What is Ed Camp? AWESOME!

Have you heard of the newest movement in Professional Development? It’s called Ed Camp and it all started here in Philly.

What is Ed Camp? The following two video shorts explain it very well. Scroll below the videos to see pictures and my reflections about my first Ed Camp experience as well as additional Ed Camp resources.

If you have the chance to participate in an Ed Camp, do!

You will not be disappointed.



My Ed Camp Philly 2012 Experience!

This was my first Ed Camp. It was so much fun listening to and talking with other educators. No matter what the field or grade band, we all shared one thing: a passion for learning. Here’s how the day went:

1. Arrival. Ed Camp is not open to walk-ins. All attendees had pre-registered. This year’s camp was held in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Once checked in we immediately walked into the planning room where educators suggested topics of discussion and planned their day. There was plenty of chatter and excitement about the day and it’s possibilities.

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In addition to the break out sessions, there was the opportunity to spend time in deep discussion on a particular topic. This is called the Inquiry Room. The topic of discussion for the Inquiry Room was determined by suggestion and then vote. Teachers wrote their ideas on flip chart and voted by placing dots next to the topic they would like to explore in depth. The Inquiry Room topic of choice: Blended Learning. All of this activity, sharing and snacks took about an hour.
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3.  The next activity was a quick opening assembly where the expections of the day were explained.
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 Ed Camp “housekeeping”:

  1. What to expect
  2. “Rule of two feet”
  3. The Inquiry Room
  4. “Leave no trace”
  5. Security sign-in (required)
  6. Visit edcampphilly.org
  7. Lunch & after-party details

4. The schedule revealed (let the Twitter chat begin! #edcampphilly):
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5. Two morning session time blocks. I’ll post some pictures of what it looked like.
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Students participated in a presentation about physics, gaming and social networking.
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There was time for networking and professional sharing.
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6. Lunch: An hour of meeting, eating and sharing

7. The afternoon sessions-two more sessions of learning and sharing. What’s great about Ed Camp is that everyone participates and shares in every session.
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8. The Smackdown. The end of the day was a celebration and sharing. A smackdown is where people wanting to share have two minutes to do so. It’s fast and furious and fun! I’ll post some pictures from the experience.

The line-up:
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The sharing (more sharing of important Ed Camp resources below pictures):
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The incredible Ed Camp Philly organizers:
Edcamp Foundation Planning Meeting

Ed Camp resources:
Ed Camp Philly Ed Camp started in Philly. It is a result of gifted educators–and they met online!

Ed Camp Foundation Ed Camp has gone global in just two short years. I know why-it’s an amazing Professional Development experience.

Ed Camp Wiki Thinking you might like to host an Ed Camp? See this wiki for the how-to’s!

Ed Camp @ TEDxPhiladelphiaED-Kristen Swanson

Thanks, Kevin Jarrett, for sharing your photos!

 

Sharing: The Moral Imperative (CEW Integration Inservice #1)

In my very first blog post (What Does It Take to Create a Movement?) I shared a video about sharing because sharing and collaboration help us all get better at what we do for our students. In these days of limited school funding my school district is taking steps to save money. One of those steps is to no longer require our students take our Pathways class as a graduation requirement.

Pathways is a stand alone career discovery/exploration class. To compensate for this loss (in a state that requires career development education via the Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Academic Standards) we are working to find ways to embed these learning and self discovery opportunities in core academic classes that all students are required to take. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This change is forcing us to deliver CEW in an integrated fashion-this change will create new learning opportunities for our students. It is a good thing.

This is the first of a series of posts that I will publish as we work toward this integration. I expect that this transition will take several years and that, if it is any good at all, will be an organically grown product that works for our students as a result of who we are and our community of stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, community and post-secondary programs) desires. I expect to see many layers to this integrated 9-12 curriculum as it develops.

We start by thinking about what freshman and sophomores need. Here you will see all of my materials and resources as we begin this important discussion with our core teachers and school counselors. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see participant feedback.)

CEW Integration Inservice #1

TED Talk Transcript-Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning

TED Talk video-Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning:

Agenda for the day:

PPT presentation used to facilitate the day:

Graphic Organizer:

Skills ID Ice Breaker Activity (conversation starters from Smith College Career Development Office)

Skills ID build Self Efficacy Resources:

The Girl Scouts and 21st Century Skills

The 6 21st Century Skills You Really Need (source: The Bamboo Project)

Essential Outcomes (given to freshmen at the University of Wisconsin)

10 Skills You’ll Need to Succeed at Almost Anything

What Skills Do Employers Want?

