EdcampSTL-take 3!

I went to my first EdcampSTL two years ago.  At that point I was a newbie on Twitter, and although I was excited about learning something new, I let my discomfort of going there by myself get in the way of having a great day.  I didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t make any connections, and can’t even remember walking away with anything.

Then there was last year.  EdcampSTL #2 was about 3000% better than the first go-round.  I know that some of it was because I went with friends–my best friend, my hubby, actually :)–and since I had been on Twitter a year longer, I had some familiar faces I’d “met” online to connect with, as well.  Plus, I guess like with most things, the second time you do something it’s always easier.  I met a great new friend, as well, and have been able to learn and share much with her since then, too.  Much better experience.

This year was the 3rd EdcampSTL, and it had the largest enrollment yet.  We were actually hoping for a record, but I think the weather kept some away from the fun. 😦 For those of us who were there, though, it was a great day!  I have to give a shoutout to by little bro, Chuck Baker, who is a fabulous teacher/father/tech guru/blogger, who came today for his first time!  He even got in on the fun and presented a session.  Gotta love the initiative there–I haven’t had the courage yet. 🙂  And then, yep, my more-than-fabulous hubby (who is also an amazing teacher, father and blogger in his own right!)  Grant was in on the fun again, too; I love that we can do this whole teaching thing (as well as our Masters’ program) together.   Adds a different level of help, support and even collaboration when he “gets” what I do.  LOVE YOU, honey!!

While I attended several great sessions this time around, I think I am most excited about the one where I learned more about Makerspaces.  I’ve been looking into Genius Hour for a little while now, and am also interested in problem/project based learning, and this was exciting to hear; two middle school science teachers shared real-life examples from their classrooms.  While it won’t look exactly the same in my situation, I’m interested in getting it all figured out.  I’m thinking about doing a really basic, Valentine’s version of a makerspace this week for Valentine’s boxes.  Not exactly how it’s supposed to work, but I think it could be a good way to introduce it.  Guess we’ll see!

I know to some it seems weird to go to school on a Saturday, to make a choice to get up early to learn on your day off.  Believe me, I wouldn’t do it for everything, but for EdcampSTL, it’s totally worth it!  Join me next year, will ya? 🙂

 

EDUC 573: Week 5–I Went to School on a Saturday

Yep, you heard me right.  I got up at 5:45 (which is WAY earlier than a school day), drove my kids 30 minutes to my mom’s house, then drove about 40 minutes in the other direction to go to school on a Saturday.  And it was all by choice.

EdCampStl was the reason.  What’s EdCamp?  Well, it’s honestly just a bunch of teachers who all gather at a school together on a Saturday to learn together, and what that learning is is not decided until we all arrive.  Sessions are planned on the fly, based on what people know and what they want to know.  You’re encouraged to sit in on as many sessions as you can, moving from one to another if it doesn’t end up meeting your needs.  For more about what your brain looks like on EdCamp, check out Krissy Venosdales’ blog where she wrote about it this weekend.

I attended my first EdCamp last year, and this was even more fabulous!  Last time I went alone, which was a little bit daunting, because I am not the most outgoing person.  I had a fine time, but didn’t really talk to anybody or make any new connections.  I did learn more about using social media in the classroom, but didn’t really take away anything I could implement right away.

This time, I was really excited to be able to finally meet some of my online “friends” in person, putting a real face to the avatar I’ve been looking at for the last year!  This was better than I even anticipated, and will make the connection we share online even stronger.  I attended some pretty great sessions, too, where I  learned about a new iPad app, how to use Google forms in the classroom, more about collaborative groups and had a discussion about the impact of ELA Common Core on what we do in our day-to-day teaching lives.

For me, it was the conversations that made this year different.  We’ve been talking alot about PLNs lately, and I definitely have some pretty fabulous people in mine.  Being able to sit in the same room as them and share ideas was a little bit surreal.  Kinda like nerd heaven, really.  And the best part was that since we’re connected on Twitter (which is where I learned about the whole EdCamp experience in the first place), we could keep  the conversation going even after the day was over.  Our learning continues beyond the conference, which is not always something that happens.

I feel really lucky to be a part of a PLN of some really smart, risk-taking, innovative educators from whom I learn something new every time I log on (which is pretty much every day!).  I can truly say that without them, I would not be the teacher I am today. 🙂

Are you a member of a PLN?  Why do you like it?  What do you learn from your PLN?  Have you been to EdCamp?  Tell me about it!