September 2018

Unusual Collaborations: Art & Library

My favorite part of being a librarian is the opportunity to collaborate with teachers. These partnerships let me get to know my students and colleagues in deeper and more authentic ways. Collaboration is common in certain content areas: English/language arts, social studies, science. But some of my richest and most interesting collaborations have occurred with less traditional content areas: art, PE, and math.

One of my favorite examples began when the art teacher approached me about incorporating virtual reality technology into an existing lesson. Art teacher Keisha McCauley used a “See, Think, Wonder” approach to introducing students to works of art. She found a YouTube360 video that she wanted to try. “Dreams of Dali” is produced by the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL, and lets students “go inside and beyond Dali’s painting”. As soon as I watched it, I knew students would be hooked.

We worked together to implement a 3-station rotation model. The focus of the rotations was completing a “See, Think, Wonder” graphic organizer for different modalities of art. Ms. McCauley directed one station in which students viewed a number of static art posters and worked together to complete the chart. The second station was an independent work area where students completed a “Hidden Cracks” activity, akin to finding pictures in the clouds on a sunny day. I manned the third station, the virtual exploration of a Dali painting. Students donned a pair of virtual reality goggles and were given the opportunity to view the experience and then complete their organizer. I then shared some history about the artist, as well as photos from his life. We ended our rotation with a look at the static painting “Archaeological Reminiscence” and a discussion about what we saw and what we still questioned.

One thing we noticed with our first implementation of this lesson is that the students needed more background knowledge before jumping into the virtual reality experience. We modified the lesson to include a video for the entire class about Dali, his life, and his connection to Surrealism. We also wanted a more direct connection with literacy and reading. I pulled books relating to Dali and surrealism and added a quick book talk for students interested in learning more.

As we move into our second year of implementation, there are several areas we would like to modify. We would like to connect the three rotations more closely, possibly focusing only on surrealism in the static poster rotation. Also, we would like to modify the “Cracks in the Sidewalk” activity to better connect to the overall theme of surrealism. Possibly this station could involve students trying their hand at creating surrealist works of art or focusing on a particular piece of art and evaluating it for surrealistic elements. We would also like to extend the activity in the future to allow students to try creating their own augmented reality experiences with their new knowledge.



Dr. Corey Hall is a middle school librarian in central Pennsylvania and an adjunct faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University. She has 21 years of experience in the education field. She can be reached via Twitter @rchallway and Instagram @barons_librarian.

What Can You Expect at a PBS Edcamp?

PBS educators are a passionate bunch. It’s no wonder – we collaborate daily with some passionate characters. You probably know some of them: Sid the Science Kid, Daniel Tiger, Wild Kratts, Arthur, my two favorites, Peg + Cat, and many more. The PBS mission is to “…educate, inspire, entertain and express a diversity of perspectives.” As PBS Edcamp organizers, we can’t help but bring our mission to each event.

No two Edcamps are alike, and the attendees are what make each Edcamp special. However, since PBS and the Edcamp Foundation partnered last year, and PBS Edcamps starting popping up across the nation, it seems the organizers can play an important role in the Edcamp experience, as well.

Our surveys tell us that educators enjoy and learn from the PBS Edcamp experience. Here are a few things you might expect to find when the next PBS Edcamp pops up in your neighborhood.


  • You will meet PreK- 3 Educators. Our PBS Kids and Education focus is early childhood, so it is natural that our PBS Edcamp is designed for the PreK through 3rd Grade adults who teach them. Further, it’s a special day when PreK educators can enjoy quality professional development alongside K-3 educators.


  • You will find free educational media. Classroom-ready, standards-based, PBS resources will be shared - many that teachers have not heard about – most that the kids already know well. Who doesn’t love free lesson plans?


  • You will see PBS characters. Not just for kids, our beloved characters make everyone feel like happy campers. And the kids back at school will love seeing their teacher’s selfie with their favorite PBS characters!

