Tag Archives: edcamp

Notes from EdcampNH

Session 2 (Assessment Standards) www.jcsee.org/ses 


How do we authentically assess students?

  • How do we know what students know? How is it measured?

Blended environments

  • How do we know who did what? How do you give feedback and manage?

Determining Averages

  • Formative assessments don’t count. How do we account for standards based performance when grades are weighted the same before and after the grades are in?
  • Eventually we are grading on competencies, but we are not there yet.

Analogy: Driving test. Everyone knows what’s on it. There’s value. Drivers Ed works on the formative assessment and help students gain the competencies so they are ready for the big test.

Q: How do we change this as a school community? How do we make sure change happens?

Session 3 (Critical Skills) @dancallahan 

We’ve been given a challenge of presenting in a group on critical skills and fundamental dispositions in a 21st century classroom.

So, we’re in 3 groups

Group 1: Official  website http://www.antiochne.edu/acsr/criticalskills/
Group 2: Unofficial website http://bit.ly/NBI346 and http://bit.ly/NBI9IT
Group 3: Article – From experience to meaning: The critical skills program by Laura Thomas.

We’ve been given 30 minutes to prepare to give a 10 minute presentation.
Now, we’re doing the presentation and breaking it down.

Session 4 (Ipads in School) @dancallahan

Songza (app) streaming music that gives you playlists according to different moods/styles.
50 Shades of Grey (ebook readers)
If you buy 20+ apps from Apple, you get them ½ price in bulk

Suggested apps:

  • Drawing pad
  • Toontastic
  • Doodlecast
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Paper
  • Skitch
  • Socrative
  • Nearpod
  • Subtext

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do we make effective use of the iPad?
  2. What is a good app? Bad app?
  3. What do we like about it?
  4. What do we not like about it?
  5. How do you provide apps and devices?

Session 5 (Paperless Classroom)

  • iannotate
  • dropittome


  1. Explain Everything (ipad screencast)
  2. mybrainshark (PPT to screencast)
  3. iannotate (app like skitch but better)
  4. book2cloud (open source books with questions)
  5. dailylit.com (books in 200 word bits/email)
  6. mendeley (PDF organizer)
  7. edshelf.com (tool organizer)
  8. whitenoise (app to tune things out)
  9. youblisher.com (embedding books in a webpage)
  10. xtranormal.com (dialogue creator)
  11. esri.com (express yourself with maps)
  12. visual.ly (infographics)
  13. easel.ly (infographics)
  14. infogr.am (infographics)
  15. songzu (music streaming)
  16. isleoftune.com (music synthesizer)
  17. airserverapp.com (stream your device)
  18. reflectionapp (device to projector)

#edcampss in Philly!

“It’s the best PD I’ve had as an educator.” That’s the way I like to begin explaining both Twitter and edcamps. For many people who have not been Twitterized, it may be a little difficult to understand, but the simple fact is that I enter a virtual conference of cool history teachers, engaged administrators and empowering thinkers every time I log on to Twitter. The same thing happens when I go to an edcamp unconference. I just walk into an actual room and am surrounded by the same people. It’s the best.

Where did I go?

Here’s the board. In the beginning of the session, the routine is that all of the interested participants come up and put a card on the time and the room they like. They host the sessions. Feet do the walking. You leave if you want to and no one’s feelings are hurt.

Teaching History without the Textbook

This was my first session. It was led by a Twitter colleague that I’ve never met in person before, @historyfriend. She has been a strong voice for innovative and reflective teaching on the #PLN (personal learning network on Twitter, specifically #sschat). Here are some of the notes I took on Google Docs:


  • Creating content is a powerful motivator for students.
  • Ask yourself what we are doing with textbooks that we can’t do without.
  • Using a textbook makes students dependent on the textbook.
  • Textbooks are written for general information.


