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Monday, July 2, 2012

Digitally Sparked!

Tuesday's Slice of Life @ The Two Writing Teachers
Digitally Sparked!-
This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to participate in "Digi-Camp" for Teachers through the University of Akron!  After getting home from camp and reminiscing a lot about all of the learning that took place, I decided to think through how this "digital camp" was like going to a real camp...the following analysis ensued...

Campers always begin with their camp checklist in mind.  One of the useful tools that the conference planners used was "Guide Book".  This digital guide available through the internet and fully downloadable to a smartphone was extremely helpful.  Guidebook contained the schedule, maps, links to counselors, general info as well as quick links to Twitter and Facebook.  The guide book helped me to "gear up" for the camp!  The camp registration helpers (Tyler and Zach) were so friendly and laid back-they really made the campers feel welcome!

Campers set up in the home base at the Honors College on the University of Akron Campus, which I must say burst forth with style, color and connectivity.  One of the first activities I participated in during the opening hours of camp was an all-campus scavenger hunt using the app Scavenger Hunt with Friends.  It was fun because we had to take pictures of items generated on the list and upload them for points.  I came in 19th out of 100 or so people.  The group I was with hustled around campus and kept us moving at just the right pace (Thanks Lauren and Yu Ling)!  We were also involved in helping Jim and Jon use the Vid Rhythm app and make a video about camp!  It was funny!  My 5 minutes of fame were up after this video was shared with the camp and my line "Akron" was repeatedly embarassing. :)

After the scavenger hunt ended, it was time to pull up a log, circle around the campfire and meet the counselors.  As they introduced themselves, they all shared their favorite digital apps!  The counselors shared the info in a friendly and outgoing way and it was obvious that they were going to be a fabulous group of people!  All through the weekend, they were approachable, knowledgeable and full of creative ideas that made you yearn for more information each time they shared.



Surprise! ("wait for it...") Camp always allows for those surprising moments when someone or something happens that is completely unexpected-our surprise was having former Coach Jim Tressel speak during the Saturday morning breakfast.  He talked about the importance of digital technology interwoven with the art of life.  He gently reminded us, "In the technology boom, don't lose the melody of educating young people"...


During camp, there were many opportunties to hear stories, find treats, and gather advice.  One of the opportunties for treats came my way, when I scanned one of the digital QR codes-and found out that I was eligible to win a bag of books if I submitted an idea for "How to use technology to enhance literacy instruction?"-my idea was to have students use blogs to review books through blogs-kind of like Reading Rainbow used to do...LUCKY ME, I WON THE BAG OF BOOKS!  I also now think I would use either screencasts or podcasts and generate QR codes to include with the books reviewed so students could use a QR reader and scan to hear the review of the book.  There were also other times when the QR codes were scanned and gave information about links for learning via "Prezi", "Glogster" or "Voki"...Ted Talks (TedED), videos on how to integrate iPads in the classroom etc.  I could go on for days about how QR blasts can create opportunities for learning but I will stop...another post for another day.  Also, I have to add learning how to podcast or screencast using Screencastomatic (very easy, check out my first attempt HERE).
QR Code "Quick Response"

Another great part of camp was the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers.  I learned a great deal from hearing other happy campers share their thoughts and revelations as we worked on group projects that were presented to all the campers (in the final show, if you will).  All of the campers were sharing thoughts and ideas regularly as part of the learning and working sessions.  The counselors made themselves available for questions and help as needed.  They helped many of us to experience and learn more about Twitter and tweets, which was music to our digital ears!  A million thank yous to our great counselor staff!

Finally, packing up all our tech gear after learning from each other brought moments of tears, laughter and joy!  The lead organizer of our camp, Lori Vargo, pleasantly approached the entire weekend with great patience and a smile.  Her effort in organizing this outstanding learning opportunity is greatly appreciated by all who participated, especially me!  Thanks Lori for all you did!

What a camp!  I learned so much, now it's going to be taking it all into practice that will be the work ahead.  My digital spark is ignited, the flames are burning brightly and I wonder where we'll go from here?

27 comments:

  1. WOW - what a wonderful experience where REAL LIFE intermingled with the virutal world of the blogoshpere.

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    1. Yes, it was wonderful. I could gush about it for days! I am very excited to try out all of this new learning!

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  2. This is a spot-on comparison of the two kinds of camps - and now I REALLY want to go to a Digi-Camp, too. Thanks for sharing the good ideas.

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    1. If you ever see it offered in your area, I highly suggest getting involved!

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  3. Amy - the debate for the last 3 weeks in my house has been what to do about my phone (I still have an old flip phone and it doesn't even take pictures!) I used to be a computer consultant -I love technology but find it harder to pay for on my teacher salary.;) I keep going back and forth (iphone, smartphone, stick to a cheap plan) but as I was reading this post I was once again DROOLING and DREAMING to have technology at my finger tips. I may have to splurge and blame you. :)

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    1. In March, that is exactly how I was...going back and forth, but I have no regrets about getting the iphone. I love it! One of the best apps I have seen is called "stick pick". Check it out on-line. Feel free to blame me as needed! You won't regret it!

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  4. There are so many interesting things to learn about. Thank you for sharing your Digi-Camp experience.

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    1. You're welcome...this post is really just the tip of the iceberg!

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  5. So cool Amy and thanks for sharing your learning. This really sounds like a great experience.

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    1. Thanks Diana! How are things going for you? Thanks again for all of your help with digital resumes! Also, the QR code on my resume was a big hit!

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  6. What an awesome learning experience! Every idea you shared seemed so exciting and fun to try out....if only I could get myself over to a workshop like the one you attended. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Tara,
      One of the things some of the counselors are doing are collaborating across the state. If there is ever anything you want to try, let me know and I will help if I can!

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  7. WOW! I don't really like camping BUT I would go to this camp! Your post is bookmarked for later reading and learning! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Jaana! It was a great experience. I bet there will be more models like this coming to a university near you soon!

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  8. This is waht I need! What a wonderful experience - and to have it so like "camp"!

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    1. Don' t know if you'll be near Ohio, but I am sure there will be more opportunities like this in the future!

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  9. Amy,I liked the weaving of the different camping experiences. Your excitement for new learning, new awakening, was palpable. Always exciting when a new spark is lit. We all need these types of experiences to sustain us and take us forward into new areas of learning and being. Thanks for shining a light on this.

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    1. Thanks Alan! I just can't stop smiling for the excitement and engagement that this new learning can bring to the students!

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  10. That sounds like a really fun experience. Love that it was called camp too.

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    1. Yes, camp it was! I guess the original digi camp last year was for kids. They did it for kids again this year and added the teachers' camp as well! I like how the counselors were so available to help...that was a definite advantage.

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  11. I love the way you tied the two together. We started 1:1 technology last year and it would have been nice if the teachers could have that kind of training. Or any training. Sounds like a wonderful experience.

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  12. WOW! What a fun experience you had. We all need more hands-on opportunities like this with technology. I'm looking forward to checking out some of your links.

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    1. Let me know what you try that works for you!

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  13. That sounds like a fun experience! I have this visual of people with iPads running around campus.

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    1. Lori,
      Here is the link if you want to watch the video:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMIUhxrjgl4&feature=colike
      That is exactly what it looked like! (iPhones, iPad, laptops and iPod touches)

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  14. Professional development camping? Genius! I love collaborating with other educators because there are so many amazing teachers out there, and I am always eager to learn from them.

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