Author: Kathryn Blunt

Katie Blunt was the 2015-16 UCET President. She is also an Educational Technology Specialist for the Canyons School District where she is lead over the Canyons District Film Festival and PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs projects. Katie earned her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and her Master's Degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from the University of Utah. Katie was the 2011 UCET Outstanding Young Educator of the year and the 2016 Canyons School District Student Support Professional of the Year.

Student Film Opportunities

Digtial storytelling and filmmaking are great educational processes. They foster the development of research, organization, planning, analysis, and synthesis skills. Digital storytelling and filmmaking are rich methods for exploring content and surrounding a class project with authentic experiences. (Source: Nikos Theodosakis – The Director in the Classroom)

The final step in any good digital storytelling project is to celebrate the creative works developed by students. This can be done by holding a viewing party in the classroom, holding a school or district film festival, and posting student work online for the world to see. Another great way to recognize students for their work is to encourage them to submit their films to student film contests. Following is a list of just a few of the possible student film contests and other opportunities for students and teachers:

Filmmaking Opportunities


The Courageous Persuaders
This is a PSA (Public Service Announcement) competition sponsored by the DADA (Detroit Auto Dealers Association). The entry deadline is February 9, 2017, and over $26,000 in scholarships and awards are available! Courageous Persuaders is a peer-to-peer national scholarship competition that invites high school students in grades 9-12 to create a 30-second commercial to warn middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking and the dangers of texting while driving.


White House Student Film Festival
We're inviting U.S. students, grades K-12, to participate in the White House Student Film Festival. Currently, the 2016 Festival winners are posted. Check back frequently to look for information regarding the 2017 festival. Click HERE for more information.


American Graduate
The Utah Education Network's Utah American Graduate project is always on the lookout for films that fous on education and graduation. Films can feature stories of teacher champions who encourage students to succeed in school, students who have overcome difficulties in order to reach graduation, and anything that encourages students to stay in school and graduate. Visit the AmGrad website for more information.


SciTech Now – UEN
SciTech Now captures the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation. UEN is seeking segments for their SciTech Now video series that cover topics in science, technology, and engineering. Take a look at their existing programs online at to get a feel for what they are looking for. UEN shares their segments with national partners, so this could be a great portfolio piece for students.


Next Vista For Learning
Next Vista For Learning provides a library of free videos made by and for teachers and students everywhere. Their site not only features videos for consumption by students and teachers, but also has a listing of numerous video competitions students may enter. Learn more at​.


Project Ed – Amplify
At Project Ed, they challenge filmmakers, animators, artists, teachers, and students to create short films that teach. Each month Project Ed hosts multiple contests on topics from English, Math, and Science. These contests empower creators to build narratives around specific learning goals while giving them opportunities to jumpstart their careers and earn rewards. The best videos win prizes, are featured across the web, and are used by teachers and students. – See more at:



Sundance Film Festival – Students at the Festival
Teachers have the opportunity to register for their classes to participate in special high school screenings of Sundance films. There are also opportunities for students to volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival. Visit for more information.


Film & Broadcast Coalition's Utah High School Film Festival
The UHSFF is the longest running high school film festival in the nation. Every April, students from around the state submit films in various categories ranging from highlight videos and short comedies to documentaries and short films. Visit for more information.


Big Screen Science
Teachers — Join SHIFT in partnership with the Leonardo and the Utah State Office of Education in a seven-month professional development initiative to train STEM educators (grades 6-12)  how to facilitate the production of student-produced instructional and documentary videos. Bonus: Earn credit toward your Ed Tech teaching endorsement!
Visit for more information.


Spy Hop
Spy Hop provides a variety of paid film classes, workshops, and internships for student filmmakers. 
Visit for more information.

Call for Presenters

We want you to present at the 2017 UCET conference!

Presenter registration is live! Click HERE to submit a presentation proposal now.

