I was blessed to be on the leadership team for the first ever edcamp Cy-Fair which was held this past Saturday, January 20th in Cypress, Texas. I am a huge proponent of edcamps and am so thrilled to bring this professional development model to educators in our area.
I learned sooooo much this weekend (check out all of the links to the collaborative notes taken at each session here) but came away with 5 major take-aways that I am most excited about.
1. Google Forms for Conferring Notes
In my first session of the day on Standards Based Grading, Jennifer Sheffield (@jensheffieldtx) shared that teachers on her campus utilize a Google Form which can easily be pulled up on a mobile device to record information when conferring with students. Later, teachers go back and pull up the information recorded in the corresponding Google Sheets document to sort and track data.
This was my initial response to this information as posted on twitter:
Several others also tweeted and asked for more info, so Jen reached out to Stephanie Samora (@stephsamora), the teacher who originally had this brilliant idea, and Stephanie shared her explanation for setting this up! Thanks so much Stephanie! If you use her great idea – give her a shoutout!
2. Podcasts and Pedometers
For my second session, I attended Tools for Great Professional Development. Lots of great ideas were shared, but one that really stood out to me was Tricia Reilly’s (@principalreilly) idea for Podcasts and Pedometers. During a long day of meetings and professional development on her campus, she had teachers bring whatever device they use to count their steps (and had a few pedometers on hand for those who didn’t have one) as well as earbuds. After sitting for a while, she purposefully planned the Podcasts and Pedometers movement break so that staff could learn, move, then chat. She gave staff a choice of a few different podcasts to listen to and released them to walk around the building while they listened and gave them all a time to be back. When everyone returned, they broke off into partnerships to discuss what they listened to and their podcast take-aways. I love this strategy because it utilizes movement, learning, and getting familiar with new podcasts!
3. Turn off Notifications
For my third session at #edcampcyfair, I attended Time Management. We talked a lot about how you can’t really manage time, only YOURSELF. Amy Kainer, an instructional technology specialist in our district (@amymarina) shared a simple, but life-changing tip for staying focused on one task at a time. She challenged participants to turn off the notifications for email, twitter, facebook, and other apps. These notifications pull us away from what we are working on causing us to waste away time when we eventually come back and have to refocus on the first task. If those notifications are off, you will still get the information, but on your time – managing YOURSELF so you’ll have more time. Love this tip!
4. The Honey Chrome Extension
I was eager to get to my last session of the day on Google Tips and Tricks. Here, my partner Assistant Principal (who I share an office with every day), Julie Clements (@jclements01) shared the Chrome Extension Honey which searches the web for the best coupons for you anytime you get to a checkout while shopping online! Other participants jumped in and shared that they use this extension all the time and it always ends up saving them money! Educators can use all the help we can get in the saving money department!!! 🙂
5. Your Knowledge is Gold – Share it!
Although I’ve attended many edcamps, and I always come away learning so much from the amazing educators in the room, I was reminded again yesterday that information I consider to be everyday knowledge could be true gold to others. These four tips above that were shared with me were common knowledge for the individuals who shared them, but to me they were innovative and exciting new ideas. Remember to share your ideas – they can inspire and motivate others!
Bonus – This Moment
What are some of your favorite tips, strategies, and ideas you’ve learned from edcamps? I’d love to hear your thoughts!