On Saturday, just a few days before Hurricane Sandy hit, I visited Manhattan for my third EdCampNYC! I caught the train into town early that morning, and then a cab up to The School at Columbia University. I was excited and ready for another great day of learning with fellow edcampers. After attending so many edcamps, you get to know a lot of your fellow attendees, and it was great to see Kim, Dave, Ann, MaryBeth, Reshan, Dan, and many other familiar faces. The session board was filling up quickly when I arrived, and I spent the next half hour catching up with old friends, meeting new people, and deciding which sessions to go to. It was a hard choice – so many great ones to choose from!
For my first session, I sat in on the STE(A)M Smackdown. What the heck is that, you ask? Many educators are already familiar with STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – and the idea behind STE(A)M is integrating the Arts into STEM. We had a wonderful discussion about ways to integrate art, music, theater, and more into STEM curriculums. There were so many great ideas, and I love the aspect of integrating other subjects into the curriculum. It seems that more and more these days we are becoming too departmentalized in education. Students need to know that subjects can be integrated and applied across the curriculum. We also need to provide room for failure. It’s not a bad word – it’s a learning experience! It also made me think that we need more hands-on discovery in schools. Learning is not just book and lecture based. It was a great session, and there was talk of possibly holding a STE(A)M edcamp one day.
My second session was fantastically fun. I knew from the minute I saw the title on the session board that I had to attend Programming With Food! Until this edcamp, I had not been familiar with the MakeyMakey – a circuit board you can plug into your computer to let just about anything (bananas, grapes, play-doh, people!) become the controller or keyboard. After seeing it in action in this session, I knew I needed to have one. We used Scratch to create simple programs that used the arrow keys to move a character around the screen, plugged in the MakeyMakey, attached it to varying types of food, and used the food to control our program! We also had musical programs that used play-doh as piano keys, and much more. We all had a great time playing with the MakeyMakeys. I use Scratch for programming instruction in fifth grade, and I am already thinking ahead on how to integrate this either into my existing lessons, or into an enrichment program in the spring. I’m now anxiously awaiting the delivery of my MakeyMakey!
The third and last session was also a great one. I attended Tech Integrators Unite! I met a wonderful group of people who have the same challenges and problems I do with integrating technology not just into my class, but into the school as a whole. We spent the last hour discussing our successes, our failures (great to learn from!), and our challenges. As usual, it was nice to know that I am not alone in some of the issues I face here in my job, and the sharing of ideas was extremely helpful. I’m sure the conversation will continue between us even after the end of the day.
I continue to find edcamps to be amazing professional development sessions. My fellow teachers and administrators are some of the best sources of information and ideas. I have such fun and useful conversations at these events, and I always make new friends to add to my Professional Learning Network. The learning doesn’t stop when the edcamp is over, it just expands into other venues such as Twitter. Can’t wait for my next edcamp in Baltimore on November 10th!