Presenters are needed for the 2017 Utah Coalition for Educational Technology Conference. UCET is looking for presenters who are excited to share what they have learned about technology in education. We need people willing to present based on these selections:

  • Listen and Learn (One-way audience interaction)


    • Lecture: Hour-long traditional presentation
    • Panel: Hour-long presentation/discussion with moderator and 2-3 panelists
    • Over the Shoulder: 20-minute focus on specific solution, tool or content provider
    • Ignite!: Inspire teachers in 5 minutes and 20 images! (Not a vendor showcase)
  • Participate and Share (Moderate audience interaction)


    • Interactive Lecture: Hour-long presentation with some activities for audience participation
    • Student Showcase: Two-hour demonstration, 1:1 or small group interaction — Now part of the playground! All student showcases should be submitted as a Playground presentation (see below).
  • Explore and Create (Extensive audience interaction)


    • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Hour-long, hands-on learning
    • Workshops: 2-hour, in-depth exploration with limited enrollment
    • Playground: 2-hour interactive, open session with discussions, presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities

Please review the UCET 2017 Call for Presenters Submission Guide before submitting your proposal. The submission deadline is January 31, 2017. Questions? Contact

Tech Madness Keynotes

Thurl Bailey and Ginger Lewman will be joining us as a keynote speakers at the 2016 UCET Conference at the University of Utah! Travis Allen will also be joining us as a spotlight speaker. Each of these speakers brings unique experiences and points of view to the conference. Plan ahead to ensure you don't miss their keynote addresses and spotlight sessions:

  • Thursday, March 17th: Thurl Bailey will help us kick off the Tech Madness with his keynote, "Our Winning Defied All Logic". Following his keynote, Thurl will join us for a tech shootout in our Tech Madness playground.
  • Thursday, March 17th: Travis Allen will present a spotlight presentation in the main ballroom about the iSchool Initiative.
  • Friday, March 18th: Ginger Lewman will kick off day two with her "STEAM Maker" keynote. She will spend all day Friday with us conducting hands-on spotlight sessions and workshops in our Tech Madness playground.

Read below to learn more about each of our speakers:

Thurls_color_head_shot THURL BAILEY


Thurl's Website  
Follow Thurl on Twitter! @bigTbailey  

Thurl Bailey attended North Carolina State University and was a key player in the 'Wolfpacks' miracle run to the 1983 NCAA Championship. That same year, Thurl led NC State in both scoring and rebounds. The Utah Jazz drafted Thurl in 1983 as the 7th pick of the draft. Jazz management reported that he was selected for the quality of his character, as well as the quality of his game. This was the beginning of 16 years of his playing professional basketball, 12 of those years were with the NBA.

At 6'11", Thurl Bailey is often first noticed as a basketball player, but he is a man of as much depth as height. His strong sense of service has led to countless hours of volunteer work and to numerous awards for leadership and contributions to the community. Included in his awards are: the NBA's prestigious Kennedy Community Award, the Utah Association for Gifted Children's Community Service Award, Sigma Gamma Chi fraternity's Exemplary Manhood Award, the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America's American Champion Award and the Italian League's 1998 All Star Games Most Valuable Player. He has directed basketball camps for youth since 1984 where he teaches young people lessons about life and basketball. Many of his students have special needs including coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or having serious illnesses, and they attend the camps on scholarship.

In addition to professional speaking, Thurl is a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah, an actor, and an award winning singer/song writer. His first album, Faith In Your Heart, is a compilation of uplifting songs that won several top awards. His 'I'm Not The Same' CD has great reviews and is a fusion of original style R&B and nu soul.

Thurl Bailey is a devoted family man and the father of six children. He and his wife Sindi live in Highland, Utah with the three youngest children.

