Sunday, September 27, 2015

EdCamp Chicago Review

On Saturday Sept 26, I traveled to Libertyville and joined almost 200 fellow teachers, coaches, admins, and learners for a teaching conference with absolute no agenda. EdCamp Chicago! I was excited to see how a true EdCamp works.  The day was wonderful and I walked away with so many take aways from each session.  In addition to the knowledge I gained, I also realized how twitter has added a new level to my professional development.

Shawn Mckusker got the day rolling with some inspirational words and explained the rules of edcamp. Basically, we build the agenda, no PowerPoints, no sage on the stage, and vote with your feet! Then, we were invited up to the mic. Once you had an idea for a session you would grab a post-it note and share your idea to the group over the microphone. Sharing on the mic is a key collaborative piece for several reasons. 
  • This sets the stage for the type of discussion that will go on. 
  • It ensured two sessions were not the same. 
  • It allowed you to see who proposed it since, informally they would start the discussion. 
  • It was also great to start mentally setting up your schedule for the day. 

Person after person scurried up to share what they wanted to learn or something they wanted to share. There were so many great choices! I headed up to the mic to share my ideas of “Creating Growth Mindset with STEAM activities” and “Standard Based Grading.” Then, an EdCamp organizer takes your post-it and adds it to a google doc to give you a time and room number. By having someone add the sessions to a google doc, this helps to put similar sessions together and to ensure sessions in the same content area are not scheduled at the same time. Also, you had the doc to refer back to as you traveled from session to session.

FIRST SESSION: Growth Mindset and STEAM
Once everyone was finished and the agenda was filled for the day, we began to break into sessions. I hurried upstairs to a room full of people ready to talk STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). I led the discussion and everyone shared wonderful ideas. Here are some highlights. 

    • STEAM isn’t all 3D printers
    • Failure creates learning
    • Many teachers are doing this after school and at lunch, but it needs to be in the curriculum.
    • Also, there is a need for this in the community in addition to sports offered.
    • Cool tech tools are the site Sratch for coding, Khan academy coding, Makey Makey, Osmo, Lego robots.

It was great to facilitate my first EdCamp conversation. I was also able to be meet Lucy Gray (@elemenous), who I have used as a resource through twitter, diigo and goggle+. I also connected with Cathy Lannert(@cathyl4) and Ben Kuhlman (@bkuhl2you) who are doing great things with STEAM. 

SECOND SESSION: Student Leadership Opportunities
Next, I was off to share and gain ideas at “Student Leadership Opportunities.” This session was a well rounded group of educators trying to create students leaders and others shared how they have created student leaders. I was able to share about iSWAT (I’m A Student Willing to Assist with Technology), Ambassadors of Knowledge (AOK), and Pit Crew. Before I could explain about the upcoming SIT Conference in February Amy Lamberti, the co-chair of SIT began explaining it. It was so great to be in the company of these great educators who have created and expanded opportunities for students!

  • Creating student leaders creates a growth mindset
  • Students need ownership in their classroom
  • Teachers have to be able to give up control so students have the freedom to lead.
  • "Leader in Me" school based on text "Leader in Me" by Stephen Covey
  • Students run parent meetings to teach them technology
  • Sit Conference
  • Teaching Kagan Structures
  • ISWAT - Student Club that stands for “I’m a Student Willing to Assist with Technology”

LUNCH: Time to connect!
In essence I attended this EdCamp by myself, but there were plenty of familiar faces from twitter.  So at lunch I took the opportunity to meet Joy Kirr. Joy was such an inspiration for getting genius hour off the ground in my class.  Her influence is still spreading through my district. We had a wonderful lunch conversation. She even opened my eyes the list feature on twitter! I was excited to organize the people I follow. If you are new to lists like me, go check them out!

Session 3
In this block of time I decided to split between gamification and coaching collaborative. @QueenCarnduff and @MrMatera shared their success with gamification and were a great resource for questions.

  • Gamification is great for intrinsic motivation.
  • Engages students
  • Start small with one unit
  • Student are motivated by XP points!
  • All the resources can be found here!

Coaching Collaborative
Even though I was getting so many ideas from gamification, I wanted to learn from fellow coaches, so I headed to a session called “Coaching Collaborative.” It was great to meet some twitter friends face to face here, too! Many of the issues and solutions shared were very applicable to me and I walked away with great ideas to enhance my coaching practice. 

  • Resources to help teachers create personal technology plans
  • #educoach twitter chat on Wednesday at 9pm
  • IL coaches hastag - #iledcoach
  • Using Voxer, Periscope, or Glide to connect with others

A few twitter friends were in the room and I was able to connect with many more people. It helped me develop my iCoach twitter list! Check it out if you would like to connect with other coaches. 

Session 4: Standard Based Grading
I closed the day with a talk on standard based grading. I proposed this session, so I kept the conversation rolling. The conversation was nonstop! It was great to hear success stories and struggles. I gained great perspective from this talk. 

  • It looks different in each class- STEM vs Flower classes.
  • This will take time! The process will grow and change along the way.
  • There is a human element to grade “calculation.”
  • Focus on the words, not the numbers.  Use the word “Meet” instead of 3 as often as possible. 
  • Charts and student reflection help the students track their learning. Big thanks to Morgan Aiello for sending me so many great resources she uses with her students.  

So, we went from no agenda to a day busting with learning. Here is the final agenda and notes from each session. Check out my twitter lists for great new connections. As you can see, this was an awesome experience. I would recommend that everyone attend an EdCamp. I can’t wait until the next one to CONNECT, LEARN, SHARE, and GROW!

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's been awhile

Whoa! It has been awhile since you have heard from me. To say life has been busy is an understatement!  Since I have blogged last, I have had an adorable son. Little Will was welcomed into the world in February. It has been great to relax and enjoy my two children!  Gwen loves being a big sister.  

Family wasn't the only big change. After 12 year of teaching, I have taken a position as an instructional coach in my district. Hence the name change of my blog. (Oh my twitter changed as well. You can find me @JennyLehtosky.) I wanted to make sure it was clear that I would be sharing on a variety of topics, not just science, although it is still a passion!

This also seems like a perfect time for some reflection. To learn and grow, you have to think about where you have come.  

I can’t believe how fast 12 years of teaching went. 12 years!  After that long, I am comfortable to say that I can consider myself am expert at my job.  I may not know everything, but you better believe I will find out if I don’t.  I’ve worked very hard and that is paying off. I am ecstatic about my new opportunity, but of course if comes with anxiety.

Being the newbie reminds me of becoming a parent two years ago. This sweet little girl made me a mom.  

Talk about a humbling experience.  After having a successful 10 year career, I was pretty confident in pretty much anything.  But, becoming a parent you realize quickly what you don’t know. It really sends you back to the first year of your career.  Questioning yourself, making mistakes and overreacting, just like a first year teacher.  But we seem to have the parenting thing down, most days, and went ahead and welcomed number two. 

Now I find myself in a new role and the newbie feelings start flooding back. Will I cut it?  Will I keep up with the ever changing technology? Um, where is the bathroom in this building? 

I have to say, I think we were doing a pretty good job with these too cuties, so I think my next newbie roll will be successful! Look out, there’s a new iCoach to assist you! I'm excited to learn, grow, and share my experiences.