Sunday, February 12, 2012

EdCamp Surrey

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend my school district's first ever EdCamp.  It was more like a mini EdCamp as it was organized some what last minute and was mainly organized for our district teaching staff. Because of our teacher job action we were highly discouraged to attend the focus days arranged by our school board office. That's an entirely different post, which I won't be writing.

After my positive experience at EdCamp Delta in January I was really excited to attend our EdCamp.

First off huge kudos to Kevin Amboe, Lisa Domeier de Suarez, and Orwell Kowalyshyn for getting it together at the last minute.  They did a great job organizing and facilitating the day and without their hard work the day would never have happened. I probably would have spent the day learning on my own at my school.  I'm glad I didn't have to.

EdCamp Surrey started out like most EdCamps with topic selection via post it notes.  It was during topic selection that I FINALLY met Hugh McDonald (@hughtheteacher).  Hugh and I have been chatting a fair bit via twitter so it was really great to put a face to the profile.  This was certainly a highlight of my day.

Once the schedule was created I was a bit disappointed to see that my three topics of choice were all listed at the exact same time.  No worry though, time to branch out.  There are always other new things I can learn.  After a bit of a dilemma, and a room change, I finally ended up in the room about using social media in the classroom.  The discussions were good but there is a real difference in how social media can or is used in a high school vs how it is used in an elementary school, particularly a primary classroom.  At one point someone suggested that we break into smaller groups, which was a great idea. I tried to listen more than talk, but if you know me, and you know it's something I'm passionate about, I will speak a lot.  Hopefully I didn't talk too much.

For my second session I sat with a group of educators and we talked about blogging - classroom, individual, and a little bit about professional blogs.  I got a sneak peek at where our district is heading with the new unified communication model.  It looks pretty cool but something that I think is still quite far away for me or my school.

My third session didn't really exist so I ended up back in the main room sitting at a table with other elementary teachers.  I was so excited to meet Niki Leech, and Lora Sarchet because they are grade one teachers just like me.  Initially we started talking about smart boards and how they both love having them in their classrooms.  While I had one in my classroom all of 2009 while living and teaching in Melbourne Australia, and then I had one again term one of this year I'm still not totally sold on them.  They were trying to convince me other wise but when ever they suggested how they use them, I was quick to inform them that I could do it too with my iPad or laptop and a projection device.  Having said all of this though I am excited to have one of our district loaner ones back in my classroom soon.

Then the discussion turned to my class iPad, which I had with me.  Apparently they are each getting an iPad for their classrooms soon too - Lora already has one I think.  They were curious to know how I'm using my one class iPad with my students.  I spent a lot of time talking to them about my iPad, how we use it, and what apps I have on it.  Lora took notes and seemed eager to add some of the apps I suggested to her iPad.

During app chat we also started talking about my blog.  Lora had been given a link to my professional blog, and from there found the link to my class blog.  We talked about my class blog and we also talked about my students' blogs.  Lora asked if I could teach her how to set up a blog and I said of course! We've since been in e-mail contact and I'm super excited to help her (and Niki) out.  The primary students in our district need a louder voice when it comes to technology.  I'm doing my best to be a voice for them, but if I can get others on board that would be totally amazing.

Throughout the day I also spent  time talking with fellow teachers about what they have in terms of technology and how their administration is supporting them.  It was a bit eye opening for me both in a good, and not so good way.  Of course it has me thinking - what else is new.

The day ended with door prizes but I wasn't  lucky enough to win anything. No worry though.  Overall it was a good day and I was impressed by the turn out.  It was great to see Surrey teachers interested in the first ever EdCamp Surrey.  It is such a great format for professional development. I hope we can have a bigger EdCamp one day soon.

Once again, huge kudos to Kevin, Lisa, and Orwell.  You're a crazy team but our district is lucky to have you guys.  THANK YOU!


  1. I wish I could have been there, it sounds like a fabulous day! I have to say that I agree about the iPad and about how fabulous our helping teachers are! We have AppleTv and I use it with my iPad and a projector to show student work and as a valuable teaching tool.There are a few primary teachers at GT using iPads and we would love to help you create a voice for primary students in Surrey!

  2. Robyn, I think where we can start is in our own schools, which it sounds like you are doing a great job with. I've offered to present a couple of workshops at the STA convention in May which will hopefully help get those sitting on the fence jumping into the fire. We both know how powerful technology is for our young learners. Thanks for your support. Our students are lucky because of what we are doing with/for them.