Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Learnings from two schools' first exposure to EdCamps

This Monday and Tuesday, I led an EdCamp at each of my two schools - an elementary and a high school - in two slightly different fashions. Since both had never had exposure to this type of learning before, we did some of the session planning ahead of time. However, the intent is to allow them to move to full-EdCamp by the fall. Nevertheless, this modified way still held onto the holistic approach that makes EdCamps what they are. 

Today, the halls were filled with teachers holding onto phones, papers, tablets, and laptops searching doors for their sessions. Teachers carried their backpacks, laptops, tablets, and more to come learn about topics of their choosing. With over 60 sessions to choose from, teachers had created lists of options for their sessions. They had done their homework and came ready with a variety of sessions to attend. 

From day one, teachers submitted over 60 ideas they wanted to learn and submitted nearly 800 votes on Google Moderator to show the sessions they most wanted. The moderator votes gave me ideas on total attendance numbers. I wanted to keep each session under 10-15 people each so, if a session had over 30 votes, I repeated it three times. I also created overflow rooms for teachers. For instance, if a session went well and teachers wanted to stay and learn/play more on a topic, they could move to an overflow room and continue learning. Learning was kept teacher-centric to allow for the most authentic experience. 

All rooms had signs posted on them with QR codes to complete the attendance survey (Google form) at the end. This was, yet, another attempt to get teachers using the technology they learned. 

However, the EdCamps have been more than technology. In some rooms, facilitators were not as confident in their topics. However, the attendees then had a more active role - the sessions became discussions and information was gained through collaboration. In some sessions, the facilitator was very confident, but the pace was slowed down to meet the needs of the learners. 

We hope to do more of EdCamp PD with our teachers. However, I'm torn between doing true-EdCamp style learning with topics chosen on the spot and doing my blended EdCamp with topics chosen in advance. In the advance method, teachers had a long time to vote and continue suggesting ideas so the options grew. However, in the true format, teachers must break loose of traditional schedules. So, the question is: why can't both ways work? 

How have you seen EdCamps grow and change PD? Have you modified your EdCamps any?

Stay turned for more feedback from my two campuses' first exposure to EdCamps (and modern PD in general).

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