Why edcamp?

edcamphill.com

It’s 7:08 PM and I am super energized!

Today was edcampHill, the first edcamp hosted by a boarding school. The Hill School (Zach Lehman, Headmaster) graciously opened up its campus for the afternoon to a group of teachers who traveled from far and near to spend a few hours of learning. I was happy to assist Kim (@ksivick) and take part in the organizing team.

As soon as edcampHill began around noon, teachers’ enthusiasm enlivened the room. The session board filled up just as quickly the meeting room was being filled up by the attendees. After checking in and getting their name tags, teachers enjoyed a big bagged lunch provided by the Hill School. Teachers enjoyed talking over lunch and got ready to begin their learning.

I want to point out 3 noticeable differences of this edcamp over other ones from the past:

  1. Later start time. Starting at noon was a practical decision made by the Hill School as it holds classes on Saturday mornings. A later start to edcamp gave travelers time to travel to edcamp location unhurriedly. I know I felt good coming in later in the morning.
  2. Free, delicious lunch. It was so great that we started the learning day with a delicious lunch. Not worrying about where to find places to eat (and for organizers, not having to point attendees to local eateries) was a huge plus!
  3. A personal touch. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings. It was great for Zach Lehman, the headmaster, to greet many attendees as they walked in. His personal welcome set a positive tone to start our learning.

Sessions – Conversations

As I mentioned earlier, teachers wasted no time posting sessions. The sessions were:

  • ArtStor: Using High Quality art from museums
  • Using Primary Sources for Student Engagement
  • Play = Creativity: 21st Century Children – Are they missing this?
  • RTII: Response to Instruction and Intervention. Data, Exceptions and Technology Integration
  • “Digital Writing” in various disciplines
  • Technology and Real World Learning in Foreign Languages
  • The Connected Educator: Learn to Build a Personal Learning Network
  • Flipping Instruction
  • Blogging in the Elementary Classroom
  • Inquiry-Based AP Labs
  • iPad Apps
  • Can Entrepreneurship be taught?
  • Connecting Classrooms to Open Data for real world learning
  • Educational Leadership: Drivers of Systems relating to people
  • Homework – No; Studying – Yes! (achieving mastery)

Three 45-minute sessions passed by quickly as teachers engaged in meaning conversations, sharing experiences and resources. What I love is the conversations and sharing that takes place at edcamps. Personally, I attended the sessions underlined. It was fun co-leading discussion with Kim on being a connected educator. Every session was meaningful.

So why do I get involved in edcamps?

I believe that it’s the best learning format for teachers to learn and share. Coincidentally, this morning’s #satchat topic was on faculty meetings. Edcamp model for Professional Development was mentioned numerous times by yours truly and other educators. What is there not to like? Nothing can beat free registration, teachers teaching teachers, casual and fun learning environment.

If you took part in today’s edcampHill, thank you! I learned much and my colleagues and I will take back what we learned to our school community. You have made me a better educator and colleague.

Thank you Hill School! Many teachers left energized and happy! Thank you for being a gracious host.

Let’s do it again real soon! *High* Five*

@Doremigirl

Student Project: Year in Review

I have been wanting to write about this project for some time now. Now that I have the summer to reflect last year and plan for the fall, I wanted to share a fun project and highlight my students. 

One of the perks of being a “connected” teacher on Twitter is that I have an easy access to numerous resources. I connected with Katherine Schulten (@Kschulten), the editor of The New York Times Learning Network, on Twitter and had a chance to meet her in person at ISTE ’11. She is a former English teacher who is passionate about education. I enjoy learning from her and edu related people on Twitter. Some of these teachers have collaborated with me and others have been a source of learning inspiration (read about two examples from my previous posts: Connecting with students in Australia & Music in Me Project).

Right after the Winter break, I read a tweet from @Kschulten about a rap contest for students. The NYT Learning Network partnered with Flocabulary, an online learning site that teaches just about any subject through songs and raps. This project intrigued me because it combined music, tech and research. What important world events would my students remember and care enough to mention?

On the day I read through the contest rules, I realized that the contest closed the following day. I was disappointed that my students would not have an opportunity to submit their work. But I decided to go ahead and tailor the project for my students anyway 🙂

Project: Year in Review

  • PREP – The students and I watched Flocabulary’s The Year in Rap:  2010 and discussed its content and style. The students compared and contrasted the this rap to popular raps they listened to (Kayne West, b.o.b., Nikki Minaj etc.). Discussion topics  included through-composed vs. strophic forms, the rap length, accompaniment, solo vs. BGVs, and what role words and music have in a rap. I segued way into the project by asking, “What do you remember about 2011?”
  • PROJECT

Research: We went over this Google Doc which contains all of the information about the project. I let the kids know that they can decide to work in a group or individually. Most worked in a group, but a few chose to work alone. I worked on this doc with the frame work of NYT Learning Network contest rules, but adjusted to what I thought might work best to my students. I asked several Twitter social studies teachers on #sschat what sites are good for current events and listed a couple links they can go on. My reason: instead of citing just one source for all major news, I wanted to guide the students to seek out multiple primary sources. I allowed 4 class times (about 4 hours) for this project to be completed. Many of the students chose to come during study hall to get their work just right!

Music & Audio Recording: The NYT Learning Network contest provided music tracks from the fabulous folks at  Flocabulary, but since I teach music, I added this important music component to the project. My students have been using GarageBand (Apple app) for some time so I didn’t have to prepare them much for using loops. Unlike previous recording projects, I did not have the students use a separate recording mic. All audio recording and mixing were done from GarageBand.

So take a listen!

MY TAKE AWAY

  1.  FASCINATING TO SEE THE YEAR’S HISTORY THROUGH 12 AND 13-YEAR-OLDS. There were a wide range of topics and highlights. I loved that I discovered that my students are developing global citizens who, for the most part, care about world events. Class and 1:1 research conversations proved to be invaluable. Because students were documenting their work on Google Docs, I was able to follow their work and comment real-time.
  2. EXCITING TO SEE THE STUDENTS BEING EXCITED TO CREATE THEIR OWN MUSIC TRACKS. It was very interesting to watch students work. Partner groups needed to collaborate in class while listening to music (a headphone splitter is our friend). And because they had their Google Docs open, some chose to chat back and forth this way. Student group discussions on music style, lyrics, rhyming scheme, and instrumental choices were happening at a rapid pace. More than anything, they were listening. #win
  3. IMPORTANT STEP: SEEING THE STUDENTS IN HIS/HER LEARNING PROCESS. Some students were great researchers. Some were fabulous at writing the lyrics and some were just excellent at creating the music. The same students, while being so successful at these areas, struggled to use class time, or struggled with another part of learning. Partners were good  (since they chose their own) in this case. They motivated each other. It was important for me to recognize each student’s strengths and struggling areas and work through challenges. I have to say that guiding each group/student was a time consuming task, but to their credit, they worked hard! So…
  4. CELEBRATE & GIVE FEEDBACKS. It’s exhilarating when students call you like the world’s ending because they want you to listen to the short segment they have been working on (remember, I have {dramatic} Middle School students?). Run to them. Be excited for their successes, however short or minor. Also give them honest opinions and guide them to think about things they may have missed. The NYT Learning Network provided a rubric on their site, but I decided to give my own feedback as well as class feedbacks on each project. 

At the end of the school year, this project was mentioned many by my students as one of the memorable learning moments! If you decide to try, let me know how it went.

We live in a well-connected and resourceful time. Take some time to connect with teachers around the globe. You’ll be surprised how many generous teachers/organizations there are. Take time to learn and share! 

Last one…

This project has been shared via Skype with Samuel Wright (Wrightstufmusic) and for his Music Technology Presentation in March. He  is a music teacher and tech guru from Australia with whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Samuel recently blogged about his presentation and mentions my students here. W00t!

Happy Summer!

~Yoon

 

Sharing My Stories

I had a wonderful day at CCA of Philadelphia yesterday, having met many teachers who were eager to learn about tech integration. The session was titled, “Connect Your Passion with Tech: Transformative Learning & Creativity”. Both sessions were full and lively. Having great conversations were the best part and I am very thankful that for my friend Todd H., who got me to come and share with their teachers. Here’s the site I prepared for the conference. If you attended one of my sessions, you will find some new materials that might interest you, so check out the tabs.

After a quick dinner, I had the privilege to talk to @wrightstufmusic (Samuel Wright) and the teachers in AIS Music PD day (Australia). I was happy to take part by Skyping in and sharing how my students were using iPodTouches and iPads in the classroom.

So on this crazy busy day…

  • I learned that I enjoy spending time with new teachers who are eager to learn. Really nice, attentive teachers made the day!
  • I enjoyed sharing my stories (my failures and successes!)
  • Using someone else’s SmartBoard and system was very uncomfortable. I was horrible at using the wireless keyboard yesterday.  Again, people were gracious, especially when I fumbled around, or when the embedded code in Google Sites failed to show content.
  • I reflect on how much I have learned from my PLN. Thank you for those who contribute daily to my learning!

Keep moving forward, friends!

~Yoon

Hi! I’m an ISTE Newbie.

I was attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference for the first time past week. I had no idea how big this conference was before my arrival. To tell you the truth, with the exception of my presentation, I was not at all prepared for its enormous everything. With 12K+ attendees and exhibitors the Pennsylvania Convention Center was one busy hotspot (this is an unofficial number. I’ve also read other attendees mention 18K…)!

With many conferences under my belt, I thought this conference would be just like the others. The truth is that I felt quite out of place as I wondered around the crowds and (what felt like) endless conference space. But all was not lost!

I is for Interaction:  F2F Conversations

 I am connected to a lot of educators online and have been “conversing” with many of them over the last year and a half. But meeting these people in person is one of the greatest moments I will experience. I have had the pleasure of seeing and hugging many of my friends for the first time. It was incredible to match their faces with their voices. What was more fascinating was that many of our edu conversations continued on. I enjoyed every conversation whether it took place in the conference lounges/cafes, over dinner, or right after some sessions. Passionate learning and thinking together in person beats any virtual space. I am also thankful to have met new teachers with whom I can learn from.  

S is for Sharing: Arts are Alive in the Mix

ISTE panel
E.Peterson, Y.S.Lim, M.Baldwin, & K. Pace @ISTE11

Presenting at ISTE was something quite special. I was honored to present with  Elizabeth Peterson, Michelle Baldwin, and Kyle Pace for the Music and Tech: Harmony in the Making session. Although I was a presenter, I learned much more. I really appreciated how my co-presenters shared about how they help their students to make deeper connection to learning through music and tech.

I am so glad for those teachers who were hesitant at first, but decided to to come to our session. My friend Doug Peterson (@dougpete) came to our session and wrote this blog post. I was quite nervous to have friends like Doug in the crowd, but also was empowered by their support. So thank you, Doug, friends, and all those who attended our session! It was especially great to meet @musictechie, @dougbutchy, @rdammers, and @DoeMiSo from my MPLN (Music PLN).

I was reminded again that many teachers are looking to the “arts experts” for creative ways to teach. I hope I can continue to do my part in sharing ideas and advocating for the arts education. I was thankful to see many arts offerings at ISTE and feel tremendous honor to have had the experience. I hope to encourage and partner with many arts teachers to consider presenting in the future. Kudos to all educators!

T is for Telic: Taking Notes

There are several things I want to remember if I ever get another chance to attend ISTE.

  1. Read the program & add handful interesting sessions at least to the ISTE app. I did not look carefully or plan well. I, unfortunately, did not get over the enormity of the conference. It was hard for me to know what to pick on the spot. Next time, I will at least have a list of sessions I want to check out.
  2. Know the layout of the venue. I was clueless where things were. I would not have wasted a lot of time if I knew at least where some things were. I was thankful for the many volunteers who were everywhere who helped me. Next time, I will look at the map!
  3. Enter the exhibition with a goal. I had some kind of allergic reaction (not really, but figuratively) when I entered the exhibition hall that made me come right out. It was just so big and I didn’t know where things were. Next time, I will seek out specific companies to check out innovative ideas.
  4. Set aside time for poster sessions and special workshops. Again, there were so many that I’ve missed because I was so tired! 
  5. Talk to more people. I may not get another chance to talk to a presenter or someone from the PLN ever again. I need to make time for more f2f and make effort to talk to more people. They just might be as lost as me!

