One of the things I was excited about the most was meeting some of the members of my Twitter PLN. This happened almost the moment I walked in the door. Catlett walked up to me at the registration table and welcomed me with his classic, "What's up brother?" For me, it set the tone for the entire day. After meeting some other Tweeps (Badura, Allen, Heather Callihan, Devin Schoening, and others), the magic of EdCamp began.
If you have never been to an EdCamp, the process is really something special. No agenda is set prior to that day. At 9'oclock, four white boards are turned around and anybody there can fill one of the time slots. Some people fill it with the intention of leading a session, while others fill it with an idea that they simple want to learn more about and discuss. It took less than ten minutes and the schedule for the day was set. Below are the sessions I attend.
My man Catlett had been telling me about this session for awhile and when he put it on the board, it immediately became part of my schedule. It was unreal! Attendees of this session formed two lines across from one another and had 150 seconds to share, connect, and inspire the other person. It was intense and I felt as though I was experiencing a live version of a Twitter chat. I received a ton of info and now can go back and dive deeper on my own time. Great session!
Session 2: App Smashing
Badura and Callihan got the crowd pumped with app smashing. The basic idea of app smashing is combining the capabilities of multiple apps to create one finished product. For example, you could use Pic Collage, Tellagami, and iMovie to create a unique video product. The thing I loved about this session is that they took about 15 minutes to introduce the concept, then turned control over to the crowd and had everyone create a product through app smashing. The last 15 minutes of the session was an opportunity for participants to show what they made. Another great message during the session was when Craig encouraged all teachers to let their students publish their work. We live in an age with the ability to share our work with a much larger audience than the teacher or the class. We need to take advantage of this. Tons of great ideas!
I joined Badura, Callihan, Catlett, and Catlett's #ipadacademy crew for lunch. Although it wasn't a part of the EdCamp itself, I felt it was an extension of the experience. We were able to continue sharing ideas and connect with more passionate educators. We even had time for a little fun while recreating the famous Abbey Road image.
This year I have been very interested in coding and how we can get it into schools. This session was perfect. Crystal Ernst started this session with some great resources via a Coding Symbaloo she created for her students. Then the beauty of EdCamp kicked in. Many teachers in the session were curious about different ways to introduce coding to their students and blending it into their lessons seamlessly. This is where Mr. Mansour jumped into action. With the excitement of a little kid at Christmas, Mansour led the group in an activity using Google Spreadsheets to teach younger kids (and adults) how to code in spreadsheets. This was a great idea that I would have never thought of before and it was a practical way to blend coding with traditional course work. Awesome stuff!
Session 4: Photography in the Classroom
I walked into this session late, because I was engaging in some great conversation that spontaneously broke out in the hallway (another great feature of EdCamps). Laura Gilchrist was leading this session and was fantastic. She spoke about the power of using images to enhance story telling and encouraged everyone to be "camera-toting-teachers." I had been searching for a great way to store and organize my photos for a long time now. Although I had heard of Flickr before, it wasn't until Laura showed me the power and ease of of this tool that I became a believer. I now have a Flickr account and am in the process of streamlining my photo taking and storing into this awesome service that gives you 1 terabyte of free storage space. Amazing!
I want to thank everyone who attended #EdCampOmaha for being part of a great experience. I especially want to thank Josh Allen and Kristina Peters for organizing the event. They did an awesome job! I am hoping to attend #EdCampOmaha next year again and also try and attend some local EdCamps too.
I think you should too!