Discovering education in Nashville

Nathan Liewicki
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Sacred Heart teacher joins esteemed educators at mega conference

At the urging of students at Sacred Heart Community School, Lindsay Morhart made a point of learning more about coding and video game creation this summer.

Lance Rougeux, vice-president of learning communities and instructional implementation for Discovery Education, shakes hands with Sacred Heart Community School's Lindsay Morhart at the Discovery Education Network Summer Institute in Nashville in mid-July.

Unbeknownst to her, that included playing Minecraft during a session at the Discovery Education Network Summit Institute (DENSI) in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month.

“I went to a session on it and a girl said, ‘maybe you shouldn’t play survival mode. Maybe you should just go into creative mode,’” Morhart recalled on Monday.

She referenced a student who she assigned an iPad app called Floors to play with it. A week later, he reported back to her with a video game he had created.

“It was crazy, but kids like that and there’s such an interest among them,” said Morhart.

For Morhart, her trip to DENSI (July 13-18) marked the third time in three years the elementary school teacher and vice-principal has rubbed shoulders with esteemed educators from Canada and the U.S., learning about the latest technologies to create authentic digital learning environments that engage students and improve achievement.

Of the 149 educators, Morhart was the only Saskatchewanite in attendance, and just one of five Canadians who had an opportunity to connect, collaborate and share resources, ideas and strategies with elite peers. About half a dozen educators from the United Kingdom also attended DENSI.

“I feel pretty lucky because it is an experience like no other,” Morhart said of attending DENSI. “The chance to collaborate with other educators in similar and different situations is really invaluable.”

Another of the things technological educational nuggets Morhart gathered from the conference had to with green screening.

“You can make it basically out of a cardboard box painted green,” Morhart said of the green screening. “Kids can create puppets and makes videos with an iPad and create a Discovery Education video. I'm excited to try some of that this year with my students.”

Teaching a number of different classes spanning Grades 3 to 8, Morhart said it might be difficult during the 2014-15 school year to conduct mystery Skype chats between her students and classes in the U.S. and United Kingdom, but notes she will pass along her knowledge to her Sacred Heart peers.

“I have a wonderful staff who are willing to try anything,” she said. “They want to learn and do different things, so if I can connect them to other (educators), it's a win at the end of the day.”

In Morhart’s mind, the great thing about Discovery Education is that it’s “a company that listens to our feedback and what we have to say.” She added that they make changes based on the feedback and input provided by educators.

Although she plans to enjoy the remaining five weeks of summer holidays, Morhart said she is excited to share what she learned at DENSI. She is also grateful for the opportunity the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division has given her to attend DENSI, thereby supporting her growth as a teacher and administrator.

“I want to stay relevant, current and make sure I expose my students to the best people and the best ideas that are out there,” said Morhart. “I want to expose them to other kids, other schools and other communities outside of Moose Jaw and outside of Canada.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Discovery Education Network Summit Institute, Holy Trinity Catholic School Division

Geographic location: Nashville, Canada, U.S. Nashville, Tenn. United Kingdom Moose Jaw

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