A bit late posting this to my blog, apologies.
Ready to fill up my brain with good PD @edcampokc
— Vanessa Perez (@vperezy) February 23, 2013
Yup, that’s me! My first EdCamp, back when I didn’t know how to hashtag. If you’re wondering how I got into that situation:
Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air
learned to stop worrying and love the bomb
addicted to EdCamp.
Four years ago, I was a computer teacher at Tomlinson Middle School in Lawton and thirsty for professional development. I found Wes Fryer‘s website Moving at the Speed of Creativity through a web search and didn’t even realize he was in Oklahoma (then Yukon, now of Casady) until I noticed the EdCampOKC banner.
I’m gonna mention a lot of people in this post. It’s not to name drop, it’s to illustrate the connections I’ve made through EdCamp and how they have shaped me professionally.
Anyway, back to my story. At the time, one of my main partners in crime was Jen Lamb, a fellow TMS teacher who went on to be Director of Elementary of Math for OSDE and is now an Instructional Coach at Santa Fe South. Jen and I traveled almost two hours to attend our first EdCampOKC. We had no idea what we were doing but were totally cool with that. I remember finding our way to a cafeteria, picking up some swag (I still have my Bloom’s DoK wheel in my office.), and waiting for the yellow-shirted people to start the show. People in matching outfits always know what’s going on, right?
Someone gave an inspirational opener, maybe stood on a table. We were introduced to the two tenets of EdCamp:
- Participants build the schedule there.
- Let your feet do the talking. If you find yourself in a session, you don’t like, get up, and find one that is better for you.
Then they pointed out a huge butcher block sheet of paper with a grid and told us to have at it. Jen took the pic below. When I saw it pop up on my Facebook memories a few days ago, I was stunned to realize it was a picture of Beth Richert, who I would later work with at Clinton Public Schools.
I don’t remember if I wrote anything on the board. It didn’t really matter, though, because I still got what I needed.
Beth facilitated my first session on Google Apps for Education. At first, I was super distracted because of the room. I had never seen trapezoid desks before and I wanted them. I probably took twenty pictures of those desks and all the different arrangements before I realized what Beth was saying: People could type on the same file at the same time! I was, as the kids say, shook. I am not exaggerating when I tell you it changed my life. My brain immediately went crazy with the classroom collaboration possibilities. I am told I walked into my librarian’s office (That’s Kris Burd. I like to think we mutually enable each other.) the next Monday with some kind of crazy fire in my eyes and said, “We’re doing this.” We did it and four years later, Tomlinson has taken G Suite for Education (new name, same awesomeness) and run away with it. My EdCamp experience touched thousands of students from just one session.
(There’s this whole other story where I became a Google Certified Trainer and got networked with an international group of fellow nerds, but it’s boring. The important part takeaway is EdCamp -> International Personalized Learning Network.)
I remember learning how to make a QR code and how to attach it to an audio file (RIP Audioboo). I think that was also where I was introduced to Claudia Swisher and Jason Stephenson in “Reading for Pleasure” and used TodaysMeet, the backchannel tool, for the first time. I remember an intense discussion on how to retain our veteran teachers. Most importantly, I remember leaving with a To-Do List and the determination to cross off every single thing on it. I was energized and refreshed in that way teachers need or they burn out.
It was MAGICAL, I tell you. Was every session a hit for me? No, but as I became comfortable enough to walk out of the misses, it didn’t matter. I got what I needed. Did every session have someone that influenced me so much we became besties? No, but there were people that now I feel comfortable reaching out to for advice and feedback when I need it. (Poor Jun Kim , Director of Technology for Moore Public Schools, was the recipient of several of desperate cries for help.) Eventually, when I learned about #oklaed after the second EdcampOKC (I was not in the room where it happened), my PLN did become part of my daily life. Not to be too sentimental, but I met educators who would become some of my favorite people, real friends I could call, text, or hold whole conversations with in Bitmoji. They not only provide insight because they know how schools work, but do so from a distance that keeps our discussions from degenerating into mere whine fests. (Although, sometimes, there is wine.)