  • You will probably ‘bling’ your badge. This simple, creative interaction of decorating name tags together helps educators relax, mingle, remember names and be remembered.

  • You will meet awesome PBS volunteers. PBS attracts the BEST volunteers – special people that help make the Edcamp experience its best.


  • You could win fun stuff. Whether you call it swag, giveaways, tchotchke, whatever – PBS has fun stuff! (think: Cookie Monster notebook, Cyberchase socks, Mr. Rogers cookbook.) And we all know teachers like fun stuff.


The next time a PBS Edcamp pops up in your neighborhood think about attending, especially if you plan to organize a future Edcamp in your school, district or university setting. We love to partner with other Edcamp organizers. Connect with us! Edcamp organizers really can make a difference.

District Initiative 2018-2019

The 2018-19 District Initiative is in full swing! It started in New Mexico with a 150 person Edcamp at the beautiful Rankin Training Center in Albuquerque. The APS team was trained to be Edcamp Specialists back in April. They have been planning ever since. They are hoping to help teachers feel more comfortable when it comes to using technology in the classroom. Some of the topics were Google Classroom, Apps for Engagement, Project Based Learning, Passion Projects, All things Google, STEM, Edpuzzle, Nearpod, Classroom Management in a 1:1 classroom, PBS Learning Resources, Coding and many more. The teachers were excited to learn and fully engaged in the day. Edcamp secured the food for the day. We purchased food from two local restaurants. One that specializes in breakfast tacos and for lunch pizzas and salads. The day ended with the Edcamp Specialists giving away prizes and sharing their favorite tech platforms. Edcamp will be back in New Mexico in November and again in the spring.

Next, we flew directly from New Mexico to Virginia. Our second District Initiative was held in Newport News, Virginia. We hosted 2 back to back Edcamps here. There were Edcamp Specialists at both events. The first Edcamp involved 3 elementary schools with very different student bodies. The conversations were rich and lively. Some of the topics discussed were Mindfulness, Integrating Content into Literacy Blocks, Morning Provocation,, Trauma Informed Care, Community Engagement, Math Strategies, Flexible Seating, How to Conference During Reader’s Workshop, Student Discourse, Effective Writing Instruction, Google AR and Virtual Reality, just to name a few. The teachers were very thankful for having the opportunity to attend an Edcamp. The administrators attended the sessions also and offered support and shared success stories.

Day 2 in Newport News was centered around 3 high schools. We brought together a high school who is 1:1 technology with high schools who are just going 1:1 this year. The conversations centered around Classroom Management in a 1:1 Class, Go Guardian, How much technology is too much, Cell phones?, Homework?, Co-Teaching, Flipped Classroom, Virtual Reality, Trauma Informed Care, and so many more. There were 400 teachers in total at these 2 Edcamps in Newport News. They had a DJ and many activities that had their teachers dancing at 7:30 am! We will be back in the beginning of 2019 to host and Edcamp Encore and to check on the progress and forward motion from these 2 Edcamps.

Here are a few testimonials from Newport News, Virginia:

"The free flow of ideas was invigorating. Not having the focus of the training be what the facilitator envisions but what the participants need and want out of the session was mind blowing and so helpful. I hope that we continue to conduct our PD sessions in the Ed Camp style." - Sally Cate

"I remember how excited and inspired I was after my first EdCamp. At first, I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t understand the format but then that apprehension turned into amazement. Our first District Initiative EdCamp allowed me to watch this journey for over 350 educators. They not only learned from other educators from other schools but they rallied together for an experience of a lifetime. My favorite tweet from the day: I should have gone to an #edcamp a loooooong time ago! This came from a new teacher that is already doing great things in her classroom. Educators from six different schools made new friends, learned new strategies, and had a blast while doing it. We danced, we ate, we learned, we conquered! Thank you EdCamp for sparking a fire for learning like never before in Newport News, Virginia." - Brandie Wright

A Message For Classrooms Around The World As We Begin A New School Year: Pull Up A Seat… Your Student Voice Is Valued.