  • Choices.edu
  • Crowdsource history content from the web?
  • GilderLehrman site for online content
  • Zinn education project
  • Reading the Wikipedia page with the students (determining sources)
  • Screencasting sections of texts (getting a world perspective)
  • RAFT assignments? Maybe tougher with the higher grades.
  • Facebook pages for Negro League baseball players?
  • Template for using Google Docs to create a fake Facebook page.
  • Wikispaces (student wiki spaces)
  • Livebinder
  • Evernote
  • Portfolios/eportfolios

Recommended Books

How to Engage?

  • Are we preparing students with the skills necessary for college (notes, index, etc.)?
  • Are organizational issues a challenge?
  • Password protecting PDF’s? How to do this?

 AP Social Studies

I stayed in the same room and began the next session with a great group of #APUSH teachers. The session was led by @Aaron_Eyler. He showed us his website and raised interesting questions about the philosophy and business of the College Board and its effect on student learning/test taking. We discussed depth and coverage, and it was a great exchange. Aaron demonstrated how he organized his Socratic Seminar, and that was really helpful.


The third session was on @Evernote. How to describe it? Evernote is a multi-device tool for recording information. It can be used in the classroom in a number of different ways. We brainstormed a few here:

Video record
Multiple tags
Text conversion
Document camera
Photos of student work
Collaborative emailing
Student emailing with subject tags/folders
Pushing content out
Distribution of materials with shared folders
Folder of students
Folder of classes
Folder of assignments
Save PPT as PDF for Evernote
Student taking notes by photo.

Shawn McCusker led the session. Truth be told, he was the second educator I found on Twitter when I joined about a year ago. I think it was one of the best ‘draft picks’ I ever made. He is an outstanding educator, an engaging leader, and a hell of a Words with Friends player. Greg Kulowiec was also in the session with us and he, as usual, brought up some very interesting comments about our practice and its purpose. He mentioned explaining ‘how’ before ‘why’ in classrooms with students, and also raised the question of whether it was a good idea for students to take photos of a notes board in class on Evernote vs. writing the information down themselves. Which is the better learning experience?

In all, it was a really good session. For me, one of the biggest take-aways was meta-tagging and how important it can be. How do I sort the information that I am bringing into my personal and mostly professional life? What are the tags and folders that I should use? I began, and still am, reflecting on this idea. Someday I may figure it out.

How can I help my students ask better questions?

Its hard to choose a favorite session, because they really are relavent and great, but this was a completely interactive session led by Mary J. Johnson, @JohnsonMaryJ. She brought out printed primary sources, such as photographs, songs, poems, diary entries, posters and more from the theme of westward migration in US History, and we broke up into groups following guidelines for asking better questions. While we were doing this, Mary had us reflect on how and why we were doing it – and what experiences this would mean for our students when they did this project in class. This is the photo my group and I explored:

We had a great time making observations, drawing inferences and then framing questions concerning the content of the photo. At the end of the session, we were allowed to take as many of the printed primary sources home. I grabbed a bunch. Oh, each of the photos also had a QR code on the back, which I thought made a lot of sense. Students could use their phones to scan the QR codes to get the Library of Congress website link to that particular document and instantly have the information about it for their use.

Project Based Learning and National History Day

The last session that I attended was mostly focused on National History Day. We looked at previous projects by students and heard stories of teachers working with their kids to complete the tasks over a series of months. We asked questions about the process of doing this event and some of the details (cost) and resources (travel) required. We also helped each other explore the idea of having something like this be mandatory or optional, since it requires a heavy time investment. It’s something that I have always been interested in trying and I am looking forward to bringing this experience to my students next year, whether as a club or formal class activity.

EdcampSS Ends…

The ending of the workshop was fun and engaging. If you’ve ever been to an edcamp unconference before, you know that the final activity is almost always a Smackdown. Participants get a set amount of time (about 1 minute) to explain something that they’ve learned or a resource that they’ve used, for the crowd. All of the participants gather and many are taking down websites as the line forms. It is always interesting! Finally, we had a closing activity from the keynote speaker to the conference, Kenneth Davis (author of the ‘Don’t Know Much About History’ series. He brought a timed buzzer game set with him to Philadelphia and asked teachers to become contestants in a quiz show. People volunteered and the game began! Many of the trivia questions were tough, but Ken explained each before moving on to the next. It was both educational and fun, and something he does when he travels to schools around the country.

