So it has been quite a while since my last post. Unforeseen circumstances lead to my taking on an additional class, and the time to blog just got eaten up. There has been, however, a lot to blog about.
I attended my first edcamp and for those of you who haven’t had the experience, you really should consider it. If you are looking for a personalized experience that empowers teachers and exposes you to some of the most dynamic educators in your area, edcamp is the professional development for you.
Our day began in the dining hall of the incredibly beautiful St. Christopher’s School in Richmond. We had plenty of time to network with teachers from other schools, both private and public, and we got started by pairing up and responding to prompts from The Daily Create which we then emailed to the blog on the Edcamprva website . Our prompt asked us to choose an image of a famous figure, fictional or otherwise, and then to find a quote from a related figure. Here is our contribution. This was a great exercise and a tool that I was not familiar with so I immediately was excited about what the day would bring.
The whole point of edcamp is that it is an unconference, meaning that you have not set plan and you do not know exactly what sessions will be offered. So after a lengthy period of networking and creating, we engaged in the creation of the board and posted sessions we either were interested in leading or attending. Here is a screen shot of the board we created:
I started in a session on ESL. After seeing that it was mostly public school teachers whose students had little in common with my own, I used the rule of “two feet” and moved on to “Collaborating with Colleagues”. I then ended up helping lead a session on blogging despite the fact that I am rather inexperienced and attending a session on Ipads and another one called “Things that Suck” which was far more positive than the title suggests.
In the “Ipaded” session, I heard about Nearpod a tool that allows teachers to create interactive presentations that students download onto their computer or other devices. You upload a pdf of a ppt or keynote presentation and then add quizzes, polls, or draw its and a report is generated with all of the students answers, scores, and drawings. I tried my first presentation last week and the kids loved it. This was definitely a great take away from this conference.
While I definitely enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful people in the blogging session, I was hoping to be more of a listener than a leader. Nevertheless, it was great to talk to fellow educators interested in blogging both for their own development and with their students.
One misconception I had about edcamp was that it was all about technology. The other two sessions I attended had more to do with school culture than tech, and they were both great. In the first session, we discussed how we currently collaborate with colleagues and exchanged best practices and challenges. In the other session, “things that suck,” a title that I have to say threw me off initially, the facilitator threw out controversial issues and you were asked to move to a side to physically cast your vote as for or against. Some of the topic that came up included school uniforms and zero tolerance policies. We then moved to our side and were asked to state our position. We were only allowed 5 minutes per topic, so just when things got heated we moved on. This was a terrific exercise and one I could definitely see using in my classroom or in faculty meetings.
By far my biggest take away though was that the model of Edcamp is one that could and should be duplicated both at schools and in communities to provide teachers with personalized professional development. The ability to use your voice and ask for the kind of collaboration and information that you want and share your passions is essential to professional development in the 21st century, and I think that this model is exactly what we need. This model brings together public and private school teachers, techies and newbies, and administrators to share in a profoundly empowering and enlightening educational experience. I am very interested helping to facilitate an edcamp in Charlottesville and hope that we will begin by exploring this format during one of professional development days in the coming year. Overall, Edcamprva was terrific and I was very grateful to Carey Pohanka and Suzanne Panter for all their incredible work organizing it.
For those interested the what other edcamps have done please visit: