Sunday, May 19, 2013

#edcampphilly 2013 - Simply Wonderful!

Yesterday was a fantastic day of learning and connecting at #edcampphilly!  I went back to my edcamp roots and made sure that I was in attendance at this one.  Last year I went to edcampphilly 2012 and it sparked an interest in becoming more involved in the edcamp movement.  I subsequently attended #edcampleadership 2012 and then helped to organize  #edcampNJ 2012.  Now I am currently working with the same group of amazing educators to plan #edcampNJ 2013 which will take place at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, NJ on November 23rd.  But, I digress.

As is always the case when I attend an edcamp, I feel reinvigorated and connected by others who are passionate about education and the things that they are doing with children in their classrooms and schools.  Connecting with many of my PLN members from Twitter is also another great benefit of attending.  As @wkrakower tweeted yesterday in response to a tweet about conversations at edcamp:

There were so many amazing sessions to choose from that it was a shame that I could only pick four.  Check out the list of offerings that the participants facilitated throughout the day on the schedule document.  This year the #edcampphilly team added shared Google Docs for each session so that participants could take notes together during and after the sessions.  You can find those on the schedule, as well. (great idea!)  Here are some thoughts about the sessions that I attended.

Session 1: Taking Genius Global - facilitated by Angela Maiers

The conversation in @AngelaMaiers session "Taking Genius Global" was inspirational.  Her passion for giving children a place, a "global refrigerator," to post projects about which they have a passion is powerful.  I am awed by the stories of how the global connection that is afforded us by current technologies allows for students' visions of change in the world to become reality.  As I listened and participated in the conversation with Angela, it became clear to me that we have the opportunity to provide children with the connections that would normally only be found at $1000 a plate cocktail fundraisers.  The ability to connect with people who have the means to make projects and dreams a reality is right there in the palm of our hands (literally)!  Please take a moment to check out the Choose2Matter website and find out how you can get involved.  Here is the link to the Google Doc from the session.  There are a number of great resource links in it.  Thank you Angela, it was inspirational. You Matter!

Session 2: Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse - facilitated by Gerald Aungst

The presentation and conversation led by @geraldaungst was clever and apropos.  While there is a fascination with the fictional Zombie Apocalypse (The Walking Dead, etc.), it is clear that we can foster this same, very real, phenomenon in our schools and classrooms if we do not engage students.  When we as teachers cause/allow them to disengage, we are part of the virus that creates those zombies.  A strong discussion ensued around several key questions:

Should teachers be entertainers?
Who owns the engagement? Students? Teachers? Admins? etc.?
What is the difference between "instructors" and "teachers"?
Are those students engaged who are just chasing GPAs?

Gerald caused us to truly think about so many things surrounding the topic of engagement even beyond those questions.  The room was very lively with discussion.  We also learned about the "diseases" of Elementitis and Aboutitis which are discussed in David Perkins' book Making Learning Whole. If you want some additional insight into this session, check out the Google Doc with shared notes.

I mention lunch because it is such a worthwhile time to spend with colleagues discussing the morning sessions and a whole host of other topics.  Enjoying food and conversation is a great way to learn and grow together.

Session 3: PBL in the K-5 Classroom (What does it look like? How does it happen? What are the tech tools to use?) - facilitated by Diana Potts

This discussion led by @pottsedtech helped to highlight the planning and thought processes needed to adapt Project Based Learning to elementary school content and students.  Diana highlighted the need to have a "driving question" to guide the work. Additionally, the discussion touched on Wiggins' UBD concepts and working with a backward design.  What is your desired outcome? --- How do we get there?  She shared a great resource for all things PBL, the Bucks Institute for Education.  One of my big takeaways from this session was the following:
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Need that Watch!!

I remember a TV movie from 1980 called The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything. It starred Robert Hays (Ted Styker from Airplane) and Pam Dawber (Mindy from Mork and Mindy).  To be clear, it was a hokey movie at best and really wasn't very memorable except for the premise, which involved the main character inheriting a watch that allowed him to stop time for everyone but himself!


Have you ever felt like you had so many things going on at once that you would never get them all done?  I have been a Principal for over a decade so I am very familiar with juggling numerous things and managing many deadlines, but I have to say that I have never really found the right formula for getting it all done efficiently.  It all gets finished and usually finished pretty well, but not without angst and stress.


I know I'll never get it, but I have to dream.  Don't get me wrong I have employed many different types of
systems.  Before the higher tech ones I used notebooks, binders, color coding, white boards, etc.  Now that we have mobile devices I use things like Evernote, Wunderlist, email, Google Apps, etc.  But, I want something more magical!


Since I understand that I will likely not get one of those watches, I ask you: What do you do to keep organized and stay on track?  Do you have a system?  Do you have a program?  Do you have a plan?  Do you have any good advice?  This post is mainly for venting about the many things that are going on right now including a 50th Anniversary Celebration for my school, NJ State Testing, and all of the normal things that go along with school administration in the Spring (Annual Evals, budget, staffing, etc. etc. etc.)  All of this stuff is part of the gig and I love it, but this is my space for writing about this stuff.  Teachers and administrators all feel the heat during the last month and a half of the school year, and I am sure that I am preaching to the choir.

So, as I mentioned:


But, unless you have one of those, can you share with me what you use to keep it all straight.  If you have never commented on my blog before, this is the time I ask you to consider commenting.

I leave you with one of my favorite exchanges from one of my favorite films; Shakespeare in Love.

Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. 
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do? 
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. 
Hugh Fennyman: How? 
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery. 

It will all get done. Thanks!

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