As I left, I said goodbye to the many people I have been conversing with online for a year but never met in person. It was a lot of driving to go down on a Friday afternoon and night while returning Saturday afternoon and night, but worth every minute. I am truly glad for the experience and very thankful for all of the work of the organizers.

Edcamps rock! Next one is in Boston in one week!

The #sschat PLC

SSCHAT stands for the social studies chat channel located on Twitter. Since April 2011, I have had the great opportunity to connect with other social studies educators from around the nation on a wide range of issues. Just now, as I am trying this, the most recent tweets on #sschat point to 1) 5 powerful strategies to empower students, 2) primary sources from Harvard University on women working from 1800-1930, and 3) a tweet on how to use Livebinders in the history classroom. In a nutshell, its the most empowering professional learning I’ve had as an educator in over 15 years.

The program I most use to access it is Tweetdeck. It’s very easy to use and is great at browsing while communicating with colleagues.

It’s also made an impact on some of my former students. After I invited him to ‘tweet in’ on one of our weekly tweet sessions (Monday nights at 7PM EST) one of them wrote about #sschat on his blog. You can read the post here:

The #sschat site has thousands of members. All of them use Twitter to connect, share lessons, inspire each other, provide classroom advice, collaborate on lesson plan feedback, and more. There are also hundreds of principals and other administrators there as well. In addition to the Twitter channel, #sschat has its own wiki page at http://sschat.ning.com/.  Click on the image below to go to the site.

I’m happy to say that there is a real world component to all of this online collaboration too. Edcamp conferences are held periodically all over the country, where members of #sschat can get together and see each other face to face. So far, I have been to four of them. Each has been better than the last. I am very excited to be traveling to Philadelphia in a week to attend the #edcampss conference!!

The professional learning community is a very strong, empowering, collaborative way for me to grow and share as a teacher-leader. I am proud to be a part of it. Come and join!

#ECK11 & #EdcampCT

Edcamps have been second only to Twitter in empowering me as a teacher-learner and leader. The basic format is one based on an unconference, which has attendees as presenters. It is teachers teaching teachers and completely need-driven. The rooms are set up, the time slots are arranged on a board, and then slots begin to fill. You can choose to walk in or out of sessions as you please. It is all about the experience, and it works very, very well.

I was lucky enough to have two Edcamps in New England in two days. I went to Keene, NH on August 17th and Simsbury, CT on August 18th. All Edcamps are free. Here are some of my sometimes focused, sometimes literal, and sometimes tangential notes on those two conferences. Please let me know if you have any questions.

I would love to do this in New Bedford, and am planning one in my head already.

Edcamp Keene

Google Doc notes here

Morning Session 

Education… challenging times (Dean, KSC, Teacher-preparation program)

  • Funding
  • Politics and perceptions (negative)
  • ESEA
  • Higher Education Act (expectations tied to funding, even for higher ed)
  • State expectations
  • Teaching effectiveness
    • accreditation expectations
    • standards achievement

Changing Landscapes offer opportunities ahead…

  • 10 states selected at the national level for a focus on ‘excellence in education’
  • Focus on teaching and learning
  • Community of practice rather than isolated enterprise
  • Network of educators develop solutions and leverage opportunities
  • Deepen learning
  • Engage new strategies to share in creating knowledge

Instructions on the sessions… (#eck11)

