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!

Friday, July 19, 2013

#EdcampHome Promo

On Saturday, July 20th from 12-3 pm EST, the very first EdcampHome will be held.  You DO NOT want to miss this FREE professional development event.

You can attend in your PJ's, bathing suit, or other attire via Google Hangouts and/or watching the live action on the EdcampHOME site. Everyone can participate via the backchannel following #EdcampHOME on Twitter.

For those of you not familiar with the Edcamp Foundation...

About the Edcamp Foundation 
The Edcamp Foundation is a Delaware non-profit, which was started to promote organic, participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators worldwide. The foundation’s mission is to support free edcamp unconferences for educators to exchange ideas and learn together. Edcamps offer educators the opportunity to share their experiences and their professional expertise in a collaborative, interactive learning environment. 
Edcamps are organized and attended by passionate, tech-savvy educators who are eager to explore, discover and share new teaching strategies, tools and education technologies. From eight Edcamps in year one, Edcamps now number over 200 a year, in cities all around the nation and the world. One of the staple features of an Edcamp is the “Web2.0 Smackdown,” a lightning round of resource sharing among attendees.

I've had the pleasure of attending EdcampNJ 2012 and attending/presenting at EdcampPhilly 2013. Tomorrow, for EdcampHOME, I'll be one of many to help moderate a session and get in on the action. Major accolades need to be given to the EdcampHome organizers, David Theriault, Kelly Kermode, Shawn White, and Karl Lindgren-Streicher for their forward thinking and innovative design. I'm awed by the work they've put into this so far.

From building the session board to the concluding smackdown, this organic "homemade" professional development is created by educators for educators. So set up camp, stoke your fire, and fill your cup for learning with EdcampHome.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Enough Time for Two

So it is summer time and I'm supposed to have lots of time to do lots of things: blog, write content, create presentations, read, catch up on laundry, organize closets, clean those not regularly cleaned areas, watch movies, go on vacation...   As I'm sure for many of us, there is struggle between devoting enough time to work, home, and self.  So rather than wallowing in not enough time (here's a conundrum: how can I wallow when there is no time to wallow?), here are two tools to help organize our time while on the computer--whether it be at home or work.

Task Timer

This nifty tool can be found in the Chrome Web Store and allows users to create a list of tasks with time goals in hours.  Create your list and set your time, then hit the icon to start recording the time spent completing the task.  For those of us who multi-task, multiple tasks can be timed at the same time (say that 10 times fast). Current features include task descriptions, progress bars, desktop notifications, pie charts, and CSV exporting. This tool could be used by teachers for in-class monitoring of time spent on aspects of a lesson as well as keeping track of how much time spent on housework at home. Just type in the task, click start, do what you have to do, then hit stop when done. By taking inventory of how long tasks take, we may find that certain tasks can be truncated to free up time for others.

Web Timer

Web Timer is aptly named for this Chrome extension keeps track of the time spent on the tab you are actively using. Features include a pie chart for visualizing data, stops counting if idle for more than 30 seconds, easily share stats with others. For time management, students and teachers could use this in class for keeping track of time spent on a particular website, and for those of you who are Pinners, this extension can track your time spent on Pinterest--although ignorance may be bliss in this case. Wanting to keep to a schedule while working online, this extension is very useful.

Out of Time 

While I would have liked to find and post more tools, I'm out of time! I only had 30 minutes to get a post out and both of these tools kept me to my schedule by allowing me to see how much time I wanted to spend and actually spent. Time to log off and get outside! 

Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.

What are your favorite time management tips, apps, and extensions?