Day 3 at CATCCamp

If I was looking for a movie title to help describe what Day 3 looked like, it would have to include the word zombies in the title.  Camp days are absolutely full and you just felt the toll towards the end.  After breakfast at 7:30, the last mouse click happens at 9:00 – unless you go back to your room to blog or to continue your learning.  But, the collegiality doesn’t end there.  A reception occurs each night in another building and then, deluding ourselves that we might be scientists, we head down to the beach and a campfire and claim that we’re there to see the Perseid meteor showers.  Of course, that didn’t happen for me anyway … the moon was still full when I checked out and so have to rely on the goodness of others to share imagery of the incredible event.  One such collection is here.

But, back to camp.

Like all multi-day professional learning events, this was get-away day.  Things close up early – at 3pm so that we could head off home or wherever the next destination lies.  Today’s my birthday and so we’re treating ourselves to a night in Niagara Falls.  But, even with the shortened day, the learning continued.  As I stuck my head in the doors of the various rooms to lend a hand, there was an almost frenzied effort to finish off or at least make more headway on personal projects.  In so many cases, you could see incredible growth in computer skills in some of the campers as a result of the three days.  As I chatted with various folks, I did ask the question about how this was going to change their professional practice.  After all, that’s the real goal of professional learning.

On my front, Mark and I went back to the eBeam product to see if a night’s sleep could solve some of the issues that we were unable to resolve previously.  This time, we connected the unit to and installed the software on a Windows computer.  It made all of the difference in the world.  This version was indeed ready for prime time.  Even as we were testing the various features, our own conversations kept focussing on what he would use it for in his world and what it might look like, with implications, in classrooms.  The whole experience reminded me of a great conversation that I had had earlier with Becky about prophets and false prophets in education.  We need to continually peel back the skin of the onion to reveal what’s inside and ask the hard questions.

I had a great extended chance to drop into the two web development sessions to see what the results of three days of work looked like.  In particular, I was interested in seeing what the WordPress campers had developed and what they intended to do with it when school opened.  I think they’re on the right track.  It just takes stick-to-it-iveness. 

On another personal note, I got a block of time to work with the Livescribe pen, learning more about its functionality and connection to Evernote and other online services.  The mechanical part of its use seems easy to master – I need a real life situation to put it to the test.

I had a couple of interesting questions put to me.  One was "When do you find time to learn this stuff?"   For me, that’s always an interesting question because I always get the impression that I’m somehow different.  I don’t see it that way – as a computer science, mathematics or business teacher, I was always preparing for the next school day.  Nothing sits still.  Another question was "Why do you blog?"  That’s a tougher question.  Because I enjoy it?  I’m not about to change the world with my words, but I just feel that I’m documenting my own learning and am just happy to share it with whoever cares to read it.  Finally, and this question came came from my wonderful wife – "doesn’t anyone read a book anymore?"  The answer to that is a little more hidden in this environment.  I let her know that we often have some books on our iPads or other devices and read them there.  If you listen to parts of the conversation, people are talking about their reads – it even came up in the Twitter stream from the event.  These are really good questions.

By themselves, they seem to imply that those of us in attendance are less that social?  I don’t necessarily think so – we’re just social in a different and expanding way.  I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions, particularly at the social to realize that there were many connections to other campers that we just hadn’t found yet.  It’s certainly a small world when you get the question "I know you’re from Essex County, what are the chances you know so and so."  I’m constantly amazed when I can say yes and we make a connection.

And then we’re saying our goodbyes!  Ron had confirmed with the group that this was the 20th CATCCamp.  From a vision of what might be, it’s turned into a regular event that people wait for its announcement to just on registration process and avoid the dreaded waiting list.  It was my personal second camp and I found it more powerful this time now that I’m aware of the mechanics and know more of the Waterloo folks.

On the drive out, we passed a number of school buildings.  Some were the epic turn of the century castles, some look like they were build in the 60s or 70s, and some were brand spanking new.  The easiest way to survive in any of these locations would be to grab a class set of books and start at page 1 on the first of September.  I hope that the campers from CATCCamp avoid this temptation and jump in with their newly refined skills and connections to make this a memorable school year.

I’ve got to end with one final picture of the Bay.

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