Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Recap: #edcampCR

Photo courtesy of http://edcampcr.weebly.com/

I love EdCamp! Today I attended EdCampCR in the Harrisburg, PA area. I believe it was their first time holding a camp, and they did a great job. It was a smaller showing than I've seen in other camps, but they had plenty of sessions available, great giveaways, and a nice breakfast/lunch for attendees.

If you've never been to an EdCamp, it's a little hard to describe. When you walk in, you are asked to fill out an index card listing a topic or two that you are interested in or that you want to learn. If you are already comfortable with the topic, you can add your name to show you will act as a facilitator.

The camp organizers then take all of the index cards and come up with related piles. They then create a master schedule with simultaneous sessions based on those piles. So no one knows ahead of time what the schedule will be, since it is totally dependent on who shows up and what they are interested in.

So for today's camp, the schedule looked like:

Each session title is a hyperlinked document that will take you to a Google Doc. People will be simultaneously adding notes to the document based on the conversation happening in the session.

EdCamp organizers emphasize the "two feet" rule, which means if you don't get something out of a session, use your two feet to head to another session. This has always felt weird to me, and I have only ever walked out of one session (different conference). I get it, but I hate hurting people's feelings. So I probably won't use the two feet rule unless I am seriously hating a session.

For today, I selected sessions that match up with my goals for the upcoming school year. Here are the topics and a few things I learned today.

Social Media in the Classroom
Instagram seems to be the "it" app, at least from the student side. So I will be using it more this year, at least to post pics or have students share. I will probably continue to use Twitter as my "go to" app for professional development and posting information that I want parents and teachers to see.

One tip I will be implementing is a Twitter board, which might look like:

Photo courtesy of https://au.pinterest.com/explore/twitter-board/?lp=true
I pose a question or topic to the students, and they compose a paper-based Tweet that meets the requirements of Twitter (140 characters, etc). I post them on the wall, and then I pick some each day to post on our Twitter feed. I then track responses on Twitter to their Tweets and mark on the sheets how many retweets, likes, etc.

This allows me to avoid having to create separate Twitter accounts for my middle school students but still letting them have a real audience. I will probably show them the Twitter feed on the project regularly. This method also prevents students from posting inappropriately. I think this is a great option for younger students. I believe older students probably could use their own accounts, as long as the teacher focuses on digital citizenship and ethical expectations of posts.

Flipped/Blended Learning
My second session focused on flipped/blended learning. This was a little less useful for me because I'm a librarian and I don't have actual fixed classes. My biggest takeaway is using video to post tutorials on my Website for students who need "just in time" assistance while they are working on assignments for other classes. For example, a student who is assigned a research project gets stuck on using a database. If I have videos available on my Website, they can continue working on their project rather than getting stuck.

Tools that we talked about to help flipping learning include:

This one started out slow but became my favorite session. I'm actually the person who wrote this topic down on the card, but I have no experience with it. Well, no one else who showed up for the session did, either. We all looked at each other for a few minutes, and then started thinking through how to learn more about Flipgrid without any experts in the room. One of the participants volunteered to set up a grid and invite everyone. So we just slowly tried it out, and had a BLAST! I think I learned more just playing around with the app with other people than having a specific task to complete.

I will be using this app in the library. I will use it for students to introduce themselves. I will use it throughout the year to share booktalks/book buzzes, as well as to highlight instances of my yearly theme, #choosekind.

My last session was Seesaw. This is an app that I can totally see using, but probably won't this year. It is basically an online student portfolio/blogging tool that allows for easy collaboration and parent participation. I love the idea, and it is powerful. I just feel like it doesn't really suit my situation as a librarian and I have other tools I would rather focus on this year. 

Smackdown is the ultimate EdCamp experience. In past EdCamps and conferences, Smackdowns can get a little wild and crazy. This one was more subdued, but here's what was highlighted:
There's ALWAYS giveaways at EdCamp! Today we had so many prizes that everyone was guaranteed something, which was really very cool. I won a ThingLink subscription, which is kind of amazing because I literally signed up for an account TODAY before I won the subscription for premium service. So that was cool.

So overall a really fun day, got to meet some local teachers and learn some new technology. Glad I went!

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