It's so uplifting to get together with a group of people who are striving to make education better for their learners (students and teachers). I was particularly inspired by the stories from Steve Katene and the work they're doing at Richmond Road school in Napier. I really enjoyed listening to his journey, particularly how they were taking risks and were prepared to question everything they were doing. It sounds like a great place to work!
I grabbed a few toys to take down with me and offered to give people a go using Google Cardboard, Ollie, Sphero and the Makey Makey Go's that I have. I'm a bit of a new toy nut, especially when it comes to technology. These were just a few of the ones I've picked up over the last year.
I think it's really important as a teacher to be able to just have some time and space to play, give something you haven't tried before a go. That's exactly what we did. It was great to have Danielle and Michael on hand to talk about what they'd done with their classes as well. So there were some real stories about how these 'toys' could be used in the classroom.
I think for me the day was about playing - not just physically but playing around with ideas and talking them through with others - hence the title Connecting through Play. It was great to hear from other educators and what they'd been doing.
I think there needs to be more of these informal situations where what's needed is addressed then and there by just giving things a go and talking through how you might use them or how others have used them. It's also a space to talk about what didn't work and how others have fixed similar situations. It's not however a place to just get answers that you can apply in your situation I think the power comes from being able to play around with different options and have a few things to go back an try rather than an answer that will fix something.
There were lots of ideas shared throughout the day, most starting from the Smackdown - two minutes to share something you've done, found useful, want others to know about. Check it out here.
The other thing I love about EduCamps is the ability to rewind some of the learning - like dipping back into the twitter feed #educamprotovegas or to the Storify created by Marnel Van Der Spuy, checking out the Smackdown to find links or the Padlet to connect further with participants. Then there's the awesome reflections to check out as people organise their learning after the event - usually posted on the twitter feed :) .. so much more than just one day to play.
Can't wait for the next one :) I see more road trips around the country in my future!