In the late hours of Friday, October 7 and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, Savannah experienced Hurricane Matthew, along with many other cities along the coast of FL, GA, SC, and NC. Savannah has always been very fortuanate when it comes to hurricanes as Gerogia's coast is extremely small in comparison to other coastal states, and it is tucked in farther west than the other states. When other hurricanes have looked like they would hit Savannah, our cozy, little location along the Continental Ridge would help change the course of the past storms aiming them for SC and NC. Not so with Hurricane Matthew.
Old oaks were uprooted as 100 mph winds reeked havoc on our historic city. Many Savannahians took heed to the mandatory evacuation and headed north to escape the storm. My family and I chose to stay as the past had always shown that hurricanes just did not mean business in our area. Others, like our Co-Founder Cindy Dixon, knew that her Isle of Hope neighborhood would not fare well in even a small storm, so thankfully they sought safety in Atlanta.
Upon Cindy's return to her home on Tuesday morning, she was finally was able to witness the destructive path of Hurricane Matthew. One of the giant oaks in her backyard uprooted her concrete walking path and landed on her house (her dining room, specifically) but did not crash all the way through. Power lines were easily snapped with each tree and branch that fell. Her neighborhood's damage was one of the worst in the Savannah area, and power will not be restored for at least another week, if not longer. But through all of this devastation of our beautiful city, Cindy and many other Savannahians, have stayed optimistic and declared that we are "Savannah Strong". There will be much to clean up both physically, with debris, and emotionally, with lost homes and even lives, but we have come together as one community in our efforts to help each other out in this time of need.
If you have considered attending edcampSavannah on Jan. 28, 2017, make it a priotiry now. Savannah is still here, she is still beautiful, and her people are here to still show her off with open arms. Registration opens on Nov. 1, 2016. edcampSavannah is #savannahstrong and ready to host you for our best edcamp ever!
I just wanted to say thanks to Cindy Dixon and crew for hosting Ed Camp Savannah. I am so excited for Ed Camp Roswell in March. It’s refreshing to hang out with great educators who are doing great things in their classrooms.
Here are a few topics we covered:
Gamification: Marvin Fuller a technology teacher in Savannah shared a great session on gamifying the classroom and the reasons kids respond so well. Even if you don’t want to go full throttle on a gamified classroom, there are some good take-aways that are worth considering.
Adobe Voice - It was presented as focusing on teachers using it in the classroom, but I can see using it as a great resource for quick student visual presentations. (iPad only right now.)
Improving online discussions: This was a round table focusing on improving online engagement. Some of the take-aways:
She focused on Carol Dweck’s research.
All in all, the ed camp was awesome. No administrators with an agenda or checklist. No one was there that didn’t want to be. People came from all over and shared their passions with each other.
This is the way professional development should be. We’ll take a lot of what they did and incorporate it in our upcoming Ed Camp in Roswell.
Scott Kent is an English teacher and technology innovator in Roswell, GA, who is also an avid programmer and technology evangelist. Believing that technology integration in schools should mirror technology use in the world, Scott has focused on helping teachers and students use technology in meaningful and practical applications. In addition to teaching English, Scott has also taught many other classes ranging from tech theatre, adaptive art, yearbook, and most recently AP Computer Science A. Teaching such a variety of courses has given him a unique perspective in how technology can and should be used in schools.
New to the Ed Camp scene, Scott has quickly realized the benefit of providing teachers with opportunities to learn from each other without the formalized setting generally associated with education conferences. Just like students, teachers learn best when they feel invested, see the practical benefit of what they are learning, and have the opportunity to actively participate with the material. Ed Camps seem custom made to meet these goals.
Professional Learning: The EdCamp Way
I had wondered about EdCamps for sometime before I finally decided to experience one for myself. It was a second semester goal of mine in 2014 when I perused the complete EdCamp calendar to see Savannah, Georgia was an option in February. When I arrived for the un-conference I was determined to sit back and observe. In hindsight, I was more interested in identifying and replicating the best practices demonstrated in professional learning than participating myself, at first...
However, as I watched participants posting items of discussion I found I was waiting for someone to put up what I thought should be discussed. It seemed such a natural fit with the other topics, I was sure someone would see that and post it. I finally realized that even thought this was my first EdCamp, I could offer that as a topic for a session. So I took a risk and presented on something I was passionate about at the time, Twitter. I did not have anything prepared on the topic, so I just took 5 minutes and jotted down notes in Evernote. I added items from the group discussion and at the end of our session I tweeted the notes out using the conference hashtag for others to read.
I also had the good fortune to meet @tracybrisson Tracy Brisson and have followed her faithful on social media and have learned at great deal about how to professionally present myself. Tracy led a session which helped me focus on developing more content for my blog. Almost a year later I am more professionally fulfilled because of her advice.
I even had the enthusiasm to participate in the App Smackdown at the end of EdCamp.
So, did I identify and replicate best practices demonstrated in professional learning?
I think so. I have attended EdCamp Atlanta #EDCampATL September 2014 and just hosted an in-district #ElemEdCamp this month. It doesn't take a titled leader to take away best practices for professional learning; it just takes us to take charge of our own professional learning. And I would recommendEdCamp Savannah #EdCampSav as a great place to start this February 7th!
Penny Christensen is an eLearning Specialist since 2009. She works with all levels of Hall County School’s educational technology. In her 18 years of educational service she has taught middle grades concentrating on science, science, and content literacy in Florida, Michigan, and Georgia. Learn more about Penny at HotLunchTray.com or connect with her via @pen63 on Twitter.
What do you get when you combine charter, independent and public schools in one venue? You get a confluence of influencers and that is a rarity in most towns including Savannah. The energy was palpable as participants arrived early and started to socialize during the ramp up time before the official kickoff. Coffee and donuts, bagels and loads of treats from Panera Bread filled several long tables in the upper school cafeteria. A whiteboard stood ready to be decorated with colorful sticky notes and inventive titles of on-the-fly sessions. On the stage, a table displayed the donated prizes, raffled off at the end of the conference. A wide range of topics from paperless classrooms to 3D printing and maker labs, ipads in the elementary classroom, re-imagining the media center and how to get students involved in coding.
We hope to see everyone back for more sharing next year and we hope all who attended will bring a friend. The timing appeared right for many since we had 85 RSVP's and over 120 attendees. FETC is earlier next year and the annual Savannah Book Festival will be held on 2-15. Let's hope for some great weather, free of ice and snow. See you in 2015.
But wait! If that's just too far away and you want to get together online for a G+ hangout or for a local meetup, please watch our site and twitter feed for details of future gatherings.