Sponsor Spotlight: The Answer Pad

We are excited to announce that Connecticut-based The Answer Pad is a Bronze Sponsor for EdCamp CT 2014!  Thank you for providing a powerful assessment tool and for supporting local educators!

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The Answer Pad is a formative assessment platform for the 1:1 or B.Y.O.D. classroom.

Go Interactive is the quick response component of the tool. Teachers can upload and send out any image, and all students’ responses are received in real time. Adjust your instruction based on timely information you are getting back from your students. This adds a huge opportunity to add spontaneity to how you teach.

Answer Sheets is The Answer Pad’s solution to the grading problem. Many teachers have paper tests, but putting them online is a time-consuming challenge. Create an answer key for the test. This will generate a digital answer sheet for the students. Upload the pdf file of the test.  Students answer on their device, using either the paper test or an electronic copy that you uploaded. Immediate grading saves you time, and you never typed in any questions! You get online, standards-based reports that can easily be exported to your LMS.

You can learn more about The Answer Pad in this video overview.  Teachers can sign up for free at www.theanswerpad.com. An upgrade is available, and you get the first 30 days to play before you pay. School versions are also available.

Sponsor Spotlight: Connecticut Education Network

Thank you to the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) for being a Silver Sponsor of EdCamp CT 2014!  Connecting educators and learners is their goal and ours, and we’re grateful for the partnership!

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CEN is America’s first statewide K-12 and higher education network to be built exclusively using state-of-the-art fiber optic connections.

Initially established in 2000, CEN provides a high-speed, redundant connection to every K-12 school district in the state. This includes over 240 schools and more than 170 public libraries.

These institutions that are on the front line of education reform use CEN to access: the Internet, Internet2, iCONN, and thousands of other resources. These resources are exclusively targeted towards students, teachers, researchers, and administrators.

CEN continues to focus on education and research while reaching out to organizations that will broaden our member base and provide the CEN community with more services and applications.

EDCAMPS ARE DIFFERENT…THEY GIVE ME HOPE.

If Paul Bogush isn’t a part of your professional learning network, you are missing out.  He exemplifies the role of teacher as “lead learner,” he is creative and progressive in his instructional design, he’s committed to nurturing empathy among his students, and he generously shares the work and reflections that take place in his classroom.  He is also an EdCamp enthusiast, having participated in EdCamps, large and small, throughout the east coast.  He even represented EdCamp CT when attending EdCamp US DOE this past June.  When contemplating whom to ask to write a post about insights into the EdCamp movement, I immediately thought of Paul.  Below is a post well worth reading.  And if you’re joining us at EdCamp CT on 8/15, please be sure to connect with Paul.  And treat him to a milkshake if you have the chance.

EDCAMPS ARE DIFFERENT…THEY GIVE ME HOPE.

pb_01My daughter and I went to the Warped Tour yesterday.

Let me start over…I drove my daughter and her friend to the Warped Tour yesterday and then spent 10 hours on my own navigating a massive concert venue with six stages (loved it!).  The Warped tour is one of those concerts that if you mention it to someone you either get eyes wide open excitement, or one of those blank stares in which their head slowly tilts to one side.  Hardcore fans go to Warped and folks often travel pretty far to get to a show.  Warped brings together bands like Vanna and Echosmith (Two that I went to see).  It also brings together fans in skinny jeans and those that wear jeans that cover little that they really should have just bean left home(it was too hot for my skinny jeans).  You have folks in plaid, and folks in black.  It is a neat eclectic mix.  Everyone has fun together.  Everyone goes home happy.  For the type of all day concert it is, I have never seen fewer fights (zero), fewer drunken idiots (zero), or less drug use (zero).  What seems like a scary place to be (why is it called Warped anyway?), is a pretty cool community of folks coming together for one reason–their passion for music.  They just do it differently than most.

