Tag: EdCamp

Edcamp Meets CA Teachers Summit

Over 14,000 educators across the state of California gathered for the first California Teachers Summit taking place at 33 colleges and universities. In an effort to empower those in attendance, part of the day was designed to bring the Edcamp unconference model in and allow voice and choice.

You may be wondering why I was involved if I’m not a California teacher. Well, my friends in the Bay Area have already adopted me…AND the Edcamp Foundation asked me to help. How could I say no to a trip to Bakersfield at the end of July?

Friday was truly a special day for the 500+ attendees at CSU Bakersfield because I got to introduce them to Edcamp. The CSU Bakersfield staff were a little anxious about the two hour chunk of time that had no set schedule, but I promised them that they could trust me to help guide everyone and to also trust the process. Sure, there were people that were uncomfortable. There were also skeptics. But I saw a session board grow in front of my eyes in five minutes and I knew that they were ready. With the reminder to contribute to the conversation, use the rule of two feet, and a little luck…they were sent on their way. As I walked the campus making my way into a variety of sessions, I could feel the energy. It was electrifying. It was invigorating. People were sharing, taking notes, and learning.

As we ended our time, there were takeaways shared through a Padlet. The overwhelming majority of comments were positive and reflected the same energy that I witnessed. As the day drew to a close, all attendees were once again asked to reflect on their day and share their thoughts with the group. Several people highlighted choice of learning, getting the opportunity to learn from others, sharing best practices, and building community. It is through the California Teacher Summit and the Edcamp unconference that these highlights came to be. Because, we are better together.

There are over 14,000 educators that experienced a little slice of an Edcamp; And for that, my heart is happy.

CoffeeEDU Nebraska

Nothing makes my heart more happy than to see educators getting together for a cup of coffee and some conversation aboutcoffeeEDU-v2-black-250 education…especially when these educators do so at 6:30 AM!

Nebraska had its very first CoffeeEDU on Wednesday, September 17 in Omaha and people actually came! 12, in fact. This meetup is a new model that I’m trying to get going here in the state, with the support of NETA and awesome people across Nebraska. Given that I get to travel this great state quite often, I figured that provided wonderful meetup opportunities for educators to get together and talk.

The idea is simple, really: find a place, create a flyer of some sort, share it on social media, show up, and let participants talk about educational topics that they are interested in. It is participant-driven and designed to allow everyone the opportunity to share…just like my personal favorite form of PD – Edcamp!

This first meetup was a great way to see how it works, how it could work, and how I can help facilitate or ask questions should no one feel like sharing. I look forward to taking CoffeeEDU across the state to other cities and getting more educators involved. Hope you can join us sometime soon!

#coffeeEDU Omaha 9/17
Thanks to Corey Dahl for capturing our first CoffeEDU.

* For more information about CoffeeEDU, check out their site or contact Alice Keeler.

Another EdCampOmaha Post

Reading through each of the EdCampOmaha posts and thinking about my own, I felt like my contribution would simply be another summary of the day or a rant about its amazingness and my frustration with the fact that more people don’t come/don’t know about it. So I have avoided this post for five days now. Thankfully Karl Lindgren-Streicher, a fellow Edcamp Foundation Partner Program Committee member and EdcampSFBay organizer, posted a friend’s Action Research survey all about Edcamps. As a recent graduate of a program that required an Action Research Project, I was inclined to help this person out by taking the survey. Little did I know that it would also make me finally reflect on my recent Edcamp experiences, both as an attendee and a co-organizer.

Overall, Edcamps support my role as an educator by allowing me to be selfish in my own learning. I can select sessions that interest me or have conversations about something in which I know nothing, but have always been curious. I am not required to be there or told what to learn. It is my choice. As an educator, this is liberating because the overwhelming majority of PD is determined by others.

With every Edcamp that I attend, I take away something new. Conversations can lead me to look at challenges with new perspective, app smackdowns can provide a wealth of new apps to try and apply, idea generation can lead to new solutions, and networking can connect me with other passionate educators from nearby states. Just this past weekend at EdCampOmaha, I was able to connect with educators from my own state (Nebraska), Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado and gain some support, ideas, and even evidence of things to take back to the Nebraska Department of Education as we move forward with our social media policy and guidelines. Working for a government agency can be even more limiting than a school district, which is why this policy to become present on social media is so important.

