Saturday, March 2, 2013


My first official EdCamp came and went. I can't believe it has taken me a week to find the time to process the new learning and get everything gathered into one place though.

The organizers did a fantastic job and everything went so smoothly. There were so many great sessions lined up that it was difficult to choose. I had a hard time right off the bat because I wanted to go to the Book Titles/Talks session, but there were others that were calling my name too.

Book Titles/Talks
It turned out to be a great session with fantastic titles and resources mentioned, but also in that it made me think about some things I can do to help create change in our school and district. One issue brought up was that some teachers are telling students that reading a certain type of book, such as a heavily illustrated non-fiction book or graphic novel, is "not reading." There are times when I have heard teachers say that the students are "too old" for picture books or that they need to check out harder materials. This is a bit of a hot button for me. Choice is a huge factor in creating a love for reading. I think we do need to encourage exploration of many types of reading, but insulting their favorites is not going to help our cause. Sometimes it seems that teachers would like me to be a police officer making sure that students come back from the library with books they can use to practice reading. I feel like they have reading group books and other materials to do that with, but that their library time is a time to find materials that inspire them, that interest them and that encourage a love of reading, not make them feel like they are checking out their homework.

Another issue that came up was that someone recommended a book that I have not yet read, but have heard is a problematic representation of a First Nation. There were glowing praises about Touching Spirit Bear from many in the room. I have yet to read the book though I have read a review of it on Debbie Reese's blog.

Goals after Book Titles/Talks Session:
With these two issues in mind, I would like to read Touching Spirit Bear so I can speak with some knowledge of the book, but also continue to be an advocate for quality literature from First Nation authors. During the last #titletalk I was able to offer many historical fiction titles that were from diverse authors. The "canon" will continue to be predominantly white unless we make a concerted effort to seek out, buy and talk about diverse works. I would also like to do something with our district literacy leader and/or our staff to have the conversation about promoting a reading culture in our school and district.

Student Blogging
The next session was with Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp). She shared a lot of good recommendations and resources. She is also very eager to help people get started. Her students are using blogs to discuss literature, improve their writing fluency, and share their thoughts and ideas with a real audience. As a side note, I have visited her blog about fashion and so was not surprised that she looked stylish and of course classy all day long. She also tweeted about Innovation Day. I think we could use some of those ideas for our family night this year or next.

Goals after Student Blogging Session:
I will plan to present a shared leadership session this spring for teachers interested in blogging with their students. I may also test out blogging by having a blogging club or choose a grade or class to blog with next year if none of the teachers are interested. I will keep thinking about possibilities with that one.

I am always happy to go to a session with Chad Kafka (@chadkafka) and Tammy Lind (@taml17). In their session Chrome Rocks we got to see the many extensions and apps that are available when you use the Chrome browser. I still need to go through and add a few of these to my account and give them a try.

Goals after Chrome Session:
Experiment with some of the extensions and apps and pass on some good ideas to students and staff.

Common Core
This session was a difficult for the end of the day. There seemed to be more questions than answers for everyone. Districts are still muddling there way through what the Common Core State Standards are going to mean for us all. Teachers seem to be frustrated, stressed, and not sure where to turn. The session did result in a document with some resources, but people appeared more stressed rather than less stressed as a result of our discussion.

Goals after Common Core Session:
I will continue to collect resources for Common Core implementation and will present a session about it at WEMTA in April. Is it bad to say I am not sure what I will present there? I said it anyway. Being on the Common Core Steering Team, I thought I would be more knowledgeable about it by this time and I signed up to do it ages ago. I am not feeling like an expert, but I do think I'm becoming more comfortable with the CCSS as we move through this challenge.

Whew! That is a lot to think about and I am glad that edcamp stretches the participants. I also appreciated the opportunity to meet new people like Renee (@ReaderRenee) and reconnect with others like Sarah (@pageintraning). Hopefully, we will be able to have one here in the La Crosse area sometime in the not-too-distant future. If so, Pernille has given people a great post about what they learned by hosting. I am so glad that they organized EdCampMadWi!


  1. This link should take you to my posts about TOUCHING SPIRIT BEAR. In the comments you'll see many objections to my critique. Pretty sad that librarians dismiss the stereotypes and misrepresentations in it.... The response is as-if it is the only book out there about bullying. It isn't, of course, and there are moments when I feel like people are acting like bullies in their rejection of critiques of it!

  2. I am surprised that Touching Spirit Bear continues to have such support when it is clear that the book is problematic. Thanks for providing the link!