Five out of 14 teachers participating wrote to me after the inservice. Here is what they said:

Sally Madonna, Sally Spears & Sally Gaga?

This presentation is a “must see.”

My friend, Joyce Valenza, is a teacher-librarian. She always introduces herself as a teacher-librarian and what a great teacher she is. In addition to her students, she has taught me much over the dozen plus years we have been friends. I would not be the educator I am today without her influence.

Joyce was recently asked to speak at a TEDxPhiladelphiaED event. It is here that Joyce introduces “the Sally’s” in her talk titled See Sally Research. You know the Sally’s if you’ve been in education for awhile. You may have been or known Sally Madonna or Sally Spears. Sally Gaga is in your classroom today.

As I listened to Joyce’s talk I couldn’t help think about 21st Century skills and how artfully she equips her students as they learn and practice these important skills. Joyce’s students “own” their learning. They become passionate learners. Their learning empowers them.

See Sally Research was inspired by a chapter Joyce wrote with Doug Johnson for Lehmann and McLeod’s What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media.

Joyce’s blog: Neverendingsearch.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

This book by Matthew B. Crawford was given to my daughter as a graduation gift from her professor at Syracuse University. I finally had a chance to read it. Shop Class As Soulcraft should be read by students graduating from high school too.Educators will find it worth discussing. The New York Times Book Review says, “A beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is understood in contemporary America.”

Educators will also find the quote introducing the first chapter worth pondering:

“In schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and underserving of their full attention and engagement…Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

-Doug Stowe, Wisdom of the Hands (Blog)

 Doug Stowe’s blog Wisdom of the Hands is an interesting read too.

For my co-workers Russ, Lori, Heather, Sarah, Lauren, Nick, Adam, Diane, Priscilla and Linda and my friends at Eastern and Central-this one’s for you. Your work is so important.

 

What I did this summer: Focused

I unplugged. Really. I didn’t go online except to check my email once a week all summer long. It has been so refreshing. So what did I do with my time?

I trained for a half marathon, expanded my gardens, enjoyed time with friends and family and I read. I read for pleasure and I read for professional growth. For the first time in my career, I did not write curriculum over the summer. The reason? I read Mike Schmoker’s book Focus. Mike has some clear thoughts on this topic and that thinking influenced how I spent my time.

A summary: Instead of piling on one new reform fad after another, here is a book that boils down solutions for improved schools to the most powerful, simple actions and structures that ensure you prepare all students for college, careers, and citizenship. Best-selling ASCD author Mike Schmoker explains why and how to take a “first-things-first” approach to school improvement and focus laser-like on only three essentials:

  • Coherent curriculum (what we teach).
  • Sound lessons (how we teach).
  • Purposeful reading and writing (authentic literacy).

In making his case, Schmoker delves deep into the significance of the three essentials so you get a complete understanding of what they mean to your daily practice.

This book has been a game changer for me. Upon my return to school, I learned our new Director of Curriculum will be basing our back-to-school inservice on this book. I can’t wait to participate in this discussion!

I feel a rant coming on…

Today did not start out as a good day. This morning I woke up to the news that the Department of Education is withdrawing support to school libraries. We say we want our schools to be the best–like Finland. Is this how you do it? Then, the information that threw me over the edge was announced as I ate my breakfast.

Matt O’Donnell (6ABC-pictured above), announced that of college graduates over the past several years, only 50% are employed full-time and of that working 50% the average salary is $30,000.

The idea that college is the only route to success is one of my issues.

“Among recent college graduates, a growing number each year leave college with student loan debt, a degree, and no job. Many ultimately join the ranks of “gray collar” workers–workers who are employed in jobs that are not commensurate for their education and pay too little when compared to the cost of these degrees. It is estimated from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (1993) Baccalaureate and Beyond study that as many as half of all baccalaureate graduates find themselves in this situation.” Getting Real: Helping Teens Find Their Future  -Ken Gray, Penn State University

Dr. Gray wrote this in 2009–before the “great recession.” This is not new information, it’s “just” getting worse. Why are so few educators and school counselors talking to kids and their parents about alternative avenues to success? And of those who are, why is no one listening?

