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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chalkstar to Rockstar? I Have the T-Shirt to Prove It!

On Saturday, November 1st, 2014, @heatherpufky, @steph_cronk and I ventured to #edcamphbg in Harrisburg, PA.  I was excited from the moment I found it the previous weekend.  I had just returned from #edcampuny and was seeking a continuation of the buzz I felt from it.

I contacted a couple people to see if they would be interested (as I always do) and was very excited to hear back from these forward thinking ladies (who didn't seem to question that I was extremely excited to drive 6 hours (yet again) on a Saturday to learn!

Through the week, I started talking to them about #edcamps and shared The Edcamp Model: Powering Up Professional Learning by @PeterMDeWitt to give them insight into what an Edcamp is and what the purpose was behind it.

Saturday morning arrived and we were all excited about the potential to learn and grow as professionals. After 3 hours of driving, we were all eager to exercise our minds and dive right in!

Upon entering #edcamphbg we were greeted with an awesome idea board already on its way to filling our sessions for the day.  I encouraged by co-learners to put things up on the board so we could target our learning, and they did!  Most newbies are too intimidated to put their ideas up on the board since this is such a new experience, but they started the day outside their comfort zone and then stayed there until 3:00 when #edcamphbg ended.

Our first session was a Chrome Apps and Extensions sharing session.  I was excited to rediscover apps and extensions I already had installed but forgot about or forgot their purpose and also to add some new ones! @geekyteach was instrumental in the new extensions I have on my Chrome Book now.  Three that I am particularly excited about are Bee Line Reader, TLDR (Too Long Didin't Read) and Readability.  They all have the ability to make it easier to differentiate and also to make it easier for the weak reader to engage in the text.  One particular feature I find handy from Bee Line Reader is the Open Dylexic Font which allows you to change the text of an article into a bottom heavy font which is easier for dyslexic students to read.  I can already think of 10 ways I am going to utilize these three extensions on Monday!

As I was sitting in this session with my two Edcamp buddies, they were blown away at the amount of information they were learning and how fast they were learning it.  I told them on the way down that I get a learning concussion every time I attend an Edcamp but knew they had no idea what I was talking about until they experienced it on their own.

I next attended a session that I decided wasn't for me but saw a tweet from a fellow Edcamper that she was out in the lobby if anyone wanted to talk tech tips.  (Power of two feet can radically change your experience at an Edcamp.  HOLY MOLY! I couldn't keep up!)  The sharing that went on for 45 minutes out there was unbelievable.  I just kept tweeting things out because that was the only way I was going to be able to go back to the information later and actually digest it.  @jsrothenberger shared which is 60 Apps in 60 Minutes and is a GOLDMINE!!  I learned about apps like Scanner Pro that can radically change my workflow, especially in a flipped classroom.  I learned about which allows you to share your screen, which will come in handy for students as they collaborate on their own schedule and in applications that are not virtually collaborative in nature.

After lunch (which, by the way, was the best lunch I've ever had! Thanks to @dianaRAC13 for suggesting Crave and Co) we had App Smackdown.  For the first time, I had the courage to get up and present.  I presented Polleverywhere, which I use everyday in most of my classes.  It was great to continue my existence outside my comfort zone after lunch!

Speaking of living outside my comfort zone, I facilitated a session on @Schoology.   It was so great to share my love for that LMS and showing other teachers how they can improve their workflow and management of information back and forth with students.

Lastly, I went to a session on copyright issues.  I expected a snoozefest, but wow!  This was AMAZING! I learned so much I didn't know about what we actually can use under the Fair Use policy and sites like Flickr and Creative Commons as well as the filter on Google Images that allows you to search for images, etc that are in the public domain.

In short, this day was AMAZING!! The drive home with @heatherpufky and @steph_cronk wasn't because apparently there's a difference between 81 North (takes me home) and 81 South which will take you to the Maryland border.  Who doesn't love a 2 hour scenic detour when discussing all things #edcamphbg!!

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