102 126 127 129 161
S1 (10:00-10:25) Using Jing as assessment Leveraging Twitter Coalition of Essential Schools Flipped Classrooms Crowd sourcing
S2 (10:30-10:55) Using Prezi Doc scanner on the cheap Extend learning opps Flipped Classrooms Global awareness
Seven revolutions (civics) Engaging students in deeper understand Classroom Respsonse Systems (clickers) Using Blackboard (engaging students)
Lunch (12:00-1:00) Using Cell Phones Tech in lower elementary Infographics
S4 (1:00-1:25) Skype in the Classroom Information Literacy Skills Top 10 mobile apps Smartboards
Diigo Dropbox & Youtube with Mobile Dev. Teacher reading groups Using & Creating Video
Smackdown Google Apps What the hell? Ipad? Great moments Mapping & Presentation (room 264)

Other topics:
Flipped classrooms

Session 1: Leveraging Twitter in the Classroom

What is Twitter?
Twitter requires you to be yourself. No false identities.
K-12 should send permission forms home for identity.
Search for your own hashtag. Make your own.
Assign students as hashtag monitor. They summarize & critically think.
Consider the authority/credibility of the poster. Trace back and learn.
How do you protect your students from being followed by inappropriate individuals.
Assignment: Ask them to find information being tweeted. Add to the hashtag.
Assignment: Ask them to follow current news.

Session 2: Flipped Classroom


  • Repetition on the same lesson vs. adapting the learning to the student.
  • How do you deal with missing units via Khan Academy?
  • Voicethread, Screencast-o-matic, Jing, Camtasia, podcast, soundcloud, ishowuHD
  • What about the application of learning on the other side of the flip?
  • What about equity issues for those who don’t have computers or net or mobile device?
  • How do we assess that students actually learned the content at home?

Google forms can be used for formative assessment. Polleverywhere.com is also good for feedback.

Session 3: Engaging Students for Deeper Understanding

Introduction: How do we engage them to invest their being in the classroom? Tom pulled together a framework that he uses. He works to convince them to share themselves and their mental energy. You can’t just tell them. How do you help them to develop the tools to engage the material? Jon Vanderwall defines understanding. Understanding is a measure of the quality and quantity of connections between what they know and what they want to learn. Students need help to do this. Finally, there must be an environment for deeper learning.

1. Convince them to share themselves
2. Develop the tools to engage
3. Help students along the way.
4. Shape an environment for deeper learning.

Trust is important to create this relationship. Name activities help to create a community.
Handout: Characteristics of Engaged Learners (Behaviors, attitudes, actively processes information, characteristics of the engaged classroom, characteristics of an engaged teacher.

What is compliance and what is engagement? Define ownership.
What is a dysfunctional class?
Compassionate accountability?
Model to students that each one matters. I/thou vs I/it.

Session 4: Developing Information Literacy Skills

Watching a YouTube video on challenges in information literacy… Students expression frustration with learning via online research, writing, accessing information. (Source: Project Information Literacy) PIL InfoLit Dialog, No 3: Frustrations

What are issues or challenges which we notice from students…

  • How to access information
  • How to analyze what they access
  • Something other than Google
  • Lack of “peer review”
  • “surface level, not just regurgitating”
  • Credibility, validity, opinion, bias
  • Skills disappear
  • Low literacy skills
  • Do students care?
  • Authority, credibility, truth – distinguishing between…
  • Cut and paste
  • Asking students what is missing?

Students are looking for what is ‘right’ vs. something that adds to a discussion,
Book: Academically Adrift…
CRAP – Currency, reliability, authority, performance (test)

What do we use in classes to address these skills?

  • Multiple words meaning the same thing. Broadening our search terms.
  • Stress that this is a process, not a right or wrong answer.
  • Wait time for critical thinking.
  • CARE Context, assembly, reliability, error (Quantitative literacy)

Key Point: We tell students not to plagiarize, but we don’t tell them what to do to prevent plagiarism. Many of the resources focus on process.

Session 5: Dropbox and YouTube for Mobile Devices

Information is stored at two places at once. (cloud storage)
Is there a way to filter files that go into Dropbox? Yes (set permissions)
You can create a teacher account or one for a class.