E is for Excogitate: Now Think Out {Loud}

So what am I going to do now that I have attended, ISTE? I am going to remember what great experience it has been to connect and learn. You, who are in my PLN, will be there to excogitate (to think out; to find out or discover by thinking; to devise) with me. It comes back to building relationships and conversations, doesn’t it?

I’m thankful for you!

~Yoon

Speechless

I have so much to say, but I find myself speechless right now.

It’s hard to watch what Japan is going through right now after the earthquakes and tsunami. As I write, many in Japan are holding their breath about the nuclear reactors situation. I know we, Americans, are far away from the East, but one cannot help, but feel for people in Japan.

I invite you to read some posts:

  1. A post by Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto (@barbsaka), an American teacher living and teaching in Japan. Her recent post, Aftershocks 2, is a sober read about what is happening in Japan. Her suggestions for foreigners who wish to help is really helpful.
  2. A Washington Post correspondent, Paul Bluestein wrote this personal post,  Why I’m Not Fleeing Japan on why he’s staying put in Japan.
  3. The last link I’m going to share is by Brad Johnston, a music teacher in Japan. He wrote a post titled, The Big Quake Music Lesson. Due to the earthquake, his school is on a week-long break and posted an interesting music lesson for his students (although they are not meeting face-to-face, many students are checking online for work). I took this lesson and while I discussed recent disaster in Japan with my students, I asked them to consider songs of hope and encouragement for people who are in Japan. Once I gather their links and messages, I will share them with Brad and Barbara.

My thoughts and prayers are with people in Japan!


So Do Tell What You Have in Mind: Start of a Collaborative Project

Happy New Year!

The first 25 days of December was insanely busy for me. There were simply too many happenings at my school to mention, but I wanted to try to get this post out before around the new year.

School…

One way our school learns about cultures and traditions is through presentations during our weekly community meetings (we call them chapels, but they are assemblies. See here and here for examples and explanations). My department was asked to present for two of the December all-school chapels: Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Our music department is always involved with preparing music for every chapel (to perform, to sing or both), so this request had us look for other ways to present to our community. My teaching partner and I decided early on that I would organize Hanukkah chapel while he works on the other. We let these ideas simmer for a while :-).

December was approaching fast. So while mulling over ideas, I decided to make 2010 Hanukkah celebration about our community and elsewhere. Some questions I wanted to explore were:

  • What makes Hanukkah special for members of our community?
  • What is Hanukkah to them?
  • How do other people celebrate Hanukkah?
  • (Because I’m a music teacher) What songs are sung during Hanukkah in their community?
  • How do we learn about people outside of our community and how do I bring them to our school?

Other considerations I needed to be mindful were:

  • Having the Kindergarten class take a “presenter” role
  • 15-20 minute presentation time limit

Talking to a Person I Know: @WhatEdSaid

Making our school connections were easy: My teaching partner who teaches Kindergarten was teaching a beautiful song titled, Hanukkah Shalom; I talked to several group of teachers and students to give them a framework of what is to come. While I was thinking about asking outside people questions, @whatedsaid (Edna Sackson) came to mind. What I remembered about Edna was that she was a passionate educator who lived in Australia teaching in a Hebrew school. Read her blog posts (this one and others) and you will immediately see what I’m talking about. She is a very active participant in our PLN: she shares resources, writes posts about learning and comments on many of our network authors’ works. Everyone’s busy, I know. But at least I could ask a question to see if she can help me in some way.

I direct-messaged Edna on Twitter, giving her my email address and stating I had an idea to connect our school children around Hanukkah. And then I waited.

Edna emailed right away with:

Hi!

So do tell what you have in mind 🙂

Edna

So our conversations began. It was about the third exchange of emails I had realized that end-of-the-school-year for schools in Australia was in a few weeks. Even with the busyness, Edna had sent out emails to her colleagues at her school, inviting them to collaborate, and assuring them how she will be there to help video their classes.

