Speakers: Tech Forum Midwest


Clarence Fisher

Teacher, blogger and Web 2.0 guru
Manitoba, Canada

Clarence Fisher has been a classroom teacher for the past 15 years. He blogs professionally at remoteaccess.typepad.com, with his class at thinwalls.edublogs.org and has spoken at conferences worldwide. He has won several awards, including one of Canada' highest teaching awards, the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching, for his integration of technology into daily classroom life. Fisher's innovative classroom practices in his middle school classroom in Snow Lake, Manitoba, have been featured online, in magazines and newspaper articles, and in a recent book, New Literacies in Action. He has also been featured on CBC, CNET, and MSN. He is an advocate of "classroom 2.0" – learning spaces that take complete advantage of the tools that are available to learners in their quest to learn rather than having school be something that is done to them.


Ryan Bretag

Coordinator of Instructional Technology

Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL

Ryan Bretag has spent nearly ten years in education, both as a secondary English educator at Hinckley-Big Rock High School and now as an administrator at Glenbrook North High School. In his role as instructional technology coordinator, he focuses on systemic and sustainable infusion of technology into instruction and the curriculum as well as the facilitation of professional development for educators. He has presented and facilitated workshops at local, state, and national levels with a focus on learning and leading in the 21st Century, the philosophy of Web 2.0, blended learning environments, professional development, and learning communities. Bretag holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, a graduate certificate in Leadership, and is completing his Ed.D. program in Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction. His research interests include organizational theory, school leadership, secondary reform, adult learning, and 21st Century learning communities. His methodology is qualitative and focuses on epistemology, phenomenology, and grounded theory. He blogs professionally for Education Week's LeaderTalk and Tech & Learning magazine.

Charlene Chausis

Manager, Technology Training and Integration

Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL

Charlene Chausis manages the technology training and integration at Adlai E. Stevenson High School and has been instrumental in establishing the technology staff development program for nearly 500 faculty and staff members. She was honored as the ICE 2007 Educational Leader of the Year, and ISTE's 2007 Outstanding Leader of the Year. Chausis serves on the board of Northern Illinois Computing Educators (NICE), has been recognized as a Google Certified Teacher and a Discovery Educator, was named an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2003, is a recipient of the 2002 State of Illinois Those Who Excel Award of Recogntion, and was a semi-finalist in the 2001 Technology & Learning Leader of the Year Program. She has presented a variety of workshops at local and national education conferences on the use of the Internet and enthusiastically shares techniques for integration.

Steve Dembo

Online Community Manager

Discovery Educator Network

A former kindergarten teacher and director of technology, Steve Dembo was a pioneer in the field of educational podcasting. His blog and podcast, Teach42, have served as the inspiration for thousands of educators. In 2006, he was named one of the Top 100 EduBloggers by the Online Education Database. Under his direction, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) website has been awarded the 2006 Award of Excellence from Tech and Learning magazine, the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award for Instructional Websites from the AEP, and a 2008 BESSIE Award for Best Professional Development Website. Dembo has been a keynote presenter and workshop leader at hundreds of conferences and educator events in recent years.

Howie DiBlasi

Emerging Technology Evangelist

Digital Journey

Dr. Howie DiBlasi has extensive experience in the education field (20 years) business leader (10 years) and as a technology director (14 years). He was recognized as “Vocational Teacher of the Year” for the State of Arizona and nominated as a finalist in the “Top Secondary Leaders in America.” He has been featured in several magazines as “a CIO that really thinks outside the box.” DiBlasi's emphasis is on digital technology and 21st century learning and he is known as a highly energetic, compassionate and approachable speaker. He is a trainer who blends humor, applicable stories of best practice and high levels of audience involvement. Over the past year, he has presented programs, courses and speeches to thousands of administrators, teachers, technology specialists and professionals around the country.

Dick Diener

Technology Integrator

Mequon-Thiensville School District, WI

Dick Diener is a middle school technology integrator whose core expertise includes multimedia on Macs. He has presented about the iLife and iWork suites, digital photography, iPods and podcasting. He has a master's degree in computer science-education from Cardinal Stritch University and has been an adjunct faculty member at Stritch since 1996.

Lucy Gray

Lead Technology Integration Coach

University of Chicago Urban Education Institute

Prior to her current position as lead technology integration coach at the Urban Education Institute, Lucy Gray taught in the Chicago Public Schools and at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. An Apple Distinguished Educator as well as a Google Certified Teacher, she maintains a social network focused on global education and blogs at High Techpectations. Currently, she is serving on the advisory board to the New Media Consortium's Horizon K12 Report.

