Philadelphia is the birthplace of some of the greatest of American history... likewise, it was the birthplace of the first EdCamp ever, 2 years ago--nearly to the date! How fitting that this past Saturday (5-19-2012) was starting a new "century" of EdCamps--kind of neat to be at the 101st EdCamp, back home where they all started. Way to go, EdCamp Philly!!
What is EdCamp, you ask? You can get a brief synopsis on either of my 2 EdCamp blog posts linked above, or check out one of the following original sources: the EdCamp Home Wiki, EdCamp Foundation, or this YouTube video. In short, it's a day where educators (who just can't stop learning) come together (for free!) to an "unconference." Once there, the schedule builds up around them, based on what the attendees are interested in sharing, and interested in learning. On this past Saturday, EdCamp Philly had four one-hour-long sessions, and a "Smackdown" of people sharing "1 minute blips" about favorite websites. This made for 30-45 minutes of amazing new finds!
My Highlights & Take-Aways:
a). If you aren't on Twitter, you should be! It's a great resource of brilliance and collective knowledge. Whatever your field, follow people in it. Find colleagues. Use it in a totally different way than you use Facebook. Don't post the trivial, but post the important. Build your own Personal Learning Network [PLN]. Do it! You'll become newly refreshed in your field!!
b). Speaking of PLNs, I got to meet some of my favorite "tweet peeps" I follow. Finally, a face to face, complete with the real person and personality, to match up with the twitter handles I've come to look for. I had lunch with some of the great people who are planning EdCamp New Jersey (Dec. 1, 2012), including special guest appearance from Teacher Cast's Jeff Bradbury.
c). Skype can be an amazing classroom resource. Bill Krakower ran the session where he ended up skyping in with Cybraryman Jerry Blumengarten and Paula Naugle. They Skyped in to talk (not surprisingly) about the ways to use Skype. Here's their document of a slew of ideas. The Mystery Skype idea was a particular favorite of mine.
d). The iPad is a tool...like a pencil, a dictionary, or a ruler. Yes, a motivating tool (very much so), but a tool. Your creativity as an educator determines what you do with it. It's much much more than just the Internet or a set of digital flash cards. So ask yourself: what am I going to do with it? If you don't know, learn. Experiment. Branch out. Be the risk taker you encourage your students to be.
e). As Diane Marcus commented in the "We Love iPads" session that she presented with Dan Callahan (fellow teacher at Pine Glen Elementary in Burlington, MA): "As an adult in 2012, how many dioramas do you make in real life? So why is that the best way for students to share their information?" Her point: in a digital world, where the expectation down the line will be for digital presentations, perhaps the time to start using those tools is now! Use the technology only after the written scripts are done first to help create a smooth product.
Clearly, EdCamp Philly left me with a lot on my mind. I have a whole list of "Personal Fav's," both iPad apps and websites, but I'm thinking that's going to have to make its way to another post, a "Part Deux!" As you can imagine, there are oodles and bunches! So stay tuned!!
EdCamp Philly logo from http://www.edcampphilly.org/, EdCamp graph from http://edcampfoundation.org/, EdCamp Philly 2012 schedule = screenshot from my camera of the Google Doc the EdCamp Philly folks created to show the day's events; Pic of me (winning a door prize) taken by Kevin Jarrett, found on the EdCamp Philly Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/7230521676/in/pool-1331568@N23/; Tweet Pic from Pine Glen Room 209's Diane Marcus of Bill Krawkower's Skype session. This was a photo taken from a screenshot of her tweet from my phone.