Check out what we'll be learning this summer in Tuscaloosa City Schools!
Edcamps have been springing up across the country as a "grassroots movement in educator professional development". The definition of an Edcamp according to the Edcamp foundation is "a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs." Edcamps are always free. Edcamps flow. It's living, breathing professional development that is determined by the educators who attend it. Edcamps are similar to TeachMeets, but the Edcamp schedule is created on the day of the Edcamp by the attendees. My friend @angiebush always mentions how Edcamps are governed by the law of two feet - you are free to come and go as you please in each session depending on what you are learning. It's not rude to be on your device and take notes or tweet. At my last Edcamp, a student presenter came by to see if I needed help accessing their site, and I told her I was busy tweeting about my learning.
My first official Edcamp was Edcamp Atlanta in 2012, then Edcamp Madison, AL in 2013. I have been back to both Edcamps and am now helping organize Mississippi's first Edcamp - edcampjxnMS! So why would I help organize an Edcamp two and a half hours away from me, in a state I don't even live in with a team of four other educators, three of whom I've never met in person?
Because Edcamps are needed. Edcamps provide a comfortable atmosphere where teachers can confess, teachers can encourage, and teachers can brainstorm. I like Edcamps because the most beneficial sessions I attend or present are the ones in which no one person shares the spotlight. Those sessions focus on a question and we each share answers that have worked in the past. We are all a part of learning. Why not share what we learn or share what we want to learn?
Edcamp provides you with a community of educators who want to spend a day learning. The learning is determined by what we think we need as well as what we learn organically. Edcamp connects you with educators you would not otherwise meet.
At EdcampMadisonAL 2014, there were a variety of student presenters sharing how they learned through Project-Based Learning, Google Drive and infographics. These teenage students at James Clemens High School and Bob Jones High School spent a Saturday telling teachers how they learned. They were articulate, honest and awesome. These students owned their learning, so much so, that they felt comfortable telling other teachers how they learned best.
You never know what you may find at an Edcamp. Each city's Edcamp is different. Some Edcamps have amazing doorprizes - like two Apple TVs - up for grabs. Some Edcamps have games, including food fights in the cafeteria.
All Edcamps have food and fellowship with educators of various levels of experience. So look here and see when the next edcamp in your area is. Go! Bring your teacher friends! Meet someone you don't know! And share your learning at Edcamp!
The sharing should not end at Edcamp. Share what you learn at Edcamp with those back at your home educational institution. By disseminating information and connecting educators with one another via twitter or in real life, then we can become the viral agents to encourage change for a brighter future of education.
I like to multitask. Usually, I'll listen to a podcast while I'm running or completing a simple task, like cleaning. Why not listen to some educational or edtech podcasts or videos the next time you're doing those tasks? Some of my favorite PD resources are:
1. Take 5 - @daveguymon makes an awesome 5 minute PD-packed podcast daily! One of my recent favorites is Episode 36: Getting Your Colleagues To Tweet With You.
2. EduSlam - @HollyEdTechDiva and @edtechschools collaborate with a special guest to discuss best practices using technology in the classroom. One of the best eduslams I have seen was a poignant discussion of Reframing the Student Blog with @davidtedu.
3. TeacherCast - Jeff Bradbury aka @teachercast has loads of resources with other teachers, including the 100th Episode with @jedipadmaster discussing Parents, Students & Autism.
4. Techlandia - @ipadsammy, @curtrees & @tedrosececi collaborate together with a guest to discuss 3 great apps, 3 people to follow on twitter and other delights. Find all their podcasts here.
So there you go. Take 5 minutes or an hour and listen to the latest from some great educators!
Here is the updated version of our PD offerings for the rest of the summer. Hope to see you there!
I was incredibly blessed to be sent to ISTE this year in San Antonio. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education and one of the premier conference for edtech enthusiasts to attend. Their convention center was like three BJCCs. I felt like Joey from Friends in London - I had to get in my map multiple times to figure out where I was going. Next year, it will be in Atlanta! I did not think through arriving Friday, June 21 and returning Thursday, June 27 to return to work today. Thanks to lots of coffee and a gracious invitation to take today to digest the ISTE experience, I am still processing everything I learned. Here are the big three takeaways I had from ISTE.
1. It's about collaboration. My district is in the planning stages of a 1:1 Digital Transformation. And we transformers only have a few ideas of our own. With the help of twitter, I have been able to collaborate with other autobots like @kylepace, @jmakeyAP, @jennifer_hogan, @bryanphillips, and @jedipadmaster to get ideas on how to implement a Learning Management System (LMS), how to do fixed assets inventory, and how to roll out devices to students and teachers by providing vital professional development in those areas. If you're not on twitter, I highly recommend it. If you are on twitter and you only retweet or quote, I encourage you to become a part of the conversation. A lot can be said in 140 characters. Discovery and innovation come from conversation. Steven Johnson even spoke to this at ISTE. He contributed great ideas like the internet to a liquid network, a place where ideas can flow like the coffeehouses and tea salons of yesteryear. Twitter provides that to connect educators across counties, countries and continents.Thanks to @chrisjenks and @_clayr_, our district started a twitter chat this year with our own hashtag #TCStech. Twitter has been a big part of my educational career. I don't know what I would do without it!
2. It's about reflection. I have a reminder set on my calendar every week for Reflection/Blogging every Friday from 3:30-4:30pm. I kind of threw that out the window with managing fixed assets and the whirlwind that is the end of the school year. I am no good to provide other teachers with personal and professional development if I am not reflecting on my own. So, I vow to write a blog post on how it's going at least once a week. Maybe twice. Professional blogging will be a new spin for me. It'll be weird to not post recipes all the time but I look foward to learning this new skill. Not only is reflection important for me, but reflection is a huge part of the evaluation process. I'm hoping to cultivate more reflection with the teachers I work with next year. Another big ISTE takeaway - evaluating teachers is more about spurring them on in self-reflection rather than mandating use of technology. I want to create a comfortable space and time for teachers to reflect on their own pedagogy and best practices.
3. It's about learning. As a teacher who has left the classroom to transition into a tech coordinator position this year, I miss my students terribly. I miss the facilitating of French, the community environment of the classroom, and the "a-ha" moments when the students are able to finally communicate in the target language. Teaching teachers how to use tech is no different. Some of the best advice I've received this week from ISTE that I will put into practice is:
So those are three oreos out of the massive package that I will be snacking on these next five weeks before school starts. What are some things you have learned this summer that has affected your craft?
Loads of resources have been gleaned today from the internets. Here are just a bullet points as I put down my lappy and unplug for the night.
1. I have been trying to find a better blog platform for my professional site. I have decided to stick with weebly even though the network at school sometimes blocks it since it is hosted freely.
2. I have created three padlets for tomorrow's PD and I just remembered edcanvas. I think I can tweak so many presentations within an inch of their lives. I just need Tim Gunn to come and tell me I have no more minutes left on Project Runway.
3. I have used the following sites to catalog my resources as much as possible in preparation for tomorrow's PD. Enjoy!
and our Edmodo page.
Today at Martin Luther King Elementary, we covered three tools to use in the classroom - Class Dojo, Pearson Net IWB presentations, and edcanvas. Mr. Perry shared how he has used ClassDojo in his classroom since Friday. Mrs. Ezelle shared how to use pre-made presentations provided by PearsonNet with the current math curriculum taught at MLK. I presented on how to make a canvas with resources from YouTube, Google, Flickr, the Internet, your computer, Dropbox or Google D
French teacher at West Feliciana High School in St. Francesville, Louisiana