Live Blog of MJGDS EdCamp

This is my unplanned live blog of today’s amazing MJGDS Faculty EdCamp!

9:15 AM Sign Up for EdCamp

We gathered the faculty together in Library with our blank board.  After a brief introduction, teachers began to sign up!  After some shuffling, the schedule for our first “unconference” is ready to go!

My goal is to live blog 15 minutes from each of the nine sessions.  Off to camp!

9:30 AM Session #1 – The Daily 5

Second Grade General Studies and Fourth-Fifth Language Arts Teachers are explaining how they are piloting “The Daily 5″ in their classrooms.

They begin by explaining how it works in their classrooms.

It is very important that children are given an opportunity to build stamina for reading. Each class has their own chime for transitions.



Do they pick their own books?  They use “I-Pick”.  They show a video of how they introduce the concept to the students.

I am struck watching the teachers bounce back and forth between each other how powerful EdCamp can be…the whole point is that there is nothing to prepare because you are already experts.  They are simply sharing their practice with their colleagues.  It is great as a principal to watch teachers be excited about what they are doing.  It is equally great to watch their colleagues inspired to ask questions.

They are reading their own books, no basal reader.  One reason why the Daily 5 is a great fit for our school is because it emphasizes authentic tasks which increase student motivation.  They aren’t doing simulated or artificial reading…they are reading.  Another reason?  Reflection is built in.

As I leave they begin a conversation about how the Daily 5 might expand into other grades…or Jewish Studies.

Off to the next session!


9:45 AM Session #2  – iPads or textbooks or both?

Walking into the middle of a conversation…

…what do we if students have a hard enough time keeping track of their books?  How can we give them iPads?

…sounds like a conversation about becoming BYOD is underway!

Is it a conversation about where information is read or what extra features come with use of iPads?

What would be the right year for students to come with iPads?  4th Grade?

We then move into a conversation between the school providing them at school, should parents be required to buy them,  or should the school buy them and then provide them to students in lieu of textbooks?

Challenges of filtering appropriate websites and apps!

Off to the next session!


10:00 AM Session #3 – diigo

Walking into the end of a conversation…

…everyone is actively practicing how to add bookmarks to their lists!

Wish I could have been there for the whole thing!  Everyone is working hard establishing their diigo accounts, their libraries and their lists.

Teachers are enjoying finding new lists, adding websites to their lists, etc.

How will MJGDS teachers use diigo?  We are going to have to find out!


10:15 AM Break #1

OK!  The first round of EdCamp is complete, but the conversations are not!  Snack is being put out and we have a moment to catch our breaths before the next round begins…


10:30 AM Session #4 – Student-Led Conferences

Very full session!  Our Fourth-Fifth Grade Math Teacher is describing the process she went through for our first pilot experience, which was Fifth Grade Student-Led Conferences, which we did last marking period.

It began with letters to parents introducing the idea.

It took a LOT of reflection – particularly for the students.  Who owns the learning?  MJGDS students (and teachers) do!

The surprising part was how willing and able they were to accurately reflect about their study skills and work habits.  We were concerned the more challenging students might struggle with this, but it turned out to be amazing.

“I never saw them the same way again.” – What a powerful statement!  This  forever changed the way this teacher saw her students.  And maybe vice-versa…

Teachers are making connections to curriculum (Language Arts) and to our use of blogfolios…

As a principal, this connects so many dots – reflection, ownership, blogfolios.  Student Led Conferences are a great fit for 21st Century Learning.

Off to the next session!


10:45 AM Session #5 – SMART Boards

How awesome is that our Art Teacher is facilitating a conversation about how to use SMART Boards for General & Jewish Studies Teachers!

Now she is showing them examples from SlideShare and Pintarest on where she does research, finds inspiration and organizes her own work.

They are moving into a practical sharing of favorite sites for game-making…and I am off to the next session.


11:00 AM Session #6 – Current Events

Students need to source their information!

How do you help students distinguish between opinion and fact?

Starting teaching Current Events at a younger grade may sharpen critical thinking skills that has cross-curricular impact.

We now move into a fascinating conversation about how we help students develop those skills in a world where one person’s fact is another person’s opinion and how challenges it is teaching these subjects in 2012.

Hungry?  Time for another snack!


11:30 AM Session #7 – Student Blogfolios

We are now in the Kindergarten classroom and we are now discussing how our student blogfolios which until this point had been restricted from 3-8 now begins in Kindergarten!

Let’s talk process…it started with categories.  Most of which will carry…some will be revised, new ones will be added.


The very first item placed into blogfolios in K are self-portraits.

Questions that need to be sorted out as they transition from K-2 to 3-8…

…when do they begin to use the “blog” part of the platform?

…when do they begin to help curate their material?

…when do they go live?

…when does it shift from “digital portfolio” to “blogfolio”?

Knowing where we were when we began…it is amazing to see how far we have come with this process!

I can’t believe EdCamp is almost over!


11:45 AM Session #8 – Art Collaborations

I walk into a great conversation about collaborating between subjects and art.

We are blessed with an amazing art program (and teacher)!  In addition to the Art Resource, we now have Open Art which teachers can sign up for, and Art Collaborations where teachers can partner on units or topics.

Moving from theory to practice…teachers are now brainstorming on new projects…first one up?  Black History Month in Grade Two.

What I am enjoying about the EdCamp model is the easy flow between conversation, demonstration and active collaboration.  We are now playing with Blabberize.

I need to head to my last session, but a great conversation about Tu B’Shevat has just begun!


12:00 PM Session #9 – Writing Scope & Sequence

I am very pleased that this conversation is happening!

They are deep into the details of how assessment can be more embedded, authentic and universal.

There is a conversation about revisiting our benchmarks and standards in light of new realities such as blogging and commenting.

Time is up!  We had just started a great conversation about when to teach keyboarding skills and now EdCamp is over!


What a morning!  Now it time for lunch, our hatzetah competition and we’ll close with our “target” conversation.

What a day!

UPDATE: Here is Andrea Hernandez’ video reflection on our awesome day!



About Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of Galinsky Academy [which includes the DuBow Preschool, the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School (a K-8 Schechter), the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School, and Makom Hebrew High] located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center. He is the Executive Director Designate of the Schechter Day School Network. Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.
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5 Responses to Live Blog of MJGDS EdCamp

  1. avatar Kandi S says:

    Thanks for sharing the day of educamp. Very informative! Where do we(the parents) sign up? Very impressive!

  2. avatar Andrea & Steven Mail says:

    Fascinating! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall…your post almost made me feel I was! Thanks!!

  3. avatar Kathe BRENER says:

    wonderful ideas, great collaboration. I enjoyed reading about your school.

    • avatar Jon Mitzmacher says:

      Always a pleasure to hear from Mrs. Brener! Still working your way through “retirement” at Schechter? :) Ms. Stein, Ms. Ivy and I miss you here in JAX!

  4. Pingback: Ready, Set, Ignite! | A Floor, But No Ceiling

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