Saturday, September 2, 2017

EdCampKY 2017

When I attended the first ever EdCampKY in October 2014 at Thomas Nelson High School, I was instantly inspired -- some might say smitten, as I definitely fell in love with the "unconference" idea of professional development.  Besides deepening my friendships with several educators, I began new ones that continue to this day.  A few months later, I was asked to join the EdCampKY planning committee, which was extremely flattering.  One of the highlights in the years since was being able to host EdCampKY in Shelby County . . . complete with stormtroopers.

Last Saturday was the fifth EdCampKY, held at Bardstown Middle School, relatively close to the location of the first.  (Thanks to Mike Paul for setting up the location at his home school!) It was another great day of educators sharing and networking:  

As my Instagram pic shows, the next EdCampKY will be held for the first time in Jefferson County on July 7, 2018!  Put it on your calendar!

Two tools from the EdCamp made an impression on me and are worth a mention: Recap and ClassroomQ.   (Full disclosure: both of these were also sponsors this year.)

I have blogged about Recap in a previous entry, but in the time since, they have made major changes in how the platform works.  What was once basically just a free student video response tool has expanded into a structured space for deeper discourse, which Recap calls "Queues."  Students can still make video responses if the teacher allows it, but text responses are also possible; with the ability to respond to other responses, or have a question lead to a sub-level thread of conversations, the conversation can get very detailed and dense!  Last but not least, you can create a "Journey," complete with a short self-cam intro, step by step instructions, and external links.  A Journey would be useful to kick off the Queue (perhaps by building schema before the conversation begins), or as a way to set up students for their own inquiry-based learning.  You can set up a Queue where you can join with just a PIN, which means anyone can start responding in seconds without creating student accounts or rosters.

I discussed Recap in one of my sessions as a useful personalized learning and PBL tool (for example, you could set up a Queue with your PBL unit's driving questions and need-to-know's), but I also used it as a place to capture the reflections of my session's attendees; here's a viewable example.  (You have the option of "opening" your Queue as view only for the public to see without being able to post responses.)

And speaking of "queues" . . . another tool that is extremely simple yet could be extremely helpful was ClassroomQ.  You can create an account for free (more on premium options in a moment).   Next, start a session.  This gives you a class code you can share with others.  Students log in only with their name and the session's class code.  This, quite literally, gives them a giant red button to press if they have a question; they can also add comments.   From the teacher's dashboard, you can see student's requests for help in the order they requested it.  It digitizes the process of "hand raising" to make the teacher's attempt to rotate around the room and assist students much more fair and effective.

The video below gives a demo of the product:

The free version does have limitations; for example, the number of students that can be queued up is only 5.  However, the annual fee is modest, and the Pro version gives you perks like being able to export a log of your session.  (See the chart below for more details.)

And while on the topic of EdCamps and unconferences, one final topic to end this entry.

Shelby County Public Schools will have its own first annual ThinkBIGGER EdCamp on Saturday, October 7!  The awesome and wonderful Heather Warrell will be providing opening remarks.  Tickets are, of course, FREE and we welcome visitors from outside our district to attend.  Come and become our learning partners as we deepen our understanding of what it takes to help our students reach our brand new "Profile of a Graduate."

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