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Long Road Home…Moving Toward New Goals
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 04:54:32 PM Mon 03/08/2010
Published by guest writer and tech specialist, Stacy Bodin

Upon entering Dozier Elementary anyone would instantly see a normal elementary school, however looks can be deceiving. Not evident as you look down the cheerful hallway, is the long road traveled through the last four years in the life of the school.

September 24, 2005 was the date Hurricane Rita hit a neighboring coastal Louisiana parish, sending flooding water in Vermilion Parish. Of the twenty district schools, seven were instantly displaced. One of those schools was Dozier Elementary in Erath, Louisiana.

On October 6, 2005, a long physical journey began for the elementary school as the teachers and students moved the first time. The initial leg of their path began with a platooning system with Cecile Picard @ Maurice Elementary, a campus sixteen miles away. Making a difficult situation feasible for five months, both student bodies worked together to share one school plant by attending long days, three days a week.

With an excited community in tow on March 13th, Dozier Elementary made its second move back to their stripped school for a short lived two month span. Glad to return home, everyone dismissed the bare gray cement floors, empty walls, the absence of classroom doors and ominous feeling in the once “warm” school atmosphere.

With extensive work still needed on the facility, the faculty, staff and student body moved a third time in June of 2006, to FEMA trailers where they remained three years. During that time span, Hurricane Ike brought flood waters back to the community, flooding the three Erath schools once again on September 13, 2008. Fortunately this time, with Dozier still housed in FEMA buildings, the teachers didn’t suffer the loss they experienced with Hurricane Rita. The unoccupied original school plant did flood again.

During the first week of August in 2009, Dozier Elementary educators moved a fourth time to return home to its renovated school. As anyone could imagine, filtering through the halls, were familiar whispers of the famous line Dorothy spoke in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home!”

With the school in a basic survival mode for four years, the goal now lies with regaining smaller technology items and acquiring new resources and/or tools. With district wide budget cuts coming, the school also hopes to begin replacing older computers with the help of donors or grants.

Though money was donated for damages at the district level, understandably earmarked funds were spent on replacing larger and higher priority technology items for all district schools, but the smaller and personal items were not.

In February, Dozier Elementary decided to move forward using their “Eye on Technology” theme and venturing out with a new idea linking the Digital Wish Foundation. With the spotlight on their website @ http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/dozier, the school launched a “Digital Wish/Technology” campaign in hopes of refreshing their technology program and gaining needed resources. Principal Karla Toups and the tech committee set up a school wide page asking for grade level cameras, accessories, flip cameras and software. Individual teachers also each have personal digital wish accounts with needs listed, in hope that parents, grandparents, and/or businesses would help their classroom needs. Letters were sent home by many classroom teachers to communicate current needs for continuous technology growth.

Educators are seeking instructional software for reading, writing and math which would benefit daily technology centers and intervention programs. With the goal of moving forward through creative technology lessons, many teachers are interested in digital storytelling tools. With the help of the Digital Wish/Technology campaign, it is the faculty’s hope that donors could assist in rebuilding, as well as helping them move in a positive and productive way.

For the teachers, students and faculty members who experienced the flood waters and moving four times in four years, memories of hardship do emerge however, coupled with that struggle, lies triumph, strength, endurance and a strong commitment toward education. Each educator, student and parent who endured the four year journey would quickly admit two things “It has been a long, hard road for the school” and that “there really is no place like home!”

Additional Links in case you need more photos, etc…

You can see Erath Flooding photos Hurricane Rita @ 


You can see Erath Flooding photos for Hurricane Ike @


Vermilion Parish Schools: Struggles and Tragedies


Dozier Elementary: Erath, Louisiana


Classroom Campaigning
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 09:00:05 PM Wed 03/03/2010

Published by: Jon Ketchum

This school year John Downs, the Technology Facilitator at Jefferson Middle School in Winston-Salem NC is helping to rally his 80 fellow teachers to start their own classroom campaign for technology. With slimming state budgets and a need for new tech-resources within the school, Downs has asked his colleagues to join Digital Wish.

As Jefferson Middle School's first hired Technology Facilitator, Downs holds weekly grade-level and subject-specific tech-tutorials for students and staff. Beginning in 2000, these workshops have helped his school become more proficient in current internet trends such as wikis, google docs and blogs.

"My job is to serve this school in everything technology and I try to offer as much as I can," Downs says.

Although Downs claims that Jefferson Middle School has a high commitment to technology, he also notes that his staff is severely underprivileged when it comes to tangible tech-resources.

"You know in some ways I feel like we are five steps ahead and in others I feel like we are five steps behind," says Downs. "Most of the money that we receive for technology goes to my salary, which I am happy about, but in the same sense it doesn't help us get new technology each year."

