Saturday, July 20, 2013

#EdcampHOME is Where the Heart is... for Learning

EdcampHOME demonstrated the power of organized mulitple Google Hangouts and educators' desire to learn. In the 3+ hours of the un-conference, I can honestly say I did not move from my seat. Despite all the amenities at home & ability to multi-task with housework, I sat glued to my spot the entire time. I did not want to miss one second of the action. And I was sad to see the organizers' GHO end.

I remember attending my first Edcamp in November and being awed by the session board: its masking taped grid on a cement block school wall and the giant post it notes used for session creation; the organizers on laptops furiously copying the schedule to a Google spreadsheet. Seeing the big session board for the first time showed me the power of messy, home grown, do-it-yourself professional development. I had been trained for years that teaching and learning was neatly and purposely sequenced in lesson plans and prepackaged by professional third-party the way, I always had the hardest time writing lesson plans because I felt like I was predicting the future and the students' demeanor (some days just aren't made for group work) and mandated professional development workshops were never my thing either because I like to pursue things on my terms, but I digress... That big huge wall of post it notes at EdcampNJ became a symbol for my epiphany to intentionally pursue my own professional development and my colleagues to do the same. As William Ernest Henley wrote in his poem, Invictus, "I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul" or this case, my education.

When I saw EdcampHome first popped up on my Twitter feed, I did not hesitate to register, but I couldn't help but wonder if the power of the session board would be lost online-- boy, was I wrong. The website design and organization and using for brainstorming sessions was mesmerizing to see-- the sticky notes appeared and covered and covered and covered each other. And despite the time it took to get the sessions organized, it was evident the participants had much they wanted to learn. As we all know and experienced today, learning is messy and we learn more from facing an obstacle, adjusting and adapting. To quote that English proverb, "A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner."

I did have a few frustrating moments when trying to sign up for the first session and not being able to do so on the log jammed Google doc (Karl saved the day!), but unfortunately the session didn't get going due to technical difficulties on the moderator's end. I was bummed to miss out on discussing class blogging, but I hope to connect with Elizabeth Buckhold via Twitter and can learn from her. Getting my Elizabeths mixed up, I did pop into the Global Collaboration Hangout with Elizabeth Goold for the last 5 minutes of session 1. Not realizing I wasn't where I intended to be, I launched right in chatting with the other ladies in the room and probably confused Elizabeth Goold with my explanation of why I was late. But my error was really a gain once I realized that now I can add 2 more Elizabeth's to my PLN.

I moderated session 2, talking about Creating Digital Workstations for Readers Workshop with Markette Pierce and Steph Hardinger which evolved into a conversation about digital tools for the English classroom. Can't complain about that! I hope to connect with these ladies more! Here's our conversation:

Wrapping up the day, I took the lead for contributing first for the SmackDown sharing one of my favorite tools for the English classroom, Gobstopper. During TeachMeetNJ in August of 2012, when I first heard the word "smackdown," I didn't think it was very complimentary: I had visions of people bad mouthing apps and really smacking others down, little did I know that it was a quickfire way to share resources. EdcampHome's smackdown really became a lifting experience with the participants sharing their initial trepidation about [Google] hanging out in an unconference and praising the organizers, David, Kelly, Shawn, and Karl for creating such a homey event. I'm awed by the experience and to be part of something that will revolutionize professional development.

Thanks again!

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