Wendy Norton Blog

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My DENtastic Adventure, @DENSI2014.

DENSI2014 Reflection

My DENtastic Adventure, @DENSI2014.

I find that I do not know where to begin?  My adventure started with deciding to create a video application for DENSI 2014 and getting the nod to attend DENSI 2014.  I had not attended a DENSI since Berkeley University in 2007.  I had no idea what to expect, the changes were mind blowing.

First the number of attendees was double, so many experts in one place.  I was a little apprehensive as I disembarked the airplane but that was almost immediately lifted on my arrival at the airport.  Meeting with other DENSI2014 Stars I immediately felt at home.  I really felt at ease with Kelly Hammond, Mike Sandage & Katy Lakes.

Matt Graves our ride to Vanderbilt University, he welcomed us with open arms.  I am so grateful for his insight.   In the dorms Amy Dent remembered me from Berkeley in 2007 when we were teammates.  I really knew then that this was going to only get better, and it did.  By the end of the first day I was inspired, I wanted to learn all I could.  I knew that if I could implement some of the amazing ideas I could make my classroom an amazing adventure for students to learn.

So many passionate educators presenting sessions; sharing their knowledge, the keynote speakers with words that moved me to tears, yet also made me appreciate that I am an educator.  I felt empowered to continue my journey.  Stretching myself beyond what I thought I could every do.  I downloaded apps, tweeted through twitter, recorded videos & audio, then began to write lots of notes. I enjoyed every minute of the DENmazing Race (having the gnome), DENovator Faire, the costume themed evening was priceless!! It will take weeks for me to sort through it all, but my goal this year is to take what I have learned and pay it forward.jackfoot

Sitting on the plane I began to feel a sense of missing something, and that was all of YOU.  I felt I was part of something much bigger than myself, that together we are strong/support network.  My PLN will include so many people, that can answer questions when I feel I need a advice or direction.

The small tidbits that I take away are:

Greg Siers- Follow your Passion

Jannita-“Be a Problem Solver”

Dr. Lodge-Keep lectures efficient & effective condenses content

Steve Dembo – MakeyMakey kits-3D Printers

Andrew Bellow-students need to question, think, and act, because questions are the new answers. 

Kathy Schrock-Activators & Stimulators

Now that I am home I am taking some action.  Yesterday I approached my administration about getting the science teachers in my school to be DEN Stars this year, just for starters.  I want to do Professional Development to get more teachers using boardbuilder, SOS Strategies and many other DE resources.  My students will be the test group this year for the ipad lab, I want to start using the numerous apps that I discovered during the week – aurasma, green screening,  audionote,  and so many more.

I have to say that I now know what a great Professional Development looks like.  I know what it is to be a DEN star.  I know it is okay to take what the DEN offers without worrying about what can I do to contribute. I know that I can contribute in small ways. I know I can ask for help when I need to.  I feel like I am energized to take on the new year with all its challenges; and when I feel that doubt creeping in I can look  back at DENSI2014 and know I can make it through the tough times.  I AM NOT ALONE.

Thanks for the memories!!


densi2014 all



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DENSI 2015-Washington Monument’s Tour Day

DENSI 2015-Washington Monument’s Tour Day

Photo Jul 13, 8 26 37 AM

This Monday morning was greeted by a light drizzle with cloudy skies, the same weather I experienced the first time I did this same tour of Washington Memorials. I guess I brought the bad weather Gods with me. First I met Bob the bus driver, not only was he an excellent driver he was also very talented.  He told me how when he was younger his mama would send him and the other neighborhood boys out to the stairwell to sing acapella. The soul & jazz music he played was wonderful.


The tour started down Massachusetts Ave, the tour guide pointed out all the embassy’s along the road as we went.  Embassy Row is along Massachusetts Avenue NW. Literally a row of embassies, Embassy Row is home to ambassadors of foreign countries in Washington, D.C .  I love the row house architecture which houses most embassies. The following link can give more details that were shared by the tour guide http://www.dwell.com/map/dc-embassy-walking-tour.embassies_mass_ave_credit-Mieko-Yamaguchi


The tour headed to the Jefferson memorial first. Designed after the Pantheon in Rome, this monument is striking and visually stunning with its placement on the Tidal Basin. Jefferson is depicted standing, imposing at 19 feet tall, and looking out directly across to the White House.