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I am driving up to my first Edcamp of the summer tomorrow.  Edcamp is one of those teacher conferences that if you mention it to someone you sometimes get eyes wide open excitement, but usually you get one of those blank stares in which their head slowly tilts to one side.  Hardcore teachers go to Edcamps and folks often travel pretty far to get to one.  Edcamp brings together educators who teach high school with those that teach elementary. You have teachers from the city, and those from the country (well, east coast country).  It also brings together teachers who come with all sorts of electronic gizmos, and teachers who are happy to leave all the electronics home.  You have folks who like to talk a lot, and folks who are happy sitting in the back row of each session.  It is a neat eclectic mix.  Everyone has fun together.  Everyone goes home happy.  For the type of conference it is, I have never seen fewer fights (zero), fewer drunken idiots (zero), or less drug use (zero)…folks also don’t complain about kids, gripe about the lack of supplies, or swear about parents.  What seems like a weird conference to attend (what the heck is an unconference anyway?), is a pretty cool community of folks coming together for one reason–their passion to provide the very best learning experiences for the kids in their classrooms.  They just do it differently than most.

The session topics are different, that is why you should attend.  The sessions that are offered are unlike any other conference that I attend, unless I use my time machine (I don’t have a time machine).  The topics of many of the sessions at the very first Edcamps are just becoming part of the conversation in mainstream ed-circles in 2014.  The topics of the sessions in 2014′s Edcamps will just start to be mainstream 4-6 years from now.  You will meet people who are doing things that NO ONE ELSE IS DOING ANYWHERE.

The organization is different.  You have no idea what to expect when you enter.  When people walk in they decide whether or not they want to organize a session based on who else shows up (if it is a twitter strong audience, no sessions on twitter), based on what the attendees request (if someone shows up wanting to learn about twitter there’s a session on twitter), and based on what occurs spontaneously (you can skip all morning sessions and have that conversation in the hallway with your twitter idol).  When you attend a session it is considered an insult to stay in it if you are not getting what you need from it.  People support you getting up and walking into another session.  Sessions are not stand and deliver, they tend to be more conversational.  You’ll find many rooms with chairs in circles rather than rows. There are sessions with three people, and some with fifty people.  It does not matter how many people attend, I have always found the sessions with the fewest attendees to be the most intimidating at the start, but the most awesome by the end.  Yes, Edcamps do fuel extroverts, but it is totally ok and acceptable to just come, keep you mouth closed, sit back, and take it all in.

The people who attend are different.  Ever person there has chosen to take their day off and attend.  You don’t hear complaining at Edcamps, you hear solutions being tossed around.  Even if you don’t come away from an Edcamp with a single new idea, you do come away with a new found energy.  There are very few ed-conferences that can match Edcamps participants’ energy.  I am not talking about get-up-and-dance energy, just simple positive energy.  The energy at Edcamps remind you why you wanted to teach.  The energy you gain protects you from all the negativity that exists in “the teacher’s room.”  It makes you realize that there are people just like you out there, and sometimes that is all you need to keep fighting back in your home district.  If all you come home with is hope, that is reason enough to attend.

The cost and food is different.  It’s FREE.  It costs you nothing to get in, and nothing to eat.  You get an entire day for $0.00.  And most Edcamps now specialize in a certain food or have some specialty that I look forward to.  There are Edcamps that serve great burgers, some have special chips, and I know they are from some chain store but EdcampNJ have these awesome cinnamon bun things that are worth the trip for me.  I am still hoping one Edcamp will start serving milkshakes, I would travel pretty far for those.

I do think there are still issues Edcamps need to iron out.  At some established Edcamps too many people are coming with canned presentations they set up in advance, those Edcamps are soon going to lose their “organic” label.  Some Edcamps are attracting more people who are no longer teachers and who lead too many sessions.  Some brand new Edcamps are attracting too many new teachers so the session board stays pretty bare because some folks are more comfortable experiencing an Edcamp before deciding to present at one.  And one weakness specifically for me is that too many Edcamps really adhere to the no stand and deliver rule for session.  Just like I love to hear a good keynote, I don’t mind sitting in a session for an hour and listening to someone talk about something amazing. Not all Edcamps have a “request a session” built into it.  I think that is a must.  Newbies might not get involved presenting, but they can certainly help drive the content of the session board through their requests.

