Tag Archives: EDcamp

EdCamps Are Like a Box of Chocolates!

Ok, Forrest Gump fans, you know where I am going with this. The unpredictable nature of EdCamps can intimidate some, but pique the curiosity and passion of others who attend. Showing up on a precious Saturday to roll the dice on what will be shared, discussed, and/or learned isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you haven’t tried it, I strongly encourage you to unwrap this delicious box of chocolates and take a bite! (sorry, not sorry,  for all the mixed metaphors!)

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 2.15.49 PMLast weekend I attended EdCampWME (Western Maine) in the beautiful western mountains of my state. I lucked out with winter weather that was cold but dry to make the hour drive from my home. The group was by no means great in size, but they made up for that in passion and professionalism. Everyone there wanted to be there-wanted to learn and share ideas. When one of the organizers is Dan Ryder (Wicked Decent Learning), co-author of Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, you know it’s going to be a great event.img_6923

As usual we created our idea board and merged some topics to create some inclusive groups and then found our rooms and found our voices. I shared resources, research and ideas on sketchnoting and the use of visual images in writing because I believe so strongly that expanding our definition of writing will create and engage more writers.

I met with teachers discussing topics on building independence and on reluctant learners and we shared ideas for engagement and expectations that led to some powerful discussions about the importance of teaching the whole child and the social-emotional aspects of learning/learners.

I came away with a great lesson on teaching about fairness, equity, and differentiation to children who sometimes complain, “That’s not fair! He gets to______ and I don’t!” It’s called the Band-Aid Lesson. I thought it was so powerful that I wrote it up as a lesson plan for my teachers, so you don’t have to go to Teachers Pay Teachers to get it, you can get mine here for free

Band-Aid Lesson

I had no idea I would learn about this or some of the other ideas and resources I walked away with, but my box of chocolates was quite delicious that day. Sure there were a couple of nutty nougat nuggets that I probably won’t nibble, but I could gorge on most of those chocolates for the rest of this year and beyond.

I’ve got two more EdCamps on my radar in the coming month (EdCamp207 and EdCampBoston). Maybe I’ll see some of you there. If you have EdCamps of your own that you are attending please send me the link to your idea boards so I can learn vicariously.

Here are a few of my takeaways from #EDCampWME


One More Off My TBR Stack

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 2.35.27 PMNEW KID by Jerry Craft

WOW! I can see why this book won the Newbery Award this year. I was literally laughing out loud and I am still laughing a few hours later. Jerry Craft has created a brilliant book about the challenges of starting over as a new kid when you are one of the few students of color in the entire school and well-meaning white teachers tell you, “Being different is a blessing. It’s what makes you special.” This story could only be told as a graphic novel as it is expressed with intelligence, insight, and humor that needs to be seen and not ‘explained’. This story, if written as a standard novel, would be like having to explain a joke-it loses its punch and power. This book belongs in classrooms and libraries everywhere. It will enlighten but it will also entertain middle grade to middle aged readers.

nErDs Unite!

The longer I’ve been teaching, the more I know how important it is to take charge of my own professional development and not wait to see what might be offered by someone else. Don’t get me wrong, school-based, district-based, or state-based PD can be great, it’s just not enough. Not if I want to be my best and feed my insatiable appetite for learning.

That’s one reason  I love EDcamps and nErDcamps so much. That’s why I attended nErDcamp NNE (Northern New England) this weekend in Maine along with my tribe of nErDs.  Teachers and authors came together to share ideas, pose questions, and collaborate on answers to the daily challenges of being the best educators our children deserve. Giving up a precious weekend requires a lot of passion and self-motivation!

Big shout outs to the nErDcampNNE organizer Susan Dee, and her team of nErDs who made this weekend in Freeport, Maine a huge success. They brought in authors, and lots of free books, and lots prizes for the event. Everyone walked away with bags of ‘swag’!42797496_10214952710564590_8524555302740164608_n

Also a huge thank you to all of the authors who came together for nErDy Author Night on Friday. They packed the gym at Morse School with fans who got a chance to talk with their favorite authors and get books signed by their heroes in kidlit. Look at this lineup!


For the second year, I brought my “Genius Notes” book that I invite authors to write in. I ask them if they would share one piece of advice for the student writers back in my district, and I’ve never had a single author decline. They are so generous in their thoughtful advice and it is so exciting to share their tips with young writers.

