How are other teachers assigning homework? How do educators use social media in the classroom? How does someone survive their first year as a new principal?
These are a few of the discussions brought up by Long Island educators during Friday’s EdCamp Long Island conference, hosted by the SJC Long Island Alumni Association.
SJC Long Island Alumni Dennis Schug ’97 and Scott Garafola ’08, who helped form EdCamp Long Island about five years ago, commented on the positive energy flowing through the McGann Conference Center from local educators at the conference.
“I have to give a shout out to the teachers; this is a working day for them,” Garafola said. “It’s summer. And the teachers are like, ‘No, I’m going to take my Friday and go learn by my own choice.’”
“That speaks to the passionate group we have in this region,” he added.
During an EdCamp, it’s up to the attendees to come up with the day’s agenda, which Schug and Garafola said helps the productivity of the event.
When attendees arrived, an empty board on the back of the conference room wall beckoned for individuals to come and create their own schedule. If there is a topic an educator wanted to learn about – say, how others implement science, technology, English, art and math (STEAM) into their curriculum – the educator would write it on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall. Another educator at the conference, who may have strategies for teaching STEAM to share with the education community, could then sign up to lead that conversation.
Within the first hour of the day, the board was filled.
“It’s a powerful model,” Garafola said. “It’s changed what teachers are doing in their classrooms.”
Teaching With Technology
Starr Sackstein, the director of humanities for the West Hempstead Union Free School District, led a conversation Friday morning about using social media, such as Twitter and blogs, in the classroom.
Sackstein said she has her students blog about the literature they are reading using Blogger, a blog-publishing service owned by Google. She explained that it allows the students to have book discussions with other kids who are reading the same type of literature as them and form a community.
On Twitter, Sackstein will sometimes take a picture of her class reading a book and tweet it to the author. Getting a response from the author never fails to spark excitement from her students.
“It’s so easy to develop relationships with these people today,” Sackstein said. “It’s not like back in the day when you were reaching out to their publicist.”