My Dilemma at #EdCampCT

Photo Credit: sedson

Last Friday, I attended my third EdCamp. Having truly enjoyed the first two #edcampNYC events I attended, I was really looking forward to this one. And, on the ¬†train heading ¬†home from #edcampnyc, I set a goal for myself¬†that I would “give back” and do a presentation at the next edcamp I attended. D-day was here!

Sharing the ride with one of my long time CAIS COT¬†buddies, Nikki (@ncingiser), set the day off on the right foot, and then it just got better from there! Ethel Walker was a beautiful venue for the event and the organizers did a nice job explaining the day’s plan. I was really looking forward to meeting some of my twitter “friends” face to face (especially @mytakeonit¬†!), and also making some additional connections to other public and private school educators.

CC Photo Credit: sedson

Now came the dilemma… the board starts to fill up. Within each time block, there are at least two (sometimes three!) places that I want to be at the SAME TIME. And… because I committed (to myself) to present in a session, this would mean that during one of the time slots, I couldn’t attend ANY other sessions. EEK!¬†Decisions, decisions… I put my presentation in the first time slot thinking that I could share first, and then begin to absorb as much as I could from others. Maybe I could split a few sessions, or maybe some of the sessions wouldn’t be what I was expecting and I could move to another… ¬†time would tell.

I headed off to set up for my presentation, feeling good that I was achieving a personal goal that I had set for myself . To be honest, a small part of me was very nervous that no one would show up. Too late, though. It was a risk that I had taken when I wrote my name on the card! ¬†¬†Turns out, before long, there was standing room only, and I was off sharing something that I am so passionate about- being a connected educator. Another of my CAIS COT friends, Cheryl Costello- Academic Tech at Cheshire Academy, attended my session. That calmed me down a bit. ¬†She even tweeted: “I always learn something new from @lcarroll94¬†. Can’t wait to check out the indep educators Ning and Diigo groups!¬†#edcampct¬†#isedchat”¬†Thanks¬†@cherylcostello!

Here’s my presentation: “Learning Never Stops When You’re Connected”

Once my presentation ended, I was forced to continue dealing with my dilemma of the day… where to go next!

For the second session, I chose ¬†“Managing Writing Assessment & Teaching with Digital Texts & Tools”. This was¬†not a “natural” pick for me, as a math teacher, but the title ¬†intrigued me and I figured I would share what I learned with others back at Hamden Hall. Greg McVerry¬†was a terrific presenter and offered some very sound advice for managing student’s digital work. I often use Twitter to take public, sharable notes… here are some of mine during Greg’s presentation:

  • Learning about Targeted Areas of Growth approach. Pick 3 goals of areas for improvement with @jgmac1106#edcampct
  • TAG TEAM approach…vary writing assignments btw individual/ collaborative.¬†#edcampctstudents HIGHLIGHT their targeted areas of growth…. use curation tools, let kids play!¬†#edcampct
  • You don’t need to assess every online discussion. Look for ways students are using multi-modal features… assess it!¬†#isedchat#edcampct
  • Screencast-o-matic to assess writing. teacher provides oral feedback, students comment. cuts grading time in 1/2 via @jgmac1106#edcampct
  • disciplinary specific goals… writing like a scientist, writing like a historian, share examples… “I do, we do, you do”¬†#edcampct

I was bummed that I missed “How to Build a Better Project in the Google age by asking better questions w/ @ldelia“, but¬†I made a very good choice, learned a lot and even shared some of the ways I used screencasting to assess student work.