Ben Grey

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Barrington CUSD 220, IL

Before assuming his current job as instructional technology coordinator, Ben Grey was a middle school teacher for three years and a fifth grade teacher for five years. He holds a Master of Science degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom from Walden University. He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Master of Literacy program at Judson University, where he teaches the course, "Technology in Literacy Instruction".

David Jakes

Coordinator of Instructional Technology

Glenbrook South High School, IL

David Jakes, a T&L contributing editor and techlearning.com blogger, has spent 24 years in education as a teacher, staff developer, and technology coordinator. From his first Macintosh Classic to his current tablet PC, he has witnessed firsthand the changes in education that educational technology has empowered. Jakes shares this knowledge as a frequent speaker at technology conferences across the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and most recently, China and Singapore. His interests in educational technology include digital storytelling, developing online curriculum, learning management systems, and developing online communities of learning through blogging, wiki and RSS technologies. He currently maintains a web site (JakesOnline.org), a blog (The Strength of Weak Ties) and a variety of other resources dedicated to improving the use of technology in education.

Scott Meech

Technology Facilitator, The Joseph Sears School

Kenilworth, IL

Scott Meech is in his 14th year of teaching and is currently working at the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth as the district technology facilitator. While Meech began his teaching career in social studies, he quickly realized his greatest educational interest was in the transformative nature of technology. He was an early adopter and was regularly the test pilot for any and all new tech initiatives. His teaching quickly transformed from a traditional teacher-centered paradigm to a constructivist, student-centered approach. Meech earned his masters in education in curriculum and technology in 2005 and is currently studying as a student-at-large in preparation for a doctoral degree in instructional technology. While he has a myriad of interests, his favorite pastime is studying the impact technology is making and can make on education. He believes that education is on the brink of major change and that technology will finally fulfill its promise. Scott blogs at www.smeech.net and has a repository of his work at smeech-presos.wikispaces.com.

Jon Orech

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Downers Grove South High School, IL

Jon Orech taught English for 24 years before becoming the instructional technology coordinator at Downers Grove South High School. He also is an instructor for Aurora University where he teaches digital storytelling workshops. In the classroom, he has always promoted best technology approaches to ensure student learning. He is a frequent speaker at conferences; his presentations include a wide variety of topics on teaching digital storytelling, hi-tech lit circles, learning with wikis, and student-generated assessment. Currently, Orech's focus of research is in the area of collaborative technology – specifically, embedding structured cooperative learning pedagogy into teaching with Web 2.0 tools to improve student learning. Away from school, Jon savors the "Four F's": Family, Football, Fishing, and Food!

Meg Ormiston

Instructional Technology and Curriculum Consultant

Tech Teachers, Inc., Hinsdale, IL

Meg Ormiston is passionate about transforming teaching and learning through the power of digital tools. She loved being a classroom teacher, but now she is always on the move empowering educators across the globe through her powerful presentations focused on change. Ormiston is an author of two books,a school board member, an adjunct professor, a consultant, keynote speaker, successful grant development specialist, and most importantly, a mom. She is high energy, truly motivational, but also very practical. Her current research is focused on how curriculum can be delivered through the use of visual images, simulations and multimedia coupled with real time assessment to check for comprehension. She is the author of Conquering InfoClutter and co-author (with Mark Standley) of Digital Storytelling with PowerPoint.

Dr. Henry Thiele

Director of Technology

Maine Township District 207, IL

Henry (Hank) Thiele, who has been serving Maine 207 as the director of technology for the past two years, is focused on providing a simple and effective way to foster learning through the appropriate use of technology. Before that he was a technology coordinator at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, IL where he had also taught science and music since 1996. Thiele believes that effective instruction and demonstration of resources allows students, parents, community, and staff to improve their skills and be more efficient in today's world. He earned his Doctorate from Roosevelt University, Chicago, in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change, with a focus on the impact online communication can have on learning. He also earned a Masters degree in Teacher Leadership and an undergraduate degree in secondary education. Thiele's other teaching experience includes working as an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University and presenting at various conferences locally and around the country. He has also worked as a Youth Director at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wheaton, IL and as a consultant for Riverside Publishing. You can follow him at www.hcthiele.com.