As educators, we all need to grow. While not in the classroom anymore, I want to keep in touch with new teaching approaches and the needs of students and teachers. For me, two new ways of doing that are by using social media and attending my first Edcamp.
On Saturday, April 19, I joined organizers and attendees from across the state at EdCamp Elon. It was an amazing collaboration. I connected with teachers in all the disciplines, and I learned from their varied educational experiences. I also had face-to-face conversations with members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Although there were no pre-set speakers or keynotes, we heard from some super-star educators whose Twitter feeds and blogs I follow.
This “unconference” allows participants to set the session agenda and engage in informal conversations. This is a fabulous way to learn and share with others and to continue my own professional development.
Building the Board
To start, the Edcamp Elon organizers walked us through the process of selecting the topics that would dictate the day. We used Padlet to post our ideas, so collaboration and participant engagement were built in from the start. I worked with a math and science teacher, discussing what we would like to learn, and quickly posted our topic.
Next, we raced to the board and set up the schedule. Within minutes, the sessions of the day were on the Edcamp Elon website and available on the Edcamp Elon app. WOW! Prior to the start of the sessions, we learned two important points:
- Law of two feet: we were encouraged to move freely among the sessions.
- Collaborative notes: we used on-time Google docs to add notes and create a takeaway document
I was inspired by this activity. As participants expressed their interests, organizers were quick to respond. Those who didn’t make it to the board were enthusiastically shouting out ideas. One participant volunteered to lead a Twitter chat session. She knew that this was one way we would communicate throughout the day, and she was right. Check out our Twitter frenzy on #edcampelon.
Learning and Sharing
The heart of Edcamps are the sessions. There are three session rotations and a culminating Smackdown where specific resources are highlighted. I attended sessions on Standards Based Grading and on Learning, Digital Leadership, and Flipped Classrooms. But I wanted to attend many other sessions. Luckily I could stay connected with what was going on in other sessions via collaborative note documents.
I was soaking in a lot of valuable information as participants shared their thoughts and ideas. The meeting-of-the-minds approach is the best professional development that I have had. I never did use the law of two feet. The sessions I attended were so robust I didn’t want to leave them.
Hundreds of Edcamps are held around the world. I am ready for #edcampHighPoint in fall 2014, #edcampNC on Sept 27 and #edcampELON in spring 2015 (note: #edcampCharlotte is May 19)! I encourage you to read more about the Web-connected Classroom and My First Edcamp. You can follow the post chats at #edcampelon.
So mark your calendar, and take professional development into your own hands!