When the stars align and you attend an EdCamp unconference on Physical Movement in the Classroom on Saturday, and then are handed a pile of Tesla Amazing Magnetic Notes (okay, I smuggled most of them out), you can make magic happen on Monday. My Literacy and Media Technology class has been working on Tier 2 words related to our course of study: evaluate, analyze, cite, controversy, etc. To prepare for the summative assessment on Wednesday, we used these awesome static cling notes to in a "HeadBandz" style review. Each of the terms was written on an orange magnetic note and placed on a student. There were three synonyms for each term, each written on a different color. My goal was for the students to find their orange mate and stick the three synonyms to each person. Unfortunately, due to the nature of middle school skin and cotton hoodies, some of the notes did not stick. So, we moved on to Plan B and had them use the board. With the white board, students were easily able to move the terms around until all of the matches were solid. To ensure that all students participated, I went through the "finished" matched sets and asked students, especially the reluctant ones from during the activity, if the sets were accurate. If they were not, I had them get up and fix them. Eventually all of the sets were matched correctly. As a computer teacher, I don't often get the opportunity or have a purpose to have my students get up and move around, but today showed me that I really do need to make more time for it as the level of engagement was high for the majority of my students.
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my sixth (or is it seventh?) EdCamp at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, NJ (where I work). However, as a co-Organizer, this time was different. I did not host any sessions, but I was able to attend (at least for a few minutes) every session as I was the resident photographer of the day. My goodness, these sessions were some of the best I've ever been in. They were pure EdCamp: discussions rather than presentations. Conversational and participant-driven, rather than pre-planned conferences. What was interesting to me was that I found a common theme in many of the sessions, one I would like to continue to pay attention to and plan to help integrate into my school's character development program for next year: the theme of media literacy, digital citizenship, and the removal of the invisible cloak that many students feel they have when they are on social media. This topic will not be effective as isolated lessons, but integrated and mentioned at every opportunity.
While the total number of attendees was on the smaller side, each session certainly had enough people to have valuable conversations, with plenty of ideas for everyone to bring back to their own schools. Personally, I have connected with four people I met on Saturday, either to get more information on a topic, or help someone else. We had an incredible number of sponsors this year resulting in almost enough prizes for everyone, regardless of the raffle. Yes, they are held on Saturdays, but there is no doubt that EdCamps are the most valuable professional development we, as educators, have available to us.
I intend this blog to be a reflection journal of sorts, on topics such as teaching, leadership, pedagogy, and tacos.