A Star is Born…Maybe

“Good, bad, or indifferent, if you are not investing in new technology, you are going to get left behind.” –Phillip Green

 

I am on a roll.  Two days in a row. Watch out, world.  I may just beat this Thirty-day Blog Challenge after all.  Today I am reflecting on the one piece of technology that I would like to try this year and why.  I also have to discuss what I am hoping to see from this edtech integration.

As a tech person, it’s hard for me to pick just one piece of technology.  I love gadgets of all kinds.  I would love to have Google Glasses, and I would love to have a MacBook.  I know that a laptop is not new, but having a MacBook would be new to me.  I’ve been a PC person since forever, and I want to venture to the other side. I want to be a Mac person.  Anyway, I digress.  My new piece of technology for this year is a Swivl Camera.  I have one.  I just haven’t used it to its full advantage yet.  ASwivl Camera is a pretty cool device.  It allows me to record my training presentations using an iPad.  The device is designed to give a 360 degree view.  Once I record the presentation, I can upload the video for others to watch or for me to critique myself.  I have an instructional tech coach website.  It’s my intention to upload videos of my presentations so that teachers can review what they learned during the training or see it for the very first time if they missed the initial presentation.  I just haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m still getting my feet wet with the training part.  I think I am almost ready to venture a little farther away from the shore.

This is a Swivl unit. It works with an iPad to record the presentation.

This move away from the shore is going to stretch my comfort level.  I like getting out and interacting with the teachers. I love sharing the new stuff with them.  I also like showing them how to use the not-so-new stuff.  What will be my challenge is when I sit down and watch myself.  I need to watch myself so that I can get better.  I need to know if I am giving adequate attention to each participant in my sessions.  Am I being clear?  Are their questions being answered?  Do I have a good balance of instructional material and interactive material?  Are the participants knowledgeable enough to take what they have learned and implement it in their classes?  Bottom line, am I getting my job done?

I want to be better.  Not so very long ago, I was a classroom teacher.  I remember those ‘light-bulb moments’. I loved seeing my students get it for the very first time. I want those same moments with my teachers.  For those who are die-hard MicroSoft fans, I want to see their faces when they realize they can so so much more with the Google Apps suite.  They can have their students collaborate in real-time.  They can make comments on their students work as their students are working so that the students get immediate feedback.  They can also rest easy when they realize that they will no longer have to hear, “I lost my flash drive so I can’t turn in my work”.  I look forward to the moment when they host their first Google Hangout and meet teachers and students from across the globe.  I also can’t wait to see the anti-Twitter teachers turn to Twitter for professional learning and development.  I don’t think I am asking for a lot.  I want my teachers to be the best they can be and if that means I have to watch myself on video, I will do it.  Teachers do what they have to for their students.  Instructional tech coaches do the same for their teachers.  There is still a teacher inside of me.  I can’t turn her off.  I don’t want to turn her off.  The instructional tech coach will be using Swivl so that the teacher inside of her can do better for the teachers in the district.  Perhaps the videos will be the start of something big.  Perhaps a video series down the road.  Who knows where this will lead…

Memories from #EdCampHome

“Camp isn’t a place you visit, it’s a place that becomes part of you.” –Anonymous

 

 

As a child, I begged my parents to let me go to summer camp.  They agreed, and I spent one of the best weeks of my life at a camp with some of the girls who attended my school.  There were a few new girls, but for the most part, I knew the girls who shared the A-frame cabin with me.  We hiked, gossiped as only pre-teen girls can do, stayed up way past curfew, and spent an uncomfortable night on the camp tennis courts. The fact that we were on concrete didn’t dampen our spirits.  We were at camp, sleeping outside of the cabin, and nothing else mattered.  That was my first experience with summer camp, and I never forgot it.  I would later go on to work at a residential camp in the North Georgia mountains.  Out of all my summer jobs, that was perhaps my most favorite.  There is something special about being away from everything and getting to know other people, and most importantly, yourself.  Who I am now has a lot to do with my experiences that summer.  There is a part of me who still longs to be at camp.  I suppose those longings will never go away.

As an adult, I have often wished that I could go back to the days of my childhood and spend every summer at camp.  I wish that there was a place where I could go and spend lazy days at the waterfront, sneak out of cabin and visit the cute boy I’d been eyeing all week, and then I could sit on my bunk and write letters home telling of my grand adventures. Perhaps when I retire, I can cash out my teacher retirement and make an adults only camp.  Others share my dream, right?

After a twenty plus year hiatus, I went to camp again.  Actually, I didn’t go anywhere except to my living room.  Through the magic of the Internet, Google Hangouts, and the dedication of some wonderful educators, I participated in my very first #edcampHome.  I had heard of attending edcamps before but time and life got in the way of attending.  Now I have a new job, and I have time to attend.  While researching other things, I saw the ad for #edcampHome.  Being intrigued, I looked and was instantly hooked on the idea of virtual learning.  I admit that I think I know a lot about pretty much everything.  In the last week or so, I realized I don’t know as much as I thought.  I will start my new job as an Instructional Technology Coach in a week.  I have had some pre-work assignments to do, and while trying to complete my tasks, I found myself quickly getting overwhelmed.  In an effort to get one thing done, I would come across something else and something else, and the next thing I know, I’ve forgotten what I started looking for in the first place.

