Friday, September 26, 2014

The #edchatnz conference — connecting with connectors

Cross posted from the CORE Education Blog: 
#edchatnz was born from a dream…. Danielle Myburgh’s dream… #edchatnz — the little hashtag that could. She believed in her passion for education…. She knew that her family and friends didn't want to talk about education 24/7….
So, her dream became a reality two years ago with the inception of #edchatnz.
#edchatNZ is a community for New Zealand educators across all sectors to discuss all things education. Please feel free to use this hashtag to share anything relevant about New Zealand education. #edchatNZ conference Friday, 8 August 2014 at 9:00 AM– Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 3:00 PM (NZST) Auckland, New Zealand
In April this year Danielle's dream reshaped to allow for the MAGIC of #edchatnz online to become a face to face reality. The edchtnz blog said it all: "The steering committee has pulled together the#edchatnz conference in 18 weeks. Yes, you read correctly: 18 weeks. Our first official minutes were dated 3/04/2014."
#edchatnz conference
Three hundred educators gathered at Hobsonville Point Secondary School on 8 August 2014.  Imagine the buzz as Tweeps re-connected, met for the first time face-to-face, and recognised Twitter names! The welcome in the auditorium encapsulated the MAGIC of Danielle’s dream, right through to the reality of the face-to-face conference. Wrapped around the 300 plus educators who experienced these two days face-to-face were an incredible number of educators around New Zealand and the globe connected virtually. In the truly transformative, open, sharing, networking way of the world (enabled by technology and social media) following a conference is now becoming commonplace.
The welcome by Maurie Abraham of Hobsonville Point Secondary School really embraced us. A true privilege of the day was to participate in a huge range of sessions, and also work alongside the learners and educators from Hobsonville Point Secondary School in their learning day.
Throughout the two days we were treated to a range of breakouts in what is an incredible mix of conference (structured sessions) and unconference (unstructured sessions), a truly personalised experience was afforded to all.
A very well thought-out inclusion in the conference was the challenge tasks. They were fabulous icebreakers, and a great way to really meet and get to know new people. A favourite among attendees was the ‘grelfie’ (group ‘selfie’), of which I am sure hundreds, if not thousands, were snapped and shared.
grelfie, or group selfies

Highlights from the sessions I attended were:

  • Design thinking with Dianne Carvello: Design thinking encourages us to think agile, to discover and innovate.  It is about going beyond the obvious, digging deeper to ideate.
  • Personalised Learning in Action with Amy McCauley, Erin Hall and learners.
    Having visible learning, planning, sharing open for all to see; learners, teachers, parents; community. Running needs based learning workshops, negotiated with the learners.  Student and teacher agency evidenced!
  • "Booktrack A new way to Learn Make reading and writing fun!" with Craig Wilson and Chazz Hill-Hayr
    Stunning results evidenced as learners experience reading in a new way!  Learners are able to add sound effects to texts within Booktrack classroom or to their own texts.
  • SOLO Taxonomy in the Classroom (primary) with Pam Hook
    From the work of John Briggs, comes the very well researched, easy to use a framework that is SOLO Taxonomy. The well supported, well resources framework is a tool for learners to identify stages in their learning and identify where to next.
  • Tips and Tricks for Google Apps with Amy McAuley
    Powerful sharing of a range of tips and tricks and google apps to support us.  Increasingly Google is becoming our go to for things education.
    Education Bookchat – Keys Competencies for the future (NZCER)
    Launched at #edchatnz conference is the first #bookchat, which has now become the focus book for bookchat during Connected Educator Month. Fabulous to connect with other passionate educators and begin a book list for future reads.

The power of connecting

I have always held the belief that online is fabulous, but face-to-face is MAGIC. The upward spiral is evident when we meet a Tweeter face-to-face for the first time, but we have already shared journey, a kindred spirit, a tangible connection. Online connections make the face-to-face connections more meaningful, which, in turn, make future online connections more meaningful — a true upward spiral of success.
From the very first moments in the darkened auditorium listening to the student on the piano, to the Hobsonville learner sharing her poem, to the Hobsonville primary students sharing their learning journey, their agency, through to every workshop — this conference focused on transforming opportunities for our learning.
With the most important space in the classroom or school being the space between the teacher, leader, learner's ears, this conference truly connected us, challenged us, empowered us, and engaged us. We were given agency to make the learning over these two days work for us. We were challenged, motivated, and inspired by each other. We had fun — so much fun!
There are oh-so-many opportunities for us as educators to make a difference in the everyday life of our students! Thanks to everyone who connects, cares, shares, gives…. The learning from #edchatnz conference carries on through the blogging meme.

So what’s next? How can we connect?

Where to now? Counting down until October!Connected Educator Month is going to be the most incredibly powerful opportunity for local, national and global connections on a scale not seen before in New Zealand.
What are you going to do to embrace the MAGIC of this opportunity?
What are you going to explore in your area?
Who are you going to connect with?
Who can you engage with?
Can you:
  • Run or attend an educamp?
  • Begin or reignite an e-teach group?
  • Join #edubookchatnz?
  • Run or attend an #eduignite?
  • Attend Ulearn?
  • Run a techni breaki at your school?
  • Blog your journey?
  • Share your T@I?
  • Attend or start up a local f2f group?
  • Join in a webinar?
  • Join and contribute to the vln?
  • Join or connect with a new group through social media?
  • Support learning and connecting at a local retirement home?
  • Support a collaboration between ECE, primary, secondary or tertiary groups?
  • Become a mentor?
  • Find yourself a mentor?
  • Join a quadblog group?
Check out the starter resources and the toolkit for staff.
Connected Educator Month is about to kick-off!
A global calendar of free online professional learning, offered by NZ and global organisations. Make October the month that you and your colleagues connect and grow your online skills and professional learning. Become a connected educator and be part of an online, networked profession.
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