Disclosure (why I know what I’m talking about):

1. I work in a high school.

  1. Too many students have no idea why they are going to college. For some it has become “13th” grade.
  2. Teachers and school counselor’s are well-intentioned but are still pushing college as the only way to succeed.
  3. College’s protect their dirty little secrets: (1) only 20% of students who begin a four-year degree program will graduate within 5 years and (2) only 11% of students who begin at a community college will have a four-year degree ever. (National stats)

 2. I have two children.

  1. Child #1: 2007 graduate of a prestigious New England Liberal Arts college; magna cum laude; Pi Beta Kappa and now a Fulbright Scholar; interned every summer during college at prestigious institutions related to field, etc., etc…
  2. Child #2: 2010 graduate of a prestigious North Eastern private comprehensive university (because Penn State, our “public ivy” did not offer her major-I know, strange but true); summa cum laude; won best in major award three out of four years, studied abroad (in one of the few rigorous study abroad programs); interned every summer during college at prestigious institutions related to field, etc., etc… 

Both children left college with promising jobs only to be down-sized, laid off, or whatever you want to call it. Both children are now cobbling together a living working several jobs and volunteering in their fields. It isn’t easy to work long hours at various places and continue searching for full-time work but somehow they are “doing it all.” There is no doubt about it, times are tough for the “20 somethings.”

The point of bringing up my own children’s experience is this: they did everything right. Studied hard in high school, discovered a passion for their field of study, worked hard in college and graduated in four years. They had what Dr. Gray calls “career maturity” when they graduated from high school. Educators know that few students graduate from high school with career maturity. In fact, it’s relatively rare (at least in the Philadelphia suburbs).

What happens to kids who don’t have career maturity when, in today’s world, even driven students struggle? (Remember I work in a high school.) As educators who care about student success after high school, what can we do?

  1. Encourage students to determine their goals. Do they want college or college and a career?
  2. Expose students to all career gateways: postsecondary education (community college, business/tech college, 4 year college or university), military, workforce (full and part-time jobs, contract work), internships and entrepreneurship.
  3. Explain to students that there are many avenues to the same goal. They need to be flexible and resilient.
  4. Teach students and their families to view post-secondary education as a costly business decision. Ask them to approach it in the same way they would in buying an expensive car. Buyer beware-most colleges are in a buyers market. Use this as an advantage.
  5. Inform parents about remedial education in college. They deserve to know that colleges admit students who cannot do academic work at college level. Parents should also know that remedial education may be a second chance for some teens; but for most teens right out of high school it is a strong predictor of dropping out.
  6. Help students develop a plan B-the one they will pursue if plan A doesn’t work out.
  7. Students (and their parents) need to understand the importance of a career focus. Most teens drop out of college in the sophomore year when a college academic major must be selected. (Gray)
  8. Explaining high priority professions in your region is also helpful to students and parents when they are trying to focus on a field of study. Introduce the ideas of career clusters , related occupations and career ladders.
  9. Get students out! Informational interviews, shadowing, interning, working, invite professionals into your classroom to help teach a particular topic and explain how and why it is important-ask your community to help students connect to their passions and learning.
  10. Send your teachers out to shadow. If a teacher has been in education their whole working life, they may not know how their subject matter is used outside of school. I have seen a teacher shadow day reconnect teachers to their academic passions. When this happens great things happen in the classroom.

For teens, developing career maturity does not mean forcing them to make a decision about the one perfect career or locking them into a decision by age 18. The hope is that there will be a narrowing down process based on personal interests, passions, skills and aptitudes, during high school and not at great financial cost in college or with enduring disappointments in the labor market.

Your students may change their mind later, but if they make good decisions now, the next time their new interests should relate to current interests leading them to even better decisions.

“Career maturity is as important as academic maturity. Both predict post-high-school success.” Thanks Dr. Gray for your research and wisdom.

And for my own children? Does anyone need a passionate arts administer or talented interior designer?

“Now that the money’s gone…”

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings sing a song with lyrics that appear in the title of this post. I think it’s on the 100 Days 100 Nights CD. Today, educators have to live with less resource of every kind. The money is gone. In 2011 we have to be development experts–we must become “teacherpreneurs.”

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Kendall Glouner, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. Kendall shared the following presentation about identifying and writing for grants.

Moral of the story: Identify what you need and why, define the expected outcome and how the outcome will be measured, explain who will benefit and how–then look for funding. You may be suprised how many potential resources you will find!

Just Sharing: The Moral Imperative