Ginger-Lewman-April13-300x217GINGER LEWMAN

Ginger's Website
Follow Ginger on Twitter! @GingerLewman

Ginger is an education consultant and keynote speaker with a non-profit education service center. She specializes in Project/Problem Based Learning, technology integration, and gifted & high ability learners. She is passionate about helping educators rethink what teaching and learning can be in today’s world. To Ginger, there is nothing better than watching the face of a teacher, or a group of educators, or an entire school, as they watch their kids get excited about learning and doing things they never thought was possible. She knows exactly what that feels like from the perspective of the learner, the teacher, and the school leader. Ginger says, "It’s the most awesome thing in the world. Because in that moment, everything is possible. It is my passion to help teachers inspire their students to do more and be more than they could ever imagine."

Ginger is a keynote speaker and education consultant with ESSDACK, a non-profit educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Ginger specializes in Project Based Learning, technology integration, creativity, and Gifted & High-Ability Learners. She is formerly the Director of Turning Point Learning Center’s f2f Program where, for half a decade, she worked to create the LifePractice PBL Model. At TPLC, she helped to create a rich learning environment utilizing Project Based Learning and 1:1 laptops with a democratic approach to learning. Online networks have been the key to making it all work!

Graduating from Emporia State University in 1994 with a BSE in Social Science, Ginger promptly began teaching the day school at a residential boys’ home for The Farm, Inc. where she quickly discovered differentiated instruction and how to engage students well beyond her formal pre-service teacher training. Ginger taught all core subjects to 11 troubled boys at a time, ages 11-18, at the home’s two dining room tables, using previously-discarded 20-year-old text books. It was a challenge.

Eventually uncovering a lifelong passion, in 2004, Ginger earned her Master’s degree in Psychology and Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted Education. She began working as the Gifted Services Coordinator at Emporia Middle School and also serving as North Central Accreditation Steering Committee Chair.

Ginger served on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Association for the Gifted, Talented, and Creative for 7 years as a Region 7 Representative, State and Federal Legislative Liaison, a Conference Chair, and the Kansas Education Liaison. Ginger has been a member of the National Association for Gifted Children, working at both the state and federal levels, advocating for the needs of gifted children in Kansas and beyond.

Currently, Ginger serves on the Board of Directors for Advocates for High-Ability Learners (AHA Learners),  is a member of the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, and is currently a Google Certified Teacher.


Travis's Website
Follow Travis on Twitter! @iSchoolTravis

Travis Allen is a young visionary promoting digital learning in the classroom. Before graduating from high school, Travis created a viral YouTube video on revolutionizing America’s education through the use of mobile technology. Today, he is a senior at Kennesaw State University where he operates his growing organization, iSchool Initiative. With the support of his team, Travis has presented in over 40 states and 8 countries, allowing him to reach an audience of over 200,000 people! He has been featured on CNN, Huffington Post, and Forbes. In 2011, he was the winner of Google Young Minds competition; in 2012, he was invited to the White House for Education Datapalooza; and in 2015 he won the GA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Travis is quickly becoming one of the most influential leaders of the emerging digital learning movement. (From

Coding with Sphero!

Sphero (1)

Sphero is a fun, new gadget that engages students in engineering and coding challenges. Learn the basics of using Spheros in your classroom or tech club in this blog post.

What is Sphero?
Sphero is the "original app-enabled robotic ball". When paired with apps on your mobile device, you can drive Sphero with a remote control or program it to perform actions, move in patterns, and even change colors. Find more information about Sphero at

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What apps can I use to control and program Sphero?

How do I teach using Sphero?
SPRK Education is Sphero's site that supplies teachers with free Core lessons to use with Sphero. The lessons are ready to go with very little teacher preparation. The lessons teach Core concepts, like measurement and geometry, along with coding, engineering, and problem solving. Find the SPRK lessons online at Be sure to click on the Core Lessons, Middle School Lessons, and STEM challenges links:

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Why should I teach using Sphero?
It's true that Sphero is fun to play with, but when used alongside apps like Macrolab and Tickle, Sphero is much more. It's a fun way to teach basic coding. It is an engaging way to solve STEM problems. And most importantly it sparks curiosity and encourages inquiry-based and problem-based learning.

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