Monday, December 6, 2010

The Innovative Educator's EdCampNYC Recap

What do you call teachers who get together to learn on a Saturday not because they’re told to, not for continuing ed credit, and not because they’re getting paid, but simply for the love of learning and connecting?

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend edcampnyc, an unconference created as an outgrowth of edcampphilly organized by some of my friends and PLN members @mbhertz and @kjarret. When they shared their plans for the conference at the #140conf last spring, I knew they were on to something great, and when I discovered one was being organized right in my neighborhood by local educators including my friend @spedteacher, I knew I was in for a treat.

The conference started with a pre-conference the evening before. The first annual #Club602Camp attended by @dancallahan, @lfleig, and @eatthedamncake. Sadly, @kjarret was sorely missed as he was a last minute cancellation. At #Club602Camp we had a small group of passionate educators hosted locally by me @Innovativeedu pre conference. My guests were treated to appys, drinks, and a cozy and FREE place to sleep in exchange for lively conversation about all things education. We talked about our plans to transform education well into the wee hours of the night hitting the hay at 2:00 a.m. We arose the next morning had some coffee and Fresca (note to self, buy O.J. for guests) and were off to edcampnyc.

Formalize a “Have space” “Need a space” process. If the locals can host the visitors, not only does it make for a great pre-conference experience, it also makes educators more easily able to afford such opportunities. A section for commuting buddies would be great too.

There was an hour for breakfast and registration. We got there right on time which was great as participants have the opportunity to connect the faces with the many brains we have come to know and love online in places like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or even listening to them present at conferences. The informal times like breakfast, lunch, and post bar activities are not to be skipped as the conversations and learning are undoubtedly as rich as are the sessions.

Upon arrival folks had the chance to post up sessions up on the board that they wanted to offer and look at the sessions being offered by others. I decided to spend my morning listening and my afternoon presenting. It was great to see lots of familiar names up on the board. My goal was to find names I see all the time from people whose stuff I read about a lot and who I don’t have a chance to see too often. I started my morning of with @elemenous and @joycevalenza followed by @paulbogush.

Some pictures from right before sessions started are here and here.

Student Research - A Vision of the Future with @elemenous and @joycevalenza
Lucy Gray and Joyce Valenza hosted the first session where they shared great ideas about student research in the future. It was not only fun to listen to them, but also to listen to the conversation with folks like @thenerdyteacher and @mbhertz.

Take Aways
  • What is the 21st century loose leaf notebook? @JoyceValenza
    • For me, a wiki, blog, cell, and Diigo
  • Hiding work in a notebook to later throw away is so 20th century @JoyceValenza
  • I feel dirty teaching research w/index cards. Diigo makes me feel cleaner :-) @thenerdyteacher
  • Asking kids to put it in their own words is slowing them down @elemenous (I think)
  • Powerpoint can be a 21st century index card. Title-source, info-body, notes-link @mbteach
About the presenters:
Joyce Valenza - Librarian Springfield Township HS, PA. Blog
Lucy Gray - Former teacher - now consultant on Search literacy. Website

Podcasting/ Recording Audio/ Live Streaming – @paulbogush
Paul Bogush shared the nuts and bolts of podcasting in his session sharing stories of his progression from one microphone and a computer to the rather extensive set up he has today. In Paul Bogush’s 8th grade social studies class, world leaders are not just names of unknown stuffy old people in a book. Paul started a group with his students called, “Lunchtime Leaders” where students interview leaders from around the world on their opinions about what students should do to be prepared for the future. It started in the fall of 2008 where he and his students decided to interview all the candidates that were running for Mayor in their city. When they were done they decided to keep the project going and found more people to interview. They are called the Lunch Time Leaders because they actually interview all of the leaders during their lunch period which means that we have to start and finish within twenty minutes.

Three years into the project, Paul and his students do most of their interviews using Skype and fancy equipment. You can listen to their podcasts at

About the presenter:
Paul Bogush - Paul is an 8th Grade Social Studies teacher in Connecticut. Paul is passionate about given students authentic opportunities to learn and share and podcasting is one of his favorite tools. You can follow his work at as well as on Twitter @paulbogush

The 9 Step Plan to Combating illTWITTERacy
In this session I shared with participants reasons why educators and administrators might use Twitter as I had shared in my blog in a post by the same name. In my session I was quiet impressed with the aunt of conference organizer @SpecialKRB. Aunt Deb is a principal who attended the conference and in my session she set up her Twitter account @mrsdbdrossner. If you’re reading this, please follow her!

Here are the big ideas that participants enjoyed.
  • Principals can have their Tweets feed right into their blog page. Participants liked the idea of principals visiting classes and Tweeting (or having their students Tweet) about successes they felt were worth celebrating. They loved how this gave parents and families a window into their school and how easy it was to celebrate the great things students (and staff) were doing.
  • Participants like the idea of using a Twitter hash tag for classes to collect research. The idea was a good one when they realized they could do a search for that hash tag to compile a collection of research, but what really brought this to life for them was making a newspaper from this tag using We then discussed how students can developed their own hashtags when doing research to create their own paper or just have a paper created based on who they follow. I wrote a post on this topic which brings clarity to how it works at Provide Students with a Personalized Newspaper Everyday for Free!
Harnessing the Power of The Tool in Your Pocket – Cell Phones
This was a great session. I noticed a lot of familiar faces and was to sharing some ideas about harnessing the power of cell phones. What is so fun in these sessions is finding the tools that people had not yet heard of and watch the “ah ha’s!”