I have been to over 15 Edcamps.  I have been to the first content specific Edcamp, first student run Edcamp, first Edcamp at the Department of Education in Washington, DC, the largest Edcamp, and probably the smallest(doesn’t seem anyone keeps a record for that ;), tomorrow will be Edcamprsd6 in Litchfield, CT. Edcamprsd6 is a morning only Edcamp run on four successive Tuesdays (they have awesome food too).  It will be a morning with teachers in which I won’t have to talk about data teams, performance tasks, or uploading documents for my evaluation. Next month I will be driving up to EdcampCT.  Both are small cozy Edcamps full of folks that are different, and even if I don’t come home with any new ideas, I know I will come home with a little more energy, a free lunch, and a lot more hope.

If you haven’t been to an edcamp yet, please find one and attend. Click right here for the Edcamp Calendar.

(You can view Paul’s original post on his blog here.)

Sponsor Spotlight: University of New Haven 6YC IT&DML

Many thanks to the University of New Haven for being a Gold Sponsor of EdCamp CT 2014!  We are grateful for three consecutive years of your support for local educators’ professional development!

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Our 6th Year Certificate in Instructional Technologies & Digital Media (IT&DML)
is built around new conceptions of literacy and media:

►how to confidently identify and use instructional technologies and new media
literacies in teachers’ professional practices

►how to think critically about information

►how to teach these new materials and literacies in a way that resonates with
students, parents, and teachers, while also helping to advance teachers’ careers.

The program is designed to give practicing teachers the skills, knowledge, and
tools to make them the experts in the instructional technologies and literacies
that their students, schools, and communities need.

Our hybrid program is a one or two year sequence of online courses. We feature two
Digital Symposium weekends to build community within the group, and within the region.

http://www.newhaven.edu/itdml  Follow us at @itdml on Twitter

Sponsor Spotlight: TechSmith

EdCamp CT would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors. We are so grateful to welcome TechSmith as a Silver Sponsor for 2014!

TechSmith logo

TechSmith’s desktop products, such as Snagit, Camtasia and TechSmith Relay, make it easy to create compelling, polished content you can share with anyone. Paired along with our mobile apps and integrations, we’re helping people collaborate and share across different devices and make sure you can be productive wherever you are.

Sponsor Spotlight: UConn Two Summers Program

The University of Connecticut’s Two Summers Program continues to demonstrate its commitment to the ongoing professional learning of educators by being a Platinum Sponsor of EdCamp Connecticut. We are so grateful for their generous support!

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UConn’s Two Summers MA/SD in Learning Technology is a Master’s and Sixth Year Diploma program designed for working teachers interested in wisely integrating learning technologies into classroom instruction. The program is aligned with the ISTE/NCATE NETS-C standards for digital age teachers/coaches, those who have the skills and knowledge to guide and support teachers to wisely integrate technology into their classroom teaching in an increasingly connected and global society. see http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-coaches. The program is run as small cohorts (15 to 20 students) where students have identical plans of study and progress through courses together. Variations of the program include a 25 or 30 credit option or the conferral of an MA or Sixth Year Certificate (as the choice of each student). The program admits practicing teachers or those with equivalent experiences in education. In 2013 the average GPA for admitted students was 3.70 which has held steady for the last few years.

Content Knowledge: consists of an understanding of contemporary hardware and software, Internet and offline computer-based tools used to support classroom instruction.

Pedagogy: consists of an understanding of instructional design methods, contemporary learning theory, and design research methods that enable the wise and successful integration of technology with classroom instruction.

Dispositions: consists of a world view in favor of risk taking, on-the-fly problem solving, instructional design principles, and learning through data-driven decision making based on classroom trials of technology.

The key comprehensive assessment is an e-portfolio in Taskstream. Since its inception in 2006, the Two Summers program has had 90 – 100% Completion rate and all students who submit the e-portfolio achieving at or above goal. As part of the e-portfolio of required program artifacts, the Two Summers program is researching a year-long game-based approach (called Project Technologia) to several of its standards, and is piloting a card-game based assessment, called Card-tamen, based on the TPACK (see http://www.tpack.org/) framework for technology integration.