EdcampWNC was held today in Cullowhee, NC at NCCAT. There were many first-time edcampers there; it made me reflect on my first edcamp. My first one was five months ago at the inaugural EdcampWNC… 4 edcamps in 5 months does a body good! This time I took two colleagues from work and I was excited for them to experience their first edcamp. We used Google Moderator (which is shutting down in June – hard to believe) to set our session board.
The sessions looked fantastic; it always excites me to see the session board revealed… is that weird?
First up: Virtual Field Trips and Guest Speakers (click title links for collaborative session notes) This session included so many great ideas for breaking down walls in your classroom by allowing your students to tour places virtually. I have participated in a couple of Mystery Skype sessions and loved them! In Mystery Skype, two classrooms Skype one another without the students knowing the location of the other classroom. By asking yes/no questions (can be tweaked to meet your needs), the students narrow down the location of the other classroom. This is perfect for geography, critical thinking, and collaboration. Once we discovered the location of both classrooms, the students can hold a short discussion via Skype. My students loved it and asked to do it again.
In the second session, I used the Rule of Two Feet! There were so many great topics that I couldn’t sit still in one session. I started in Teach Like A Pirate (love Dave Burgess and his book) and was instantly inspired by the amazing hooks being used by educators in the classroom. I followed Gaming in the Classroom via twitter until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to go chat about my new favorite educational tool – games! There were great discussions about various tools to develop games in the classroom. Of course there was the obligatory shout-out to Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken, which I hear is amazing & is quickly making my shortlist of books to read!
One of my favorite things about edcamp = small discussions that begin in sessions and lead to big discussions in the halls.
Finally, in the third, and last session of the day, I attended Twitter as a PLN. I had suggested the topic and became a co-facilitator in the discussion. The participants ranged from Twitter Newbies to Frequent Fliers. Twitter changed my professional life, and I feel like I’m doing my fellow educators a disservice if I don’t share the power of Twitter. From the genius mind of my friend Kenny McKee (@kennycmckee) we held a Twitter chat in the middle of our session to help the newbies feel more empowered to participate in their first Twitter chat. I personally enjoy attending #nced every other Tuesday night. Sometimes I just follow along and sometimes I participate; that’s part of the beauty of Twitter.
At the end of the day, we had what was quite possibly one of the best App Smackdowns I have attended. Sometimes the App Smackdowns can include a lull in action while participants are either deciding on a tool to share, or working up the nerve to share it. This one was going from the minute it started and continued to get better and better. I learned about Newsela.com where you can change the lexile levels of current event articles. They can range from a 4th grade to a 12th grade lexile level! My favorite was powermylearning.org where educators can search a database of great activities according to grade level and Common Core standards. Then you can create customized “playlists” of activities. How awesome! I shared the app KaleidaCam ($1.99) which is exactly what it sounds like. (Thanks Rebecca!) It accesses your camera and camera roll to create Kaleidoscope images. There’s a cool line symmetry option which I liked best for elementary school.
As always, I enjoyed my day at #edcampwnc. These things never let me down. I am already excited about attending EdcampWNC 3.0 in October, 2015. Until then, there is always Twitter… and my fabulous PLN!
Side Note: This is my 5th blog post! This is monumental for two reasons; first, I semi-successfully kept up my first blog for nearly two months. More importantly, this fulfills my requirement through EPIC Academy to earn my Blog Epic Quest Badge. I have been so nervous about publishing my blog for all to see (which may likely be a grand total of 5 people), but tonight will mark the first time I will release my blog to my PLN. Please… be kind. I will continue updating regularly with the good, bad, and ugly from the perspective of a new “techbrarian”. I hope something posted through this blog will be of use to someone out there.