After our initial emails, things were moving along. I exchanged emails with two other teachers saying hellos and discussing possible collaboration now and for the future. Thanks to technology, I was easily being in touch with people so far away!

Edna helped tremendously. She posted videos from music classes from her school in a Dropbox I set up. She DM’ed me when she posted, I got the footage, and started editing them along with what I was working on from my end.

Our collaboration was a direct result of  open communication(emails, Twitter), efficient use of technology (VoiceThread, Dropbox, iMovie) and a mutual love for learning and our interest to make connections outside of school walls. I am so grateful for this initial collaboration and can’t wait for more!

Here is a VoiceThread of our project. Although I MC’ed the morning, you can get a good idea of what happened through this. What you won’t see is 1) the Kindergarteners performing their song with some kids playing the bells (this live performance commenced the chapel. You can hear the beginning of this song in a video we exchanged with Edna’s school at the end of the VT). 2) When you get to a slide that reads “Listen to the Words” this YouTube video by the Maccabeats titled, Candlelight was played during the chapel. It’s a great music video with a catchy chorus. What I love about it is that it teaches the history of Hanukkah.

The VT features our Kindergarteners, 2 of our teachers, the Preparatory class (5 year-olds) from Edna’s school singing with their music teacher, Janice Roth and Year 1s reflecting on Hanukkah traditions.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hanukkah 2010, posted with vodpod

Reflection

  • Ask your network for help: I took a simple step of asking Edna. I thought about many ways not to “bother” people and come up with my own ideas. In the end, it was clear that I needed help. Your network people, especially the ones you’ve had conversations with, are respectful people. They will let you know what they can handle at that moment. If you do not have a PLN, start one today!
  • Use of video/VoiceThread in learning: Because I didn’t teach the Kindergarten class, finding time to rehearse with them proved to be somewhat difficult. Taping them on video helped me to use my time efficiently,  feature them for the presentation day and keep the presentation pretty short. Skyping with other school are great, but scheduling a live face-to-face chats are difficult when they are in a different state or country. Our school community loved listening to Edna’s school children and learning about what those children know about Hanukkah. Our students are eager to connect with them this year!
  • The learning continues for me and my students: I am so grateful for this opportunity. I am grateful for Edna and her colleagues who took the time to make this connection with me so that our school communities will learn from one another. I am grateful for future opportunities that my school sees now in making global connections.

If you are looking for opportunities to connect your class with outside people, take one simple step and look around you. Who do you come in contact with? And who do you learn from? Who can you ask? And will you have an open mind when someone asks YOU to collaborate?

Take the plunge and look around you! Here’s to great learning in 2011!

Yoon

PS: Do you know who helped me to get my VoiceThread on here? (If you’re a WordPress blogger, you know what I’m talking about: WP doesn’t play nice with many embeds or files…) – Edna helped me to get it on here. Do you see how much I’m learning from her? 🙂

 




 

 

Going Back to School

One day about this time last year, my younger brother told me a shocking news:

Old school
Image via Wikipediaz

I’m applying for art school!

He is a 35-year-old professional who’s been working as an IT for a very long time. He was the “artist” of the family. Of the handful things my parents opposed in our upbringing,  I still, to this day, don’t know why they were [vehemently] against him going to an art school. He obviously had the talent and the drive.

But they said no.

He ended up going to a great school in Pitt; life happened – very differently than he had hoped. He put aside his dreams of being a full-time artist and went to work.

But it’s amazing how life unfolds.

Something drastic happened a year ago at my brother’s job. Amidst mergers, new management, and reconstruction of personnel, a light bulb went off: the hibernating artist started to think about the “what if”s. He moved fast with purpose as he needed to get his portfolio together and get his application in.

I am so proud of my brother for trying. Thankfully, he got accepted into a great program in the city (4 years of BFA~ yikes) and loves learning. By all this, I learned that he is brave, hopeful, smarter than ever, and more passionate about his calling.

As I get back into the classroom, I am compelled to think about music and my role as a teacher (next blog post).

But for now, cheers for my brother & for taking risks!