Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Did I Teach Before EdCamp & Twitter?

"I failed!" Roni Habib happily shouted as he waved jazz hands in the air.  This is my biggest takeaway from my day at EdCamp Silicon Valley this past weekend.

Yesterday in class, I lead my students in chants of I failed!, I made a mistake!, I messed-up!  Then, we embarked on an authentic design thinking challenge.  We honored everyone's ideas, opinions, and suggestions as we identified physical problems in our classroom that we are going to eventually change.  I am so excited to see where my students take this!  Although we're only in the early stages of this challenge, I can tell that it is going to do so much for my students' level of empathy, critical thinking, discussion skills, and sense of self.  I'll definitely write more on this as the challenge continues.

Prior to EdCamp Silicon Valley and the perfectly timed CAedchat on Twitter the following day, I never would have dreamed of leading my class in a rousing chant celebrating failure.  Nor would I have presented them with a design thinking challenge.

This is the beauty of EdCamp and Twitter.  A few months ago, after the goading of a trusted colleague and good friend, Katie Kinnaman, I decided to finally take professional development into my own hands.  I took the Twitter plunge and then shortly after attended my first EdCamp:  EdCamp Los Altos.  This was the start of a spark that I had no idea existed inside me.  I've always loved being a teacher.  I've always considered myself connected and in-the-know.  However, I had no idea of the world that was waiting for me with Twitter and EdCamp. After using Twitter for eight months and attending two EdCamps and co-organizing one, I've learned more about teaching and learning than I ever imagined and more than I ever did in my previous 11 years as a teacher.  I could write on and on, but instead I'll make it easy and just list a few highlights as a result of my Twitter and EdCamp awakening:

-I started listening to EduAll-Stars, a fabulous podcast from three educators in Texas.  Through this podcast, I became acquainted with the work of Angela Maiers, Erin Klein, Pernille Ripp, and many other groundbreaking teachers across the country.  I am a better teacher in my own classroom because of things I have learned and inspiration I've found through these and other educators.

-I became more connected with outstanding teachers and administrators throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area.  I've actually met many face to face now!  Through EdCamps, I've been able to broaden my PLN (professional learning network) by having face to face conversations with innovative and curious educators in my own community.

-I'm sharing my challenges and successes, and am learning from other teachers across the world who are also deeply invested in Teacher's College Reading Writing Project (TCRWP).  I especially appreciate following Fran McVeigh on Twitter.  Fran shares stories and insights from her own learning and from teachers involved in TCRWP from all over the world.

-I found Newsela!  Thank you, Craig Yen.  I never would have heard of Newsela without attending EdCamp Sacramento.  My students read, discuss, and debate using Newsela articles each week.  Not only are they enjoying reading the current event articles, but also they are learning how to support their opinions with evidence, engaging in respectful debates, and are becoming more globally aware.

-Genius Hour/20% Time was another thing I learned about through Twitter and EdCamps.  I tried it in my classroom, found positives and areas to work on, and am rethinking how I may do it again for next school year.

Honestly, I could go on and on.  Instead, I'll end with a few images from this weekend's EdCamp Silicon Valley.  A few months ago, through Twitter, I reconnected with a fellow Palo Alto teacher and a former classroom parent of mine, David Cohen.  He had the idea to organize an EdCamp in Palo Alto, and invited me and five other teachers to help organize.  I'm so glad he did!  Thanks for the open collaboration and hard work, team!  What a day!

The Session Board:  This eventually turned into this.

David Cohen welcoming 150+ educators to EDCamp SV!

Roni Habib's interactive Emotional Intelligence Skills Session

Teachers talking about Genius Hour in another session.

Craig Yen sharing Classroom Champions at the Edu-Slam to end the day. 

Putting on EdCamp SV was a huge team effort.  I was lucky to work with
this group of dedicated educators from PAUSD!  David Cohen, Ellen Kraska,
Roni Habib, Matt Lindner, Smita Kolhathar, and Kirk Hinton.  Thanks all! 


  1. Christina,
    Thank you so much for including me in your post. I love using Twitter, going to Edcamps and of course the fabulous community at #TCRWP! This is a wonderful time to be working in and learning with educators around the world with a passion for learning AND literacy!

    And most of all, thank YOU for your willingness to share your own learning journey!

  2. Thank you, Fran! The world outside of our own classrooms, schools, and school districts is big and full of information! The more I learn, the more I feel I have yet to discover. Thanks for being a valuable part of my PLN.


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