EdCamp Happy Valley & Why You Should Try an UnConference

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first EdCamp. Hosted by two teachers in our district, it was free, it was local, and it was fun (and I think EdCamp Happy Valley will be back next year). If you haven’t attended an EdCamp before, essentially it is an unconference. This means there’s no set schedule or set presenters until the day of the event. Whoever shows up shares ideas of what they want to talk about/learn about, and then the organizers create a schedule based on what people present want to explore.  Once the schedule is completed, you go to a room where there’s a topic interesting to you, and you have a conversation about the topic.

This democratic approach to Professional Development was eye-opening for me.  I know there are some amazing professionals in my district and in nearby schools, and this opportunity to network with them and share ideas and learn about how they approached challenges in their classrooms was fascinating. to me.  I attended a session on flipping the classroom and walked away with people to contact, with ideas of how to integrate it, and advice on what is best practice for flipping with high school students.

There was one session I did go to where there didn’t seem to be anyone in the room who was an expert, and when people just started Googling information on the topic, I excused myself and went with a colleague to start brainstorming ideas from a previous session.  The beauty of the EdCamp model is the concept that if you don’t find a session working out for you, it is not frowned upon to remove yourself and use one of the spaces designated as learning lounges.

The timing for this event was perfect for me. We’ve returned from spring break, the third marking period is ending, and I needed some re-energizing to approach the last marking period. If you haven’t had a chance to try an EdCamp yet, I would recommend it.  At first, I thought it was all tech-centered, but I realized when I arrived, any topic could be suggested.  Driven by teachers, centered on students, EdCamps provide a new model for professional development that I found appealing.

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

EdCamp Happy Valley & Why You Should Try an UnConference

PCTELA Call for Positions (Join Us!)

Have you been wanting more meaningful professional development?  Have you been thinking about connecting with colleagues across the state? Have you been wondering how you can share ideas with other like-minded educators?

Now you can do all those things!  Apply to be a part of the PCTELA Board of Directors. Four positions are opening up this fall:

  • Vice President for Elementary
  • Vice President for Secondary
  • Membership Secretary
  • Advocacy Chair

See here for descriptions of each position. If you are interested, please send your letter of interest and CV/resume to PCTELA Executive Director Allison Irwin at ae_irwin@hotmail.com.  

Deadline to submit resume: June 1, 2016. 

PCTELA Call for Positions (Join Us!)

Twitter Talks for Teachers

This past week, PCTELA held our first Twitter Talk about summer reading. (We’ll be holding these the third Monday of every month from 8pm to 9pm.) If you are on twitter, you might already know about the wide variety of talks for teachers. If you’re not on twitter, these would be a great reason to make an account and do some professional development. Many of us were talking at our recent PCTELA board meeting about how we use twitter for professional development, to reach out to authors, and talk about writing–personally and professionally.

One of the oldest education talks, #edchat, happens Tuesdays from 12pm to 1 and 7 to 8 pm Eastern Time. The description from their page: “#Edchat is the weekly Bammy Award winning Twitter conversation that any educator can join to discuss and learn about current teaching trends, how to integrate technology, transform their teaching, and connect with inspiring educators worldwide. We also discuss education policy, education reform and often have leaders worldwide join our conversations, such as Alfie Kohn, Diane Ravitch, and the Finnish Education Leaders.”

There’s also #engchat, more specifically for English educators, which happens Mondays from 7 to 8pm. This is “a network of English teachers connecting with one and another via Twitter to share ideas, resources and inspiration.  To join, search for the hashtag, #engchat in twitter or use a tool such as TweetChat to help you follow the discussion.  Each week, a guest moderator shares a new idea, perspective or vision of what it means to be an English teacher.”

There are plenty of other chats online–I found this comprehensive list/calendar of chats for you to scroll through and look for chats more specific to your interests (like AP, or flipping class).

state-twitter-chats-001Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Twitter Talks for Teachers

Friday Five: Five reasons to visit the Folger Shakespeare Library

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a trip to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. The library was featuring an exhibit called Decoding the Renaissance – 500 Years of Codes and Ciphers. Being a total Renaissance/Shakespeare nerd, I HAD to visit. Despite the frigid temperatures in D.C. that Sunday (it was that day with a negative 12 degree wind chill), we had an amazing time. Although I could give over a dozen reasons to visit the Library, I’ve listed my top 5 below!

Shakes Lib 2

  • The exhibits. The Decoding the Renaissance exhibit featured the use of secret messages in war, diplomacy, and spy craft over the last hundreds of years. Although that exhibit left on February 26, the Library is now featuring the Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude exhibit. Check it out!
  • The Collection. Not only does the Library possess 82 of the First Folio of 1623 (AHH!!!), but they also have Thomas More’s Utopia in original Latin, costumes worn by past theater stars, promptbooks that record classic staging of Shakespeare’s plays, thousands of illustrations of Shakespeare’s plays, 13th Century manuscripts, more than 200 early quartos of Shakespeare plays, and original works of art of Queen Elizabeth I!
  • The Library tour. While there, my husband and I had an awesome tour of the Library (unfortunately on a Sunday, the reading room was closed that day), and our tour guide was very knowledgeable of all-things Shakespeare and of the Elizabethan Era. Although I know quite a bit about the Bard and his works, I left the tour with even more knowledge.
  • Family Programs. The Folger Shakespeare Library offers programs for all ages and encourages families to experience Shakespeare’s language together! On Shake Up Your Saturdays, children and families are invited to participate in learning about Shakespeare’s language and works. Coming up in April, they are having a Have Fun with Hamlet! Event. Also in April are Shakespeare’s birthday/deathday events. I definitely want to check them out!
  • Free Admission. And best of all, you can experience all this Shakespeare awesomeness for FREE. That’s right – FREE!

Shakes Lib 1

Jennie K. Brown, PCTELA President @jenniekaywrites

Friday Five: Five reasons to visit the Folger Shakespeare Library

Friday Five: Reasons to Submit a Proposal for the PCTELA Conference

Go here for a link to the call for proposals. 

1. You have a colleague you would love to collaborate with and then present with at the conference.
2. You want to feel as if you have a real audience for your yearly review.
3. You want input on a favorite method of teaching or best practice.
4. Your colleagues often borrow your lesson plan ideas and tell you to share them with people.
5. You want the experience of sharing your favorite ideas with other enthusiastic educators.

Come join us!

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Friday Five: Reasons to Submit a Proposal for the PCTELA Conference