I joined the organizer team for EdcampOKC 2015 and my PLN has only gotten better. The organizer team is a diverse group of educators from all over the state even though the event is in Oklahoma City. Seriously, I was in Lawton. Erin Barnes is in Sapulpa, Kevin Hime and Anne Beck represented Clinton, and Tammy Parks lives in Howe. I would probably not know them without EdCamp. Now, some of us only see each other at the actual camp but others, I see more times outside of the state of Oklahoma. Even when some of us move across the state, it doesn’t matter because we’re still connected.
— Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) February 22, 2017
As an Oklahoma teacher, I deeply feel we need to be connected to other educators. We especially need to be around people who know the mission, who realize the kids are the mission, and do the work despite all the crap we are fighting (I’m looking at you, Oklahoma legislators). Whether it’s new ideas, a kick to the butt, or a morale boost, EdCamp gives me what I need. This is why I love EdCamp: it isn’t about the prizes, it’s about the connections and conversations* EdCamp makes possible.
I hope to see you there.
*riffing off Anne Beck here who said, “[Edcamp] is not about products, it’s about conversations.”
We’ve been doing a book study for Clinton Public Schools Leadership on Todd Whitaker’s “What Great Principals Do Differently” (amazon link). As an extension, my superintendent Kevin Hime (@coach57) told us to all find 2 excellent people who have our same job title and shadow them. For my role as “Tech Integration Specialist,” I asked Brandon Wilmarth.
Brandon (@mr_wilmarth) is a Tech Integration Specialist for Moore Public Schools. (I know him from teh Twitters. Seriously, if you are not using your #oklaed connections, you are crazy.) He is one of three Tech Integration Specialists for the district, serving 35 schools versus Clinton Public Schools’ 4 specialists serving 5 sites. (Once again, feeling spoiled but appreciative about our situation.)
I probably could have followed Brandon all day -or played with all his tech toys. I openly envy his monitor and audio recording setup. Although my Sketchnotes focus on programs, that was only part of the takeaway. Like Whitaker says, “it’s not the programs, it’s the people.” Brandon is definitely one of those people you want on your team solving problems. Throughout the day, I was impressed by his easy manner. Professional always, but personable and open. A tech integration specialist’s job is to help teachers. I’ve never met a tech coach who wasn’t super eager to sit down with teachers and talk shop, the trick is to keep the talk relevant and reachable so the teacher’s eyes don’t glaze over. He makes a conscientious effort to leave the office (quicksand!), show his face, and make himself available.
Please forgive the lighting of my sketchnote – I had to take it in the hotel hallway. It is a lovely hotel but not meant for photography.
Here is the thinglink version as an example of how you can augment sketchnotes with hyperlinks. I am a big fan of Reshan Richards’ use of time-lapse (link) and Wes Fryer’s take on narrated sketchnoting (link).
About a million years after Scott Haselwood (@TeachFromHere) put out the call for people to reflect upon the impact of #OklaEd, I’m finally posting my response…which kind of came out like a love letter…
Mirror: I read back through my tweets, not out of conceit, but to check myself. Am I posting what’s real and true, good and bad? Am I living all those clever memes and well-intentioned quotes? Is what I say in the quick heat of a Sunday #OklaEd chat authentic to what I actually do? There’s no time in an edchat to prevaricate and sometimes those questions are hard, man. I’m pretty sure I’m looked through a storify and questioned, “Really? That’s your initial response?,” reflected (pun), and then thought, “Yeah, that is definitely what I think.”
Platform: #OklaEd is a platform to share what’s going on in my classroom and district. We all have our passions and this the place to let your flag fly. I remember a recent conversation @ChrisParadise and @JMaxey1 about essential Makerspace supplies – a conversation that I actually felt comfortable butting in on because of the reputations they’ve built sharing their own classrooms on #OklaEd.
Resource: I’ve never been one to linger in confusion so I ask a lot of questions. Even with a Master of Education, as an alt cert teacher, I have a lot of gaps. Through #OklaEd, I am able to take advantage of knowledgeable people like @DrTerriOU, @KelliAnglley, and @CalypsoGilstrap.
Recharge: We all get down. At several points in my teaching career I have just felt worn smooth out. Being part of #OklaEd can take me beyond my site (because sometimes the whole building is just worn down and out, you know?) to experience the positive energy going on in other parts of the state. This last fall, @MrsDSings has been like my spirit animal either lifting me up with her ebullience or lifting me out of my brood by eloquently expressing my rage!despair!frustration in a timely blog post.