Without a second  moment’s thought, I registered for #edcampHome and joined the Google+ Community.  I guess I was so anxious for camp to start, I misread the camp information and was sitting in front of my computer promptly at 4:00 P.M.  I couldn’t understand why I was seeing a message telling me camp would start in 3 hours.  Oh, 4:00 P.M. PST means Pacific Coast Time.  I live on the East Coast, so camp was not about to start for me.  So, patiently I waited.  Okay, maybe not patiently.  I quickly cooked dinner, wolfed it down, and situated myself in front of the computer again.  I can admit now that I was giddy or as giddy as a 45-year-old can be sitting in front of a computer waiting to chat with strangers at a place called #edcampHome about unknown topics.

From the moment the broadcast went live, I was hooked.  I was fascinated because I was seeing people from all over the world, and we were all there for the same purpose.  We wanted to discuss the very things that would help our students be successful in and out of the classroom.  We were like-minded people working towards a common goal.  Nevermind that we were in different places with different job responsibilities.  We brought those differences together in order to facilitate discussions on too may topics for me to list.  Having never attended an edcamp before, I wasn’t sure if I was going about session sign ups the right way.  I signed up for a couple of classes and waited to see where I would end up.  Luck was on my side.  My first session was on student blogging.  I have been a blogger on and off for a number of years.  I have not been consistent with it though my desire is to be a world-famous writer.  Go figure.  I want to write but don’t have time.

In my first session on student blogging, I was joined by @SLOlifeKevin, @MathButler, @KOgden97, and @HeckAwesome.  I hope I didn’t leave anyone out.  If I did, sorry!  We had a good dialog about student blogging – what platform to use, whether or not we should reach out beyond our schools, involving parents, and so much more.  We talked so much and shared so many ideas that we sort of went over the allotted time.  Before the end of the night, we had exchanged emails and had a plan to connect teachers and classes with others so that our students can be engaged in writing and commenting on the writing of others.  All of this came from a 30+ minute Google Hangout.  It really is like camp.  You go to camp no knowing anyone, and you share so much that you become friends.  In 30 minutes, we became friends.

My second session was on planning an edcamp. As stated previously, I’ve never been to one, but I am fascinated with the thought of hosting one in my school district.  Although I have been an English teacher for the past eleven years, I am a secret planner.  Perhaps secret is not really the right word.  I have a degree in planning, and love to plan things.  Putting on an edcamp is on my professional bucket list.  I want to share the joy I found with others.  Plus, it’s just fun to put on events.  My fellow edcamp wannabe planners were @SLOlifeKevin, @MathButler, @Ms_Cabiness, @mraclark29, and @megmagwire.  Again, apologies if I forgot someone.  We tossed around ideas, suggestions, how-twos and what not.  I will be attending my first in person edcamp next week. I’m looking forward to it and planning on taking copious notes so that when we have our event, we will be ready.

When I went to summer camp for the first time in 1981, I did not realize the impact it would have on my life.  Every summer in high school, I was a teen leader at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia.  Spring quarter 1988, I enrolled in a class called Basic Camp Management because I knew I would be working at Camp Woodmont that summer, and I knew that at some point in my life, the information gained in that class would be valuable.  My father disagreed and called it Basket Weaving 101.  Twenty-six years later, I still use that knowledge and have for every job I have had in my adult life.  Participating in #edcampHome was new yet familiar.  Just like my first experience at camp, the things I learned and did became part of who I am; the same can be said of my experience online with #edcampHome.  It wasn’t a place I visited; it is now a part of who I am and will continue to be.

 

Transitions

 

“I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those days.”   –Sonia Sotomayor

I haven’t posted on here in a while.  My intentions are always good, but then my life happens.  I have to do better with my blog.  I am in the process of transitioning from being a classroom teacher to an instructional technology coach.  Wow!  It’s been almost a week, and I still can’t believe it.  I have always wanted to be a teacher although I became one through non-traditional means.  Once I became a teacher, I sort of saw myself doing something else but within the scope of being an educator.  Now that I am about to do something else, I am still in awe.  Leslie Fagin, Instructional Technology Coach for the Griffin-Spalding County School System, sounds so very official.  I’m official! Actually, I have always been official.  My new job title doesn’t change who I am, what I believe, or what I want to accomplish in my lifetime.  My new job title gives me an opportunity to expand my professional horizons, share my love of technology with my fellow educators which will in turn help our students become competitors in the global community.

0701141207Right now I’m in Atlanta at the International Society for Education in Technology Conference (ISTE). It’s my first job-related duty as an ITC. I am a planner. I have a degree in planning. Seriously. The very day I was offered and accepted this job, I was planning my time. I knew which sessions, posters, vendors, and exhibits I wanted to see. I was planning which of my Twitter crushes I wanted to meet. Heck, I even planned what foods I wanted to sample. Sadly, my planning was for naught. The moment I stepped foot into the Georgia World Congress and Convention Center, my internal processor crashed. There were way too many unexpected and unplanned for options. I tried to regroup and make a new plan. The planning portion of my brain fought hard, but the super small spontaneous side of my brain won. Flying by the seat of my pants is an unfamiliar concept to me. I ended up making several unplanned stops and am grateful for the deviation from the plan. My PLN has increased as a result. That’s the biggest benefit. I’m now navigating unfamiliar territory; I’m going to need those who have gone ahead to help me with my journey.

There is a lot to be done.  My mind is all over the place.  I know that this position is right for me.  I need to step back and let the planner in me resurface.  I know what needs to be done.  Now, I am going to make my plan and share what I  have learned.  I am excited about the future and ready to go.