In any circle of discussion around education, student voice deserves a seat at the table.

Why? It’s simple-- the learning journey, they way every student sees, experiences & feels valued & welcomed as a collaborator within the environment of shared space weaves the very fabric of our future.

As you sit & consider the weight of what all this means & contemplate the HOW of making it happen in your classroom for your students, ask yourself this--”What did 5 year, 10 year, or 17 year old me want to tell the teacher? The world?” Now ask yourself “Why that didn’t happen?” or if it did happen remind yourself of how it happened.

Student Voice is not just something we do with technology. It’s a pedagogy. When blended these two powerful forces can change the mode, volume & distance in which student voice can be created, heard & have impact.

Working in a small suburban school district in Norton, Massachusetts, we find ourselves using creative thinking & leveraging resources to provide students with engaging, meaningful & authentic learning experiences.

Across the grade levels & across curriculum, here are some ways the district I work in has embedded opportunities for students voice to be heard both academically & socially. Perhaps you will be inspired to try something similar in your classroom or district!

Flipgrid Monday Morning Meet Up- In one specialized program, each Monday a student assumes the role of creating a Flipgrid Topic to discuss, share & contemplate through interactive videos. Students respond to the topic as well as to each other’s responses. Students share perspectives while respectfully engaging in dialogue expanding their knowledge & exercising their ability to express opinions, ideas, solutions & more.

Lancer Film Festival “The Lancer Film Festival was created to celebrate media & multimedia projects produced by Norton's students & staff. The Festival showcases what can be accomplished when talented students & dedicated educators work together to integrate media into our schools.” - Karen Winsper, Director of Instructional Technology, Norton Public Schools

Spread The Word to End the Word Campaign Schools & classrooms throughout the district support encourage any students who wish to to sign the pledge. This campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word to facilitate more accepting attitudes & communities. Pledging as a district to use respectful, people-first language is a student voice which is amplified both locally & globally.

GSA Day of Silence Students are invited to participate in the Day of Silence during lunches in support of The National Day of Silence each April. This national youth movement guides focus to the silence faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & questioning individuals. The silence during lunches symbolizes the silence which is exemplified by anti-LGBTQ bullying, name-calling, & harassment.

EdCampSoutheasternMA Student Panel As we head to our 3rd year organizing #EdCampSEMass, the student panel will be back again by popular demand! Students & attendees leave the conversation with fresh, new ideas & considerations that if not for the dialogue may never had made the radar. Read here for a first hand student blog account of what the student panel offers for student voice!

Kimberly Zajac, MA CCC- SLP/A; C/NDT

Kim is a certified speech/language pathologist and Audiologist at Norton Middle School and Norton High School. She holds specialized certification in the area of Neuro-developmental Treatment with Pediatrics and is a Level 2 Certified Google Educator, and a Flipgrid Ambassador. She is Co-Leader of the MassCUE SLP/Special Education SIG, moderator of #SlpSpedChat and is a Co-Founder of @EdCampSoutheasternMA. She has presented at MassCUE Fall Conference 2016 & 2017, at the MASCD/MassCUE Spring 2018 Leadership Conference, at the New England League of Middle Schools Annual Conference 2017 & 2018, at the LSDO Dinner Series 2018, ISTE Affiliates Day 2018 as well a number of Norton Public Schools District Professional Development events and Book Study Chats.

With over 20 years experience working with individuals across a variety of settings, Kim specializes in creating programs and learning strategies to support families and students with a wide range of disabilities including the areas of communication, movement, cognition, verbal and non-verbal learning, executive function, social thinking, and social-emotional regulation. She is passionate in supporting student agency through voice and choice as well as establishing equitable access and opportunity for ALL students. Kim supports innovative integration of educational technology tools in instruction for all students as well as in specialized service delivery.