Inspiration: If you know me, you know my brain goes a gabillion miles an hour and I like to connect with other people who make their ideas happen. Through #OklaEd, I’ve been inspired by rock & rollers across the state including @MrP_tchr, @MrsBeck25, and @elynnhlll. It’s also helped me keep up the Mutual Admiration Society with @ladywolf2014
Battle Cry: I’m gonna be honest here and say that I’ve blacked out my social media a lot this legislative season because it was like Crisis! on top of CRISIS! If it wasn’t for the fervent (and persistent) calls to action from @ClaudiaSwisher, @BlueCerealEducation, @Grendelrick, @Edgeblogger, @angmlittle, @coach57, @mrsthornbrough, @mrsveldhuizen, and @bridgestyler I’d’ve checked out even more. Beyond being passionate (and, ya know, right) it’s the diversity of their personalities that really appeals to me. I see their words and then I am moved to make my own even though I feel like my representative and senator should know by now exactly how I feel.
Opportunity: I love being a part of something bigger than myself. Twitter allows me to share what I love and do it by being my own weird self. Participating in #OklaEd’s afforded me a lot of chances to make a difference. I’m even pretty sure I wouldn’t have my current job if I hadn’t jumped headfirst into #OklaEd – not too shabby for a hashtag.
PS- I tagged a ton of people in this. If I left someone out, you’re still awesome.
I have just survived my first day at TCEA’s (Texas Computer Education Association) annual conference and I’m feeling pretty good. There’s a nice balance of inspired ideas and excitement without being overwhelmed.
It’s probably because this is the first conference where I’m not presenting in a couple of years.
I attended the STEM Academy today, featuring 2 keynotes and breakout sessions; I have shared my sketchnotes below.
STEM Academy Opening Keynote by Cindy Moss (@stemboss)
Session 1: 3-D Printing in Education by Mark Simmons (@t3chl0gic)
Session 2: Keeping It Real by Stephanie Villegas (@Ms_Cerda)
Session 3: Algebra and iPads, It’s Not Just Math Anymore by Dr. Sherri Brogdon (drbrogdon03)
Session 4: Makerspace in K-12 Education by Jason Harron (@jrharron)
Introduction to 3-D Printing by Brian Bass
Today my class went rogue on our lesson plan to discuss #IStandWithAhmed. I’m not going to sum up the event, but will point out the Washington Post article, @IStandWithAhmed Twitter account, and Ahmed Mohamed Wikipedia entry. I will also say that it was difficult to find any resources without bias; most publications were heavily in favor of the young man. I would have preferred a more Joe Friday “Just the facts, ma’am” account, but we make do, right?
I asked them several questions including:
- What would you expect if you made a clock at home and brought it to school to show me or another teacher?
- Why was this important enough to change our lesson plans for the day?
- What do you think will happen next?
- Do you think the hashtag will matter around in a year?
- What does this have to do with you?
Mostly I tried to shut up since one of the hardest things is to listen. Sometimes the conversation got out of control and we need to work on that, but I would like to say one of the greatest moments of today was that by the end of one class, all the students had moved forward and closer to each other as the conversation became more involved.
In any case, I’d like to share some unedited quotes from my students’ conversations. They come from grades 6-8, ages 11-14.
- “They were wrong to assume, they didn’t check it out.”
- “The teacher could have asked him to examine it.”
- “He looks confused. If he really wanted to do harm, he would have known what he was doing, he wouldn’t look so confused.
- “No kid that wants to blow up a school wears glasses and a NASA shirt.”
- “They’re stereotyping him because of his race and he’s Muslim.”
- “People are accusing of each other of being racist.”
- “He probably wasn’t even Muslim because a lot of them weren’t Muslim, he was just Indian. Some people aren’t really Muslim.” “You can’t tell they’re Muslim because of the way they look.”
- “No one knows their human rights anymore. I’ve been reading about this because I am so heated. They need to teach us about human rights.” “They feel we don’t need to know about it because they feel like we’re not mature enough.”
