My Disney Class podcast

Howie and Ryan visit with teachers, educators and administrators on how to integrate Disney ideals of creativity, innovation, communication, critical thinking, STEM and MakerSpace into classrooms. Twice a month they share why they are passionate about Disney and how their passions has brought them together in this joint mission to help bring ideas for innovation, storytelling, creativity, and the principal foundations of what makes Disney and great choice for projects and resources in the K-12 Classroom. They also talk about the companion website ( that will spotlight incredible educators from around the globe and be packed with resources that teachers can use in their classrooms.
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Jun 15, 2019

Todays episode was recorded while Howie and Ryan were actually in Walt Disney World.

Discover the power of professional development that is immersive, custom, and the most magical kind of development our hearts desire.  We like to call it P.D. Magic!

Hear recordings taken from various parts of our first P.D. Magic cohort. You will hear their hopes for this course, their immersive learning that occurred on W.D.W. properties, and then finally their reflections of what magic they will bring back to their districts.

Jun 1, 2019

 Ryan and Howie discuss some of the hidden educational gems in Future World at E.P.C.O.T. Student inquiry is an active learning process that allows students to investigate central, essential questions linked to curriculum standards and specific teaching objectives.  We know that this form of instructions is effective and leads to a high level of engagement of our students, but do we as educators allow ourselves to learn in this way?

In this episode, Ryan and Howie will engage in this highly valuable form of learning as they try to ask questions and seek answers to those questions through the inspiration of Futureworld. 

We think you will find something in our journey that will inspire you to create an engaging lesson or maybe spark a change in your educational repertoire. Travel with us around the different attractions in Futureworld as we discuss each one and how Howie and Ryan found hidden gems that they can use to help inspire educational magic!

May 15, 2019

Join us for a repeat performance of  “A Magical Day with Brian Collins”

Ryan and Howie are honored to have former Imagineer Brian Collins here to discuss his story.  Brian has been a Disney cast member since the early 1990’s and helped create magic daily as he worked both on the front line of customer service at the Contemporary front desk and as a Disney Imagineer.  Listen to his story as he shares how he started at the ground level and worked his way up to the magical dream job at WDI.  

            Listening to today’s show, we know that you will hear the passion and humor that Brian brings to any task he tackles.  There are few places that equal that of Disney when it comes to creativity, innovation, storytelling, and magic, but we all know that it’s the people that really make the magic.  Brian Collins is one of those people and what’s even more magical is that he hasn’t stopped spreading the magic beyond the mouse.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode as Brian shares with us how to think like an Imagineer!

May 1, 2019

We look at how music can inspire us and inspire lessons that our students will love. Walt was quoted as saying,” I think a good study of music would be indispensable to the animators - a realization on their part of how primitive music is, how natural it is for people to want to go to music - a study of rhythm, the dance - the various rhythms enter into our lives every day.” Ryan and Howie also believe that educators can learn a lot from music as well!

             Howie and Ryan both share ideas they have either used or have found other teachers using that implements music into lessons that range from Communication Arts, Science, Math, etc. They quickly share a little about each lesson idea and give resources to help you implement music in your classroom. Whether your favorite Disney song is “Let it Go,” “You Got a Friend in Me,” or Walt and Ryan’s favorite “ Feed the Birds.” We think you will enjoy this episode that just scratches the surface of using Disney music in the classroom to set a song track to your teaching magic!

Apr 14, 2019

Ryan and Howie take a walk on the weird side and try to recapture their shadows! On today’s show, we welcome CJ Casciotta author of Get Weird. Discover the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference and creator of Ringbeller.

