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Being from the central time zone, it was hard for me to sleep in too much here in D.C. this morning. Luckily, our hotel is just around the corner from a Starbucks, in the shadow of Discovery Communications Headquarters. I grabbed the house grande, and snapped a picture from the street.

We first met in the hotel lobby, and walked to the building. We were welcomed into Discovery Education Headquarters by Stan, the T-rex and other fascinating eye candy (like a giant Rube Goldberg-type machine called Eureka, the wooly mammoth, triceratops, and bikes from team Discovery).

The day officially started with an address by Coni Rechner, followed by another from Ron Reed. Both emphasized that the focus of Discovery is (and always has been) education. This was a great start for a DEN event, as education is also at the heart of the DEN.

Discovery Education Headquarters is an impressive building, but one of my favorite parts about it is the Discovery blue hue lighting.  Our main room (and others in the complex) can be bathed in a blue hue, lit from above. Here is one of 27 celing holes – the source of the blue light.

We finally got a chance to meet everyone else with an innovative and interactive icebreaker. We broke up into four groups, and had our pictures taken and uploaded into Microsoft Photostory. We then interviewed a partner, revealing our name, where we are from and an interesting fact. Then, our audio was easily recorded into Photostory, and four seperate stories were created to play for the entire group. The whole process took a half-hour and could easily be used in the classroom and other places where intros are needed.

The afternoon was all about podcasting, as led by Steve Dembo. This is a great start for the conference, as podcasting is actually quite an easy tool to use.  In fact, DEN member Dale Basler and I have begun  to podcast for WSST (the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers). This weekly podcast is mainly directed at Science News, and can be found at the website or on iTunes. Dale and I plan to do a podcast from Discovery Headquarters while I am here, so keep an eye out for it!

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The cover story for NEA Today’s March issue is entitled Ready to Upgrade?, which discusses using technology in the classroom. If you missed the last issue, you can also catch the story at http://www.nea.org/neatoday/0603/coverstory.html

The article has ideas for integrating technology at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Specifically, it discusses the use of handhelds (like a Palm Pilot) or podcasting for education. The article also stresses the importance of teacher input for technology purchases in district so they are meaningful and relevant in the curriculum. The last line of the article sums it up nicely: “As a teacher, hopefully your number one priority is to inspire your students to become lifelong learners,” says Lynn Lary. “These new technologies are a powerful way to do that.”

At the bottom of the article is an online technology guide for educators. There is an excellent ‘Gigabyte Glossary’ if you want to see the definition for such terms as ‘bluetooth’, ‘applet’ or ‘blog’. Within the technology guide you also might find some helpful site such as: Learn how to operate a data projector or Using a digital camera in the classroom.

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