Sunday, July 25, 2010

ntcamp A Day Later

Yesterday a friend and I drove down to ntcamp. This was my second unconference. I wanted to capture a few thoughts about the day. My photos are in this photo set and here is the group pool.

Getting There and Starting the Day
The trip to The Boys Latin Charter School in Philly was fairly easy. We hit a few blocked roads on the way but with the help of a friendly taxi driver arrived on time. I inadvertently went to check in at the speaker's table for the morning panel discussion. A quick point in the right direction and I was signed in and ready to go.

Having experienced EdCamp Philly where I presented a session on Collaboration in the Primary Grades, I had the confidence to prepare a session for ntcamp. I knew that I needed to find the session board and register my idea with a member of the ntcamp team, so I headed over to the board to find an index card to post my intended session.

One takeaway for EdCamp NYC is to have the registration table right at the front door and make sure it is clearly labeled. Another idea is to ask each attendee to stop by the board and have a quick explanation at the board of where to get cards and how to make sure the card is logged into the spreadsheet so it appears on the web site.

Throughout the day I logged all my links in Delicious and Diigo with ntcamp10.

ntcamp Kickoff
The kickoff to the day was a little more traditional than EdCamp Philly. Andrew Marcinek kicked off the day with a little overview of what to expect. He then introduced Jerry Blumengarten who gave a very spirited kickoff to the event. He had a very high energy talk that wove different experiences he had with education over time and a variety of names of Twitter attendees near and far. 

This was followed up with a panel discussion on the concept of the PLN - a personal/professional learning network. The speakers were Steve Anderson, Mary Beth Hertz, Kyle Pace, and Tom Whitby. Considering that there would be many sessions referencing (directly or indirectly) the concept of learning with others in person and online it was a useful way to start the day. Andrew helped the panel along by moderating with key questions. The conversation flowed smoothly and wove the groups experiences and opinions in a nice, logical progression. All the speakers were well-spoken. I enjoyed listening to what they had to say.

The Sessions I Attended
The first session I attended was titled What Should a New and Experienced Teacher Know About Special Ed and Inclusion. It was run by Dan Callahan and Kristen Swanson. I received exactly what I hoped for from this session: more ideas to assist the teachers and support personal in my building with ideas to work with all students and, by extension, more ideas for my own classroom. I took notes in this Google Doc. If you want editing privileges, let me know. The information was copied from notes I typed into Kristen's Google Doc. Feel free to see if anything would help you. I tried to tag all the resources from the session along with my other UDL tags on Delicious and Diigo.

The second session was the one I ran. I called it Free Professional Development and Inspiration at Home. It was based on the content I pulled together in my blog post from a week or so ago. During the session, I pulled up this Google Site which is can be linked via a I had a nice turnout of 10-15 people. It was satisfying to learn that most of the attendees had not heard of these sites or had heard of only a tiny percentage. In the course of 55 minutes, we looked at the links to Classroom 2.0 webinars, the K12 Online Conference, TED Talks and TEDx, iTunes University, EdCamps/unconferences, and Discovery Education's DEN. We had a short digression into Twitter's ability to find more of these types of resources on a daily basis. I had linked to Richard Byrne's post on Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter under the category of Other Opportunities on my site.

Break Time
Lunch was on our own. I had a very serendipitous encounter in a pizza store. My friend had struck up a conversation with two gentlemen at the table next to us. They were teaching a summer course at the local university. I found myself, once again, having a difficult time explaining the concept of ntcamp and shared the link to EdCamp NYC which is planned for December 4, 2010 at The School at Columbia University.

Sessions - Part II
On return from lunch, I attended Shelley Krause's session titled Talent Swap No Slidedeck! Rocket Fuel for Your PLN. In truth, I had no idea what to expect based on the title. This is potentially a downside to the unconference model. At an unconference, you are welcome to "vote with your feet" and leave if a session doesn't fit your needs. I was armed with the knowledge that Shelley was excited by an idea that she had. I had learned this via Twitter, so I wanted to see what idea she had "cooking". The cooking concept actually had a lot in common with her proposal in the session. She provided us with a set of business cards (see the image to the right). One side has a very colorful green apple (in the theme of the conference) and the other contained three prompts to fill in: Name, Twitter id/email address, and what you could offer someone in the form of your talents and experiences.

This requires further explanation. She likened it to a Christmas cookie exchange where you bring a full plate of your cookies, recipe cards for the cookies, and an empty plate. At the end of the evening you leave with a cookie platter filled with cookies from the other guests and recipe cards. We shared our information on the cards. At the end, I ended up with one card from each session attendee who I now know a little better. I share my comfort and learned about that of others in the room. We made a strong connection as a results of the sharing that we would not have otherwise. Here are my Google Doc notes from Shelly's session.

