Edcamp Rochester

On January 17th, Allendale Columbia School will host the first Edcamp Rochester. The most common question; what is edcamprocedcamp?

“Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.

What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the people there want to talk about. People could pay hundreds of dollars to attend another conference, or they could go to Edcamp for free.

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamp strives to bring teachers together to talk about the things that matter most to them: their interests, passions, and questions. Teachers who attend Edcamp can choose to lead sessions on those things that matter, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge and questions.”

Edcamp Founation

I was fortunate enough to attend Edcamp Philly two years ago, and it was a transformative experience for me professionally. It was one of the few times as a professional that I was able to have some control of my learning. The structure of edcamp allowed me to choose or create sessions that were of value to me. I was able to bring something back and implement it right away into my curriculum. You can read more about how I used this edcamp experience in my classroom here, “Inspiration from Edcamp Philly”. You will get out of edcamp what you put into it. It is an experience that requires participation and collaboration. Come with an open mind and be ready to learn and share!

For more information and to register for Edcamp Rochester, on January 17th,  go to the website. I hope to see you there!

EdCamp Home 2.0 – Wow!

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EdCamp Home badge created by Kevin Ashworth.

I am a huge fan of the EdCamp model for professional development. I was able to attend EdCamp Philly last year with three colleagues and it was an amazing experience. For those of you that don’t know, EdCamp is an unconference or open space style conference for educators. Unconference style conferences are unique because the content is driven by the participants. There are no pre-planned sessions.

I first heard about EdCamp Home from Markette Pierce, whom I know from Twitter. EdCamp Home is an online version of the conference, meaning all of the attendees would participate from home. It was held on January 4, 2014. Each attendee registered and was then invited to a private Google+ Community. The day before the conference, attendees generated topic ideas. There were two sessions. During each session multiple topics were being discussed in different Google Hangouts. There were a total of 47 different sessions at EdCamp Home. It seemed a little crazy, and it was. It was crazy awesome.

The first session I attended was the “EdTech Coaches Meetup.” We had fun connecting and sharing ideas about how we work with teachers. All the notes from that session can be found here (thanks to Markette for creating the document). Here are the videos from all of the different topics held during session 1: EdCamp Home Session 1.

The second session I attended was called “Helping Teachers Build a PLN.” (I am passionate about this topic and even presented on it at NYSCATE with colleague Amy Oliverihere is a link to our presentation.) There were so many good practical ideas shared in this session. Here are the videos from all of the topics held during session 2: EdCamp Home Session 2.

Here are some links from EdCamp Home 2.0:

  • Snagit – an awesome Google Chrome extension and app for annotating any image you can take a picture of on your computer.

  • Atlas Learning – Too hard to explain but cool, click the link.

  • Lucid Press – Awesome templates that link to Google Docs, available in the Chrome Web Store.

  • Haiku Deck – A new innovative app and online presentation creation tool.

  • PLN Yourself – Great personal learning network resources.

For more ideas check out the EdCamp Home Slam!

You can also catch up on the entire Twitter conversation via the TweetChat link#edcampHome

Experiencing EdCamp Home 2.0 has given me some new ideas for delivery of professional development with the faculty at my school. I was part of the organizing committee that introduced the unconference style of professional development to our faculty for our Professional Day last Spring. It was a huge success. If the EdCamp Home 2.0 organizers can create a robust online environment for collaboration on such a large scale, why can’t I create something similar on a much smaller scale with the faculty at Allendale Columbia School? Why not create Google Hangout PD sessions for faculty? The sessions could be based on faculty interest. Expert guests could attend the hangouts to chat with our faculty in small groups. Would you as a teacher attend a scheduled PD Hangout in the evening? I can’t wait to give this a try.

Kudos to the organizers Karl Lindgren-Steicher, Kelly Kermode, Shawn White and David Theriault, for putting together an amazing event. I can’t wait for EdCamp Home 3.0!

My Global Teaching Goal

I had to meet with the Middle School Head to discuss my teaching goals for the year. He asked us to frame our goals around three themes: globalization, authentic learning and integrated and collaborative learning experiences for our students. I really struggled with focusing on a goal for globalization. Haven’t we heard the word global or flat world too much these days? It’s almost as overused as “21st Century Skills” and “STEM.”

I stumbled onto a TED Talk by author and storytellerChimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her story and talk was about the danger of only understanding someone based on a single story. That we, and really most of the people in the world, believe a version of what we hear about a culture or nationality and we believe it to be 100% true. Her talk really made me think about myself and how I view the world. I viewed her TED talk with a student, and we had an excellent discussion about the message she delivered. He felt that she could have been more forceful, bluntly putting out a call to action. For the world to change, we all need to see others for more than the stereotypes that define us or them. We talked about stereotypes and the truths that lie within them and how dangerous they are, and how stereotypes themselves are the single story that usually defines what we know about a people, race, culture or nationality.

I had found my globalization goal:
Author and TED speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, describes that for many people our reality is only made up of a single story about a given person. You can’t truly understand that person if you interpret everything about them based on one story. The same can be said with understanding cultures. I want to make sure my students don’t trust a single story, and that they are always looking to understand more than what they have heard or seen about a particular group, culture, religion or person.

I hope you enjoy her talk as much as I did.