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


  1. Sounds like an interesting day. I too have wondered about the Simple K12 Unconference - you'll have to let us know all about it.

  2. I will let you know about the unconference. If you didn't see the live stream, there are sessions archived on the ntcamp Ustream channel.

  3. Great comments about ntcamp! Wish I could have been there.

    Glad you are excited about the EdTech UNconference, Ann! I'm Kimberly, the Chair for the UNconference. Let me know if you have any questions or comments about what we're doing (same goes for you, Vicky =) )

    Tweet at me (@EdTechUNcon), or message me inside the EdTech UNconference's learning portal.

  4. Kimberly,
    It was a really good event. If you are available, I'm helping to organize EdCamp NYC on December 4, 2010 at The School at Columbia University. Click the link and take a look at the web site. I don't know where you are physically located, but it is quite an interesting day. Went to my first live unconference back in May in Philadelphia.

    I am excited about EdTech UNconference. I've signed up already. I plan on spending a lot of time there once I get done with a class I'm attending the first week of August.

    Again, thank you and your company for sponsoring ntcamp.

  5. Ann, I really like the session idea about Free PD. I know there are a lot of teachers around here in the same boat as far as not really knowing what's available from their own desk chair. How would you feel if I took your idea and shared it with teachers in my area, perhaps even putting in a proposal about it for a conference?

  6. Please feel free to share it. The wiki is licensed Creative Commons Attribution. If you want, I can add you as an editor to the site. When you find more free PD than I've listed, you can add to the wiki.

    I put a proposal in to the K12 Online Conference and created a video already. If you want to share it at a conference, go ahead. If it doesn't get selected as a K12 topic, I'll eventually post the video on the Google Site.

    I was thinking it would make a great conference topic. I don't think you and I have crossovers at conferences we attend. Let me know where you submit so I don't submit the same proposal.

  7. Thanks - I was thinking about using the idea as a proposal for ICE, the Illinois Conference and perhaps WEMTA, the Wisconsin conference. I think you are usually on the East Coast - helping spread this idea in the midwest would be great. I peeked at the wiki a little bit. You did a great job putting it together. I'm sure I would probably put together a site or presentation of my own, but I'd link to your resources for sure. Good luck on the K12 Online proposal.

  8. Best wishes with the proposal. When you make your resource, let me know. There are so many great opportunities to learn and get inspired online. I've been trying to work on resources that would help someone just stumbling on to these ideas. Sometimes we think that everyone knows what we do, but so much is still new to so many people. It's good to spread this around. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for K12 Online.

  9. Ann - can't believe it, but I just saw your response to me on here! Sorry for the extremely delayed response.

    I will be at EdCampCitrus on December 4 - I'm brainstorming with my teammates at SimpleK12 on fun ways we could potentially collaborate & share between EdCamps on December 4. Let me know if you have any ideas.

  10. Kimberly, It would be interesting to do something collaborative. The only thing I have thought about so far is a session on Skype in the classroom and then Skyping into the EdCamp Citrus event. I'd be interested in what you brainstorm. Don't worry about the delay. It happens.