Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Teacher Camp 2011 (ntcamp)

I enjoyed the trip into Philadelphia for New Teacher Camp. One of the things I really like about ntcamp is the smaller size of the group of attendees. I met many new people today and enjoyed discussions with several folks in my online network. Gerald Aungst was a wonderful host. The event was held at WHYY Studios at Independence Mall. For a person who does not relish travel it was really easy to get to by car. I found a great $5 for the day parking garage a short walk from the station. It all got me in a great mental frame of mind arriving at the event.

Sessions I Attended
I chose to post sessions I would lead for later in the day since the schedule was fairly empty after lunch. I first met @Cybraryman1, Jerry Blumengarten,  at ntcamp in 2010, but we never really spoke. He reached out to me the day before, online, to share a resource I wanted for my presentation. I made sure to stop by, introduce myself, and chat a bit. I decided to sit in on his session, Expect the Unexpected. I had no idea what the session would be about, but I remember his energy from last year and knew I'd be happy I attended.

He led us through a series of photos documenting his time as a teacher and told stories about incidents in his teaching life and the stories of running into those students years later. My takeaway from the time with Jerry is that we will never really know the impact we may have had on children through specific lessons we teach until many years later. While I know this is true, it was a pleasure seeing it from his perspective as a retired teacher.

My second session was with Lyn Hilt, Make Your PLN Work For You - Get What You Need From Social Media. I have become familiar with Lyn's work via her work with Connected Principals and online interactions. It was great to listen to her. I tried to keep track of my notes as I listened in this Google Doc. While I've been building a Personal Learning Network for several years now, I am always eager to hear tips that I can pass on to others just starting out.

For a travel adverse person, I was really happy that Gerald had offered lunch delivery for the day. I sat and enjoyed the company of several educators - some I only met today. It was very leisurely. I sat and chatted for over an hour, then I went to set up for the two sessions I posted on the board.

I had planned on using a protocol on the National School Reform Faculty web site called The Multiple Perspectives Protocol. If you haven't heard of the web site take a look. It is a set of methods that can be used to help lead discussions, review of text, and other tasks with groups of educators (and older students).

As I looked at the protocol the first step calls for asking the attendees to "define" themselves. I decided on a few categories that could be used to define people in both sessions and set up an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the responses.

The room did not have a projector, but it had two dry erase boards. In addition to listing the categories on the board, I added the guiding questions I had thought of in advance as bullet points.

Primary and Elementary Collaborations
The first session I offered was titled Primary and Elementary Collaborations. My schedule was opposite the ever popular Web Smackdown, Lyn's Digital Storytelling, and Socrative - Visual Thinking. 

One wonderful attendee spent an hour with me. I had prepared this Google Doc as an electronic handout and outline. Since there was only one person I didn't use the protocol. It was a pleasure sharing ideas with someone just getting ready to do student teaching in a first grade classroom. I am happy she felt she got several useful ideas. This is the whole point of the unconference model.

Digital Citizenship and Education (ISTE NETS*T 4)
This session was really for me. I am very interested in how to present the concepts in the NETS for Teachers Digital Citizenship strand to teachers. I had three attendees. I explained that I wanted to try a protocol for the first time and asked that they'd be my guinea pig. I have to get back to everyone and get their take on what we did.

My categories for introducing ourselves were: grade Levels in the school, how much thought have they given in advance to this topic, and which of the four subcategories in the standard most interested them.

Next we got into the second part of the protocol in which the presenter chooses a question to focus the whole group. Unfortunately, we all had a different focus, so I asked everyone to take a couple of minutes and write down their thoughts and concerns in their area of interest.

Afterward, one person at a time shared their thoughts in having heard the points of view what they could share. 

I had prepared this Google Doc in advanced and tied the thoughts I had coming into the session after each person provided their concerns, questions, and insights. In some instances, ideas had come up that I hadn't considered and I added them to the document as we worked.

It was a very good hour for me...and I believe the attendees, too.

All's Well That Ends Well
I am so glad I took the time to travel down to New Teacher Camp today. Thanks to all three organizers!

Image Citation:
Ann Oro. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial