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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Six Things to Bring to Your First EdCamp

With only days to go until EdCamp New Jersey I thought I'd share some tips I’ve picked up since my first  EdCamp (EdCamp Philly 2013). Here are six things you should bring to your first EdCamp (and really, almost any conference). Be sure to read to the end, number 6 is a MUST!


  1. a friend (colleague, mentor, roommate, grade level buddy)  -  Going to your first EdCamp can be a bit intimidating. This unconference is unlike traditional PD  -  sessions are created the day of the event based on the interests, desires and needs of the attendees. A friend, either one who has attended an EdCamp before, or a first - time attendee like yourself, can help you navigate this new uncharted territory. You will have an ally to share thoughts, ideas, and your experiences. Also, be sure to check out EdCamp 101. This pre - session takes place during breakfast and will arm you with information about the EdCamp philosophy, the rule of mobility, and leave no trace, etc.

  1. an open mind and a desire to learn.  Two of my favorite things about EdCamp, the fact that the sessions are created the day of using the power and skills of the audience and the rule of mobility are what make EdCamps some of the best professional development available.

If you arrive early enough the morning of EdCamp, you will see a completely empty session - board. And little by little, slowly at first, the empty slots for sessions fill up with Post - it notes containing session titles and names of facilitators. Topic ideas are limitless and range from discussions on Next Gen Science Standards, to Google tools and tips, to sketchnoting basics, and podcasts in the classroom. Be ready to learn from and with the talented people who are willing to give up their Saturday in order to attend EdCamp!

Why is the rule of mobility (also known as “the rule of two feet”) so fantastic? Say you walk into a session and the title was misleading or the content doesn't hit the level of skill you desire and need - simply gather your things, stand up and walk out. With the digital session board you will be able to find a different session that is better suited for you.

  1. an idea. Come with an idea of something you want to learn more about or you want to discuss; EdCamp is not about presentations and slide decks - it's about learning and growing together. Sessions are often created spur-of-the-moment - out of curiosity, need, or a conversation sparked over the customary breakfast of bagels and coffee. Don't see a session regarding a topic you want to explore and you're too shy to facilitate? Get over it! Just kidding (sort of). Seriously, let the person running the session board now what you are interested in and she or he may create a wishlist. Someone else might lead the session for you (until you're ready to do it at your next EdCamp!).

  1. snacks and a beverage. I never go anywhere without food! Grab your favorite portable snacks and your favorite drink and tuck them into your bag. While most EdCamps serve breakfast and lunch, not all meals are created equally and I like to be prepared, so that I don't get cranky and I'm always ready to learn. Be sure to check the EdCamp website for particulars about food.

  1. something to write on and with. Believe it or not, as a Tech coach I do most of my best creative work with a pen and paper and over the past year have truly taken to sketchnoting. There's something magical about the power of pen and paper. Bring it back-up pen - the ideas will be flowing and you don't want to run out of ink!

  1. a charged device and charger - preferably one with a keyboard. I cannot tell you how many times I've attended or hosted a session at a conference (EdCamp or otherwise) where the participants have been woefully unprepared because they did not bring a computer or other device of choice (phones and tablets are great but only if you are familiar with how to take notes on them). Why am I recommending digital tools and note-taking when I just sang the praises of sketchnotes and analog tools? Simple. Another amazing feature of any EdCamp I've attended has been the digital session board created in real time as topics are added to the physical board. Attached to each session is a collaborative Google doc for participants to use to crowdsource the new learning taking place in the session. Participants and session facilitators are invited to add resources and notes as well as participant information. This not only helps to get ALL of the information discussed in the room, but it keeps the conversation going when session and/or conference end. It's also a great way for you to “attend” more than one session at the same time, especially if participants have been taking copious notes in the shared doc. (Take those notes!) By the way, if you and your friend split up, this is a great way for you to share notes later. In fact, you get everyone's notes!

So, there you have it, my top six things for you to bring to your first EdCamp. This is in no way, shape, or form the definitive list of what to bring, but I can assure you - come EdCamp Day, I will have these six things with me!

Are you an experienced EdCamper? What would you bring? Is this your first EdCamp? What are you packing with you for the day?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What's In the Box? - The Reveal

My apologies for the delay in this post. I know I promised to have it to you on Monday, unfortunately illness had me home from school for two days and I was unable to open the boxes after the weekend as promised.
What's in the boxes?!?!?!

If your reading this after my original post, chances are you may have waited a week to discover what was in the box. I thank you for indulging me with guesses, silly or otherwise. Your responses tell me you are almost as excited as I am.

And now the wait is over (or nearly over)-it's time to discover what was in the box. But first, let's discuss some of your guesses!

If you know anything about me, you might guess it's a new pair of running shoes or some other equipment meant to get me laced up and back out on the road, in training for my next race. Perhaps spending some big bucks on running gear might get me motivated to run again...I sure know I miss it!

If you know me well maybe you guessed I dropped big bucks and loaded my amazon cart with a "library" of new books, but in truth, my TBR list of books I ALREADY own could keep any bookworm happy for the balance of 2016!
One of my TBR lists.
This one is from #Read4Fun
Or if you REALLY know me, you guessed that I splurged on a fancy "house" set Harry Potter books. Alas, the sorting hat is still not certain where I belong. Maybe once I get my letter from Hogwarts I'll stop by Flourish and Blotts for a new set (my 4th) of Harry Potter books.

Tired of guessing? Tired of having your guesses shot down? Want me to just tell you already?

Ok, here it is...after nearly a year of saying I would NEVER do it, and eight months after being approved for a grant from the West Windsor Plainsboro Education Foundation, I am the proud owner of...

My Podcasting Equipment

That's right, this tech coach is getting ready to enter the wonderful world of PODCASTING with the students and teachers at her school!

So what exactly was in the box? Two Behringer Q802USB Mixers, six Samson Q2U Handheld Dynamic Microphones, and six of those foamy things that go on the mic (just kidding, they're called windscreens)!

I'm still as excited and maybe even more nervous about my purchases than I was last week. Why? you ask. Because now that you know what's in the box, I imagine your next question will be, "Now what?"


Stay tuned next week to find out how this adventure begins to unfold!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oh My Goodness! What Have I Done?!?!

I've done it! I've pulled the trigger. I've pushed the button. I've opened my wallet and in less than 60 seconds I have managed to spend more money in one sitting than I have ever done in my entire life (except maybe in December).

My heart is beating wildly in my chest and my hands are shaking as I draft this post. I am experiencing the same nervous sense of excitement that is the norm before a BIG race - say a half marathon - from what others might consider a simple purchase.

I can't wait for the box(es) carrying my purchase to arrive at school! I can only begin to imagine how big the box(es) will be! It will be a restless few days of waiting.

Mystery Box 2 Clip Art

Any guess on what I purchased? On Monday we'll find out together! Until then...