Sunday, April 29, 2012

EdcampBoston - More Than Just a Tweet Up!

View from the 11th floor of NERD Center
High atop the 11th floor in the NERD Center (Microsoft's New England Research and Development Center) on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA I found myself overlooking the beautiful Charles River.  Early this morning you could see several 'crew' teams practicing in the river. The skyline of Boston was crystal clear.

This breathtaking scenery only added to the excitement of what was about to take place.  Waiting patiently, I milled around chatting and waiting for the EdcampBoston 'Unconference' to begin. 

An 'Unconference' is basically a group of people getting together and setting their own agenda for the day based on the needs of the people attending.  Read to learn more here.  An 'Education' Unconference is for passionate educators, by passionate educators and is free (a word we educators love!).  It is a day filled with sharing and the exchanging of ideas and resources. There is one rule however, called the "Two Feet" rule.  If you are not learning anything new or do not feel the topic applies to you - you may "take your two feet" and leave the discussion at any time - no feelings hurt.  It's all about learning.

Building the Schedule
Introductions were made by the organizers and sponsors were thanked (no vendor booths at Edcamps!). It was time to set the schedule.  Anyone of the 250 + people wishing to present was asked to proceed to the 'schedule board'.  Once it was filled in the others were allowed to come in and start deciding which way to go.  The schedule was also posted live here on Google Docs.  (If you check out the schedule you might notice that I was brave enough to present this year - Skype in the Classroom and Student Blogging - two of my passions!)

Some of the days' event topics included: The Blended Classroom-Structure, Function, Goals - How do you do it?; The Birth and Growth of a PLN; EDTech's Continuum of Skills; Bloggers Meet Up; Flipping the Classroom; Edcamp in the Classroom - Students actually attended to share; and much more - really check out the schedule to see some wonderful offerings. It's a full day of learning, conversations and absorbing boat loads of information.

Paper Tweet given to me by Cybraryman1
One of my favorite parts of the Edcamp was meeting my Twitter peeps face to face (a Tweetup!).  I was finally able put a face to @Cybraryman1, Jerry Blumengarten, who always supplies us with a wealth of resources (Check out Cybraryman.com.) Also met @lookforsun, Maureen Devlin, an inspirational fourth grade teacher who facilitated the "Blended Learning" discussion.  Finally introduced myself to Sean Avery, @mr_avery, who is a sixth grade teacher and avid Bruins fan; there was Marialice Curran, Tracy Mercier, Karen Janowski and so many more.  Equally as exciting, I made some new acquaintances, and we now follow each other!

Another favorite part of the Edcamp was having my other Twitter peeps SKYPE into my "Skype in the Classroom Session".  Paula Naugle and Bill Krakower, both fourth grade teachers, helped me present Mystery State Skyping.  The guests in the session asked them each yes/no questions (as our students might) to figure out their location.  Paula (from LA) and Bill (from NJ) then went on to explain how they use skype in their classrooms.  Talk about connecting with some fabulous educators who gave up a piece of their Saturday to help others! 


Skype in the Classroom Session
ANOTHER favorite part of the day is the SMACKDOWN!  Don't worry - teachers aren't wrestling - they are sharing their favorite resources.  Anyone wishing to share a favorite resource has 2 minutes to present to the group.  It's a quick, down and dirty way to learn about new sites. (Smackdown sources shared here!)

I think we need to follow this model at Curriculum and Staff meetings.  There are many people right in our own buildings and districts who have a lot to offer - wouldn't it be nice to be able to share.  If nothing else a SMACKDOWN would be a great way to end a meeting!

Can't wait for my next Edcamp in Connecticut this summer!  As Marialice would say: WHOOO HOO! 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for your post, Nancy, and for your inspiring Skype session at EdCampBos. Good to meet you in person.

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  2. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for inviting to be a part of your Edcampbos session on using Skype in the classroom. It was so much fun to be sitting at home here in New Orleans and yet be able to share with the participants at your session in Boston. Gotta love technology! It was a thrill to "see" so many of my online tweeps in the room.

    I will be asking you to do the same when I present this summer at EdcampLouisiana. Also be prepared, as I plan to spring an impromptu Skype call on you when I return from Spring break.

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  3. Nancy,

    You're amazing! Your passion for teaching is so contagious. Thanks for sharing. Wouldn't it be so wonderful to have curriculum meetings in this format? What a great idea. How can we get the word out.
    Thanks for always keeping it fresh and new. Your students are very blessed to have you.
    Laurie

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  4. @Judy - I was so surprised when you saw me yesterday and said "We're going to skype on Wednesday!" and then I realized who you were!
    So happy to have connected with you in person.

    I'm very excited and honored that you have asked me to skype into your 'teacher' class. Skype is such a very valuable tool for your new teachers. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    @Paula - You were the hit of the session at EdcampBos! You provided us with first hand experience (people saw how easy it was to connect) and with your ever wonderful resources and ideas. It was great to finally attach a face and voice to my Twitter friend!

    I of course will return the favor this summer when you are at EdcampLouisiana. Also, looking forward to the Impromptu Skype.

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  5. @Laurie -
    You are an amazing and inspiring teacher too who would just LOVE being around all those other educators. Please come with me to a future Edcamp. Who knows, perhaps we could even start our own EdcampWPS....

    I think we need to totally talk to the admins and start a SMACKDOWN at the end of staff meetings. Take the last 15-20 minutes. It would be so worthwhile. I'm sure there are lots of teachers who would share.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  6. Hi Nancy, This is a wonderful summary of #edcampbos. Again, it was great to have the chance to meet you and talk with you. I hope we can attend that ed event in Boston this summer. I'll be in touch. - Maureen

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  7. Nancy,
    I love your post. Thanks for sharing your genius with Boston! How fun! (I have yet to make it to an edcamp. I can't believe I happened to be sick for the last two edcamp Omahas. Go figure--I'm not often sick, really.)

    I would love to hear more about edcamp for students. Did you go to that session? Do you know any more about how it works? Is it related to the #edcafe I was reading about this weekend? Do you have any links? Devin Schoening has been thinking about doing something similar with students: Genius Hour on Steroids

    So glad you got to meet so many people and present too! You are an educational leader. Thanks for inspiring us!

    Denise

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  8. @Maureen - It was so fun meeting you and just getting to chat a bit. I would love to attend the ed event this summer. You are a fabulous educator and presenter. Your questions are always so thoughtful and insightful. I love learning from you!

    @Denise - Sadly, I missed the Edcafe as that was held during the time I was presenting. Sure wish I had waited as I heard the kids did a fabulous job. I don't know much about it but here is a link to Edcafe in the Classroom: http://edcafe.posterous.com/ Hope it is what you are looking for. I'm sure you are already doing something similar! Ready to try genius hour in the last few weeks of school - will let you know how it goes.

    Thank you both for commenting.

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