CJ is a writer and self-proclaimed serial media maker that has a passion for encouraging people to find or reconnect with their inner weird. As a writer and communicator, he’s traveled all over the world, inspiring communities like Lululemon, The Salvation Army, TEDx, and Charity: Water. As a media director and producer, he’s collaborated on projects with MGM Studios, The United Nations Foundation, and more. He created the popular podcast, Sounds Like a Movement and has been featured by MTV, RELEVANT, Catalyst, and Q.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with CJ as we talk about how we can encourage ourselves as educators to tap into our inner weird and how that can benefit our students. We also talk about valuing our student’s inner weird and what we can do to encourage it. Ringbeller was created by CJ and can definitely be one tool we can use to help in this endeavor. Ringbell is a series of video lessons that help teach kids creativity and kindness through interviews conducted by children. These children interview adult professionals about how they use creativity and innovation in their daily work lives. The premise is that aliens have recruited these students to help them learn about our planet, but what we all learn is how unique all of us are and how tapping into what is special about us will help us to find our true passions and best life. CJ has called Ringbeller “TED meets Mr. Rogers” for the modern classroom.

We think you will enjoy finding your inner weird with us today and be inspired by CJ like we were to value the individual traits in us that make us unique, special and helps us create the magic in our classrooms.

Mar 31, 2019

Disney: Truth, Myth, or Trash

 In this My Disney Class episode, Howie and Ryan have a little fun being that it is April Fools day. Ok, Ok, it’s true that we have fun every day, but on this special day, we decided to share a fun activity that you can implement in several different ways in your classroom. We are calling it, Truth or Trash!

The way the game is played is simple. One person will give the others a fact about a topic, in our case, it will be Disney related, of course, then the others have to guess whether or not it is a truth or whether it’s trash (lie). Ryan and Howie take turns challenging one another with each of their facts or fact-ish comments, but also share ways they see this activity is used in the classroom and even share what makes a good stretch of the truth and how that you can use that knowledge to decipher whether or not someone or some source is accurately depicting the facts.

Ryan also shares his version of Truth or Trash that he uses in his classroom as a first day, getting to know you activity. Ryan talks about how he gives his students a first-day quiz (insert groans here) where they have to look at a list of ten facts about him and then guess which fact is not true. This is a great way to help students get to know you as a person and not just their teacher and it’s also a great way to start building a foundation for a classroom environment that values sharing. We hope you enjoy today’s episode and hope all of you find more truths than trash out there.


Mar 15, 2019

On this episode of My Disney Class Podcast, Ryan and Howie welcome back to the record-setting third time, Professor Jerry Johnson from Buena Vista University. Jerry is not only a recurring guest on this show, but both Howie and Ryan are honored to call him a true friend.  Want to know more about the incredible things Jerry is doing in his University classes? Check out Episode 13 in season 1 where we first interviewed Jerry and shared the magic he’s making for his students at Buena Vista!

            Today, Jerry has come on to talk about a very special passion project that he has been working on with students for three and a half years. This project is something that both Ryan and Howie had not even heard about in all their Disney research, so both of them were highly intrigued to hear more. The project is a documentary called, “Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story.”

            Jerry and his students’ story starts when they took a two-hour trip to investigate the place were this cornfield Mickey was created. Though it has long disappeared, 1988, Jerry and his students found through talking to some locals, that were around then, they may be onto a very special story. So, on their van ride home, they decided to start this journey of creating a documentary.

            After years of work and thirty plus different students lending their specialized skills, “Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story” is ready to premiere. The debut will happen March 28th at Buena Vista University with many other screenings happening across the country, including one near Anaheim CA.  If you have a chance to catch this film, we really think you will enjoy it. Not only for the stories and Disney history that was captured by Jerry and his students, but also because of the passion and hard work that is evident in this production. We know Walt would give it a “Yeah, that’ll work!”


Feb 27, 2019

Learning at Sea

 In this episode of My Disney Class Podcast, we welcome back ashore Howie fresh from his recent Disney Cruise.  Howie is somewhat of a cruise expert as he has been on many different cruise lines and has traveled by water quite often for not being a clownfish.  All kidding aside, we are tackling the issue of continuing to help our children grow both academically as well as culturally. Whether on land or at sea, we as educators know there is always something we can learn.


            We focus on the Disney cruise for this podcast because um yeah, this is My Disney Class Podcast but Howie does mention some other cruise lines and what they offer educationally as well.  The Disney cruise line may be a bit more pricey but it does offer an unforgettable vacation experience for families and is worth the premium over other cruise lines with its impeccable attention to detail, personalized service and wealth of educational experiences.  We hope you enjoy our conversation in this episode as we share ten or so learning opportunities you can write home to your teachers about as you set sail on your cruise!


