This past weekend I attended EdcampNYC, at The School at Columbia University in New York City. After hearing promotion for the event at last month’s Edscape Conference, I decided to make the trip. This journey meant heading into Brooklyn straight from my Pennsylvania elementary school on Friday, and then getting up early Saturday morning to take car service up to Columbia.
This was my third Edcamp, but the first one at which I led a discussion. (An Edcamp consists of discussions or conversations, and not presentations. In other words, it is the facilitator’s job to get everyone talking around a topic, rather than standing up in the front of the room as the expert.) In the past, I simply wanted to experience what the Edcamp model had to offer. However, now that I have led my first Edcamp discussion, I will feel more comfortable in doing the same throughout the future, including at Edcamp New Jersey on November 23rd.
My discussion, which took place during the first time slot, focused on technology integration with Common Core mathematics. Meg Wilson (@iPodsibilities), a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), was kind enough to assist me with my session by helping with the technical aspects of getting my MacBook projected properly and by initiating conversation amongst those in attendance. As conversation starters, I simply used a handful of the slides from the Common Core mathematics slide deck from my district’s last professional development day. Also, in order to encourage opportunities to respond and effective collaboration, I created a Google document in which attendees inserted their favorite resources for Common Core mathematics. This file is significant because it is now a live document on the Internet that allows for anyone to benefit from our discussion (even if they did not attend the session or conference). Overall, I was pleased with the session as about halfway through it I was able to stop talking, aside from the occasional comment, and I simply listened to what everyone else had to offer. In my opinion, this is the way the majority of professional development should be performed, as the smartest person in the room is usually the room.
For the second time slot, I made my way across a few different discussions. Music making on the iPad was led by Adam Goldberg (@Adam_G88), another ADE. Admittedly, I know almost nothing about composing music, but watching Adam in action was entirely inspirational. I have come to realize that I do not need to know more than my students in order for them to thrive in a certain area or with a certain activity. Perhaps I can find a way to effectively weave some music making into my curriculum. Next, I caught the tail end of Reshan Richards’ (@reshanrichards) session on screencasting. Reshan, who is yet another ADE, created the tremendously popular iPad app, Explain Everything. Screencasting is currently one of the hot trends in education, due to (1) the way in which it emphasizes the process and not the product by focusing on student metacognition, and (2) the abundance of iPad apps that simplify the screencasting process.
For the final time slot, I attended Meg Wilson’s session on the iPad and global collaboration. The majority of Meg’s discussion promoted the use of the Book Creator app for collaboration amongst schools from across the globe. Along with Explain Everything, Book Creator is another app that is a must download for any classroom iPad. Although I have been using the app extensively for the past few years, Meg provided me with some ideas as to how I could leverage the tool to “break down the walls of my classroom.”
Along with the Edcamp, I ate at three Brooklyn pizzerias throughout the weekend: Franny’s on Friday night, Lucali on Saturday night, and Motorino on Sunday morning. Here’s a brief review of each, without getting into too much detail.
On the lists of best pizzerias in New York City (or the country), Franny’s usually falls just below the heavy hitters. However, I can say with confidence that this pizza is comparable to any pie I have ever had. After a forty-five minute wait and three pizzas later, I was simply blown away.
Lucali is the best pizza (and calzone) in New York City. Period. This was my second time there, and it was even better than the first. Also, with a 10:30 pm reservation, my party ended up closing the restaurant, and at no point in time did we feel rushed. The owner Mark Iacono was a class act, and I was able to score a photograph with him on my way out. I was completely starstruck, and this was the highlight of my weekend!
Motorino was also good, but not a place that I would go out of my way to visit again. This was a disappointment, as it was on the top of my list of pizzerias that I needed to visit. I am glad I went, but it was probably both the first and last time.
Nothing beats a weekend of one Edcamp and three pizzerias, all taking place in none other than New York City.
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