Before attending this TCEA workshop, I thought I had a reasonable understanding of how to use technology in the classroom. Certainly we all know that the future will be greatly affected by the development of new digital tools. But Howie Di Blasi wants us to consider what technology is doing to our students now.

Di Blasi challenges us to find strategies that we can use to appeal to the learning styles and the needs of today’s media-conscious students. He challenges us to use available technology while integrating state standards and moving past traditional practices. He wants us to experiment with the technology itself in order to serve our students better. And he wants us to find ways to facilitate teaching, learning and assessment in our fast-paced digital landscape.

Di Blasi also gave his TCEA audience resources above and beyond the standard workshop tools. Good thing, too, that he retired a week ago from the Durango School District in Colorado, because soon many other educators will get to participate in the new workshops he’s planning.

Howie Di Blasi is on a mission–to empower as many people as possible with the tools needed to empower as many students as possible, and he’s well prepared to do that. He has a strong technology back ground and a keen appreciation for the restrictions and limitations experienced by teachers and school districts. He is also a solution provider.

At TCEA, we worked in groups to review dozens of software applications and sites. Among them were Audacity, Audio Grabber, Best Part of ME, Bloglines, Brains Breaker, CD-Ripper, Digital Book Publishing, Digital Stories, Photo Story, Digital Scrapbooks, Five Frame, Free Play Music, GCast, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, I-google, the Jing Project, Jumpcut, Photo Express, and Picasa and Picnik.

We experimented with free samples of quick-and-easy digital photography activities and web links. We saw samples of inexpensive publishing options. We viewed an easy-to-duplicate video story about a town and its history. We heard about global classroom interactions. We discussed global perspectives and how to find materials for free.

Di Blasi thinks exponentially. He may be newly retired, but he’s just getting started! I can only imagine what he can do with additional time to look for solutions. His TCEA workshop was one of the most dynamic conference presentations I have attended in some 30 years. Howie is charged with energy, willing to share, and open to suggestions. Check out his website: http://www.toolsfortheclassroom.com.