Next stop on the tour was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt MemorialAs the group walked the memorial we saw a light rain shower. The rain did not deter from seeing such a very lovely space. This Roosevelt Memorialmemorial takes you through the events of his four terms of presidency via his quotations. A moving tribute to arguably our greatest president. Such powerful symbolism.


The group walked back along the tidal basin to theMartin Luther King Memorial. Loved the concept of this, the way the figure emerges from the stone. Loved all the wonderful phrases which are inscribed on the walls. The way the figure is looking out across the water seems thoughtful. It’s a memorial where you feel you want to take more time to sit and be pensive. Everything was just so powerful, the quotes on the walls, and the sculpture itself.

Photo Jul 13, 11 39 50 AM

I love visiting the Peeps @ MLKmemorials along The Mall. The experience is a much more powerful, solemn and intimate experience. The mood captures the inscription referring to the Lincoln
Memorial a “Temple”. Inside the 99ft/30m tall marble temple is a large sculpture of Abraham Lincoln seated in a chair. The sculpture, designed by Daniel Chester French, was originally intended to be 10ft/3m tall. Henry Bacon realized the statue would be dwarfed inside the large building so the size was almost doubled to 19ft/5.8m.

The northern wall contains an inscription of Lincoln’s second inaugural speech, the southern wall has the Gettysburg address inscribed, considered one of the most important speeches in American history. Above the inscription is a mural depicting lincoln memeorialthe angel of truth freeing a slave.
Korean War Veterans Memorial is a beautifully designed memorial that you have to see to believe with lifelike soldiers in a field. A photo of the wall looks amazing, almost 3D. This is a very thought provoking memorial I don’t want to detract from the other war memorials but this one is exceptionally moving in the way it portrays the images of actual service people from the Korean War. It was quite dramatic and very poignant.
Photo Jul 13, 11 23 51 AMPhoto Jul 13, 11 13 55 AMPhoto Jul 13, 11 29 47 AM

Vietnam Veterans Memorial-Words really cannot begin to do this memorial justice. It’ s really heartbreaking to see the name of every single person who lost their life listed. The Memorial by itself is a very simple structure of reflecting granite, but the message it gave was very powerful. Just walking along it was a moving experience a solemn atmosphere. The statues of the Women’s Memorial and the Three soldiers tell us a tearful story.

2015-07-12 21.50.42 themallright

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The next stop on our adventure brought us to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where we had a quick boxed lunch then had the afternoon to roam the museums. These museums are free! It was a wonderful way to spend a afternoon! My first stop was National Museum of American History. I started on the 1st floor with invention and innovation to learn about inventors, inventions and the magnificent Americans who just thought of something based on either necessity or joy like hip-hop in the Bronx, flexible foot prosthetics, a prototype of non-leak diapers, and the pacemaker to name a few. I continued to the East side to see On the Water: Stories from Maritime America– From 18th-century sailing ships, 19th-century steamboats and fishing craft to today’s mega container ships, the exhibition reveals America’s maritime connections, American Enterprise chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American business—and American life. I I continued through America on the Move which takes you through the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876 to the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs to the global economy of Los Angeles in 1999. Price of Freedom: Americans at War- The heart of the story is the impact of war on citizen soldiers, their families, and communities. My favorite was the The Hall of Power Machinery  which holds examples of the machines that helped make the United States a world leader in industrial production. With models and machines—pumps, boilers, turbines, waterwheels, and engines—the hall follows the development of increasingly efficient power machinery. Here I needed to pause, my father loved steam engines, he always took time to tell me stories as a kid on the engines. I paused in this exhibit because I thought how much he would have loved all the machines. I know if he was with me still we could have spent all day in this section of the museum.  His spirit was with me today I know.

Photo Jul 13, 1 05 56 PMPhoto Jul 13, 1 10 43 PMPhoto Jul 13, 1 30 19 PM

Next was the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where the elephant still stands in the rotunda. I loved seeing the live bugs in part of the museum! They have the most amazing collection of preserved animals. They also have the coolest collection of rocks and gems. It was in the Sant Ocean Hall  that you see the endangered Right whale over your head, or the giant squid, and imagine they are swimming next to you in the ocean.  The Last American Dinosaurs had lots of information on the dinosaurs unfortunately it was too crowded to spend much time reading the exhibits, I did get photos of the dino skeletons!! One regret is the missing the Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution the pavilion was a first come first serve and it was late afternoon so now I have reason to return. The day was a whirlwind of excitement, lots of chatter with friends, a tad exhausting I regret I missed the evening Metro Tour of the Monuments, however I did get to enjoy good conversation with very good friends!!


