It’s been a busy week for me, with lots of opportunities to be a student instead of a teacher for a little while. Wednesday was our County-wide In Service day, and I had the chance to do some more work revising our technology curriculum. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will be worth it to have an updated curriculum that covers the new standards. After we wrapped up at school, it was time to head out to Atlantic City for the annual NJEA Convention! The NJEA Convention is held every year in AC, and around 40,000 educators attend! There are workshops and presentations on every subject imaginable.
My favorite part of Convention was the High Tech Hall. This portion of the convention was dedicated to using technology in the classroom. Many of the available workshops were informal round-table settings where fellow educators had a chance to share and explain tools they have successfully used in the classroom. There were tons of subjects to choose from, and the presenters were all very knowledgeable and helpful. There were also slightly more structured workshops held by Dell and Thinkfinity on topics such as cyberbullying and how to find great resources online. On the last day, I even got up on stage for the Web 2.0 Smackdown and shared my current favorite, Kerpoof! It was a great two days of gaining new ideas and tools to use in my lab!
I arrived home from Convention on Friday evening, and was up bright and early Saturday morning to catch a train with my fellow teacher, Mrs. DeStefano, to PA for EdCamp Harrisburg! It was Davann’s first EdCamp and I was excited to share the experience with her. As usual, the EdCamp staff were amazing. Everything was well organized, the facilities were beautiful, and everything ran smoothly. By the time we arrived, the session board had already filled up, so we were able to decide on our sessions for the day right away.
We both went to our first session together, a chat room for computer lab teachers. It was a great idea, and a wonderful session. We had a chance to meet other computer lab teachers, and share ideas, tools, and stories. I had a chance to get up and share Symbaloo, a tool I use for collecting and organizing web links that I use in my classes. We all agreed that it was wonderful to be able to network and share with fellow lab teachers, so with that in mind, I’ve set up a Diigo Group for computer lab teachers to share their favorite links and tools.
For session two, I went to a presentation on mobile gaming. We learned about using Aris to create interactive, geolocated games. While much of it seemed a bit complex for an elementary group, I did get some great ideas for using it with parents and staff. I’m looking forward to having a chance to explore the program and create my own games.
We broke for lunch after session two, but the learning didn’t stop. We joined new friends for good food and more discussions about what we had learned. We had all enjoyed our morning sessions, and couldn’t wait to get back for more in the afternoon.
Session three was another great one on using screencasting as an assessment tool and as a way of flipping the classroom. Although the presenter used it in an eleventh grade english classroom, I could see many uses for it at the elementary level as well. I already use screencasting as a way of creating tutorials, but now I have a lot of great ideas on how to use it to give students feedback on their work.
For our last session, Davann and I met up again for a discussion on using online tools to foster writing. There were a lot of great examples – some of which I already use, and a lot of new ones I can’t wait to try. We both agreed that it was a very useful session! Afterwards, we headed back to the main meeting room for the final event of the day, the Web 2.0 Smackdown. With only 60 seconds per tool, we were able to get through a lot of great intros to web based tools. The list of tools is available online for anyone to view.
When the Smackdown was over, it was time for us to head home. While we would have liked to attend the after-party, our train awaited. We spend a good portion of the ride home excitedly discussing all we had learned. I think I have another convert to the wonderful world of EdCamps! Now I need to find time to go through all of the great resources from both conferences and see what new and exciting things I can use in my classes!