I discovered EdCamps through poking around on Twitter after I had just joined. I noticed the term here and there, curiosity took hold, and I asked someone in my new Twitter PLN (personal learning network) what an EdCamp was.
Essentially, an EdCamp is a professional development unconference. There are no preplanned sessions. The schedule is created the morning of the conference from interests and specialties of the attendees. Due to this structure, the sessions are varied and interesting. The sessions have a leader, someone who volunteers to lead the discussion; but it is very much participant influenced and lead. The participants drive the direction of the conversation. You are encouraged to vote with you feet, if a session doesn’t meet you needs, you get up and go to another. EdCamps are free to attend! And they feed you!
All the people at EdCamps are there because they want to improve their practice. They are ready to engage in new ideas and productive conversations. These are the people who are initiating and driving positive school climate change. My people!
The first session I went to was “Connecting to the World” and was about using Google Hangouts or Skype to connect classrooms. We also touched on student created blogs or Twitter/Social Media to share student learning.
Next up was Gamification, a hashtag I had also seen on Twitter and was interested in. What a great session! The leader gave a great description of the concept and the participants had great input. Gamification uses the ideology and terminology of gaming culture in the classroom to increase engagement and learning opportunities. I have lots of ideas on how to structure my Music Champions practice reward program and my third grade recorder curriculum for next year from this session!
At my last session I got a golden keyboard! The session was on Teachers Praising Teachers, or how we can encourage a positive school climate by recognizing the fabulous work of our colleagues. The idea behind the #goldenkeyboard is that a teacher presents it to another teacher at a staff meeting to recognize something that they have done that significantly impacts student learning, especially utilizing technology. A picture is taken and shared on facebook and twitter with the #goldenkeyboard hashtag. This part is as important as giving the keyboard because it increases the circle of sharing to include the wider community. In this way, not only does school moral improve, but the school’s public image improves as well.
I am so inspired and can’t wait for my next EdCamp!