Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reflections from EdCamp Birmingham

***I know this post is not on a Friday.  This week is extremely busy and I was so excited after a Saturday spent at EdCamp Birmingham that I decided to publish early.

I had heard about EdCamps around the country for the last few years.  I was even aware that there had been two previous EdCamps in Birmingham yet I was unsure what really occurred at this self-named unconference.  This past weekend I attended EdCamp Birmingham.  I was not really sure of what to expect but after this experience, I promise this will not be my last.  I made connections with people that I only knew from Twitter.  I learned about new tech tools and gained affirmation that I was on the right track and doing many of the same things and having the same struggles as other teachers across Alabama and the nation.  An EdCamp allows anyone who attends to be a presenter.  The sessions are not determined until the day of the event.  Anyone who is passionate about a topic or wants to begin a conversation about a topic that they want to learn more can sign up to lead a session.  The great thing about this philosophy is that many different topics will appear and change throughout the day. 
Here are some things I learned at my first EdCamp:

1.            Tellagami:  This free app is a quick and easy way to share a story.  It is a screen-casting app that allows the user to create an avatar and put them anywhere.  You could take a picture of your classroom and have your avatar stand in front of your class and give instructions on how to complete a center.  Students could also use a book cover as the background and have their avatar tell about their book for a digital book report.

2.               Augmented Reality:  Evidently, I’m obsessed with Aurasma because I’m writing about it again.  This weekend I learned about Super Auras that are all around.  If you have the Aurasma App, hold it over the back of a $1 or a $20 bill for a fun surprise.  Take Aurasma outside.  Label pictures of plants in a garden and have students record themselves talking about those  plants to create an aura.  What a fun scavenger hunt. I also learned about an app called Sekai Camera.  It allows you to create air tags anywhere.  Why not create air tags of the planets that can be found with the app and have students comment on the tag to name the planet. This app’s coolness must be experienced to understand.

3.               <!--[endif]-->Tynker:  If you love Scratch, you’ll love Tynker.  It is a web-based site that allows students to  create using programming language.  It has the same Lego type block stacking that makes Scratch so user friendly. It is free for K-12 Schools after registration.

4.               <!--[endif]-->Biteslide:  This program was designed for teachers and students.  It was made to get read of boring school projects and allow students to create slidebooks that have images, text, and videos.  It is a great tool to document the entire PBL process.  The Nibbler tool allows students to save images and videos to use later in the project.  There is also a collaboration feature that allows slidebooks to have more than one editor.  There is a free account that is limited to one teacher with 30 students working on one project.  There are also paid versions.  I was lucky enough to win a one-year subscription as a door prize at EdCamp Birmingham.

5.              The opening speaker at this year’s EdCamp was the 2012-2013 Alabama Teacher of the year Suzanne Culbreth.  She had a quote in her presentation that hit home.  She said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”  What discoveries are happening around you?

I learned so much more than what I’ve included in this week’s Friday Five. 
I hope to see you at next year’s EdCamp Birmingham.