Friday, August 30, 2013

Tech Camp Debrief

This week was the first week of school and our first ever Tech Camp for students.  I blogged about Tech Camp in early August when I was writing the lessons.

I could not be more pleased how things went!  We started Tuesday with 5th grade, had 6th grade on Wednesday, 7th grade Thursday and wrapped up with 8th grade on Friday.

Students were grouped alphabetically.  I posted the groups and each group's schedule the day before.  I color coded the group signs and schedules but I don't think anyone noticed ;)

I have to say, setting up the schedule was the toughest part.  Let me rephrase that...setting up the 7th and 8th grade schedules were the toughest part.  Those grades have a lot of moving parts. We share coaches and teachers with the high school. Some classes have more than one grade. I wanted all kids to get to go to PE or Athletics each day and every teacher needed a conference.

5th grade was easy because they still travel in homeroom groups.  6th grade has one coach and he just missed one period.  7th grade has 2 coaches that we share with the HS so that day was a bit confusing.  8th grade is similar to 7th grade.

Students traveled in their groups to each lesson in a rotation.  I knew that each of my groups had come from the Google session and would go to the Hardware/Software lesson next.

After I got the schedule ironed out and groups created I tried to over communicate them to everyone in school.  We used the same bell schedule so I didn't need to involve the cafeteria ladies.  I made a packet for the ladies in the office and attendance rosters for all the teachers involved.

I have to give big props to the office ladies.  Tech Camp was a beating for them.  They had to deal with paper attendance each day.  And Friday they didn't have any office aides all day because everyone in 8th grade was in Tech Camp. Not to mention all the other stuff office ladies deal with the first week of school.  But they handled it all with a smile.

Feedback from students has been very positive.  One 5th grader told me "Best Day Ever!"

Somethings to remember for next year:

  1. my portfolio creation lesson lasted all period for 5th graders but not as long for the other grades. For 7th and 8th graders we used the extra time to register for online ELA textbooks.  Add something else for 6th grade next year. 
  2. be careful to communicate all necessary information to the awesome teachers (and an administrator) who filled in so our coaches could have a conference or go to the high school.  Make sure they know everything they need to know.  
  3. give myself a conference each day. On Wednesday, 6th grade went to PE during 6th period. That's when my 8th grade tech apps class meets.  When I made the schedule I thought, 'awesome! I don't have to get someone to cover that class'.  But that day I thought "I really need to use the bathroom"
  4. Edmodo codes were challenging.  When I had my teachers for staff development in June, I had them create their Edmodo groups and give me the group codes.  I planned to write them on the student's schedules for the Accounts session.  Edmodo now locks all groups after 14 days.  So my teachers had to go in, unlock their groups and send me the new codes.  This lead to me staying up late (midnight late, I'm a 9:30 kinda gal) several nights writing in the codes.  I'm not sure how to fix this but I'm going to figure it out.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the way Tech Camp went. I feel like our kids are fired up about Technology and are ready to hit the ground running.  It's going to be a great year!

Note - in the original post there's a link to the Tech Camp lessons

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