Saturday was an amazing day! It was the third edcamp philly. What had started as a small but daring dream two years ago has become a global movement with over 100 edcamps being held around the world. As the organizers were getting set up, at 8:00 on a Saturday morning, teachers started arriving. As soon as the doors were open, in they came, eager to learn and share with each other. More and more until there were over 150 of them, gathered together. An edcamp is not for any kind of credit; there are no certificates or medals to prove you came. It is simply for the joy of learning and of growing as an educator. Teachers reaching out and walking together! And they kept coming! Just watching them arrive made the day! They gave up a truly beautiful Spring day to do something for the students that they teach! They know that there is more to learn and new ways to grow and improve, and they are passionate about being their best. Most importantly, they are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I love being able to be part of something so inspiring!
As breakfast was served, the teachers introduced themselves to each other and began to discuss what they are passionate about or where their challenges lie. The sign-up board for sessions slowly became populated with ideas for topics of conversation.They ranged from how to use iPads in an elementary classroom to Twitter for Newbies; from teacher productivity to flipped classrooms. The purpose of an edcamp was brought to life as teachers connected. It is a day for each teacher. If you want to lead a session, there is a chance to do that. It can be about whatever topic you want to talk about. If you want to learn, there are sessions upon sessions in which to do that. The “Rule of Two Feet” is the law of the day. If a teacher finds herself in a session that is not actually about what she needs or wants to learn about, it is expected that she will leave and find one that does. It is not being rude; it is about learning.
My favorite session, with the disclaimer that it was done by students from my school, was on using social media and augmented reality in the classroom. Part of what was fabulous about it was the degree of knowledge and engagement that the students had for their work. Their Digital Media class is connected with their Latin 3 Honors class, and the goal was to use digital tools to develop ways to support the learning of the Latin 1 students in 7th grade. This group of students were clear models of the best of 21st century learners. They had been presented with a challenge and using the Stanford Design process had worked their way through to a solution. It took time and a huge commitment on their part to the process, but they had achieved their goal.
They created a Tumblr page with images and links. They made games using Gamestar Mechanic, and they used a program call Aurasma that works a bit like a QR code to make connections between an image and a website or document. This presentation and one at Emerging Learning Design conference were their final. They needed to demonstrate that they understood the process and their product. It was amazing to watch! Three cheers to their teacher, Giselle Furlonge, who guided them on their journey!
So keep an eye out for an edcamp near you! You will learn and grow, plus just have a lot of fun! Be sure to mark the calendar! It could easily change your practice! Also, if you are interested in leading an edcamp, there is a new edcamp foundation to support your work. Feel free to contact us! We would love to help you.