EdCamp or Bust.. Educators on a Mission…

In the early days of “California of Bust”, on the back of wagons heading West, the message was clear: Bigger things awaited them, and they were determined to get there, one way or another. This message seems to me to be the perfect fit for the nature of EdCamps. If you have never been a part of one, you might not fully understand this analogy, so let me explain.

Educators have long since the beginning of time been required to take part in professional development opportunities in order to stay current on educational practices. Most often choices are limited, if at all, and one simply goes through the motions, not intentionally, but by circumstance. How much learning takes place in those inservice opportunities?  What percentage of take away is truly applied in the classroom in the days that follow?  As educators we know that engaging our audience is at the core of growth and learning, and so some pretty smart people in education sat down and redefined what PD should look like… And out of that ….EdCamp was born!

EdCamps are the “unconference” for a a reason… They have no agenda, no planned presenters, no real plan of action. It is simply educators coming together to network, share ,and decide WHAT they want to learn, and WHO in that room can lead the discussion. The agenda for the day is set as attendees come together and find they have something they can share. The best part of it all… EdCamps are planned by people like you and me…. Not districts or educational content developers.

Last spring I myself took on Co- Chairing #PadCampDallas with Venita Jones (@vcjtx). #PadCamp is simply a spin off of the EdCamp philosophy, focused specifically on using tablets and handheld devices in the classroom. I won’t lie, it was a lot of work planning such an event, but at 8 am on Saturday March 24th, I looked around, and found myself surrounded by a group of truly dedicated professionals. These educators gave up their Saturday to learn… willingly… with no PD prodding by their districts or administration. They came because they had a tablet, and they wanted to know the best ways to engage their students with it…  Amazing to say the least.

So where does that leave us in this EdCamp or Bust analogy? Well look around.. there is undoubtedly one happening in a city near you this year. EdCamptAtl is my next stop. On September 8th, I have a feeling I am going to look around Woodward Academy and have that same moment I had back in March. I am going to be proud I am part of a profession that gives their all for the betterment of our students, determined to find the best ways to engage these learners of the 21st century.  Hope to see you there… EdCamp or Bust!

Wallwisher – Ways To Use In Your Classroom.

So this is my first post in the “How would I use that?” category of my blog. It is designed to take a simple site or app and give you some suggestions for how to make that work in the classroom setting. This post in particular will center around a site called WallWisher. It is literally a virtual bulletin board that you set up, invite people to, and watch as it becomes a public forum of sorts. The question of course is, how can you use this in a school setting… well I have a few ideas.

First I am thinking of ways to boost communication between home and school. What if every week you put up wall and during that week family members could post a note to their child, or the whole class and pump up moral. They could post any positive message that would show the students they had cheerleaders outside of the classroom. Then on Friday morning, you could pull up the wall and let the students read what had been sent to them. Now knowing that not all families would do this, I would of course go in before I posted on Friday and leave a message for any student who did not have one from a family member. It literally takes a minute to post a note to a child, and I see it as a valuable way to show support from home, which many children really do need to see!

It would also be a great place for parents to post what they might be bringing to a class party or field trip. This would let everyone have the ability to see what was needed, and what was not…. As well as who might be volunteering to help for such events. It is a simple, easy communication tool for sure.

Now in the classroom I have some different ideas about how I see this working with students. First I see it as a great place to make book suggestions. Students could share a favorite book title, author, and short sentence with an introduction to the story. This might be a great way for students to find books they might enjoy as well as some friends that might like the same kinds of books they they like.

It could be a place where students share a favorite scene from a story we read aloud. It could be a place where students practice a skill – perhaps post a cause, and the effect it might have. It could be a place to make a hypothesis about a science lab we would start in class that day, or a place to list a community helper and one job they do to help the community. It doesn’t have to be a huge project, simply a place where they can post ideas, and see what their peers are posting too. It also gives them yet another tech tool that they can become familiar with during the year. It might even be a site they could use in a class project along the way!

I chose to make a wall for this particular occasion and I would love for you to go and post one or two things… One if you have learned something from me and plan to use it in your classroom- tell me what that might be… and Two- If there is a tech topic you want to know more about- post that too! I will see what I can do for you!  Below is the sample greeting that will be sent to your email once you create your first wallwisher… Click on the link to post on my wall!

Hi Guys n Gals
I have created a Wallwisher wall. It is a simple webpage where we all can post our messages easily.
So simply go tohttp://www.wallwisher.com/wall/suggesttome  and post your message there.
Happy Posting!

Jaime