Session 6: Smackdown!

  1. Keram Erkan
  2. Wolfram Alpha
  3. Simply Noise
  4. The Scout Report
  5. ikeepbookmarks.com
  6. dipity.com
  7. Tineye
  8. Livebinders
  9. Evernote
  10. MasteryConnect
  11. Symbaloo
  12. RoomAtlas
  13. AllMusic
  14. Sporcle
  15. Isleoftune
  16. Google Lit Trips
  17. Sourcewatch
  18. Gapminder

Edcamp CT

Google Doc notes here

Session 1: Using Video in the Classroom (@gregkuloweic) 

Comics: 5 blocks of classroom (day of stroyboard, day of prep, day of writing, dry runs, film)
Comicraft is used as a basis for the film (no privacy issues)
All videos used with flip cameras.

RSA: Similar to the RSA videos. Use a dry erase board. Do voice overs.
Write your script but remember to only have one word on the white board at a time.
Uses iMovie to erase the audio from the video. Speed the video 3X.

Choose Your Own Adventure: on YouTube
Within YouTube, you can block off a box in the video, and you can link it to something else.
Example: Comparing the French and Egyptian Revolution
Kids hold up dry erase boards to make a selection spot. Each video is very short.
Youtube. Edit. Add annotation. Choose spotlight. Choose location. Choose link (blog, website, other video, etc.)


  • What is the level of engagement, and how did the students learn content? Greg didn’t give a test in the entire year. His students performed slightly better than all other 9th grade history students.
  • Can other phones bee used to record video? Use handbrake to switch video formats so it can be used in iMovie.
  • Block comments on YouTube. Schooltube is an alternative. Teachertube is also good if YouTube is blocked.
  • Assessment has to meet rubrics. Key words have to be included. Assessments should be done up to the final project, but not including the final product. Assess the process, not the product. Stuff gets better along the way. Don’t punish students on the first attempt.
  • How do you do voice overs on iMovie? You can edit the audio separately. Turn it down to zero. It goes to 3,2,1 and then you layer a voice over over that. You can also add music over that as well.

Using Video in the Classroom (Frank, Physics teacher)

  • Video is used as a hook.
  • MathTrainTV is a screencast of problems solved made by students.
  • The presenter is sharing some video links from his Diigo account.
  • Greg is going to uplink all of these sites to the EdcampCT Posterous.
  • Conversations that students have when making video engages their misconceptions and deepens their learning.
  • Comment: Students with LD can learn a lot by making videos. Self reflection is powerful.

Session 2: Social Networking, Global Classrooms and the Flipped Classroom

Connection with other classroom doing the same engineering PBL through Skype. Students were grouped in 2-3. They worked on the same issues. They can communicate via video and audio or both. You can share screens and desktops. You can also record Skype through other programs. You have to have the IT people unblock (question: is it the IP address?)

Skype in the Classroom: website for teachers to connect with other teachers. Language acquisition definitly

CILC.org is a Chicago organization that brokers relationships for vitrual fieldtrips. The federal government also allows that work to take place via NASA.

Global education Ning is set up to connect teachers around the world. globaleducation.ning.com (Lucy Gray?) is the contact person.

Intel’s website has an education tab with resources for teachers who want to do things electronically. You can find teachers of similar disciplines. Teachers use common rubrics that they came up with together.

Question: We tend to focus on the technology, but what about the content?

  • Timeframes with project based learning (calendars) help enormously.
  • Skill development has to be prioritized over content.
  • Activities help students advance to higher levels.
  • Students have to know how to do it first, and that takes time.
  • Have students self-assess through the process.

Teachers have share time in their faculty meeting. They also have a blog just for teachers to share the learning they do in their class.

Question: What changes as a result of flipping the class in the learning process?