Edcamps are my happy place where I can dream big, learn from others, have deep conversations with passionate educators, be challenged to make a change, and simply feel empowered to DO something.

Now my challenge to you: find the nearest Edcamp…and GO!

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I Learned. At an Edcamp.

#EdcampKC this past Saturday was my 7th Edcamp.

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It is, by far, my favorite form of professional development. The grassroots effort behind the planning, the delivery, the sessions, the conversations, the learning…it’s all real. When 300 educators come together on a Saturday, to improve what they do, it’s real.

Edcamps aren’t pretentious. There are no presentations to show off. There are healthy debates. There are moments of real honesty.

Technology may or may not play a part of the day. And that is ok. Heather Braum (@hbraum) led a session for teacher librarians and worried that because it didn’t involve tech, it might not have a mass appeal. The wifi crashed and we weren’t able to share out our learning as much as we hoped. But the conversations and learning continued…

Maybe the simplicity of the day helped us focus on what we all needed in that moment. It did for me. I reconnected with friends. I took in the beauty of the Nelson-Atkins. I laughed. I acted like a dork (no surprise). I was rejuvenated and challenged.

I learned. At an Edcamp.

NETA’s 25th, My 2nd

This past Thursday and Friday, I had the pleasure of attending my second Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) Conference, which also happened to be the 25th anniversary.  Dedicated and passionate educators from all over the state of Nebraska, as well as surrounding states, all gathered to learn how to better their craft.

Here are some of my takeaways from the conference:

Kevin Honeycutt is an amazing speaker and had everyone in the audience, overflow room included, hooked.  Know why?  Because he is an incredible storyteller.  Kevin openly shared his own experiences growing up and how educators in his life helped shape the man he became.  He challenged us to love kids, no matter what.  While this certainly isn’t life-changing, it IS.  Too often, we get caught up by the labels that kids bring with them – ELL, below-grade level, Sped, HAL, Free/Reduced Lunch – and we simply forget to LOVE them.  We can make the biggest difference in the lives of our students if we just LOVE them.

– The Conversation Strand in the menu of session offerings is by far my favorite.  While this is only the second year of the conversations, it is the most like an EdCamp session, which is so dynamic because there is no set agenda.  There is certainly a topic that is addressed, but who knows where the conversation will lead.  What better way to present, than to facilitate an honest dialogue and not just learn from the presenters, but everyone that’s present?

– The title “Rocks or Sucks…Your Call” is scary to some, but appealing to others.  For those that dared to see what this was all about, we had a great discussion on hot topics in education, including no zero grading policy, year-round school, BYOD, and the flipped classroom.  I’m thankful to those that participated in this conversation and weren’t afraid to vocalize their opinions.

– Travis Allen, founder of iSchool Initiative, is a smart young man with a bright future.  I appreciated that he did not have a formal presentation on “Going Paperless”, but rather had ideas that would lead to a discussion.  He started the discussion by showing his idea sketch, which highlighted the various areas that going paperless would affect.  As a visual learner, this was fabulous!

– School districts like Lincoln Public and Bellevue Public are doing some great things in regards to training their own staff on how to integrate technology and empower teachers with the skills necessary to teach students 21st Century skills.  We are just starting down this road in my district and are open to ideas and models to see what works best with our staff.  I look forward to helping us get there.

– I love getting to interact with my PLN face-to-face!  So many of my interactions are through Twitter and Facebook, that I often forget how great it is to just hang out with people who share the same passions.  Over the past year or so, I’ve learned that there are some incredible local educators that are becoming more active online and I’m so glad they’re making their voices heard.  It’s people like this that are continuing to move education in the right direction.

– Some may have questioned why I, as an ELL teacher, would be attending an educational tech conference.  To them I say, how could I NOT go?  My students are different only because of the languages that they natively speak.  To be honest, I don’t see how the two could be separated or compartmentalized, as if they have nothing to do with one another.  All students deserve to learn with real-world tools that they will see and utilize in their future.  What better way to prepare them for their future, than to have all teachers that are involved in their learning know best practices to engage them and help them along the way?

Overall, it was a great conference with new tools, apps, and ideas to take back.  Can’t wait for NETA 2013!