Sunday, April 30, 2017

Edcamp Lancaster

This past weekend was my second year attending EdCamp Lancaster and my fourth EdCamp overall.  If you have never heard about EdCamps, you should start looking for one in your area.  Here is a quick video on EdCamps if you are unfamiliar.

I always try to sell the idea to my department when one rolls around. I tell them that breakfast and sometimes even lunch is included, there are great door prizes, you can earn ACT48 credits (Pennsylvania's continuing education requirement for teachers), and of course that it always ends up being some of my best PD  every year.

This year I attended the following sessions and picked up a few morsels to bring back to my classroom:

Math Tech Tools - I shared Desmos's awesome activity builder and new geometry tool.  Most people knew about the graphing calculator, but not the other two.  I really advocated for the digital card sorts since that is my favorite feature.

The math tech tool that I learned about is Mathspace.  I asked our department's lead teacher to see if she could get a free trial for us to use once we go one-one with iPads next year.  I'd contact them myself, but it might be frowned upon if I over step my boundaries.  I think this resource looks promising as it is supposed to be adaptive to hone in on students' exactly level of learning.

Logistics of Going One-One - I was hoping more for ideas to help with new classroom routines, but the session ended up being more about managing the hardware/software, etc.  It was still interesting and I learned a little about how some schools manage the process.  For example, one person recommended engraving the chargers with IDs to match the devices.  At $40ish per charger, it can be expensive to replace ones that are not returned.  Also, some schools replaced students devices with new ones when something went wrong.  They just made sure that everything is stored in the cloud and that machines were wiped when returned.  This seems like it would make for easy repairs since students would not need to return a loaner later to get their device.  However, my biggest issue with my technology right now is that students do not respect it without ownership.  They do things like pop off keys.  They don't realize that replacing a keyboard can cost $400, or they don't care since it is not their device.

Hybrid/Blended Learning - This session was one of the requests that I put on a sticky note for the schedule board.  I ended up being the expert in the room which, for selfish reasons, I was bummed about.  I ended up going over the basics and some trouble shooting with other people who were in the beginning stages of the process.  My post-it question was about obtaining buy-in from parents and students.  I know the research supports this model.  I have shared the research with my students and my parents and they typically don't care.  The only thing they care about is that the model is uncomfortable, so they feel it should not be used.  They feel that the only legitimate form of math instruction is lecture and that anything else it "not teaching."  You can read more about my implementation of the model here and about the supporting research here if you like.

Anyway, I was a bit disappointed that there was no one in my session with more/better experience than me.  Oh well, I'll keep looking for solutions.

Last year I attended sessions on motivating unmotivated students, hybrid learning and standards based grading.  During the motivating students session we discussed trying to make the required curriculum relevant and/or interesting.  I recall sharing Dan Meyer's anecdote about "what is the headache for which _______ is the medicine."  That is probably my favorite guiding question while lesson planning.

 During the hybrid learning session we shared k-12 resources for multiple subjects for the independent station and collaborative station.  I remember recommending 3-Act tasks for collaborative.  Finally, during the standards based grading session I again ended up being the expert.  I guess I should feel happy to help other people when that happens, and I am, but I'm also a little disappointed too.  Standards based grading and hybrid learning are a little too new, I suppose, for there to be masses of teachers locally with a wealth of knowledge.  This is why I love twitter :)  Because when your department is made up of teachers from around the world, you can almost always find what you are looking for.

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