Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 EdcampNJ Reflection

Today I attended my 4th EdcampNJ and it was again one of the best PD's I've attended all year.  I love the Edcamp format and today I did something I never thought I would do.  Before we got our breakfast and sat down to listen to the live #Satchat, I went up to the board and put up a session on Whole Brain Teaching!  See, I wanted to learn more about it, so I decided to lead an open talk on it hoping that I could learn from others who are using it.  I didn't know what to expect, but over 40 people showed up to talk about it and it was sooo cool! Yes, there were others that use it and I did learn from them!  I did feel a little pressure to be the "presenter" and I did give a lot of the initial information but just really running down the "first steps" from the website.
One of the things I wanted to learn more about was using gestures and from this session I learned that the gestures don't have to actually be the content.  I watched a first grade teacher show how she uses gestures when giving the objective.  It made me realize I can be doing more gestures that don't actually have to match the math content since all I could come up with right now is crossing my arms in an x to mean multiplication!

I urge everyone to do this.  At the end the day I was talking to a few teachers who were kind of saying that it was the same old stuff over again, meaning nothing new.  I admit a lot of the resources that I learned about today I already knew, but I think if more people jumped in and led sessions that maybe they don't know a lot about but want to, things might get more interesting.  My friend and I have decided that next year we might do just that, suggest a session for every time slot!

The next session I went to was Middle School Show and Tell (@sanwoz/ @njamle).  This was cool, I learned about a lot of tech stuff- one of the best things about edcamps, learning new websites and apps!  I like shoutkey a lot!  You take a url that you need your students to go to and it gives you a simple word for them to enter. For example, we typed in and it took us to a (another cool brainstorming website) that we collaborated on.  So in this case, jeep was the special word that took us to the shared site.

After that we went to Turning Tricks in the Classroom (@schleiderjustin) and it was all about time saving tricks like using google forms and such. The best trick I learned here was using ctrl shift T to open the last 10 tabs you have open.  I also learned I think it was this session about the onetab extension so that you can keep tabs as a list instead of keeping them open.  Here is where the only glitch occurred.  I was taking notes and relying on the google doc created for each session when suddenly I no longer had access to them.  It turns out people were moving them around so they locked everyone out.  I can get into most of them now, except for the whole brain teaching one and this one.

The last session I went to was on Alternative Assessments (@mmkillion @julieelliott08 ).  These presenters I think did the same thing I did, they use alternative assessments, but wanted to learn more from others.  I had high expectations for this one, but didn't take away too much.  The best one was having the students make an instructional video which I have done in the past.  It was a good reminder to use that again though!

You may have noticed I've been referring to "we" and "our" a lot, that is the other thing that makes Edcamp so much fun for me, it is a time I get to catch up with one of my favorite people.  Vesta (@vestageorge) and I went to college together.  As the "older moms" returning to school we instantly bonded and formed the type of friendship where if we don't speak for a while with our busy lives we can still pick right up like we've talked yesterday.  I love her and getting to spend time with her.   I am hoping that one day we can teach together in the same school.  We would be unstoppable!