Onto the next session…

Tom Daccord did a full day of Professional Development at Hamden Hal last fall, so I was very aware of what a great presenter he was. ¬†I was super excited for his session “Building iPad PD (5 mistakes schools are making & ways to avoid them)”. Perfect topic as we launched a faculty pilot iPad program this spring and just purchased a class set of 18 to be “checked out” around the school. Here are some of my tweets:
  • In @thomasdaccord¬†‘s session: Building iPad PD (5 mistakes schools are making & ways to avoid them)¬†#edcampct
  • Mistake: “failure to compose and deliver a clear vision of why iPads ?”develop a consistent, clear message on value added#edcampct
  • ¬†iPads cannot be a replacement for everything a computer can do… shouldn’t be either/ OR. use the tool that fits!¬†#edcampct
  • ¬†Mistake: “failure to distinguish the difference between what an iPad can do and what a computer can do”… stress the intrinsic benefits#edcampct
  • ¬†“Technology should be in the service of learning” via@thomasdaccord¬†#edcampct¬†#isedchat
  • Mistake: PD is often an after thought w/ iPads. Teachers need to learn HOW to work with ipads, have a comfort level.¬†#edcampct
  • “iPad As” from edtechteacher….¬†¬†¬†Learning goals FIRST! via¬†@thomasdaccord¬†#edcampct
  • iPad is meant to be a single user device… need to consider how “shared iPads” will impact the classroom workflow.¬†#edcampct
  • Workflow is often overlooked. It is something really important to consider.¬†#edcampct
  • common mistake: Misguided focus on apps!¬†#edcampct
  • clear/ thoughtful policy re: apps… teacher autonomy is good but can become an “apps festival” Have conversations first.¬†#edcampct
  • Look for the 4 apps that cross a wide range of possibilities. exhaust the creative possibilities.¬†#edcampct¬†<— YES!
  • don’t focus on subject specific apps… most are lower order bloom, drill/ kill. Focus on screencast, annotation, audio/ video.¬†#edcampct

GREAT advice here…and,¬†when Tom said to focus on 4 or 5 apps instead of trying to figure out what everyone will need for each age group and subject area,¬†it was like a wave of calm came over me … have you seen how many apps are out there??!! And although I wanted to be in two other places at the same time: “Using Evernote to organize & share materials & as an e-portfolio (@daveandcori)” and “Ethical Issues Around Social Networking in class. A conversation. Privacy? Access? Soical Fabric? Jeff Weitz @scienceteacher1”, I made another GREAT choice.

Off to lunch to catch up with some twitter friends that I could finally meet in person. Always fun to pick up a conversation as if I have “known” them for a long time. (well, I sorta have!) Lunch was delicious and the potato chips that everyone was talking about did not disappoint.

After lunch, I decided to be bold and hit a session that would probably put me out of my comfort zone, but I knew I needed to get an idea of what my network manager and help desk tech are up against with the 18 shared iPads. I chose “Managing shared iPads (hurdles & solutions) with @mlevesqueoi¬†and¬†@mytakeonit“. It was a very informative question and answer session, and I did get a bit uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I even had to back off Twitter because I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of managing multiple users on a single user device. ¬†¬†Here is the document that Michael and Jeremy shared. ¬† Again… wished I could have been in “iPad Apps for Middle School/High School Math” AND “Game Theory in the Classroom? A “curiosity” discussion (@thalesdream)”, but GREAT session and I learned A LOT!

For the last session of the day, I chose ¬†“Flipping (after a year of semi-flipped classroom) How to? Pitfalls? Structure! Management with @docjessm“. Hard choice because I wanted to also be in her husband’s session of “Schoology (and other class manage systems) taking a look at the blended learning class. Better? Not just more? @thalesdream” and also “Supporting School Values/Goals. More than just a poster on the wall. @WillyB“. CRAZY! While I have flipped with mixed success, I felt that this would be the most practical choice for me with school starting in 3 weeks. I got a lot of tips and very good advice from Jess. She was a dynamic speaker, full of energy and enthusiasm. It was a good choice to end the day!

We finished up in the Common Room with some raffles and an app SMACKDOWN!  Here is a link to the sites/ apps shared.

I have to say… my two biggest takeaways:


Although it was a day filled with dilemmas (if only all dilemmas could be like this!), I made all good choices, learned SO MUCH and leveraged Twitter (Yay for Twitter!) to try to fill in the gaps! Here is the archive of tweets in a google spreadsheet format and here they are in storify format!

Thanks again to the organizers (@sedson, @danagins, @WillyB, @jweeks21) and to all the amazing educators who took the time to share!  I feel rejuvenated and ready for another school year.

And..if you haven’t been to an EdCamp, you really should get to one… soon!


