A Very Merry Unconference #EDCampPGH


A Bit of Background

I first heard of EdCamp from a fellow blogger, Darin Johnston @AnIowaTeacher, in his blog post My #edcampMadWI Expereince.  His blog post had piqued my interest, and I recently had been to another unconference, Pod Camp Pittsburgh, #pcpgh8, with my tech-savvy boyfriend (who is the brains behind this blog operation).  We learned a lot at Pod Camp about blogging, search engine optimization and social media, so I figured trying a education-focused unconference would be a great way to learn more about current trends in education and connect with other educators.

So You Might be Wondering, “What is an “Unconference”?”

Yesterday, I attended the unconfence, EdCamp PGH, #edcamppgh, which is kind of like a professional development conference, except its not!  What makes EdCamp different than a conferences is that class offerings and schedule are completely determined by the participants.  At the start of the day participants jot topics they want to learn more about on sticky notes and post stick them on a piece of chart paper.  Then there is another chart with a table, where the session times are listed down the side and the available rooms are listed across the top. If someone feels they are confident in moderating the discussion they move the topic from the first chart and place it in a time slot and a room.  From there the organizers put the schedule up on the website, so participants can access it from our lap tops, tablets and smart phones.

Ignite Talk!

Our day was started with an inspiring speaker, Michelle King, @LrningInstigatr.  You can view the slides from her talk here.  Points that I walked away from her talk with are:

1.  We should have abundance thinking, not scarcity thinking.

2.  Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth, so we should be striving for the good of all!

3. Kids should be disappointed when there is snow day, because if they aren’t we aren’t doing something right!

Session 1:  Gamification

The first session I went to was led by Daniel Harrold, @mr_harrold, and I learned a lot about what Gamification is and isn’t.  I learned a lot about the between Gamification and Game Based Learning. You can check out his resources on Gamification here.  He uses a site 3D GameLab to create QUESTS for his students.  This session left me wondering what gamification might look like in a primary classroom.  I also learned about two interesting video tool, eduCanon and EDpuzzle, from attending this session, so I will have to look into them!

Session 2:  Being a Connected Educator

This session was led by two math teachers and bloggers,  Justin Aion, @JustinAion, and Lisa Henry, @lmhenry9.  Justin’s Blog is Relearning to Teach and Lisa’s blog is Teaches Math.  Lisa also organizes Twitter Math Camp.   This session focused on how teachers can use social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram to connect with other educators and expand their PLN.  Some of the participants were unaware of all the good things that Twitter can offer educators, and by the end of the session many people were interested in creating accounts, or using their current accounts for something other than following celebrities!  We discussed how using TweetDeck and creating lists can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed on Twitter.  I also met one of the organizers of the Pittsburgh Ed Tech Meetup Group, Courtney Francis, @cfrancisrun, and I am looking forward to the opportunity in getting involved in this Meetup!

Session 3:  Reflective Practice and Blogging

This session was also led by Justin Aion, @JustinAion, who led the previous session as well.  I was amazed to find that he has the time to blog daily.  My goal, when I started this blog, was to blog once a week, but I feel like I barely can squeak out two blog posts a month!  So I find his dedicatioHe emphasized the importance of reflecting on one’s teaching, and a blog is an excellent way to do that.  He also mentioned that is important to be open and honest about our failures, and not just share our successes.  I do feel that some of my posts where I have shared my struggles, have been my most well-received, so I think there is a lot of truth to that.

Session 4:  Cancelled, Boo!

So the fourth session I was planning on attending didn’t happen, but I was O.K. with that because it wasn’t a waste of my time!  I actually crashed a 3rd session that had gone over, and learned about a Kahoot!, a game based classroom response system,  I even got to see it in action.  There is a rumor we might be getting a couple of iPad carts next year, so this is something I would like to introduce to my fellow faculty members.  Right now we have a couple sets of Qwizdom Classroom Response Remotes in our building, but this will give more people the opportunity to use a classroom response system!

I also enjoyed this time, because I had my first conversation of the day with a primary teacher, Megan Brophy, @Miss_Brophy.  We both noted that throughout the day that everyone we had conversed with had taught middle school or high school!  We talked about various issues like the Daily 5, Common Core Math, what Gamification might look like in a primary classroom and the daily classroom challenges every teacher faces.  It was a delightful conversation, and I was really pleased that I was able to make a connection with her!

Door Prizes!

At the the end of the day the gave away door prizes and I won a license to Camtasia Studio!  I am definitely excited to try it out!  I really enjoyed my experience at my first EdCamp, and I look forward to attending annually!  You should definite check and see there is an EdCamp in your area!

What has been the most valuable Professional Development session you have ever attended?


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