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DENmazing Adventure-DENSI2015

densi2015_logoI have been involved in some intense thinking today while preparing to write this reflection.  I still cannot believe I had the privilege to attend DENSI 2015 in Washington, DC. This group of educators that is elite in my perspective.  However if you were to ask anyone attending DENSI they would quickly deny it.  That is because we are a humble group that works hard to make a difference in the lives of children each and every day. I find that this year it was easier to step outside my comfort zone.  I told myself I would make more friends, learn new technologies and ask questions when I wanted more information.  This year I think I did a lot more of that.  In conversations with others you quickly discover that the problems you are experiencing are not unique in fact there are educators that have many of the same problems, or concerns with the how their students are impacted by new policies.

I know that I am missing some of the highlights of the week on my session notes, it was impossible to write it all down. Too much too fast. My hope is that I will have the key points and need to just start using what I have learned as soon as classes start with students.

I find that there is one key take away from DENSI. That is that often we find that we are only able to go so far with people during the week because we are interrupted; we only have a short time with people – and so on.  But with the DENSI this feeling is misleading since we can carry the conversation further at a later time, time becomes irrelevant to us.  We are able to extend our time with each other through the use of Twitter, Facebook and the DEN blog. As a family we stay in contact with each other, and when we see each other again in a month, or a year or more, it is like time has stood still, we renew that feeling we have when we are all together again. I have so many to thank for making feel apart of something much bigger then myself. Porter Palmer, Cheryl Woolwine, LeaAnne Daughrity, Matt Graves, Shelby Bailey, Emily Murn, Karie Huttner  (thanks for letting me tinker all day), Lindsay Morhart and Howard Martin to mention just a few who make me feel & understand that real happiness comes from being content with and proud of yourself. The most important thing to remember is that you are worth it, you can go another day, and you can be happy. Life will not throw you anything you cannot handle or overcome.

Techno Titans

Techno Titans

My amazing TEAM: Deb Thonus, Katie Bollinger, Shelley Mann, Robyn Thiessen, Seth Gearren, Mary Anne Jezierski, Karen Ogen, Donna Roberts,   CeCe Wilburn-Davis you guys rock!!                                       

2015-07-17 14.14.45On a daily basis I remembered this: “We argue that as educators, while we look to experience, we should not fall into the trap of ignoring the importance of giving information.” I remembered this quote many times during the sessions, I wanted to share what I have learned and was determined to write notes and blog them for my colleagues back home. I always feel that I take more than I give to DENSI. However to pay it forward-I will be part of the DEN Ambassador program this year sharing with others within my district, my hope is that we can get more educators here to become STARS.

While I unpack my suitcase and begin to construct my blog pages, I am #missingdensi2015 family. Remembering that DENSI is about the hugs, the smiles, the conversations and the multiple opportunities to connect with people who get me. I had a whole lot of fun working with an incredible group, finding more similarities than differences. It’s the ability to share what I have learned and to learn from others doing similar and different things. DENSI brings together a large collection of people who understand my teaching, my purpose, and my passions. You push me to be a stronger reflective person, a better educator and make me believe that I can make a difference!


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DENSI 2015 Sessions Highlight Notes

I feel like each session is its own adventure day

Den meditation, quote of the day:denmeditation

As always the WDEN video was awesome, highlighting the tour, loved that Shelby & Matt did a bohemian weather report, and the always amazing Dennis Grice.–‐DENestra Video very funny. The keynote today was Kelli Campbell from Senior Vice President of Discovery Education. Digital transformation across the globe. A global call to action!! Leadership across the globe. Worldwide expansion–‐coding. I love that we were able to gain access for STARs through the summer for coding on the DE website in the UK. Students will get to learn with digital content in their classroom are lucky, but you shouldn’t have to be lucky to learn. Fostering global citizens, virtual experiences. The power of digital inclusive personalized current & relevant, collaborative. Great teachers are great teachers around the world.

DEN Speaks Chad Lehman–‐Twitter it changed everything.

Making a change. Lindsay Foster–‐the power of one–‐inspiration.  Lindsay always has a lot to say in such grace at saying it in here DENInspiration Quotes I look forward to them each and every day. Thank you.

Steve Dembo!! The great thing about social movements is everybody gets to be apart of them.–‐ Jim Wallis  The power of tweeting and liking. Be brave take the step to share. Semicolon project –‐ depression, suicide.