5 Awesome Things I Did for PD This Summer

1) #isedchat
While I originally thought that people might want a break from our weekly chat, there was an overwhelming feeling that educators shouldn’t stop learning in the summer. I’m so glad that we continued! We discussed topics such as highly effective faculty meetings, ideas to start the school year off right, personal goals, school to home communication and much more! We even read the book “A New Culture of Learning” and had a fabulous discussion surrounding it one of the weeks. I am also looking forward to a discussion of the article “How Teens Understand Privacy” on August 25th. It was amazing to share resources and learn from each other all summer! Check out our archives published to the ISE Ning.

2) Taught Scratch Programming
This summer, for the first time in 15 years, I taught a computer programming class. I had the pleasure and honor to teach, along side of Sarah Ludwig, 30 highly motivated 6th – 8th grades how to design and create their own video game. I had never used Scratch before so i watched online tutorials, played, and learned right along side of the students. It was an amazingly authentic teaching experience. See my blog post here!

3) Blogged….and read others’ blogs
While I often claim that I don’t like to write, I find so much pleasure in writing and reflecting on teaching and learning. I also love reading other educators reflections. Here are a few of my favorites from this summer:

To Effect Change, Keep It Simple

IT Director = Campus Bartender 

A Letter to New Teachers 

Professional Comfort Zone

Blah Blah Blah Life Long Learning Blah Blah Blah

4) Diigo!
I am a huge fan of Diigo. It provides me with a network of other educators and the resources they find useful. I especially like when others highlight and add commentary s. It is a tool I use every day and I look forward to the daily emails from groups like Educators, Math Links, Classroom 2.0 and many others!  This summer, I set up each department and division with a Diigo group so I can pass along great resources to them. A few colleagues have already signed on, and even added resources to the groups. Yay!

5) Twitter
I am a huge fan of Twitter. I learn so much from my PLN every day! Aside from all of the amazing resources I have at my fingertips 24/7, Twitter allowed me to “attend” some of the conferences virtually this summer that I could not
attend in person. #iste11 was amazing to follow, as was #whuc11, (Whipple Hill Users Conference), some #edcamps and the #140edu. I followed keynotes, workshops, and post-conference follow-ups. Thanks to everyone who shared!

So, another summer is approaching its end. I am always excited about a new school year and I am especially excited, this year, to share all that I have learned!

Celebrate Our Success!

Hamden Hall Faculty:

Here is a list of some of the awesome things we have accomplished this year:

1) Our digital projects page was created and it has grown by leaps and bounds. These projects include podcasts, glogs, blogs, videos, voice threads, vokis and much more! WOW! Our kids can produce some amazing, creative work with your guidance and committment. If you have some additional work you would like to share, send it our way!

2) Many of us participated in 19 Things for Hamden Hall. We learned all about some new productivity, presentations, research, sharing and learning tools. If you didn’t have time to participate, please feel free to take a look this summer. The winner of the Kindle will be drawn at the Faculty Dinner after graduation. Thanks to everyone who participated.

3) Beginning in March, the Middle School worked on a two-month project in advisor groups, with the outcome being ten 60-second Public Service Announcements. The PSAs were fully developed and created by students, with advisors putting in a great deal of time and energy as facilitators. Every middle school student participated in this project, either as directors, actors, writers, editors, stage managers, or camera people. Two students represented each PSA at the screening, which was viewed by the entire middle school, visitors from other divisions, and a panel of three judges. Mary Jane Smith’s group’s PSA, “Words as Weapons,” was declared the winner. To see all ten PSAs, photos taken throughout the project, and to learn more, click here.

4) We now have 221 members of our community in our Hamden Hall Google Apps domain. Students as young as 5th grade have used this tool to write collaboratively, create group presentations and share their work with others without large attachments and without multiple versions of documents being sent back and forth. For more information about Google Docs Tools for the Classroom, click here.

5) Our Professional Development blog has grown! We are sharing and reflecting upon those enriching PD experiences so that the entire community can benefit from them. If you have anything to share this summer, please email me and I will create an entry on the blog so you can share it with us!

6) We have pushed our computer lab reservations to the limit! … just take a look at the calendars in the Faculty/ Staff Center, MS/ US Center and LS Center. We were BUSY! We have been using the available laptops more and more often. I am happy to report that the Parents’ Association has generously funded a class set of netbooks (light weight, smaller sized laptops) that will be available for “check out” next year.

Here’s to an amazing summer of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation!

Summer PD Resources:
What will you learn this summer?

Virtual Summer Camp for Teachers