My Disney Class podcast

Howie and Ryan visit with teachers, educators and administrators on how to integrate Disney ideals of creativity, innovation, 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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My Disney Class podcast





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Now displaying: Category: Education
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.

May 24, 2018

Howie and Ryan shate their favorite ways to use phones at WDW.  How they make planning easier and fun using the My Disney Experience app, other travel apps, and how they pass the time waiting for their next landing at MCO.  Next, we look at apps that will help you maximize your magic while in the parks. Again the My Disney Experience App is a must but there are also some third-party apps like Touring Plans and AccuWeather that can come in handy too. While sharing a few other apps used in the parks, Howie gives some great tips and apps on how to make your pictures more magical as well

 Ryan and Howie start to look at the value of cell phones in the classroom and also share some of their favorite school apps.

May 15, 2018

More than just a space! With Dr. Robert Dillon and Rebecca Hare

Rebecca and Robert have teamed up to help share their mutual passion for purposeful design by writing a book that was inspired by the process they both went through together designing learning spaces in the Affton School District.  The book is titled THE SPACE: A Guide for Educators. We are so happy that they could take time out of their busy schedules and share with us their expertise on this subject as Howie and Ryan both throw some burning questions they have about their book, design in general, and design in action.  Ryan definitely admits to being on the basement level when it comes to designing learning spaces but Rebecca and Robert do a wonderful job of bringing him up to speed and tackling the big picture questions by honing them down to specific ideas that can be put into practice by any educator.

Apr 30, 2018



Discussion about the new Disney Star Wars hotel coming to Walt Disney World that would be a resort that would be designed to look like you’re staying on a starship

We dream big with our “Blue Sky” discussion about a  Star Wars’ universe with personal interactions with Star Wars’ characters, live performers throughout the starship.  With even more immersive activities like flight training, ship exploration, lightsaber training, and personalized, secret missions both on the starship and throughout Star Wars Land.

 We have discovered patents that Disney has filed on possible room design, electronic enhancements and interactive elements that could be used in the resort and in the rooms.  Come along as we speculate on how to solve the design problems for the new resort.


We discuss the Imagineering process and how you can teach your students to address projects in your own class in a very similar way. We will also take a deeper dive into how patents work and how you can use them in your lessons to enhance the real world value of the content that you are teaching.  To round this episode out, we will also address how to use search engines to efficiently and effectively. You will also find value in this beyond your own searching, as I know students can often need direction in their own research searching as well.

Apr 15, 2018

Welcome back to Nicole Mancini.  Nicole teaches 5th Grade and is passionate about student choice.  

In classrooms that do create an environment where student's voice and choice are prevalent, you would see a curriculum and learning environment where students are actively choosing how they learn and possibly what they learn. Nicole has created such an environment inside her classroom, and she shares how she goes about laying the foundation for such an environment.

She shares strategies, lessons, and tools that she uses to execute student choice in her classroom.  Learn how to engages students and takes them to the next level through the process of writer’s workshop and utilizing independent reading, book talks, 30 book challenge, and student choice in selecting their own reading books.  

Apr 1, 2018

We are not joking with this April 1st episode!  On today’s show, Howie and Ryan are feeling hungry, hungry for learning with Disney details.  Episode 17 is all about the places you can grab a bite to eat, but also learn something as well. Ryan and Howie share some of their favorite places to eat on property but not necessarily because of the food, though we promise the food is pretty good too.  

Mar 13, 2018

Ryan and Howie welcome a phenomenal teacher and innovator, Chantell Mason.  Chantell is currently a 6th grade Science teacher at Steger 6th grade center in the Webster Groves school district.  We discovered Chantell because she is just received the ISTE “Making It Happen” award and was honored at METC. She not only won this award but has also been recognized by METC as a Spotlight Educator and Outstanding Young Educator.  She is also recognized by PBS as a Digital Innovator and she is a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. While this list is really impressive, we think as you listen to the show, you will find what is really impressive is Chantell’s passion for her students.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Chantell as she discusses her work with students and how she focuses on creating a classroom environment that fosters an empathetic global community.  Her implementation of project-based learning with an emphasis on empathy and global awareness really helps her students become invested in their content and will definitely foster a deeper learning that her students will not soon forget.  Chantell really does a great job of sharing how she delivers these lessons and will give you, like she did me, several tips and resources for creating PBL magic in your classroom.