I was also able to share some of the work I’ve been doing around quick writes and get ideas from others in our session. Authors such as Haley Barrett, Elly Swartz, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt all had tips for sparking ideas in short bursts of writing. Teachers shared what works for themselves and their students. That’s what I love about these sessions-it is a give and take from everyone. 42912894_10216891224943001_2273204431744925696_o.jpg

So if you ever get the chance to attend an EDcamp-get your nErDy on and DO IT! Take charge of your own professional learning, share your expertise with others, and become a part of a collaborative community that cares about books, about learning, about kids…as much as you do.

One More Off My TBR Stack!

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 1.48.29 PMThe Wish List: The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! by Sarah Aronson

It’s the one word that kept resonating with me as I read this novel for young readers. It also kept coming up in nErDcamp sessions as authors shared tips (and mentioned Sarah quite a bit.)

Isabelle is training to be a fairy godmother (her grandmomma is president of the Fairy Godmother Alliance) so the pressure is on for her to be good at it-in fact, her sister already is. But Isabelle would rather play than study-she might just fail her training! So she is assigned a “practice princess” to prove herself worthy. Unfortunately Isabelle finds out she has been assigned a “normal” girl and her worst fears might just be realized. I often read a lot of ‘heavy’ and serious kidlit books, so it is fun to get some time with whimsical books for younger readers-and Sarah’s got a great website (http://www.saraharonson.com ) I love the  #TipsonTuesday section for writers of all ages. Just what I needed this week.


Don’t mind
Choosing to spend a little time
Away from family in exchange for
Meaningful learning and
Professional connections to
Support our passion and growth as teachers.



#MicroPoetry  #SOL18

Yesterday I attend an EdCamp in rural Maine organized by teachers…for teachers. If you have never attended an EdCamp, I cannot urge you more vociferously.  I always feel so energized after immersing myself in a day of self-directed learning with such passionate, life-long learners. A big thank you to the teachers at Maranacook Community School who put in many long hours to make #EdCamp207–a FREE professional development– so successful.  Thank you also, to every teacher who stepped up to share and collaborate and make this day so meaningful. If you’d like to check out our learning you can click on our Sessions Schedule for links to notes and resources.

Virtual Summer Camp 2015

When you live in an amazing state like Maine, “Staycations” are a favorite, especially in the summer.  Winters are long here, and we often don’t want to give up a single day of our Maine summers.  Though there were several conferences and camps I would have truly enjoyed going to, I elected to attend them virtually.  Thanks to social media it’s not only possible, it’s easy!

1538725First up is nErDcampMI.  I am determined to roadtrip my way across the coun1621704_667566729951571_1638043617_ntry for this one someday, but the next best thing is following the tweets of my favorite nErDy campers (Katherine Sokolowski, Donalyn Miller, John Schumacher, Cindy Minnich, Teri Lesesne, and Lesley Burnap -among others. Another way to learn along with these campers is by visiting the IDEA BOARD where participants brainstormed topics to explore and archived their notes/resources. Colby Sharp is the amazing educator who organizes this camp and one of the founders of The Nerdy Book Club.  If you love books you can follow the blogs of these nerds and get your nerdy on!

You can see a complete listing of EDcamps at: EDcamp Calendar 2015

summit-logo_0Next up were the Scholastic Reading Summits scattered across the country from Boston, to Austin, to Birmingham and more. Featured speakers included:

Again, I could follow along on twitter with the hashtag #readingsummit or check out these RESOURCES on the website.



Last week was the first summer conference for the newly renamed International Literacy Association  (formerly International Reading Association).  Previously they have held this conference the first week of May, but this year it was summer in St. Louis.  Having grown up in the Midwest, I knew that could be H-O-T!  Twitter was again my go-to entrance ticket to this event!  Following the hashtag #ILA15 I was able to see photos, read quotes, and link to videos. Still looking for notes and resources from this one!

As you can see, you don’t have to go far for professional development. Sure, it’s great to go in person, to experience the camps and conferences with other passionate educators.  But when you can’t, there’s no reason to be left out!  We can be as connected as we choose to be.  I’ll be at NCTE 15, but this summer I chose virtual PD-fun and free!

What’s On My Book Radar

My #bookaday challenge is going great! You can follow my daily reads on Facebook: Book-a-Day Summer 2015. One book I have been recommending to many is The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.  Harry Potter fans will find many similarities, as we follow three young mages (gifted with magic) who enter the Magisterium when they turn twelve.  I worried at first it would be too much of a copycat series, but those worries vanished as I was pulled into this adventure.  First of five, I highly recommend this Maine Student Book Award nominee!


My new favorite picture book is Little Red Henry by Linda Urban!  I love this twist on a familiar story.  Rather than looking for help, Henry is looking for independence…something his family doesn’t seem ready to offer! This will be a fun read aloud for classrooms and livingrooms!