Feb 14, 2019

FETC-19 REFLECTIONS with Rae and Bruce

  Today on the show, Howie and Ryan welcome two extraordinary individuals that happen to take part in the recent Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). Both Rae Hughart and Bruce Umpstead are here to discuss their opinions on the conference as well as what they feel the future is for technology and its role in education.   

Rae comes to us from central Illinois and is currently a 6th-grade math teacher at Evans Jr High.  She is also the Director of training and development for the Teach Better Team. Bruce is joining us from Michigan where he is the Director of State programs at IMS Global.  He also serves as the FETC 2019 IT Track Chairperson and Host. They both bring a vast wealth of knowledge and passion to this discussion and we know that you’re going to love hearing their thoughts on FETC and technology in general.


Jan 31, 2019

Kid-powered Innovation

             On today’s episode of My Disney Class Podcast, Howie and Ryan share some impressive examples of students doing innovative things inside and outside of the classroom.  Innovations are always needed since every problem needs a solution, so there is always a need for someone to discover a new and useful way to tackle these problems. So how then do we allow our students these opportunities so they are able to sharpen those problem-solving skills?  

A collaborative classroom encourages innovation by pushing students to work with others who may be different from them, either in their belief, behavior, or background.  Collaboration in the classroom encourages discussion, which is the father of all innovation. Ryan and Howie will discuss some of these traits that they believe help create the environment for innovation to flourish inside the classroom as well as discuss some of the challenges.  They will also share some impressive stories, like that of Ann Makosinski that through her empathy for a family friend, designed and built a human-powered flashlight. There truly is magic in releasing your students and allowing them to ignite and follow their passions to reach great heights.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode and we hope that we’ve inspired you to find more ways to release your own and your students’ innovation magic!


Jan 14, 2019

Howie & Ryan welcome an incredible educator from the UK in Preston England.

Daniel McComb,  teaches courses in recreational activities, sport, literacy, and many and he inspires his students with challenging and engaging lessons that reach beyond the classroom walls to bring high-interest topics to his students.

 He has brought Marvel comics into his literacy course. His students were asked to write a news report pretending that they were covering a Tony Stark press conference where Spiderman was being unmasked. His students even had a hard deadline to meet or they would be fired.           We hope you enjoy this episode


Jan 1, 2019

Howie and I would first like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous new year and we hope that 2019 brings you more magic than your heart desires. In this episode of My Disney Class Podcast, Ryan and Howie are doing a little Disney dreaming and sharing what they are looking forward to in 2019 and beyond.

            If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World recently, then there’s even more for you to explore and experience than ever before with much much more to come.  There is the giant elephant in the room that is Galaxy’s edge the new Star Wars land coming to Hollywood studios. This new land promises to be the dream every Star Wars fan has been waiting for and the level of interaction between the land and its guests promises to be one like we have never seen before.  Let’s just say, Ryan and Howie, can’t wait!

            We also talk about several other attractions coming to Hollywood Studios, including Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Pixar Place being transformed into Municiberg city block from the Incredibles. All these coming attractions are sure to expand Hollywood Studios into an immersive fun experience for the whole family that we at My Disney Class are sure will provide plenty on new inspirations for the classroom as well.

            We also talk about some of the other changes coming to some of the other parks including Guardians of the Galaxy at EPCOT, Ratatouille: The Adventure, Tron Lightcycle Power Run and many more.  We hope you enjoy this episode as we look to the future and reflect on the past. Here’s to a magical and fantastic 2019!

Dec 15, 2018

We re-visit with  Angela Maiers as she shares about releasing the genius inside us all, and launching a global movement. Discover Passion projects and how we can go beyond the idea of passion / genius hour projects-liberate the genius in ourselves as well as our students.

