EdCamp Chicago went down to the south suburbs so I HAD to represent 🙂 you can take the girl out of the Southside, but never the Southside out of the girl :). Anyway, I learned soooo much today and am excited to get back and put it into action. I was talking with @MrsBronke through Twitter about the fact that I LOVE EdCamps but I totally struggle with how to describe them to educators so they can feel the awesomeness and come as opposed to being scared by the “scary” parts (i.e. there is no agenda before the day, people can come and go at will, etc – which I admit are scary but after your first EdCamp you realize that these factors are ACTUALLY empowering and really force you to really be super present and invigorate you). Below are some of the lasting ideas that stuck with me from the sessions I attended (for the first time at an EdCamp I didn’t leave any session to attend another one – maybe just really good choices on my part, or maybe just my desire to make the most of where ever I was – regardless, I liked it so much). Shout out to Danita and Mia who sat with me at the beginning, it was so fun to connect with Hammond, Indiana folks….maybe they will get on Twitter 🙂 I’ll be on the lookout.
Scouts, Sunday School, 4H and More
This was a small group but we were a mighty force. I loved how diverse the room was despite the fact that we only had 4 people in it :). I was impressed with the connections we made when it came to how you communicate with the members of your extra-curricular, how do you hold them accountable, how can we “gamify” attendance so it doesn’t need to be punitive, to how can we recognize members for their contributions on a regular basis so that they aren’t so fixated on end of year MVP awards. I really liked how this session made me reconsider how I encourage my students in Mathletes and Snowball. I’d like to maybe recognize “streaks” (one person mentioned Homework streaks in his classroom, maybe I can do that with attendance or for my Mathletes their practice skills or other attributes that I want to see more of in my activities).
My Favorite Four Letter Word: Math
I suggested this session. I’ve suggested it before at EdCamps and have LOVED it but never have I experienced so many math teachers in one room at an EdCamp! It was fantastic. Also, very surprising for me, we didn’t even utter a peep about Desmos or Geogebra (my personal favorite go-to math resources) and DESPITE that the conversation was soooooooo good. We shared so many great things about why we love being math teachers and it was fantastic. I’m excited about the possibility of using this clip in my class – the teacher who mentioned it talked about a Mindset Monday and I was totally intrigued. I gave props to Sara Van Der Werf and her Name Tents with Comments activity that I used with my students this year and it was awesome to see other teachers who were interested in making the same connections with students. I liked the idea of Blind Kahoots – similar to blind Quizlet Lives that I have been in love with lately – so I will have to try Kahoot in this way.
Someone talked about how our students tend to be missing some basic skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing to name a few). I don’t believe that I have all of the solutions, but I do believe that it is my duty to help any student who walks in my door to be better for entering and engaging in my class. I feel like my math talks, notice/wonder, estimation, clothesline math, selective use of Khan Academy are steps in the right direction. A couple of times we circled back to this idea of mindset and I believe that some of these basic skill problems come back to mindset issues. Which makes relationship building so important. When you build the relationship, you can get students to do amazing things that they didn’t even believe were possible.
Then during the last five minutes someone brought up the topic of homework – such a great topic that needs soooo much more time than 5 minutes. However, being with math teaching peers and openly questioning the role of homework and whether the homework we are giving actually achieves those goals strengthened my resolve to only assign homework with a specific goal in mind that I believe will ACTUALLY be achieved. I feel a much bigger blog post on that topic coming soon. For now though, I am happy about the place I am in with homework at this time and don’t plan on changing anytime soon. I mean I actually have some of my students ASKING ME for homework, which is DEFINITELY a switch and I have tailored assignments for them based on their needs as a learner as opposed to my needs to justify a grade. I have students actively asking me questions about problems they are getting wrong in Khan Academy (that they are doing of their own free will) and want to better their understanding. I must be doing something right. And I might not have it ALL right, but it is working for some and for that I am grateful.
LUNCH with the Marian and Math Peeps
Lunch was great conversation about all kinds of fun topics. Whether it was about taking a last name, classroom activities, what you were doing later – all of it was so fun. I wished that we could have boxed up that group of people so I could have lunch with them everyday :). Sharing a meal does great things for connecting with others. Also, it is amazing to me that even when surrounded by a whole bunch of Catholic School educators that we as educators have so much in common.
I’m mad at myself for not taking a real picture of the chairs that were similar to this in one teacher’s classroom:
The desk part was bigger and swiveled to the other side for lefties. They were so sweet. I kinda want to start writing a Donors Choose project and get them for my students.
Additionally, I liked this image I saw today:
Power of Positivity
I needed this 🙂 I always need this. I have been working so hard on this in my classroom. I HATE when my husband criticizes me HOWEVER he usually has a point when he does (though I will never give him the satisfaction of saying “you’re right”). Anyway, he told me recently that I was being negative and it hurt my heart until I was real honest with myself and realized that he was right – he doesn’t read my blog so I am safe :). Anyway, it has been a goal of mine to be more positive, which lead to a goal of being more grateful, which lead to a goal of being more present. All of these things have worked well together and I can honestly say that I am in a much more positive place in my life now than when he made that comment to me :). Whether it be standing at my door thanking my students for coming each day (which was a “fake it before you make it” thing for me at first but now I TRULY am grateful – like for real, and I recommend it to everyone) or handing out my new Bitmoji-fied Post-Its (blog coming this week – they really are my favorite thing right now) or taking the time to REALLY get to know students, this positivity thing has done wonders for my classroom management (I’ve only written 4 referrals this whole year and two of those I really had no choice but HAD to write them up) and wonders for my students’ work ethic.
The Angel Project idea really spoke to me as I had actually mentioned this idea to my administrative team – and it got me thinking that maybe I could do this for just my students in my classes as in I would put my own dots next to my own students who I had made a personal connection with this year already and really make it a goal for me moving forward to make connections with the ones I have not made that connection with yet.
With my son I want to implement the idea of asking him “How were you kind today?”. Such an awesome question and one that will show my son what I really value out of him in addition to asking him what he learned today. Maybe I should ask my students the same question.
So sad that I had to dip out of this one early as I am new to Sketchnoting but I totally believe in the power of it. I shared my story about how I got started (long story short, an administrator admonished me during a faculty meeting for what was in her eyes “off task behavior” and so I started sketchnoting so I couldn’t get in trouble for taking notes 🙂 . Anyway, I loved hearing how one teacher was using this technique with her special ed students and it made me think that maybe I should be deliberate about giving my students the opportunity to try sketchnoting in my classes. Below is my sketchnote about sketchnoting. One thing that I didn’t get to note is that when you sketchnote you have a built in picture for blog posts and everyone knows that pictures get more views than just text alone.
I think to take my sketchnoting to the next level I need to incorporate more icons. Also, although my dog doesn’t have a name, I believe I already have a learning mascot, or maybe he is my creativity creature…whatever, it was nice to think about him in a new light.