Be your own best cheerleader. DENvice. Justdoit. (I think we forget to do this as educators). When you do something beautiful…

DAY 2-

Session 1- PBL in the Media Rich Classroom –  Patti Duncan

Patti is a strong proponent of PBL and STEM education for how it helps students engage in problem-solving and retaining information. As always Patti did an outstanding job of teaching the concepts of what Project Based Learning really is.

Challenge/problem based learning more than the traditional idea of “project based learning”“It really, actually changed my life.”


I believe that education should be about authentic preparation for life in a real-world environment. To be ready for life, students need to practice life. They want to learn by practicing the skills, ideas, and habit they need to thrive in life beyond the test.We want students engaged in learning by doing and actively participating in their own education.

Tower2Session 2Bridges to STEM – Zulma Whiteford @zwhiteford –

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Video (on DE)

  • 4 C’s of STEM
    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Creativity
    • Critical Thinking
  • If kids can google a question to find the answer, then we’re asking the wrong questions
  • “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson
  • Use sketch up to allow kids to design bridges, possibly print with 3d printer
  • Bridge-builder
  • Cargo Bridge
  • Engineer Encounters Bridge Design Contest

Bridges to STEM Resources

Welcome to STEM in the Classroom

Tacomoa Narrows Bridge Info Page

Session 3-6 Ways To Show What You Know – Sir DENnis Grice-

 As always DENnis is outstanding.  The joy I find in watching and learning from him is immense.  I love that he has such innovative ways to reach kids. bit.ly/virtcon6ways

Session 4 – Coding in the Classroom…Adding a British Perspective

  • In this session, I got to hear from a number of people about how codiAg is being integrated into the curriculum in the UK classrooms. It was interesting to me that it is a required standard for students starting at age 5!
  • James Massey @jmass100 james_massey@discovery.com discoveryeducation.co.uk
  • Starting at age 5, students must be taught to code in UK
  • uk.code.org
  • Prepares students for careers in code, all about threading it into all subject areas
  • More than just the computer, it’s about thinking
  • Be creators, not consumers
  • Familiarize students with the language before starting on the computers (use DE Coding in the UK)
  • Human Robot (students write “coded” instructions, teacher follows code)

Coding (1)

DAY 3-

Session 1 STEM: Discover, Collaborate, Innovate. Make it relevant!!! Take the rubber band place finger in your ear can hear the pitch better. Use the discovery sound from the Science Techbook activity – strum guitar sound 1 sound 2 ask them to explore with the rubber bands. If not use an instrument, create discussion why the pitch changes. STEM Connect activities videos-Video programs for cross curricular instruction.  Math line, cyberchase, operation junkyard, STEM career videos awareness-Video content about technology  STEM is about skills. Skills are not taught they are developed. Practice, practice,practice.

Use the DE reading articles to get them reading–‐read like a …Scientist?? Context,text,impersonal subtext, personal subtext. Use the reading passages. Thumbs up–‐before–‐after questions.  Use images to ask what we will learn today. Use video head rush to illicit ideas and activities. Skill builders, use virtual field trips events have the archives. Use lodge videos.

Session 2 Hall Davidson-

All handouts: linkyy.com/HallDavidsonHandouts

Today’s presentation: https://discovery.app.box.com/s/53fziz5qbqx3ibhharqdk5mbrpml5wyl 

Using 360 panoramic imbed a secret, use shazam app to get lyrics from a song that is played to get clues, use aurasma app or qr code to get the secret message.  The scavenger hunt was AWESOME, currently getting these apps approved for use in my own classroom for the coming year.

Session 3 Dave Fisher–‐Perfectly Portable Presentations–https://goo.gl/hpV4bF

Using google apps or slide it can be narrated after you add the slides with picture in a picture

Pear deck–‐ insert questions based on the deck you upload

Powtoon –‐good presentation tool

Emaze–‐ Knovio–‐ easy to share video has apps and templates.


Haiku Deck presentation software.

iCloud services can collaborate

Storybird make books

Today has been rich with sessions in technology and I have learned patience, perseverance and stamina really do pay off. 

As educators there are many challenges that we will have to face in the years to come, and technology will be an important tool in addressing many of the issues that arise from them. DENSI helps to build the bonds necessary for many of us to sustain our teaching skills, becoming not just better educators but a better as a community of learners.

2015-07-17 13.26.09