Saturday, March 23, 2013

Everybody Got Their Something

Last Saturday I went to Edcamp Howard Winn.  It was a cold and yucky day, but the trip to Cresco was well worth my time. It was my first time attending such an event, and I ended up not knowing anyone (save for some people I follow on Twitter).  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Edcamps, they are billed as an "unconference conference."  After everyone has a bit of time to mingle, there is time for the attendees to suggest session ideas.  Those that suggest the ideas are encouraged to lead the session. 

Here is the link to the day's sessions:  Edcamp HowardWinn .  For the first session, I attended Standards-Based Grading/Competency-Based Grading.  Overall, there wasn't anyone who could share their strategies, but I did walk away with a few more schools and individuals to connect with.  I believe that it was a principal at Howard-Winneshiek (I could be mistaken) that is going to experiment with complete integration of topics.  They have a couple courses that have more than one section, so they will use one of the sections for an experiment.  At the beginning of the semester, they plan to have students and teachers come up with a problem of sorts and lay the groundwork for the learning experiences.  The rubric will be developed with teacher and student input.  There was plan to involve the social studies teacher, ag teacher, and I believe other disciplines were mentioned as well.

I was aware of Solon being a leader in SBG, but I hadn't heard about Muscatine's involvement.  I will definitely look into that more.  I also need to connect with the teacher resources that were directed my way a while back.  Time seems to escape me.  It is probably best to work this into my summer project ideas anyway.

The second session I attended was about digital portfolio's.  I suggested the idea, but I didn't really feel like I could lead it.  It took us a bit to get going.  Some of the teachers there dabble with digital portfolios.  One art teacher said she mostly uses a blog for her student portfolios.  I had a bit of trouble sharing the resources I found, as my computer was having a hard time "thinking" and also had major distortion issues.  So another teacher let me use her computer to show the links.  I shared from Mrs. E's Biology Site and Mrs. E's Physical Science Site.  She also uses blogs as a means for her students to build digital portfolios.  Her professional site, Crazy Teaching , has lots of great stuff too.  She has an archive you can look at, and there are links to SBG information.  Her site gives a lot to go off of, but I will admit, I wish that there had been other teachers from the middle school level that I could have seen examples from.  This is something I would like to do, but I want to be appropriate for my level and manageable for my students and myself.  This will probably be another summer project area.

Before lunch, we had a Apps and Web 2.0 Smackdown. This was a nice time of sharing and I did learn about a few new sites to check out and see if there are a beneficial addition for my classroom.  After lunch, we had two more sessions.

I attended one for iPad apps.  I found this to be interesting, but it probably was not as practical for me to attend because I don't have a class set of iPads.  I will probably pass on some information to our elementary teachers, however.  It would be great if these apps could be used with our computers.  I especially enjoyed learning about Chirp.  If you have this app, and others around you do, you can send a sound out that your device picks up.  You can send links, e-mails, pictures, etc. this way. We tried an intercom test (and the parent site says something about this), but we couldn't get our devices to pick up the chirp over the intercom.  I also liked learning about Reflector and Stage.  Reflector costs a small amount of money, but it allows you to use another program, Stage, to use your iPad as a document camera & display it as you are working through your room.  Reflector allows devices to appear on your projector screen so you can share what you are doing with others easily.  Stage is similar to screencasting in that you can take a photo of a student's work and annotate on this.  You could share an exemplar with the class this way.  We learned about Bump and Evernote Peak, which also are pretty cool if you have a lot of devices:  iPhones or iPads.

My last session of the day was for Camtasia.  The art teacher presented on she uses this to make tutorials and such for her students, especially if she has to be gone.  It sounds like a great program, but it is an investment.  It can work on PCs and Macs.  She said that she has found it easier to use than iMovie.  I am just interested in doing more taping in general.  I'm not so much about flipping my class as I am about providing different means of sharing information with students.  This past week, I my took quick videos with my video camera, and I uploaded them to Vimeo because our school blocks YouTube.  I wanted the videos to be available for students to view themselves in a learning playlist, so that's the route I took.  Someday, I want to get more advanced and add other things into the video, such as including stills and such.  Sounds like another summer project!

Overall, all the day was pretty great.  I wish there had been some more educators there that had a bit more concrete information to offer, but this was a good jumping off point.  I will definitely plan to attend another one, and I would recommend that you do to!

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