 Angela shares her framework for liberating genius which includes the following:  

  1. Need to accept our genius
  2. Need to notice the genius around us
  3. Leverage all of the collective genius
Dec 1, 2018

            On today’s show, Howie and Ryan are sharing what they are thankful for and man do they have a lot to be thankful about.  First of all, we are so so thankful for all the listeners who support our podcast and educational adventures. We really appreciate all the love and friendships this show has brought us and are fortunate to have this opportunity that continues to give us so many wonderful connections.  

            Howie also takes us through one of his recent educational adventures.  He was lucky enough to get to take a group of adult learners down to Walt Disney World to experience and practice photography in the most magical and picturesque place in the world.  He shares with us his experience in guiding this group and also lets us in on some of the fun they had each day.

            We wrap up the show with some hints to some of the presents we are planning for you guys in the new year.  We are incredibly excited as we are working behind the scenes on some awesome educational opportunities that will not only add magic to your professional development but will also remind you of the joy and happiness that we experience with our students every day!

Nov 6, 2018

On today’s show, Howie and Ryan are excited to be bringing the perspective of the student to My Disney Class Podcast. There is no doubt that the student is the main mouse in this Magic Kingdom we call school, but we often don’t invite the student to the discussion when making important decisions.  Ryan and Howie have rectified this issue by inviting a student on to the show to share his thoughts on his own educational experiences.

            To begin incorporating student voices, educators should think beyond student groups and after school activities, welcoming a range of student opinions in decisions about academic content, discipline, school culture, free time, the physical space of the school, and family partnerships. They should even consider an individual student’s wishes about which adults in the building will best teach and counsel them.

            Listen to today’s show as we hear about a student’s daily routine in a middle school and how that student works juggles academics as well as all the extracurricular activities. We can learn so much from just listening to our student guest and we are glad he has come on to share his thoughts. We hope you enjoy this episode that looks to bring you the student’s perspective and a chance to reflect on what impact we are having on our students.


Oct 26, 2018

 On today’s show, Ryan and Howie travel to another of Walt Disney’s inspirational destinations.  This time we are going to visit Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford museum. Henry Ford made it his personal mission to preserve and record America’s technological and cultural progress.  His success in the automobile industry allowed him the assets and the ability to create an exhibit hall that would display inventions and artifacts that told this story of America’s progress. We all know how Walt loved progress and he was an American history buff as well, so this was an obvious place for him and Lilian to visit.

Opening in 1933, the museum included many items from Ford’s personal collection.  It varied from automobiles to player pianos, from steam engines to grease pumps. Ford also built  a collection of buildings that spanned behind the museum that he named Greenfield Village.  Most notable of the buildings he built was a replica of Independence Hall. This beautiful museum and village really do an incredible job of telling the story of America’s technological advances.

Howie and his wife were fortunate enough to travel to Dearborn, Michigan and follow Walt’s footsteps as they visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  Howie takes us through this space recalling the highlights and unique items that he and his wife encounter along the way. We really get a sense of what this massive land really encompasses from Howie’s description and we began to see how this place provided many inspirational ideas for Walt and Disneyland.  We also can see how drawing from inspirational places and items can help us in the classroom as well. Many teachers find inspiration in a variety of ways much like Walt did in his travels. We hope you enjoy today’s show and our trip to Greenfield Village.

Oct 13, 2018

Ryan and Howie welcome two brothers that have taken their passion and Pixar to a whole new level! Mason and Morgan McGrew have been working a passion project over the last few years to recreate Pixar’s Toy Story 3.

 They are doing this scene by scene using stop-motion animation. This connection has blossomed into a project that has caught the attention of many, including Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich.  They share their process of how they are going about recreating each scene  and their biggest challenges and greatest successes.

 When students are given the chance to pursue their passions and interest, you never know where it might lead. 

Sep 30, 2018

Playing Like a Toy in Toy Story Land


On today’s show, Ryan and Howie discuss the new land down at Hollywood Studios called Toy Story Land.  This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard. Guests will think they’ve been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land.  This area has three main attractions, Toy Story Mania which already existed and two brand new attractions, Slinky Dog Dash and Spinning Alien Saucers.