To counter the school's need for new tech-tools Downs and Mike McDowell, Jefferson Middle School's Improvement Team Chairman suggested that the faculty take individual measures put technology into their curriculum. To do this McDowell suggested that every teachers should register on Digital Wish to begin a classroom-campaign.

"A lot of the teachers, were pleasantly surprised around Christmas when parents and community members donated to their Digital Wish classroom after we sent a mass email," Downs says. "In the email the teachers insisted that instead of receiving Christmas presents they would prefer a contribution to their classroom wishlist."

With twenty-five Jefferson Middle School teachers now registered on Digital Wish Downs hopes that he will soon be able to educate his staff using new classroom technology. His vision is to one day have a strong enough infrastructure at Jefferson Middle School so that each teacher can have a whiteboard for their classroom. As read in his Digital Wish profile, Downs believes that the best way to educate 21st century students is with 21st century tools.

He writes, "We live in a digital age, and students have become accustomed to learning in digital ways. As teachers we need to have access to the latest technology in order to connect with our digital learners."

To learn more about John Downs' school-wide technology campaign you can visit his profile here. 

Need a Rolling Crate for Your Flip Camcorders?
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 09:13:41 PM Thu 02/25/2010

So many users have taken advantage of the Flip Video Matching Grant, that Digital Wish is now offering the Flip Video Accessory Lab for teachers to safely store their new camcorders. If you already have all the Flip camcorders you need, but lack the accessories, software, and rolling crate, this package provides a great solution for running a school-wide video program.

This Accessory Kit includes:

    * 10 Empty Camcorder Slots (fill them with your own Flip camcorders)
    * 10 Flip Video Tripods
    * 10 Flip Video USB Cables
    * 5 AA Quick Charger with 4 Ni-MH Batteries
    * Tool Factory Movie Maker Software with a 10 User License (Windows only)
    * 10 Adventures in Technology! Incredible Lesson Book/CD Sets
    * 1 Hardshell, Waterproof, FAA Approved Carry-on Crate

Link to the product page for more details:


Looking for Press Coverage for Your School?
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 09:02:20 PM Thu 02/25/2010

If your school is using technology acquired through Digital Wish, we would love to hear about it! With our new 'Share your Story' teacher-feature, users can now submit classroom stories to Digital Wish for potential national press coverage.

For most Digital Wish teachers, sharing Flip Videos is a great way to showcase teacher ingenuity. With nearly 20,000 Flip Videos put into classrooms through Digital Wish, now is the time to show the nation what can be done with a Flip! Submitting your story easy. Simply login to your account on Digital Wish and link here:


Quick Tips:

- Go to "My Account" and select “Share your Story” from the right menu.

- For a video submission include the URL where your video is already uploaded (Flipshare, You Tube, School Tube, etc.).

- Submit a 'story photo' with your entry.

Student Letters Drive Local Donation
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 01:44:17 PM Tue 02/09/2010

Published by: Jon Ketchum

Jamie Mullenaux and her class of 4th grade students began their New Year with a resolution to put an Interactive Whiteboard on their classroom wall. In less than one month at Mechanicsville Elementary in Virginia, Mullenaux's students have raised nearly 70% of their targeted goal.

Mullenaux has been teaching fourth grade at Mechanicsville Elementary for nearly four years however this is her first year teaching an 'all-girls' class. According to Mullenaux, her school has been organizing single-sex classrooms since she began in an effort to better understand the achievement gap between genders in the elementary school. In turn Mullenaux has taken her new role as a personal challenge to engage and teach her group of eighteen girls using new technology.

"It is our job to prepare these students for the future," says Mullenaux. "This is especially important for me as an educator of an all-girls classroom because I feel that females aren't currently as prevalent in technology oriented jobs as some males may be."

Staying true to her goal of infusing technology around the calendar, Mullenaux continually booked the media lab so her students could use the school's only tabletop Whiteboard. Although partially broken, her students habitually returned from the lab asking their teacher when they could get a Whiteboard for their own classroom. Just before the Holiday Season, Mullenaux showed her students Digital Wish and asked them brainstorm ideas of how they could fundraise for their class. Soon after the students collectively decided to run a letter writing campaign asking friends and family for contributions towards their Whiteboard.

"It was great because it was also something that we could tie into our persuasive writing curriculum," Mullenaux says. "After I edited each letter, the kids sent them out and they immediately started seeing results."

Although Mullenaux admits that she didn't expect much of a response from the community when the letters first went out, she claims that she was beside herself when checks from local donors began rolling in.

"The first response we received was a check for $500 from one of the student's grandfather who owns a local business," says Mullenaux. "From that point on the kids kept receiving checks and we all began to realize that getting a Whiteboard was very possible through the support of family and friends."    