- “I don’t know who the man is. I just know he’s making our decisions.”
- “I thought they at least should have investigated and looked in his room and disabled it and reassembled it and figured out stuff before they arrested him.”
- “At least my cousin isn’t Osama.” [discussing comments made to one of our Muslim students, not in the class)
- “It would have taken 5 freaking minutes to check. It’s not that hard.”
- “People like him are geniuses. He’ll grow up to be like Albert Einstein.”
- “I think he shouldn’t’ve brought the clock to school. He should have asked to bring it to school.” “Even if he asked first, they would have thought the same thing. That it was a bomb.”
- “But isn’t the numbers supposed to go down? On a bomb? I think the numbers on my clock go up.”
- -“If a regular white student brought it in, they wouldn’t think he did anything wrong.”
- “He looked terrified.”
- “I think the teacher should be fired.” “Why? The teacher did what was right.”
- “The teacher was racist or didn’t like him.”
- “How did he get through security?”
- “With stuff happening around the world, they have to be careful. An ISIS official made a threat saying they would send half a million soldiers to attack Europe and the U.S. when we least expected it. Then you have thousands of Syrian refugees coming here and to Europe that are mostly men with a few women and children.However, they aren’t your average sickly, ill refugees. This are built, strong men who could all be ISIS soldiers. So, by welcoming them here without question and open arms is upsetting so many people. The U.S. government is planning to feed 10,000 of the, which is upsetting U.S. citizens because there are so many of are people that are homeless and starving that aren’t being helped.”
- “I think it’s stupid. It’s just a judgment call. There’s nothing connected to it that would explode. People just assume it’s all technical and a bomb. It makes kids…it was racial profiling.”
- “In this day and age, everyone wants to make the world a worse place.”
- “We’re getting to an age where we’re curious and want to build stuff but we could get accused of trying to make bombs and stuff.”
- “I think the race doesn’t matter to the teachers. I think the media made it a big deal.”
- “I feel like it was a good thing that the whole situation was blown out of proportion because it has brought more awareness to things of this nature: racial profiling, religious profiling…”
- “They could have at least called his parents.”
- “Even if he explained it, they don’t know what a bomb is made of or what a clock is made of, so it wouldn’t have mattered.
- “Over the summer, we had #BlackLivesMatter and this is kind of like the same thing. After 9/11, people got a lot more racist against those people so I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think bringing the clock to school was a good idea but it makes sense to ask first because that would have cleared some stuff up.”
- “I think they shouldn’t have arrested him without letting him show it off.”
PS- My students were very excited that I would post some of their quotes on Twitter.
Today was the last day of Camp Tech Terra. Susan and Zach jumped in on a daunting list of topics suggested by the participants including grant writing, digital portfolios, and STEM stations. I took typed notes today because I was eating breakfast at the same time. Here are some of the highlights:
- Check out Bright Bytes (link) for research connecting mobile learning with student learning
- Dollar Tree will sell their $1 items to teachers for half price online
- Check out IPEVO Wishpool (link) for monthly tech giveaways
- When purchasing a 3-D printer, consider that Makerbot is the only vendor of its filament
- Different STEM stations:
- deconstruction: no TVs or glass, cut the power cords off
- construction: Lego, blocks
- fabrication: cardboard
- robotics: Ozobots
- coding: Sphero (can code using Tickle)
- Tech Explorer: virtual reality, Osmo, making apps
- Science Explorer: Little bits magnets
- Susan Wells on STEM: Just getting the curriculum isn’t going to help you, “nothing is better than doing”
- Then we did a mini edchat on Twitter. We gave out an #oklaed Twitter Cheat Sheet (link) in the morning but I think it might have been better to get everyone set up with an account and introductory text before diving into the edchat. I’m always trying to get new people to take advantage of Twitter so it was interesting to see an edchat with 40 people in the room; I think it’ll adjust how I do PD in the future. (I think I’ll also do an #oklaed #slowchat next week to help ease people into it.) The plan was to do the questions below but due to time constraints, we only did three. I thought it was neat that some non-Camp Tech Terra tweeps participated. If even one person keeps on (and I think they will), I’ll call it time well spent.
