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Professional Development Benefits Everyone

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Teachers and administrators from the Locust Valley Schools spent a recent Saturday learning from and sharing ideas with over 400 of their peers in other school districts. Volunteering to attend Edcamp Long Island on their own time, participants gained useful skills from the event held at Commack Middle School.
Edcamp is a foundation that builds communities by empowering educators to hold professional development sessions led by participants. Edcamp conferences are non-traditional ways for teachers and administrators to share their expertise with other educators and to learn from the other attendees.
With a technology-based focus, LVCSD participants walked away with tools to better help students learn with the assistance of technology. Second grade teacher Dani Schatz is using what she learned to help her Bayville Primary School students connect with students from other parts of the country. Ms. Schatz said her biggest takeaway from Edcamp was learning how to use a platform called Flipgrid, and specifically its GridPal component. This application allows students and teachers to create video messages that can be shared with specific people, whether it is just with the teacher, with the entire class or with others. In this case, Ms. Schatz put her new knowledge of Flipgrid to use right away by connecting her class with a class from a rural community in Osakis, Minnesota. The students will create short videos to share with each other to help each class learn about the other community, which is part of the second grade curriculum.
“GridPal allows us to have video pen pals across the country,” Ms. Schatz said. “We are not only learning from each other, but developing speaking skills, research skills and increasing our knowledge of technology.”
Other teachers in the district also use Flipgrid. High School math teacher and IB coordinator Angela Manzo said the application is ideal for book reports. “Students can be assigned a specific question to answer on a book, create the video response to that prompt and share it with the class through the Flipgrid platform,” she explained. World Language teachers have said it provides an opportunity for students to practice speaking in another language in a private, safe setting until they feel more comfortable speaking in front of the class.

Flipgrid is just one tool that LVCSD teachers brought back from Edcamp, but an important one. Anthony Davidson, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said Edcamp enhanced participants’ abilities to use technology in their classrooms. 

“Attendance at Edcamp reflects our staff’s commitment to professional and personal growth,” he said. “I am excited by their dedication to bringing in progressive approaches to enhance teaching and learning for the children of the Locust Valley Schools.”