Twitter has helped me to create an incredible PLN. But there is a downside. Every few weeks/months, I am filled with conference envy. I watch the hashtags for ISTE, NCTE, ALA, and AllWrite conferences (to name a few) and, while incredibly grateful for those sharing their learning, I want to be there. If I win the lottery, I plan to make it my job to travel to conferences, sharing and learning from other educators (and take the kids to Disney World and go on a vacation with just my husband). After watching the #nErDcamp feed last year, I knew I needed to figure out a way to be there this year. I knew it would be an incredible learning opportunity. I knew I needed this type of professional experience to feel invigorated. I was right. Boom. It wouldn't have been possible or any fun without my dear friend Kendra! Simply talking and processing with her helps me to grow as a teacher, wife, and mother. Plus Kendra didn't scream at me for dragging her halfway across the country during our Day 1 adventures, and she ate at a Celtic public house in South Bend with me. Her friendship is such a blessing!
Day 2 was really all about the Nerdy learning. (Except for the problem with our hotel room that night. Blerg.) Kendra and I grabbed a seat in the front row for the board building. This part of the edCamp experience leaves me in awe. Kudos to the individuals that led sessions! Sitting in the front row allowed me to watch some of their faces as they leaped over their fears. (I am also making a commitment to myself to lead a session at edCampDSM in September or nErDcamp next year. Time to push myself in this way!) The talents and wisdom within our professional community are truly remarkable.
Here are three "gems" from nErDcampMI:
Gem 1: The difference between readers and non-readers -- plans for future reading! This one comes from Donalyn Miller's keynote. (You can see my reflections on her keynote and the first two chapters of her book here.) nErDcampMI definitely resulted in even more reading plans for me. I added numerous books to my TBR list, resisted the urge to spend thousands of dollars at Amazon in less than an hour, and put several books on hold at my public library. I even sent a friend a message asking if I could borrow her recently-finished copy of I Kill the Mockingbird (which she brought over today! Yay!) I also moved Grasshopper Jungle to the top of my pile. Any book that prompts someone to hand it to their teenage son and say "read this, but we will never, ever talk about it" is worth checking out. You can check out a list of the best books of 2014 so far from Donalyn and Katherine Sokolowski and the crowd in our session here (courtesy of Katie Muhtaris).
Gem 2: What is the pinnacle of choice in the math classroom? This one comes a question asked by Katie Muhtaris during an afternoon session. Kendra and I tossed this one around the most on our ride home. I think it is essentially going to be my professional inquiry question for the next year.
Gem 3: Kids need access to problem solving opportunities every single day. Take the stories your students are telling you and turn that information into rich mathematical problems. This one comes from Darcy Oberdorfer and Andrew Smith during their session on math workshop. I was intrigued by the model they shared for math workshop, and I want to think more about inquiry in the math classroom. Plus I need to read 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions and Number Talks.
Plus a few new-to-me tools/resources that I can use for professional development (or teachers could use in their classrooms):
The Kid Should See This
Padlet (I was already familiar with this tool, but I thought of some new ways to use it after Katie shared her school used it for a school-wide discussion about Cosmos series)
I am beyond grateful to Colby & Alaina Sharp and the entire team for their hard work to make nErDcamp a fantastic opportunity to learn and collaborate! And I hope to be back in 2015!