Sunday, November 23, 2014

EdCampNJ--The Take Away (Dear Katie V3#12)

Dear Katie,

I hope you enjoyed your experience at EdCampNJ yesterday.  After attending two Padcamps, it was my first time experiencing an EdCamp and I was impressed for the amount of coordination and effort that the planning team displayed in how smoothly things ran.  A huge kudos to those who sacrificed their time so many teachers could benefit.

For a student about to enter the teaching profession, listening to teachers share their experiences and expertise must have been like opening gifts at Christmas.  Each idea a new valued tool to place in your educational toolbox.  I hope the excitement your presenters showed and the amount of teachers who sacrificed a Saturday without pay to learn and share taught you this...your college preparation is not the end of learning and implementing new ideas for the classroom.

The Master Teacher is a never ending learner.

For me, there was nothing earth shattering that I learned.  My classroom approach has always attempted to be unconventional (b/c I believe that student's minds will be engaged due to the difference experience in my class) but since teaching is such a solitary profession (you spend most of your day with people outside your peer and professional group) you are not quite sure you are doing things right.  The other problem is that you get stuck within your own ideas and become comfortable in your own ways of doing class.  

If you want to continue to grow in your profession
Hearing the ideas of other teachers
 helps defeat the tyranny of classroom monotony

The one session I went to called Velcro: Making Your S#$! Stick confirmed many things that I am doing right as well as giving me fresh ideas for further development of my classroom.  My goal is to further extend moments of movement for my classroom.  I already have a "Video for a Blue  Monday" to help my students in a small way to get over the depression of a start of a new school week, maybe I'll bring my Wii in and take your cousins' Kids Dance game to get my students over the hump of midweek.

The other session that gave me a lot to chew on was Next Level: Gamification.  Although the presenter runs a different classroom game than my own (his is an adventure game based on games such as Zelda, while my concept is that each group is a team in a Baseball league) there were still ideas that I could take away.  For me it was trying to figure out a way so instead of teams earning "Wins" through the games and projects they complete, that they can also gain points that can be used to cause other teams to go into "slumps".  You may be thinking, what does that have to do with history, it doesn't...directly, but what it does do is motivate the student to study and perform classroom tasks in order to help their team.  It also engages the mind on my class, that will help them to peg the content information for my class into their memory. 

These two takeaways help support one of the major tenants of my educational philosophy:

I don't want my students to just be discussing 
the ideas of my lessons in my classroom
My desire is that they are discussing 
the ideas of my lessons in the halls, bus, & at home.

Anything I can do to motivate that is worth investigating.

I have to say though the best part was debriefing about the experience with you.  It is amazing to me that the little girl that I held in my arms as her godfather at her christening is now a young lady with a bright future ahead of her in the world of education.

See you on Thanksgiving (If we don't get snowed in)

Uncle Kevin

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