Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to Get the Most Out of EdCamp


Image Courtesy of EdCampHershey
This week I got to attend my very first EdCamp, @EdcampHershey. What an awesome experience!  I got to hang out with old friends, meet some new peeps, and even connect with some members of my PLN that, until now, I only knew virtually.  Now that I've had a few days to really reflect on my time there, I put together some tips to help you get the most out of your next EdCamp.

1. Get outside your comfort zone and strike up conversations with anyone nearby. This is so very hard for me, because although I can be friendly, I am at heart an introvert. So I had to make a very deliberate attempt to reach out to those around me. And I am so glad I did! I met a super-cool 4th grade teacher who is doing awesome things in his classroom. I connected with a tech coach who introduced me to a brand new tech tool that I am hoping will drive my instruction next year. And I figured out some new strategies for using Twitter with my students.

2. Come prepared with charged up devices AND paper and pencil. I had a laptop with me, and used it to look up apps and programs as they were mentioned in sessions. But we didn't have access to outlets and it died on me halfway through the day. Bring a backup power source or a second device just in case. I also forgot to bring a notebook, so when my laptop died, I didn't have a way to track notes or strategies. Something else that I need to work out for myself is that I have a hard time multitasking. When I was on my laptop I was easily distracted and found myself missing info. In the future, I think a notebook will be my primary data collection tool, then I will scan those for future searching and tagging. I will keep my phone nearby for times that I want to check a link, etc., but I want more of my attention on the discussion and less on the technology.

3. Share out your learning. I have really come to rely on Twitter as my PD "go to." I am working on a separate post about Twitter for teachers, but in short, it is a very quick way to connect with like-minded educators. As you go through your EdCamp experience, Tweet out (or pin, or post on Instagram/Facebook/SnapChat/your social media poison) powerful quotes from facilitators and colleagues. Share apps that you find interesting. Post links to podcasts that you hear about in a session. Just be an active link in the chain of information-sharing.

So what did I learn at my first EdCamp? Here are some resources I want to share:

  • SeeSaw. Never heard of it until @kickkrowley shared it in a session. Will be using it next year to track student progress towards library standards, and to keep data for student learning. 
  • Twitter for students. Been sitting on this one for a long time, but I think I have a plan, thanks to @lisa_hollenbach. I will be assigning a "Tweeter of the Week" for each class, and they will be tweeting out updates from our library time.
  • National Blogging Collaborative  (https://twitter.com/natblogcollab). A free mentor to help me be a better blogger in the education community? Yes please.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of EdCamp? Please share!

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