Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The One Where nErDcamp Rocks! #slice2013

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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Last Wednesday I packed up my family and headed to Battle Creek, Michigan for the first ever nErDcamp! After organizing Edcamp Chicago in April, I was super excited when Colby and his wife, Alaina, decided to put together a literacy-focused Edcamp, aptly named: nErDcamp! Super fun! I just hung out with so many Nerdy friends at ALA in Chicago at the end of April but it was awesome to visit with some of the same Nerdy friends and other new Nerdy friends at nErDcamp.
Wednesday afternoon we met to set up as much as we could at the high school ahead of time and to talk through how things were going to go. Then we headed over to an awesome local place called Dark Horse which was really relaxing. They had a great backyard space where we could spread out and enjoy the cool night. I loved looking around the table and seeing so many awesome friends. Whether I was looking at familiar faces or new (in real life) faces, it was actually like a family reunion. It seems like every Nerdy event is like that. It's like meeting people you have known your whole life. Finding people who are as passionate as I am about teaching and talking books has just been so amazing. I wish I had more pictures to share...but Katherine has a round up of nErDcamp posts going on if you want to see some of the fun pictures!

Thursday morning I snuck out of the hotel (leaving my family to play in the pool and enjoy the continental breakfast) and headed to nErDcamp. We still had lots of things to get into place and before we knew it, Nerdy friends were showing up, grabbing their goody bags, and getting ready for the idea board planning session. It was really exciting!
Getting Ready For nErDcamp Morning Session Planning!
Alaina and Me - We Are Excited!!!
Colby and the Morning Welcome
What amazed me about Edcamp Chicago was that as nervous I was about how it was all going to go, it just figured itself out. I knew the same would happen for nErDcamp but it really is still a completely marvel to witness firsthand how it all just comes together. The morning board wasn't empty for long!
The Idea Board (the old school version) - Ready and Waiting!
If you want to see what sessions were offered, you can visit the nErDcamp Google Doc and if you click on the different sessions you'll see notes that participants added! A great resource!
I decided to go to a session about Everything Evernote first and then went to a session hosted by Laurel Snyder and four of Colby's students. Both were awesome. I totally learned something new about Evernote that completes sends my love of Evernote through the roof. Here it is, are you ready? You can smoosh your notes together into a stack of notes within a notebook! How awesome is that! I wanted Evernote to do that but didn't think it was possible. Well, it is possible! You just have to go to the web version of Evernote and once the notes are created, you can drag them over/into each other and into a notebook. Love it! Special thank to Karen Terleckly, Cathy Mere and Alaina Sharp for hosting! 
Cahty Mere Talking About Evernote 
Laurel Synder was a dream in person, she was super nice and I loved hearing her talk about Skyping with Colby and his students. The best part was listening to Colby's students talk about how they were willing to try new things with their writing because they got the idea from a published author. It completely confirmed everything I have felt from participating in Teachers Write. Being able to connect with authors, whether we are teachers or students, really helps us take our own writing in a new direction. I think if students see their teachers as writers, too, that they see us in a different light. 
Laurel Snyder Sharing About Author Skypes with Colby's Students
At lunch, I zipped off to pick up my family so they could have the car and not be trapped at the hotel aaaaaaall day. They came in to see us set up the afternoon sessions. Peanut loved being able to help out. He was really proud of putting the cards on the board and helping. Little Bean...well, he was just tired. In the afternoon, I sat out of one session to work on a book review for one of the summer courses I'm taking. I'm almost done! I just didn't want to spend more time away from my family than I needed to. And for the last session, Brian Wyzlic and I talked about Teachers Write. I've never presented with any of my Nerdy friends before and it was pretty cool. It seemed to flow back and forth (especially since we didn't practice or really even talk about what we were going to do) and we shared ideas and our love of Teachers Write. Here's a picture of Brian with all the awesome giveaways we had! 
Brian and the Swag!
Hooray! That was my nErDcamp experience! Overall, it was just awesome to have another excuse to hang out with Nerdy friends. What I love most about the Edcamp style of conferences is that  it doesn't cost anything. That's really my favorite part. But after that, I love that it's really just time to talk through ideas with other people who are super excited to share ideas. I saw someone tweet about setting up their own nErDCamp and I think it's such a great idea. So many people asked me about Edcamp, curious as to how it all came about. All you have to do is set up a venue, set up your registration and post your Edcamp/nErDcamp on the Edcamp wiki. That's it. You can tweet about it and share on social media, but for the most part, people will find it and people will sign up and people will come. And it'll be awesome. If you have thought about bringing Edcamp or nErDcamp to your part of the world, I definitely recommend it. See if you can find a few other people who are willing to help you and then do some research. I'm happy to answer questions and I think any of the other nErDcamp team would be, too. And maybe you want to just go to an Edcamp before you host your own, that's okay, too! Just check out the Edcamp wiki to see if there are any coming to your area. It is super energizing and entirely motivating. I don't think you'll regret it! 

Here is the awesome nErDcap Battle Creek team! From left to right: me, Donalyn, Niki, Brian, Colby, Alaina, and Suzanne (Gina is not pictured)! Hooray! We had the awesome nErDcamp logo on the front of our shirts and our Twitter handles on the back. Yay team! We did it! I'm ready for next year! :)
Have you ever been to an Edcamp? Or did you come to nErDcamp? Did you love it? And why? 
If you've never been, do you have any questions? 
It's a little bit of a mystery until you attend so feel free to ask questions!

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