Friday, July 27, 2012

EduCampAkld Reflection

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the EduCamp in Auckland.  Having never attended an un-conference, I was unsure what to expect.

This years EduCampAkld was held at the 18 month young Stonefields School in Mt Wellington.  This in itself was worth the journey over the other side of the bridge.  What an amazing facility they have developed.  I was especially inspired by the Principal, Sarah Martin.  She used phrases like 'it's we go, not ego' and described the senior leadership team as a 'team', explaining that they 'finish each other's sentences' and make up for what the others may lack in...I really got a sense of them being a team from her.  The school itself was an amazing space that really made sense.  I could see from open spaces and different learning areas that you couldn't help but be inspired!

Onto the EduCamp...the reason for going...
We started with a SMACdown.  I had been apart of this type of presentation before - a quick-fire (2 mins per presenter) smorgasbord of tasty goodness.
Highlights from SMACdown:
- putting a face to a (twitter) name
- Reading Age Filter in Google: if you google something, on the left-hand side click More Search Results  and find the reading age.  You can then filter the articles by reading level (basic, intermediate and advanced).
- Photopeach - slideshow programme
- Story Creator - listen to stories, you can also create your own.

After the SMACdown, we broke off into groups based on what we were interested in.  I got involved in an iPad discussion.  It was great to hear that other school's were facing the same issues (e.g. syncing) and talking about what we have tried to solve these problems.  It was also great to hear how people are using iPads in their classrooms.  Being 2 months down the track, I was able to help those people who are about to embark on deploying iPads to their staff - sharing what-I-would-do-differently and what worked well.

I was also introduced to the VLN - how did I not know this existed? A virtual learning network between teachers and learners in NZ...already hooked!

I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that the un-conference fostered. Being so impressed with the way this was run, we (the 2 other staff I went with), decided to run our tech sessions with staff in a similar way.  We have staff at all tech levels and thought this would be a great way for people to come and share and learn.  The first one ran really well.  We got staff to leave questions they wanted answered on a sheet in the staffroom.  Then at the session we looked at what people most wanted to know about.  It was a great, informal problem-solving and sharing hour.

EduCamp - great experience...bring on the next one!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Twitter: My Designer PD

Twitter makes up the majority of my ongoing PD.  My only regret with Twitter is that I didn't join in sooner!  Having been actively involved for just over a couple of months, the ideas, conversations and doors that have been opened have been massive.  I have had a Twitter account for a while now, but did not actively engage with it - I was a Twitter bystander only following a few celebrities (using it like a gossip magazine).  I only checked it every couple of weeks and certainly did not involve myself in any discussions.  Then I read a couple of  articles about using Twitter in eyes were opened!

What Twitter has offered me:
- Lastest teaching innovations
- Current teaching ideas
- What is working in other teachers classrooms (on a global scale)
- Hundred's of resources for classrooms
- Ideas on using technology in the classroom
- Global contacts

My classroom has also benefited from my connections on Twitter:
Direct Classroom Benefits:
- Students have joined the Writers Club
- Trialled 'flipped classroom' type instruction (very positive feedback from students)
- Students involved in the Pass-it-on Blog
- More people viewing our class wiki, resulting in a wider audience for my students work
- Global Read Aloud (due to start October 2012), where students will be involved in a global project

I have also been involved in the following:
My Own PD
- Webinars (Flip your classroom: reach every class everyday and Wikispaces Boot Camp)
- EduCamp Akld - this is to be held next weekend which I found out about from Twitter
- Involved in various 'chats', especially through the #edchat hastag

I am no longer a 'Twitter bystander'.  Twitter does involve a certain amount of interaction on my part, so I check in at least once a day, standing in a que...waiting for the pot to boil...anxiously awaiting the staff meeting to begin...these are all moments where I catch-up on the lastest.

The more you give, the more you get...sums up the involvement required.  Buffer allows me to send out Tweets at different times so I am not sending 10 tweets in a short space of time.  Social Bro also lets me explore my Twitter community and can analyse my users and tell me the best time to tweet.  Pair this with Buffer and tweeting is a lot less time consuming. designer PD!