Listen as Ryan explains his experience and walks you through a personal tour of the land.  We will look at each attraction and even discuss the surroundings as well as the hidden easter eggs that are littered all throughout this land.  We will also discuss how this land celebrates imagination, creativity, and making but even more so how it celebrates the unlimited genius of the child and how play can let them explore that.  With that being said, we can definitely see how classroom teachers and staff can be inspired by playing like a toy!


Sep 15, 2018

Ryan and Howie welcome the wonderful and magical Maria Esterline!  Maria describes herself as a simple educator that is passionate about creating learning experiences that prepare students for the real world. Her mission in life has been to be the change you wish to see in the world. She believes the change has to start with her and that’s exactly how she lives her life daily.  If you have ever met or get the chance to meet Maria, you will see this for yourself as she is sure to build a meaningful relationship with you and offer her serves to you.

Sep 1, 2018

On today’s episode, Howie and Ryan are looking into the wonderful, inspirational travels of Walt Disney.  According to several sources, Walt was inspired by several trips he took that helped him shape his future park, Disneyland.  Of the many influences that Walt had, Howie recently was able to visit one in person, the Tivoli Gardens.

Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and garden that is located in Copenhagen Denmark.  The park was first opened on August 15th in 1843 and is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world.  The oldest happens to be a few miles north in nearby Klampenborg called Dyrehavsbakken.

Tivoli Gardens had just over 4.5 million visitors in 2017 and was the second-most popular seasonal amusement park in the world after Europa-Park.  Tivoli is the most-visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fifth most visited in Europe.

Walt traveled there in 1951 only four years before the opening of Disneyland.  It was said that he walked the park and made many observations, taking notes in his notebook and asking plenty of questions.  Art Linkletter, who was a longtime friend of Walt, was with him on the trip and has been quoted as saying that Walt would ask Art’s opinion on this visit about how he could recreate or improve on all the wonderful things they were experiencing at Tivoli.

Howie does an excellent job of walking us through his experience at Tivoli and even points out where and what he found that reminds him of certain attractions at Disneyland.  You will be surprised what Howie found and how much it resembles a lot of our beloved classics at the Happiest place on Earth. Ryan and Howie then close out the show by relating what Walt did and learned on his travels with ways we can be inspired in our own schools.  We discuss things like visual reflective learning, finding inspiration from classroom visits, and developing creativity and innovation through engaging lessons. We hope that you enjoy our reflection on Walt’s trip to Tivoli and we are sure to find more inspiration from some of Walt’s many other trips which we will be sure to talk about on future My Disney Class Podcasts.

Aug 15, 2018

On today’s episode, Ryan and Howie are talking with author and friend Lou Prosperi about his new book “The Imagineering Process”.  Lou has worked in the game industry for over ten years as a freelance game designer and writer where he worked on the creation of a role-playing game called Eathrdawn.  Then Lou went on to work as a technical writer and instructional designer for a large enterprise software company which he continues to create technical documentation and training for software applications.  Lou is a long time Disney fanatic which started when he and his wife spent their honeymoon at WDW in 1993. Lou’s first book, The Imagineering Pyramid, has been a huge success and you can learn more about it and Lou’s story on a previous episode of My Disney Class Podcast, Season 2, Show 10.  ( )

           The Imagineering Process will help educators go beyond the different levels of the pyramid we discussed in season 2 and really focus more on the creative process that Imagineers use.  Lou helps us break down this process into practical steps that can be applied to any content area lesson planning or activities. We talk through Needs, Requirements, and Restraints, Blue Sky, Concept Development, Design, Construction, Models and Openings, Evaluations, and Show Quality Standards.  All these are chapters in Lou’s book and he helps us understand them each as they apply to Imagineering and how we can then work through them to achieve greatness in our classrooms and schools.

            We think you will enjoy hearing Lou’s story as much as we did and we know you will find his book very interesting as well as useful for developing your own classroom magic in your school.  

Jul 31, 2018

Welcome to Season 4 of My Disney Class Podcast!  Ryan and Howie are thrilled to be starting their fourth season co-hosting the show and are incredibly grateful to all the listeners for tuning in.  In this episode, we look at what it is like to let go, sing it with me now, of control of your classroom as well as letting go of some control during your family visit to WDW.  We know that letting go of control for the first time can be hard whether you're letting your kids visit their first attraction on their own or letting your students choose how they represent their learning.  Either way, we believe that once you do, you won’t regret it and it will make a major difference in the confidence of the children involved.