The final session was a great bookend of my first. It was titled Gifted Gab: Everything You Need to Know About the "Smart" Kids with Gerald Aungst and Paula White. After introductions around the room and sharing the one takeaway we hoped to receive in the session, we did a little brainstorming. I captured the information in this Google doc. Next Gerald and Paula extended our thoughts and shared some web sites. These are in the doc, as well as my Delicious and Diigo bookmarks tagged as gifted. At the end of the session I won a door prize. A years membership at the Simple K12 Ed Tech Unconference online. It is something I had heard about and was curious about. Now I will get to experience it. A big thank you to Simple K12 - one of ntcamps sponsors!

To Wrap It Up
I'd like to extend a big thank you to the organizers of ntcamp! I learned, share, met new people, and had fun. There were a amazing, intelligent, gregarious group of educators in Philly yesterday. 

Image Citation:
Aungst, Gerald. copyright 2010. Used with permission.

Oro, Ann. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Evidence of Learning

I am thinking about how you could show evidence of "21st Century Skills" in a classroom. I am interested in trying to break ideas of implementing these kinds of skills in a menu of basic (or easy), intermediate, and advanced ways to try this it in a classroom where more lecture was used.

I've put together a Google Doc and it is open to editing to anyone who has the link. I am asking that you sign in to Google so the edits are not anonymous. 

The red subtitles are a general breakdown of strands to focus on.

I'm looking for a little crowd sourcing here.

Additionally, if you have already invented the wheel please comment here and share a link to what you have done or found.

Thanks in advance!

Image Citation
cc licensed flickr photo shared by FredMikeRudy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Starting a New Personal Project

I've decided it was time to earn my Master's degree. It is an idea I've had on the back burner of my mind for two years now. I started researching a local university and shared my thoughts with my principal. Here I am a week later filling out paper work, getting transcripts, inoculations, and studying.

Why Write Here?
My husband suggested it might be interesting to blog about the experience, but asked how I would be able to keep up. I felt it would be easy enough to share right here. My blogs tag line is My Trip Through Education With Technology. It really fits. I'm going to tag these posts with MACSL for Masters Catholic School Leadership

Technology as a Grad Student
So far, I've been assigned readings and focus questions on Parish School: American Catholic Education From Colonial Times to the Present. It's been an interesting book. I have about 40 pages to go. As a graduate of the Catholic K-8 system and now a teacher, the book has given me a new perspective on the idea of the parish school. I've found it thought provoking to learn that a century ago there were discussions about modernizing teaching methods in public and private education. An example I recall is the idea that teachers should let students lead themselves through learning rather than simply use rote memorization. Another example was that students could learn as much from working with each other as they could from a teachers lecture. Radical or sounds familiar?

As I've been working, I've opened a Word document and typed in the focus questions. As I read, I enter my responses into the document.

I've found Quizlet to be useful too. There are a set of 20 key people and ideas for the mid-term. Again, as I read and come to the terms I've been logging the key ideas into a deck of electronic index cards.

All these assignments are in advance of the first class. I'm not sure how the mid-term will be framed in a one week class, but it will help me study and be prepared for the first week of August.

I'll be bringing my laptop to class. I look forward to seeing the use of technology in education from my new side of the classroom.

Image Citation:
Christchurch City Library. "Year 1-8 St Joseph's Cathedral Girls 1950." 2008 Oct 15. 2010 Jul 20.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Prepping for ntcamp - Ideas Welcome

I'm going to ntcamp on July 24th at Boys Latin School in Philadelphia. I could offer the same topic as I did at EdCamp Philly. I may float that session, as well. Two days ago, I started a Google Site and I would appreciate some thoughts and additions.

Google Sites vs. Wikispaces
Usually I use Wikispaces. I'm giving Google Sites a try. It is ad-free automatically. I still like Wikispaces better. The URL is easier to hand out. It is easier to make it publicly editable. I know I can get an ad-free space for education, but I don't want to take advantage of their generosity too often.

The Session Idea
I am going to offer a session I'll probably call Free PD at Home. It's going to be a discussion of places teachers can go to learn online. There are various categories on the left side of the screen including Classroom 2.0 Webinars, Discovery Education, EdCamps, EdTechTalk, Global Education Conference, ISTE, iTunes University, K12 Online Conference, Podcasts, TED Talks, TEDx, Ustream, and other opportunities.

Do Me a Favor
Please go to the Google Site and see what I've used as resources. If you have a particular TED Talk, podcast, Ustream, or anything else, I'd like to add you as a contributor to the site. You can add your recommendation. The site is under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

This is under my Google Apps account for I would have made it public, but I haven't figured out how to do it...yet.

Image Citation:
Zannol, Guilio. "Street Creative Commons." Guili-O's photostream. 2009 Apr 7. 2010 Jul 13.