  • Students do more at home then some teachers expected.
  • Block scheduling helps support project based learning.
  • Daily journals can be integrated as a formative assessment.
  • Flippedschools.com is a site for teachers screencasting. It’s run by a principal in Michigan who actively supports. “Students are more likely to have a phone than a parent helping them.” Clinton-Dale  School
  • One English teacher does blogging at home and reading in class. She’s flipping understanding in class. 80% of students were happy doing online work at home.
Session 3: Bring Your Own Device School…

School system that is moving to 1:1 (purchase of 100 netbooks)
Presenters are from a small school and district in CT
Moving towards all rooms have all smartboards.
Demographics show that almost all students have smart phones.
Filtering in their AUP policy focuses only on school time use. If they bypass the filter on their own time, the school is not responsible.
CT school and Burlington MA will share their AUP for other districts to see. CT school got their AUP from somewhere in GA. They switched logos and made it theirs. Very comprehensive. 

In Burlington, MA they have a SUPT who is completely behind the ‘open everything’ approach. They did the Edcamp model every TUE. They will run a digital literacy course. They will also have a freshman academy that is only digital, so they absorb the citizenship concepts there before they move on to other grades.

Lunch! (AWESOME!!)

Session 4: You’re Innovative, but your Administration isn’t

Having creative solutions discussion around institutional and cultural barriers to innovation.
(Kerpoof! Elementary school students create movies and greeting cards)

Strategies for Overcoming Resistance:

  • Ask forgiveness and not permission
  • Aligning innovation in the classroom with the school mission/vision
  • Business Model Solutions
Paying Out (Cost) Getting Back (ROI/Impact)
65% $ for running technology (i.e. electricity) 5%
20% $ growing as an organization (i.e. wireless) 15%
15% $ transformative (i.e. changing HOW you’re doing things) 75%

Gross/Margins on X axis
Volume on Y axis

Traffic Builders Winners
Losers Sleepers

How much do we do because it is policy? Back up your ideas with research.
Sometimes support for innovation only goes so far with the administration. They reach a point where the support may stop.
Great ideas are born in design but live in implementaiton.

Session 5: How to bring Edcamp Principles to your District…

What are the things today that made today worthwhile?

  • Self driven
  • Technology
  • Teacher driven
  • No paid keynote
  • No 40 mile expert
  • Needs driven
  • Choice in sessions
  • Voice in sessions
  • We do what we say

Often for paid keynotes, there is someone in the building who is knowledgeable and cares.
Build your own in house expertise. Otherwise, you’re going to keep needing help.
The way a school does PD says a lot about what they expect their school to be.
Dan and his district has done their own PD in Edcamp format.
Tired about PD for the lowest common demoninator.
CT passed a law that mandated that teacher committees create PD opportunities.
October 1st EdcampNYC

Edcamp Boston Conference

Going to the Edcamp Boston unconference was one of the most powerful experiences I have had as a teacher to learn, share and grow as an educator.  While many of the techniques and resources focused on different ways to integrate technology in the classroom, the central purpose of the sessions was to improve the teaching and learning experience for children.

Many of the ideas gathered are shared by collective notes taken and posted on the Edcamp Posterous Site.  Overall, my head exploded with ideas for the classroom, and the sincerity and experience that came from the conversations was deeply meaningful to me personally as a  professional educator.

At first, I was not sure what to choose on the Edcamp Boston Session Schedule.  There were five different sessions (with lunch in the middle) and each one was put on by fellow teachers and educators.  The entire conference was free.  Lunch was included.  All I paid for was parking (a mere $10).  It was a beautiful day at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, overlooking the Charles River and the many joggers periodically making their way around the ‘river route’.

I took some notes on the sessions I went to and then posted them on Google Docs.  Here they are:

Notes on Digital Storytelling

Notes on Assessment 2.0

Notes on Flipping the Class & Screencasting

Notes on Standards Based Grading

Enjoy and provide feedback please.  Because of the energy and innovation, I have many new ideas of my own, but comments, suggestions and questions are always welcome.

I also found out that there’s an edcamp unconference in NH on August 17th and in CT on August 18th!