I introduced participants to the five step plan for harnessing the power of cell phones as follows:
  • Step One: Teacher Use of Cell Phones for Professional Purposes
  • Step Two: Teacher Models Appropriate Use for Learning
  • Step Three: Strengthen the Home-School Connection with Cell Phones
  • Step Four: Students Use Cell Phones for Homework
  • Step Five: Students Use Cell Phones for Classwork
I then talked about tools and ideas for each step and gave participants a chance to try what I was talking about. By the end of the session participants had a lot of new digits entering ChaCha, Google, Poll Everywhere, Wiffiti and Google SMS in their phones.

From the participant response I think favorite tools were:
  • Vokis for voice casts
  • ChaCha for putting a smart friend in your pocket
  • Flickr for making dead simple, on demand slide shows from your phone
Here are some Tweets from the session:
cspiezio Christina Spiezio - InnovativeEdu Great to meet you as well!! Also, I'm a little obsessed with ChaCha and loving it! Thank you!
mrami2 Meenoo Rami - Learning about using cell phones in the classroom with @InnovativeEdu #edcampnyc - sitting with @cspiezio and @cpoole27
@JohnPalomaki JohnPalomaki - "Thinking outside the ban" by @innovativeEdu - love it! #edcampnyc
rgriffithjr Rob Griffith
  • Being on your phone does not mean you're not paying attention - @InnovativeEdu #edcampnyc
  • Educators can be partners in teaching cell phone etiquette - @InnovativeEdu #edcampnyc
  • School is better when it matches the real word - @InnovativeEdu #edcampnyc #cells4ed
  • In #cells4ed session with @innovativeEdu focusing on breaking the "ban" - #edcampnyc
  • Watching @InnovativeEdu demonstrate phonecasting with Voki at #edcampnyc - very cool!
The after party at the bar was just as interesting and informative as the pre conference and conference and conference. Highlights include.
  • Chatting with Al Doyle @aldoyle about how he is able to follow his passion and help students find theirs while learning math, science, computational thinking and more in his game design/games in ed classes at The Dwight School. He also demonstrated drawing without fear on an iPad.
  • Chatting with Meg Wilson @iPodsibilities about how she uses podcasting and other technologies to support her students which I included in a post about the topic here.
  • Hearing what it’s like to work in The School with the technology students need and the filters they don’t from @nykat4 and @SpecialKRB
  • Listening to how @nborota and @fronk2000 share how they are trans­formed learn­ing in their school by allowing students to own their learning and why @nborota believes he can get anyone to see the beauty in math.
A big shout out to the EdCampNYC organizers who did a terrific job putting together a thoughtful event where everyone had the chance to speak, listen, learn, discuss, and, as I mentioned in one of my popularly Retweeted Tweets...
“It was great to be at a conference where others know that being on the cell DOES NOT mean, you’re not paying attention.”


  1. I LOVE the Have Space/Need Space idea! I found out how expensive staying in NYC could be in the weeks leading up to the event, and you're right, if you hadn't come through for me with a place to stay I might not have come. I'll definitely be thinking about this as I prep for Boston and Philly!

  2. I also love the Have Space/Need Space deal since I pay for all my conference expenses from my pocket, not my employer's.

    Helping to organize EdCampNYC was a real eye-opener for me. While I was "aware" of the power of social networking and collaboration, this was my first opportunity to create a project with people I did previously know and did not meet (most of them) until the event. That we were able to find each other's talents, make some hard decisions, and put on this event not only without rancor but by doing everything by consensus is a testament to the professionalism of my organizing colleagues.

    I am happy, and you may be as well, that our planning for EdCampNYC 2011 has already begun.

  3. Hey, Lisa,
    I found your blog by randomly clicking through the list for the edublog awards. I am so glad I did. You have some wonderful ideas here, and I look forward to having more time to browse through previous posts. Just as a coincidence, I must tell you that Paul Bogush and his wife stopped in to see me Thursday evening. His daughter goes to the school where I am the computer technology integration teacher. They mentioned they were attending the conference on Saturday and asked what I was doing. Since I'd just been into the city the previous Sunday, my answer was resting and catching up on laundry and correspondence and all the things I'd let go the previous weekend. It sounds like everyone had a blast. That was so nice of you to offer folks a place to stay. That is a really great idea. Anyway, I am hoping Paul will help me to get our kids connected outside our school walls. He is an inspiration, as are you. Good luck. I hope your blog gets lots of votes.

  4. @Dan Callahan @spedteacher, I definitely hope have a space/need a space takes off. We educators need that! We're rich in passion but so much when it comes to cash.

    @Mrs. Stanley,
    I'm so glad you dropped by and that you like my ideas. How fortunate for you that you have a relationship with Paul. He is enthusiastic, talented, and is doing wonderfully impressive work. Thank you for commenting on my blog. I hope you come back often :-)

  5. I'm just catching up on reading all the EdCamp NYC posts as it is almost three months since the event. I agree with the idea that part of what makes these events great is the price factor. From talking with others, it sounds like #Club602Camp was a great success! It was great meeting you.