 Howie starts us off on this journey by sharing one of his personal family stories from his last trip to WDW this summer.  He shares how a simple ride on Space Mountain made worlds of difference in confidence and empowerment with his grandkids. He might also let on that the adults learned a little bit too!  

 Ryan and Howie then share some of their tips and stories about how they have given up some of the traditional control and power inside their classrooms.  Whether it is in an administrative position or a teacher in the classroom, there are several ways that you can bring your students or staff into a role of empowerment.

We hope that you have enjoyed the last 3 years of the My Disney Class Podcast and we are excited to bring you year 4!  Starting with this important and timely topic of letting go of control in your classroom. We hope that you give it a try this new school year and we wish you the best as you start the new school year.


Jul 14, 2018

We are joined by our very special guest, Dr. Sam Patterson who is the  Makerspace Coordinator at Echo Horizon School and is coordinating and inspiring youth to be dreamers, creators, and doers.

 Our conversation spans Makerspaces to puppets and everything creative in between. Learn how he created a classroom environment that helps break down insecurities in his students and allows them to take risks that often pay off in large learning dividends.


Jul 1, 2018

On today’s episode, Ryan and Howie continue their discussion on using cell phones and apps in the classroom.  You can tell that they are “Appy and they know it” in this show as they take turns sharing different apps and tools to make education more efficient, engaging, and effective.  


Organizing apps in the different ways that they may help you can be an effective way to think about which apps you may want to use in your classroom.  Otherwise the sheer number of apps out there, some may find quite overwhelming. Some apps that Howie and Ryan share to help acquire information are apps like; Kahoot, Epic!, and Google Hangouts.  Apps that help you make meaning of things include; Symbaloo, SeeSaw, and Padlet. So you get the idea, breaking down the different categories of apps for you and sharing some of our favorites in each category was really fun.  Hopefully, you find it fun and valuable to your professional growth. Ryan and Howie love sharing what others have taught them and this episode was filled with resources that they picked up all over their PLN. Now it’s your turn to try some out and share your favorites with other educators, so they too can bring the magic of apps to their teaching.  

We hope you enjoy this part 2 of “Picture Perfect End To The School Year.”  There are plenty more apps that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.  We may have to jump back into this topic from time to time.

Jun 14, 2018

On today’s episode, Ryan and Howie welcome an extra special guest to the show, Mark DiBlasi. Yes, you heard me right, we are talking with one of Howie’s children.  Listen as we discuss games in the classroom and we might also get a window peek back to how Howie was/is as a father.

So, who doesn’t like playing board games?  Many families regularly play board games when they gather together and many play board games when they gather for parties and such, but did you know that many educators are now using board games in their classrooms.  So on today’s show, we are looking into how and why we should consider using board games in our classrooms. Here are five of the many reasons that board games can be a useful tool in the classroom. 1. Play is an important part of our mental and social development. 2. Games provide stories and information presented in a new format.  3. Many board games challenge students to think critically. 4. Playing a board game is an “inquiry-based research process.” 5. Board games are an effective way to employ cooperative learning in the classroom.

 Now that we know why and how board games should be taken seriously as a classroom tool, we need to bring in an expert to help show us the world of board games.  Luckily, Howie has an inside track on a wonderfully insightful and knowledgeable gamer, Mark DiBlasi. He generously agreed to come on our show and share his wisdom.  Mark starts by giving us some background on what got him into gaming and also shares why it was an important activity in a young child’s life. Mark then shares what he believes would be some of the best games to use in the classroom and how to go about implementing these games into your curriculum. Mark gives us a lot to think about when we are deciding on what games to choose, but he also does a nice job of honing in on what is important about each type of game.  These categories of games can really help educators zero in on what they are trying to accomplish in their classroom. Hopefully, you will find games as powerful as we learned they can be from Mark and hopefully you will be giving them a try in your classrooms instead of just in your living room.

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