”  George Couros

That’s where I’m at. I’m playing and exploring first for my purpose. If at some point I think it might be useful for others, I’ll start that conversation. For now, I’m trying to tell and understand stories.

“The truth about stories is that’s all we are” Thomas King