Edcamp Boston 2014

Yesterday I attended my second Edcamp Boston unconference and it was just as great as the first! This year, a supervisor from my district joined me, and I really enjoyed having someone there to chat with about how the sessions we attended could impact our school. It was a day of information overload and I will be going through my notes carefully to unpack the goods.

Session 1: “Model Your Classroom as a Startup” led by Jeremy Angoff – @MyTakeOnIt
We took collaborative notes during the session and they can be found here. Of all the qualities of progressive classrooms we listed, my favorites were student voice and collaboration. We must give students options when possible, and provide them with explicit opportunities to collaborate with peers on tasks. My biggest takeaway from the session was individual reflection of what we’re already doing in the classroom at my school. For our interdisciplinary STEM projects, we give students a budget, and another team has students look for investors if they run out of money. We also invite community/business members to our student exhibitions so they can share ideas and receive feedback from individuals practicing in the field. An interesting TED talk shared in the session is “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. Check it out.

Session 2: “My Teachers are Tech Disabled (A HS student perspective)” led by a HS student and moderated by @karenjan
A student shared with the crowd how using an iPad in the classroom helps him overcome several disabilities, while discussing the difficulties he has had with his school over this use of technology. Three of the main tools he uses are:

Session 3: “Building grit and resiliency; Social emotional learning; beyond bandaids” led by Steve Guditus (@sguditus) and Tracy Sockalosky (@tsocko)
I walked in late to this great conversation about how we can build grit and resiliency in our students. A few notes of mine, followed by the board at the end of the session:

  • We need to shift the focus back to the quality of a student’s work and the process they used rather than saying “What grade did you get?”
  • We need to model making mistakes and perseverance for our kids
  • The standards based grading chat on Wednesday nights has changed to standards based LEARNING chat
  • “If a question can be answered on google, it’s not a good question.”
  • At Malden High School (shared by @abbeydick), each month there is a “Grit” Lunch where teachers nominate students who are kicking butt and they get to eat with

Grit Pic

Session 4: “Google Docs in the Elementary Classroom” led by Rayna Freedman (@rlfreedm)
Even though I teach high school, I was hoping to learn a few tidbits that would be useful as our school begins to implement a 1:1 program and gives all students Google accounts. Here are some takeaways:

  • Use a google form for students to submit assignments. This makes the collection process fast and stores all the assignment links in one spreadsheet for easy access
  • Use Google Gooru for training resources – the staff at my school is going to find this extremely helpful!
  • Use QR codes and the Google URL code shortener to make it easier for students to access documents quickly
  • Goobric allows you to add a rubric to Google Drive resources and then send it directly to students for instant feedback!

Session 5: “Passion Beyond the Insanity” led by Steve Guditus (@sguditus) and Tracy Sockalosky (@tsocko)
With partners and then as a whole group, we discussed “What is passion? What are you passionate about? How can we bring passion to our schools and students?” See notes here, or just look at this awesome compilation by Steve:
Passion Pic

The session itself was my favorite of the day because I love when you can just feel the energy in a room, and everyone in this room was radiating passion.

Session 6: “Math Teachers Unite!” led by Me and Rik Rowe (@WHSRowe)
Going into Edcamp, I had no intention of leading a session, but Rik convinced me to throw a session onto the board, and I’m so glad I did. About 12 teachers came out to the last session to talk math. Session notes here. We talked about Desmos, Estimation 180, Dan Meyer’s Three Act Tasks, and Would You Rather. I love sharing these awesome resources with other teachers who haven’t come across them yet. Unfortunately the projector wasn’t working in the room we were in, so we couldn’t play around with them together. We talked about the PARCC pilot tests that some of our students have taken, and how challenging the implementation has been so far.

I brought up the Standards for Mathematical Practice and how I know I need to implement them more explicitly. We can have students write more in math class if they write about how they used the standards for a particular task (this also helps teachers in MA who are taking the RETELL course for English Language Learners). It was really nice to chat with other math teachers in the state and share what we’re doing in our classrooms.

My favorite idea from the session was “Tic-Tac-Toe” from Rik. Create a 9 box grid and input anything you want – equations, graphs, tables, stories. Then, have students connect a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, by connecting the information in the boxes. They have to defend their choices and explain how the topics in each box are related.

Smackdown! Session:
Individuals jumped up to share online resources in one minute or less. I talked about Desmos again because everyone needs to know about it! Full list of apps shared here. The one I am downloading ASAP is “OneTab” It’s a Google Chrome extension that lets you turn all open browser tabs into: ONE tab. It save space, and you can actually email a set of tabs to share with someone else. Super cool and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before.

Overall, it was a great time and I felt so inspired listening to such passionate educators talk all day. Thank you to all the Edcamp Boston Organizers! @dancallahan @tsocko @KarenJan @ldelia @sguditus @lizbdavis

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