You can follow Kim on Twitter @ZajacSLP or on her website:

Solar City: A Collaborative STEM Project

During the 2017-18 school year, one of my colleagues, Merrimac Forsyth, and I created a solar city with a solar panel circuit, a river flowing from a mountain, 3D printed houses designed by our students, and an aquaponic flower garden attached to it in Ms. Forsyth's third grade classroom. Through the progression of our project, students enthusiastically added bridges, roads, lights for their houses, and a train.

The solar city symbolized more than a “train track” or “art project.” Our students were in the rollercoaster of events, such as sprinting to the restroom to get handfuls of paper towels and toilet paper due to the aquaponics flower garden leaking to receiving positive feedback from Georgia teachers and administrators during our quarterly STEM Showcases, to smelling saw dust from freshly-cut wood while Ms. Forsyth was teaching on the SMART board.

All students participated in the project regardless of test scores or being the “quietest of the quiet.” Friendships among the students were made when they were holding teacher-cut boards while the other students were drilling the holes, putting in the screws, using a chalk line, and painting the mountain. Even though third grade math and science standards were addressed through traditional and unconventional methods, students were not given a choice of which kit to order on the Internet and then use professionally-written directions. They had to correctly use all four mathematical operations, fractions, and measurement and then collaboratively design their solar city.

The most important long-term benefit from the solar city project was for the students to face failure themselves and witness their teachers experiencing it as well. Despite multiple setbacks, everyone overcame them as a team through trial and error and working hard until the project was finished on a goal-orientated time line.

As a teacher, I try to be a role model for my students inside and outside my school. Before the solar city project began, I shared my personal story of the successes and failures of my number line to 10,000,000 and other math manipulatives that address the standards of fractions, decimals, elapsed time, weight, capacity, and money that I invented about six years ago. I stressed that I sought the best sales person, writer, business mind, and tech savvy person I knew. I emphasized to them that it is appropriate for them, including adults, to seek assistance and advice as well as take risks.

For additional information about the solar city and to see some the math teaching strategies that my students used to complete the solar city project, please visit to see an Easter Seals Indianapolis demonstration video.

Jim Franklin is an inclusion special education teacher from Elm Street Elementary in Rome, GA. He has the privilege of working the 21st STEM certified school in the state of Georgia. With 20 years of experience teaching at the elementary and middle school levels, he strongly believes all students can learn. One of his personal goals is to teach students when they do not know when they are being taught.

Edcamp Model Used at Better Together: CA Teachers Summit

On July 27, 2018, educators across the state of California convened for simultaneous Edcamps taking place at 39 locations across the state. What a powerful demonstration of the positive impact the Edcamp model has on educators!

Being part of the Better Together: California Teachers Summit for the past four years has not only helped us expand our model across California, but has helped to garner the attention of some heavy hitters in the education field. Last year, our executive director met with Dr. Jill Biden; this year Sir Ken Robinson gave a shout out to Edcamp as an excellent form of professional development for educators. We are very proud to be a part of the amazing work of California's educators.

Watch a short video of the power of Better Together: California Teachers Summit.

TN Edcamp + PBS Station WCTE

The Putnam County School System in Tennessee started the school year off a little differently this year by partnering with PBS Station WCTE  to do its 2nd Edcamp as the opening day of in-service!

On July 25th 2018, over 850 teachers and district leaders attended the first ever district-wide Edcamp. Everyone in the district participated!

"It was really neat to attend a wide variety of sessions and talk to people who could offer ideas you hadn't thought of! I really enjoyed getting a chance to connect with people outside of my community and school building." ~ Angela Dyer, Prescott South Middle School

The teacher-created session board included over 69 PreK-4 topics and 75 topics for grades 5-12. Topics included: classroom management, curriculum, social and emotional well being, technology, STEAM, grading practices, standards, and many more subject and grade level specific topics. The feedback has been wonderful and their teachers are already asking if they can do it again next year!

Check out pictures from the Edcamp!

Watch two teachers talk about the impact of Edcamp.