Thursday evening 250 educators took some of their precious summer break time and joined together for the third installment of edcamphome. Excited by the opportunity to learn from some of the biggest names in the twitterverse including #geniushour advocate and all around all star Joy Kirr, and share in the contagious enthusiasm of the four google ninjas who have enabled some of the best free pd available Kelly Kermode, Shawn White, David Theriault, Karl Lindgren-Streicher, teachers and administrators from all across the USA and even some from other parts of the world braved the uncertainty of technological challenges to make this wonderful unconference happen.
At 7 pm EDT, we gathered to watch the amazing organizers troubleshoot and share some #eduwins while things were getting started. I was able to share about the wonderful opportunity I have had to collaborate with Peter Gow and Chris Thinnes in the creation of #pubpribridge, a twitter chat that aims to create a healthy dialog and productive partnerships between educators in different sectors of American education, an opportunity that occurred because of a session at #edcamphome 2.0. You can watch the live feed on the Edcamphome page. Watching Kelly Kermode get the scripts that enabled her to send us off to 30+ sessions was definitely awe inspiring, and the humor and genuine joy of our fearless leaders definitely helped keep every one in good humor. Sessions were offered on topics as wide ranging as Google Hangouts, Digital Citizenship,, Flipped PD, and Creating Better Teacher/Parent Partnerships, Planning an Edcamp, Tightwad Tech, and Starting the 1:1 Journey.
During the first session, I participated in the Share Fair with D’Alice Marsh moderating and got some great tips from Matthew Frattali about how to get kids to make quality films. D’Alice shared about the community lunch program at her school where she emphasized the power of breaking bread together, and also said it helps to make the bread together as well:)
The second session found me in Genius Hour with Joy Kirr, Cara Cahill, Jeneen Hill, Sheryl Place, and @Megmagwire. Coming from all different places and teaching seemingly all ages, we were able to share best practices, concerns, and get some pertinent questions answered. Probably the biggest take away for me was Joy’s response to a question about how to present Genius Hour to faculty concerned about “losing” time to teach curriculum. She was able to show how her students are able to master the skills of her curriculum through pursuing their passions, and while not all of her students projects were necessarily on topic, most addressed at least one core part of her skill progression whether it was writing, reading, or public speaking. It was also refreshing to see how many different forms “genius hour” takes. For example, our class which allows students to choose their own research topics definitely utilizes the same approach. Basically, Genius hour is about giving students voice and choice in their own learning, and that is something we can all use in our classes whether we are teaching kindergartners or seniors in high school. It was a great reminder of the power of student ownership.
So in an era when headlines seem to too frequently sing the death knell of American education, movements like Edcamphome and the wonderful educators taking ownership of their own professional development through tools like twitter demonstrate that the future of American education is brilliantly bright. Edcamphome demonstrated again that the calling that is teaching is alive and well in America because there are so many teachers motivated to be better, to learn more, to share with others and who are above all armed with the knowledge that we are in fact all #bettertogether. I am so grateful for the reminder and the continuing inspiration. I very much look forward to #edcamphome 4.0.