With more checks in the mail Mullenaux and her students are certain that they will be hanging their new Whiteboard on their classroom wall in the near future. When that day arrives Mullenaux claims that the first order of business will be to play Nintendo Wii with her students.

"Honestly, all of my recent Digital Wish success can only be attributed to my girls," Mullenaux says. "Needless to say this experience has definitely surpassed my expectations."

Student Producers Help Get The Word Out
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 07:40:50 PM Fri 01/22/2010

Published by: Jon Ketchum

In early October of 2009 Tim Foley, the Video teacher at Bennington Community Development Center in Southern Vermont challenged his tech-hungry students to a competition where more than just grades were at stake. In conjunction with Digital Wish, Foley asked his students to craft creative Public Service Announcements to help inform American educators about the Flip Video Matching Program administered by Digital Wish. As added incentive, Digital Wish granted two Flip Videos to the winning producers.

Making sure not to stifle the creative license of the students, Digital Wish gave Foley's students a project description with only three major criteria. Each video had to be shorter than 30 seconds; it had to deliver a strong understanding of the Flip Video Matching Program and most importantly; it had to be original.

Within the first week of the assignment, nearly all of Foley's students had crafted individual story-boards and presented them to Digital Wish staff members by video conference. Originality was plentiful as these eager High School students sat in front of the classroom's computer screen presenting early video concepts on scribbled loose-leaf paper. After pitching their ideas each contestant was given direct guidance on how to take their brainchild to the next level.

Consultation continued throughout the next month as Foley's students worked at completing a variety of unique, comical and inspiring commercials to help educate American teachers about the Flip Matching Program.  Just before the holiday break, Digital Wish reviewed the final entries and decided on two projects that met all of the project criteria. Producers Austin Bevin, with her comical 'teacher-testimony' and Drew Johnson, with a visual representation of a 'student-testimony' took the crown.

To view the student's final creations click on their names below:
Austin Bevin's PSA
Drew Johnson's PSA

Please share these links with other educators!  These were created by students using Flip camcorders.

Digital Wish Helps "Flip" Classrooms Upside-Down
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 03:06:30 PM Tue 01/12/2010

Digital Wish users submit over 20 Flip Video classroom projects for teachers to use with students.

In an effort to showcase teacher ingenuity in the classroom, Digital Wish recently held a video contest where we asked our users to show us how they were using their Flip Videos with students. Teachers responded with over 20 interesting and comical classroom submissions, ranging from the well-scripted, student-produced news skits, to stop-action claymation shorts.

To review some of the creative submissions crafted for the contest click here

Becoming The Coach of Your Classroom
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 04:39:39 PM Thu 12/17/2009
Published by: Jon Ketchum

With great advances in educational technology, the traditional “instructor” is quickly morphing into a congenial classroom collaborator.  Much like the ‘coach’ of a unified sports team, this technologically savvy teacher triggers student engagement by offering a collaborative learning environment for their class. 

Brian Greene is a teacher/leader who considers himself to be the 'coach' of his classroom. At Prairie Crossing Charter School in Illinois, Greene educates his students using what he calls 'unconventional tactics.' Through his many hands-on lesson plans and classroom field trips, Greene claims that he motivates his students to take ownership of their knowledge by trying to have them physically 'experience' it.

"Constructivist learning and the multiple intelligence theory are utilized to allow students to think out of the box and push the envelope in education," Greene says.  

Within this atmosphere Greene claims that he is as much a member of his team as any other student, not only does he teach but he learns as well. In an effort to help his students share their growing knowledge and experience, Greene also strives to integrate technology into his classroom. Although his students actively navigate the Web and produce PowerPoint presentations for class projects, Greene hopes to start using webinars and podcasts to collaborate with students and teachers from around the nation. According to Greene, he is always looking for the next best way to engage his students.

"As the principal, staff, students and parents know that there is no challenge I will turn down if it means success for our students," Greene says. "We have so many 'cool' things going on at school; it is sometime hard to explain them all." 

Prairie Crossing Charter School also prides themselves on their ability to physically 'think outside of the box' according to Greene. Often times students will paticipate in an outdoor classroom where they tend to the school's garden and individual student food plots. Greene claims that this physical learning environment reaffirms his classroom ideology that students will take ownership over their knowledge when they are personally invested in it.

"Every student is a part of 'Farm to Table,' which teaches our students about sustainability and agriculture," says Greene. "Students in each grade are in charge of planting, cultivating and harvesting a crop that they will turn into a meal for their fellow classmates." 

Greene advises that the many teachers who still consider themselves to be  ‘instructors’ should try and stimulate their students in new ways. He asks that teachers consider his teaching philosophy posted on Digital Wish, "We must put the power to think, create, develop and challenge into the fingertips of our children." 

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