Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Get on Board the Technology Train-A look at Summer Camp

I've been going on and on about my county's summer technology camp for a few months now and many have asked me to share what we do to plan and prepare for such a large event. I will tell you it is a culmination of the efforts of many folks, namely all of the awesome technology facilitators we have in our district. Luckily, we are in a county that has at least one technology facilitator in every school, so we have several fantastic educators to help with the construction of the camp.

This all started last year as a way to promote technology in our district. We hold the camp at our newest high school which is equipped with mounted SMART Boards in every classroom and awesome facilities all around. It is a two day event held in the beginning of August to give teachers a fresh outlook on the new school year. The camp is totally free for our teachers and we even give away fantastic prizes such as digital cameras, SMART Boards, tshirts, gift certificates, etc.

Last year was our learning year. We knew we had a goal in mind to do it with as little cost as possible and hopefully free. We managed to pull that off with generous donations from several businesses in our area.

In the beginning, we broke up into groups, each technology facilitator volunteering for at least one. Those groups include:
Music and Welcome
Program Guide/Schedule/Wiki
Marketing and Advertising
Prize Seeking
Tech Support
Outside Instructors (finding some)
Once groups are constructed, we meet on several occasions to pull everything together and we meet once a month as a large group to share what our smaller committees have accomplished. This has worked very well and is definitely one of the reasons we have had such great success.

All technology facilitators are expected to present and this year we have added a group of outside presenters as well. Last year we did not invite many outside presenters because we just weren't sure how well it would work. This year everyone is excited to see what new thoughts and ideas are shared with presenters joining us from all over the state of North Carolina.

We ask teachers to register (using a form on our school website). This gives us an idea of how many presenters we need to secure for the camp which is important because you don't want to have way too many or not enough. Last year we found which sessions were most popular and have adjusted accordingly to provide either larger rooms or multiple opportunities to attend those sessions.

The camp is totally free to the teachers in our district, so many come and stay for the entire two days. They receive Continuing Education Units for the days and we monitor this by giving them a card at registration. In each session they attend, the presenter stamps their card and at the end of the day, the cards are turned in to the camp staff. Over the course of the following few weeks, all of the attendance is entered into our credit system and teachers receive their CEU's. Also on the card is an evaluation, so not only do we get information on sessions they attended, but they are asked to evaluate the camp as a whole to give us ideas for the next year. This has been a great success and has helped us in planning this time around.

Take a look at our camp wiki from last year so you can see the basic structure and see all of the sessions we were able to offer. We are offering many of the same and also many different sessions this year and have made one change to the structure (only one keynote this year). I will share this year's camp wiki once it is available. It is still in a rough draft form.

Our theme this year is "Get on Board the Technology Train". For promotional purposes, we have a video, fliers and of course the wiki. These items are shared with teachers over the course of about 2-3 months in preparation for the camp and we ask everyone to have registered by the end of June so we can make final preparations in July for the camp in August. Everyone is excited about what this year's camp will bring as it was such a huge success last year. We had about 600 teachers sign up for the camp last year and hope to have as many or more this time.

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