Saturday, July 11, 2015

#EdCampSurfIA - Why not?

Why get up early on a Friday morning in the middle of the summer?

Why drive 2 hours away from home to meet a room full of people I haven't met?

Why make the decision to do this less than 2 days from the event?

Why not?

After getting my daughters up and off to swim practice,
I was on the road a little after 6 am!

Yesterday's EdCamp experience in Clear Lake, Iowa was well worth the early morning drive. It was organized by Steve Kwikkel (@SKwikkel), Principal at Clear Lake Middle School as well as Kay Schmalen, Nicki Barragy, and Emily Hill.

A unique venue for our EdCamp.
Instead of having the EdCamp in a school, we gathered in the historic Surf Ballroom. Located just about a block from the lake itself, it was like a step back into time.....a time of big bands, dancing, and music legends.
I  could have spent more time here
reading all the historic info!

  After meeting (for the first time) some long-time Twitter friends, Darin (@AnIowaTeacher) and Kory (@KoryTellers), I felt like I was in absolutely great company! Shortly after an introduction, the attendees started filling up the session board with ideas. I was amazed the board was filled up in about 5 minutes!  The majority of the attendees were first-time EdCampers. For myself, it was the 5th EdCamp in 10 months. Can you tell that I enjoy these experiences?

A view of the ballroom from the lobby.
After a few words from the organizers, we divided up into different sections of the lounge and ballroom according to our choices. The hardest thing was choosing a session, but luckily notes were taken for each section. If you're interested in some new ideas, click HERE for the whole collection of notes.

Here's a summary of the sessions I attended. First, I went to the Google in the Classroom session. We discussed various Google apps, ideas, and management systems. I learned some new options for using Google Forms.

After that session was over, I attended a small group (4 of us) about Blogging. We discussed different ways to use blogging in the classroom to collect student responses, share ideas and projects, and have students write more about what they are learning in different content areas.

My third session for the morning was about Gamification and Coding. This is an area that I don't know much about but am interested in learning more. I collected a lot of new ideas and resources to look at later. My 4th grade students loved the coding activities we did last year on and for the Hour of Code. I hope to attend a training on coding this fall and use it with some students during media next year.

Next ---> lunchtime! Two local restaurants, The Anchor Inn and SIPS, gave us pre-order menus for lunch. At the Anchor Inn, we were greeted with a sign and a table ready with our food prepared. It was a relaxing, fun time to eat and talk. And BONUS - we had more than a 20-minute lunch (this is exciting for teachers).

Sandwiches, soups, salads, and more!
The Anchor Inn welcomed us for lunch!
Lunch with Darin Johnston and Kory Graham
*picture credit to Steve Kwikkel with Kory's phone :)
After lunch, I went to a session about Tech in the Classroom. There were some great ideas about connecting through Google Hangouts or Skype for projects and events. We also talked about how it's important to start small when you're a teacher that is just beginning to integrate technology. We discussed how to overcome some obstacles. There were some great ideas shared about apps, projects, creativity, and QR codes.

As the day was wrapping up (and the band was coming in to set up for the evening's show), I attended my last session about Tween Centered Classrooms. This was a great discussion about tweens and how their needs (intellectually, emotionally, physically, and more) need to be met in different ways. We all agreed that being present, developing relationships, and allowing some choice were at the top of these lists.

Although I didn't win anything from the prize table this time, I ended up leaving with a great feeling having met so many new connections -- educators that can help me as I continue my learning journey and friends whose paths I hope to cross again soon!

And...... I just had to catch a close up glimpse of the lake before I headed out of town. Wished I could have made the day last longer.

So, Why not join me next time?

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