Here is the archive of the #camptechterra tweets up until, oh, 8:30 on July 29, 2015: https://storify.com/vperezy/camptechterra-at-ecu-7-27-29-15
Here’s a list of recommended people on Twitter to follow:
Camp Tech Terra also inspired additions to my wishlist. I am not aiming for most things class sets because they are expensive and I am going STEM station-style. I keep a spreadsheet with vendors, prices, etc, but I thought it’d be nice to share in an easy format in case a random billionaire stops by and wishes to grace my classroom. Please feel free to give me your feedback if you have something in your classroom or have a suggestion to add:
- 1 Copernicus Tech Tub Premium (link)
- 2 Sphero (link)
- 2 Rolling Spider Mini Drone (link) Note: @micheledanielshenk shared that Brad Gustafson gives out Tickle coding challenges
- 1 Kano Build Your Own Computer Kit (http://www.kano.me/kit)
- 3 Ozobots (link) Note: @cathybenge1 says if you put 2 Ozobots alone in your amazon cart, they are buy 2, get 3rd free
- 1 Makerbot 3-D Printer (link) and all the filament ever Note: Michele also recommends 3DTin to create.
- 25 Lilypad miniature electronic platform for wearables
- 1 Squishy Circuits (link)
- 5 Google Cardboard (link)
- 1 Osmo Gaming System for iPad (link)
To wrap up the workshop, we had time to work on what we wanted and network. I loved picking the brains around me. I look forward to continuing to keeping in touch with them. I mentioned it in the workshop but I think it bears repeating: Twitter is an excellent way to continue relationships with excellent people you meet at PD.
One of my new friends is Jessica Lightle. She had a great week! She was on the front page of the paper and won the Copernicus Tub today. She is going to be my ISTE alarm clock and make sure I go in 2016. Afterwards, she asked to interview me for her vlog RUCHALLENGED. You can watch the video below.
If I had a summer theme song, it’d be Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”. I feel like I’ve hardly been home but the PD (professional development) opportunities have just been too good this year despite my best intentions to stay put. I’ve been to iOS Summit Norcal (California), iPadpalooza (Texas), edcampOKSDE, Podstock (Kansas), and Recharge in the last two months. This week I returned to East Central University (where I got my Master’s in Ed, Library Media Specialist) since they are hosting a Camp Tech Terra teacher training and certification workshop. I was drawn to Camp Tech Terra because (according to their site) their mission aligns with my own:
Camp Tech Terra takes two seemingly opposing elements — technology and nature — and brings them together to help children better understand the world around them and the gadgets in their hands. The camp was developed by a leader in mobile-integrated education and veterans of public education. The curriculum is inspired and informed by Maker’s Ed and Project Based Learning.”
How could I pass that up?
I made the two hour drive to Ada, stopped briefly at my hotel, and bopped onto the brand spanking new (well, renovated) Education Building. Check out this room! I am in love with the Copernicus tech tub (upper right) and the mobile white boards (second row, left). I liked the vibrant orange walls matching the super comfy adjustable chairs and the pop of the magnetic white walls. Visiting new spaces is the reason why my classroom will never ever be finished.
So Day 1 focused on discussion on the value mobile learning and maker ed as well as an introduction to apps. All the other PD I participated in this summer was broken down into sessions where people could choose what they wanted to attend. Here, we were all expected to stay together and I was bit nervous because I don’t sit still well. However, Susan and Zach Wells did a great job engaging users of all different levels and keeping us moving. They’re all cross-platform all the way which is nice with such a big group (and, you know, just full of real world practicality we don’t always get to see employed in education). I was impressed that our group of 37 included teachers, librarians, administrators, and at least one curriculum director. There were people from Oklahoma, Kansas, and even Virginia. I was relieved that I hadn’t thrown away 3 days of precious summer.
For the Day 2 (today), I didn’t sketchnote since we did so much hands-on. To start, we hit Winter Smith Park for a digital storytelling exercise. I cleared out the memory on my devices since we were given a heads up on the assignment via Remind. I have to say I like the way communications were handled. They only released information a bit at time, not out of some super tight need for control, but in a way that spoke of digestible traffic to diminish panic. We were offered a few ideas (micro study, bird count, make-believe) but were also free to make up our own. I tinkered with two ideas: (1) a Bio Blitz and (2) a statement on the need for balance between balance and tech, especially in light of mobile technology. (I am trying to figure out how to explain that without sounding pretentious.)