Mar 1, 2018

Ryan and Howie are taking a look at play in education.  With the opening of Toy Story Land being announced for this June 30th at Walt Disney World, Howie and Ryan have been wondering about how important play is in education. Listen today as they discuss four fundamental questions surrounding play in education: 1) What is play in education?  2) What does research say about play in education?  3)  Can learning through play really help teachers to achieve their formal lesson goals?  4) What strategies can educators use to implement play in education?

Howie and Ryan, do their best to try to tackle these questions as they share what they have found in their research as well as what they have learned through their own experiences.  We hope you enjoy this episode on play and we hope that it may have inspired you to be more like Andy and create a classroom more like Andy’s room.  ANDY IS COMING…. (silence)

Feb 15, 2018

Howie and Ryan discuss the different conferences that they have recently presented at.  These conferences include ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference), TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) They share what they love about attending conferences and some tips on how you too can be a presenter at one of these conferences or any conference.

Listen as Ryan and Howie compare the pluses and minus of each conference and how each compares to each other.  We think you will find that there are some big similarities and also some big differences.  Don’t get us wrong, we love going to conferences, but we want you to be prepared and excited about what you will experience if you choose to attend one of these conferences.  Believe us, you are going to learn a lot, have tons of fun, and feel really, really drained by the end of each day.  Of course, it is all worth it, whether it’s a tool or strategy that is going to change the way you teach or a connection that you make with a fellow educator, you are going to find real value in stepping out of your comfort zone and attending a conference.  There is a lot of Magic going on in education around the nation and a conference is a great way to find some!

Feb 1, 2018

Discover one of Walt’s famous failures.  Holidayland opened on June 16th, 1957 in Disneyland for large events like corporate parties, family reunions, etc.  Holidayland closed in 1961 due to its lack of shade, nighttime lighting, lack of restrooms, and overindulgence of alcohol by guests. Learn about its history and why it failed. So how does Walt’s failure in Holidayland tie to education? Join us and find out

Jan 15, 2018

Brian shares his work on an upcoming new theme park, non-Disney related, in China.  Discover exciting and challenging stories and concepts that fit with the Chinese culture and how the theme park industry overseas is raising the bar. 


How to stay on top of the theme park industry by attending conferences like ITSEC and IAAPA.  Learn about what goes on behind the curtain of the theme park industry and what new and innovative things are just around the corner that is being showcased at these conferences.

Jan 1, 2018

Howie and Ryan are briefly reflecting back on 2017 and then looking to the future of 2018 and what we hope it brings both in education and in Disney.  Each of them will share their educational Disney resolutions and explain how they hope each will bring positive change.  

We share how reading more books, creating challenges, connecting to the circle of life and many other resolutions can help you and your school community stick to the visions you have for 2018.  

Thank you to all of our listeners, you all are truly the Magic that creates the beauty of education.  We look forward to learning more about all of you in 2018 and also look forward to all the new members of the My Disney Class community.  


Dec 15, 2017

In today’s episode, Ryan and Howie welcome to the show the wonderfully talented and energetic Dyane Smokorowski or Mrs. Smoke as she goes on Twitter.  Not only is Dyane a dynamic educator but she also has a long list of notable accomplishments.  Including 2013 KS teacher of the year, listed by NSBA in 2009 as Top 20 to watch, Google Certified, EdcampKS Organizer, Educational Speaker, ECET2KS, Instructional Tech Coach, and Skype Master Teacher.  Whew!  This educator is blowing the roof off the profession but we think you will be most impressed by her passion and energy she displays during the podcast.

We hope you enjoy listening to Mrs. Smoke’s story today as she shares with us her passion for bringing Disney Magic to her school and district and how we as educators we can impact our school community.  Topics we discuss range from developing engaging curriculum, working with staff to help foster a growth mindset community, and how incorporating technology, like Skype, can create a global classroom environment.  

We hope you enjoyed listening to another incredible educator and true Edmagineer, Dyane Smokorowski!  We really enjoyed having her on and learned a lot.  We also Disney Geeked out together, which is always fun.  Additionally, we hope all of you have a blessed and joyous holiday season and we wish you a truly Magical New Year!

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