Thanks to a wonderful group of participants for making edcampMetroDC a wonderful day of learning. The passionate, enthusiastic teachers and learners who come out to edcamps keep me inspired and hopeful that education is constantly changing for the better. A huge thank you to the wonderful Steering Committee that I was a part of: Chip Chase, Sarah Thomas, Bill Hulseman, and Urvi Shah. This is the second year that I have coordinated edcampMetroDC with Chip and Sarah, they are absolutely the best to work with.
This year, we decided to embed Google docs on the schedule so that all notetaking could be collaborative… And for participants to reflect back on after the event… And for resources to be shareable with everyone who could not attend. (In fact, I left all documents editable in case anybody wants to go in and edit the document or add in comments.) I really was excited by just how organic the day was. There weren’t a lot of people who came out with an agenda or a prepared presentation, which is the beauty edcamps. Discussions, meeting and connecting with curious people, those are the joys of edcamp to me.
The first session I went to was about desmos. I decided to go to that session because I use desmos a lot in my classroom and really think it is an amazing tool. One of the things I love the absolute most about desmos is just how easy it is to visually demonstrate difficult math concepts. It’s much beyond just a grapher. There is huge power in being able to, for instance, demonstrate transformations with the slider tools – for students to see visually, and so instantaneously, what shifts in the graph happen when you change different variables. Well, that’s not all, but that’s just one of my favorite parts. And then there are the activities that Dan Meyer and some others are working with desmos to create. I’m always excited to be able to share those resources with other teachers. Anyway, all session notes can be found here, but really the beauty of the session was in the discussion that happened. Not just talking about the tool, but talking about how to implement and talk about in the classroom.
The second session I went to was about teaching financial literacy. I had to help out with some things, so unfortunately I got to that session after it had already begun. I was really excited to see the session proposed and then how many people attended. As a former economist, of course I think that digital literacy has a huge place in our high school curriculum. I’m very excited that the course has just recently been brought into my school, and we are further expanding the courses offered in this area next year. In fact, we are offering an entrepreneurship capstone program, in which personal finance and financial literacy are requirements. So I was excited to be able to bring these notes back to my school, and also to see how much interest there was among our edcamp participants.
Then there was the #smackdown. I always love that part. Yes, it’s more about the tool than anything else, but the energy is always great and the short snippets of enthusiasm are a perfect way to end lunch and get people excited about the next sessions.
I couldn’t attend the third session as I was trying to wrap everything else up, but the fourth session was one that I proposed with Shannon Montague: Mindfulness / building an empathetic community. You know, if you’ve read my stuff, a big interest of mine is how to reduce anxiety in the classroom. On a selfish note, I would like to reduce my own anxiety and stress level and find more time in my life to just be :) But this is an important skill that I would like to better teach my students. I got really into yoga a couple years ago and it helped me immensely, but I’ve kind of lost the ability to find time in my life for it recently. And that’s a problem. The huge benefits I saw in adding a yoga practice to my daily routine is a skill I’d like to share with my students. Stress isn’t healthy for anybody, and the stress levels among some of my students is just outrageous; there must be a better way. I feel strongly that we need to present more programs on mindfulness, yoga, and other stress reducing techniques to students. Particularly in the DC area, “go go go” is just the mentality around here and we need to take a moment to pause and reflect and think and live in the now. Anyway, in the interest of not making this into a book long blog post, check out the session notes here.
And then we had the raffles. We had so many sponsors throw in really cool prizes for participants. Check out more about our sponsors on our blog. Thank you to all who contributed. It really is so, so appreciate it!
And that wrapped up our wonderful day of learning. Again, all session notes can be found here. Please feel free to add in your own thoughts in the google docs directly or in the comments. Thanks to all who made the day wonderful!