Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Edcamp Phoenix 2016 Recap

Edcamp Phoenix has come and gone, and what an event it was! Participants came in to a sponsor-supported breakfast of Chompies bagels and bananas. They were grateful for a Squirrels lanyard with a 20% off coupon for Reflector 2, an app to project mobile devices to a classroom screen. Upon arrival, participants spent some time discussing in small groups what ideas created sparks for them, and began generating session ideas, which the Edcamp team assembled into our session board for the day. 

After I (Dierdre Shetler, lead organizer) explained the basic principles of Edcamp (share what you know, vote with your feet, take responsibility for your learning), participants made their way to their first sessions. Topics for the day included the following (and then some):
  • Google Classroom
  • Makerspaces
  • Digital Portfolios
  • Literacy and Assessment
  • Guided Reading
  • Building Classroom Community in Middle School
  • After-School STEM clubs
  • Socrative Seminars

While the original plan was to do 2 sessions, come back for lunch, and then finish with one more session and a sharing round, plans changed. A snafu on the part of the restaurant meant our lunch was unexpectedly an hour late! Hence, we did a quick switcheroo, and thanks to the Gumby-like flexibility of our teachers, we just went ahead and did our third session and had a lovely lunch afterward. Over a meal of taquitos, rice, beans, and excellent salsa, our participants networked and discussed our learning of the day with each other, and generally made great professional connections.

To close, participants shared their Wows, Hows, and Nows of the day (Wow-a big takeaway, How-a remaining question, Now-something to implement Monday), These were captured on a Padlet, one of our featured and modeled tools for the day. And finally, we ended with lightning round sharing of web tools, which included the likes of digital music creating sites to going on online historical adventures to creating blended learning lessons using a variety of technology tools.

All of our Lightning Round sites were collected in an editable Google Doc, where people can continue to add more to share with the group over time. This was not the only use of collaborative writing that we did. We used shared Google Docs as well to create session notes for the day. These remain a source of knowledge for those in the sessions, who can continue to add to them over time, as well as for those that wished they could be in two great sessions at once. And finally, for a little levity (because believe it or not, kids, teachers like to smile!), we had an Edcamp meme contest (via a shared Google Slides presentation), which resulted in a win for Alexis Brady, a newbie teacher but an Edcamp veteran.

And to close, a word of affirmation to one of our organizers:

"I just wanted to tell you how much fun I had a Edcamp on Saturday!  It was so informative, a great way to learn new tricks for the classroom without the boring professional development feel and it was FREE!  The day flew by!  As you know, I was a little hesitant going with me being an art teacher but I learned so much! I endorsed the Edcamp PD to my Student Achievement Teacher, my Instructional Coach and to the rest of the district art teachers, hoping to get more people to go next time!!!  Thanks again for sending out the email!"

Thanks again to our major sponsors! Without the contributions of Piktochart,, and Squirrels, we would not have been able to keep hungry tummies happy!

Our sponsor, Squirrels LLC, developed an affordable classroom screen mirroring app that is used in more than 100,000 classrooms in more than 200 countries. Reflector 2 is an app that runs on a teacher’s computer and receives a real-time “mirror” image of classroom iPads, iPhones, Chromebooks, Android devices, and Surface Pros.”

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