I MacGyvered a framing device out of a paper folder in case I ran with the Bio Blitz. It’s just a square piece of white cardboard with a square cut of the middle; the white border can help kids focus when making observations. The idea for that came from either the Tulsa Botanical Garden or at art teacher at SenseSational Science.
I set out with my square, water, Enduracool cloth, iPad, iPhone, and a seed of an idea. We only had an hour but it went by fast. When we got back, we had about another hour (with the option to work through lunch.) I found a little corner to lay out in, put on my headphones, and built a force field out of my devices. I realized that I never get to make videos just because I want to so this was refreshing. I was also determined to create the video using an app I never used before. I settled on Wevideo.
I really wanted to like Wevideo. I liked the ease of trimming video but was soon irritated by other things like the tediousness of setting duration for each object. On iOS, you can’t add text but you can on Android. (I guess that makes sense since I remember there being a close relationship between Wevideo and Google.) I was able to pick music from my iTunes account but I couldn’t tweak how I wanted and mix with narration. I initially hoped I could app smash to get better results but export options are limited to Youtube and Wevideo so I went with Youtube but it took hours to actually publish. When it finally did publish, it wasn’t true to the preview. I ended up trying to publish three times and reached my limit of “minutes” so then I couldn’t do anything with my file at all. No bueno! People all around me were turning in work and I was sitting on nada. Now, to be clear, I was putting more pressure on myself than anyone else was. There were other people who weren’t finished and we were informed that we could finish at home, and turn it in tomorrow.
Edited 7/29 to add: How would you deal with this as a teacher? This is how I think of it: did I turn in the completed product on time? No. Was I learning? Yes. I would venture to say my troubles made me think more than I would have if everything had gone smooth. Would I punish a student in a similar situation with a zero grade? No! I’d talk to the student and see what was up or as Susan Wells says, “take a temperature check.” This is why I grade by objectives – but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
In any case: it’s a great testament to the program that I completely forgot about the video until I got back to the hotel because it was STEM TOYS TIME! There were several stations with the following products:
- Hummingbird Finch Robotics
- Makey Makey
- MakerBot 3D printer
- Kano Build Your Own Computer Kit
- DAQRI (Elements, Anatomy)
- Google Cardboard
I have a class set of Makey Makeys, but I really would like 1 Kano, to learn how to make DAQRI triggers, and at least 5 sets Google Cardboard. I’d like to get Ozobots and think they’d go great with Spheros. I remember someone saying they’d set up mazes for the two robots to race. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a 3D printer either. The rest were cool but didn’t jump at me.
Somewhere in there, we also talked about beginning coding and used Lightbot (site) . At the end, we got to model sharing by showing some of the finished videos. I was a little frustrated since I had nothing to share but I tried to act the way I would want one of my students to act. I tried really hard not to think all about “my need” to finish (restart) and pay attention. There were some fantastic videos! My favorites were an elementary reader on the letter “E” using Book Creator and another app smashing iMovie and a doodling app on shapes found in nature.
It was a long day, man. After a bit of a nap and decompression, I finally got to work on my video. Have to say, iMovie remains my go-to app. I’d still rather edit videos on a computer, but for mobile learning, iMovie all the way. Here’s what I ended up with:
Now for a bit of bonus self-reflection: I prefer not to attend PD by myself. I don’t have an issue with meeting new people or going new places, but I like to have a buddy to bounce ideas off. I like to have a partner in crime, or two. I was pleasantly surprised on Monday to walk in and see twitter friends Jennifer Reyher (@jenniferreyher) and Cathy Benge (@cathybenge1) as well as Kaylee, who went through the LMS program at the same time as me. She actually found out that “our” wine bar is having trivia tonight but I had to tap out. I’d hate to be too sleepy to enjoy my last day.
It’s really been such a fun experience – but a lot! Big shout to the good doctors Mark Jones and Shelli Sharber for setting this workshop up. They’ve almost got me talked into pursuing an ed tech masters, especially if they keep offering such high quality PD.