This past Saturday I went to camp. I have friends who have talked about EdCamp, and their experiences, and I knew it was something I had to see. I had never been so excited about professional development. I just read that Burger King is scrapping their “Have it your way,” slogan. Maybe that’s a slogan that EdCamp can take on, because it’s professional development “your way.” I really didn’t know what to expect when I got off the train. I understood the concept, but it wasn’t until I walked in that the butterflies meshed with the excitement.
After registration, I looked over at the window, where blue painters tape marked off a schedule with session times and rooms. As fellow educators were coming in, some were mingling with other colleagues, most were getting coffee, and a few were starting to put post-it notes up on the window. They were building the schedule for the day! Again, I had heard all about this before and didn’t think that I would present today. Who would want to hear me? I knew I had some things to share, but as I looked at the board, I started to notice things fill up that I could potentially talk about. Twitter was up there already, so that was out. Friends kept asking me what I would present. As I went back to look at my iPad again to gain some confidence, I thought about how I really would like to become a better speaker and presenter. I had done a mini-workshop on apps to enhance lessons.
The next thing I knew, I had a post-it on the window! Wow! Was I really going to jump right into my first EdCamp feet first? How would this go? How could I engage fellow teachers for an hour? My goal was to kind of wing it; I had no real plan, but to take a tour of my iPad and facilitate a discussion as opposed to just talking at people for an hour.
My first session was learning about MinecraftEDU in the classroom. Man, this program is AWESOME! I had learned about some basic activity ideas at the Pete&C conference, but this time, one of the presenter’s kids jumped in and started explaining things that he was doing. The facilitator kept pointing out that this game was building some awesome critical thinking skills. Another teacher mentioned how she had students create a museum with Civil War weapons, and in the backyard was a replica of the Battle of Antietam. I would love to infuse this into some of our classes, but I know that teachers are reluctant to try this and it would end up being an after school activity, which I just don’t have time to run right now. So I’m still trying to find the perfect fit for it.
After that, I decided to hang out in the Maker Space. The Maker Movement is something that I’ve kind of latched onto in the past year and am trying to push. I ordered a MaKey MaKey, which can turn anything that’s conductive into a key on the keyboard. I noticed nobody had opened it up yet, and I’ve only played the piano on bananas and pennies, so I thought, “Let’s just get things going!” I couldn’t believe other teachers hadn’t seen one of these yet! I eventually made my way around to play with a Little Bits set. That would be awesome for primary grade students to start to learn about circuits, cause and effect, and how programming works. They had a Hummingbird Kit there too, and I saw somebody playing with LEDs and copper tape. The most common phrases heard were, “That’s awesome!” and “That’s so cool!”
Of course the deli was backed up across the street with people ordering lunch, so after I scarfed down my chicken salad wrap, I meandered up to the session I facilitated. I walked into a science lab that was a mess, I mean it was full of awesome stuff! There were beakers, computer boards, game controllers mounted to wood pallets, robots, soldering tools, tool chests…it was like Frankenstein’s lab! We were at the Science Leadership Academy, so I expected to see stuff like this, but I was about ready to say, “Forget the session, let’s just look around at this stuff!” I didn’t think anyone was going to come in, but eventually about 6 or 7 people ended up in my session. I plugged in my iPad and away I went! At one point I looked at the clock on my iPad and realized that it was only 1:18 and I still had almost 45 minutes to go…..
This is what I eventually filled in on our Google Doc after the discussion was over:
I’m going to take a tour of my iPad, discussing apps such as Educreations, Explain Everything, Stage, Socrative, and Class Dojo
-the civil war today
-my script calculator
-the human body
After the sigh of relief once it was over, I thought I did an ok job of just jumping in. I still need to work on my presentation skills, and maybe having an idea that I WILL present next year will help me better prepare. It was great to be able to be a part of something so empowering.
My last session was about 3D printing, and while I didn’t get out of it what I was hoping, it was a great end to my day. I did not stick around for the Smackdown of apps, but everyone said I could run my own, based on what I had already shared. It was a fantastic day of collaboration and learning what I wanted to learn. Next up is EdCamp Leadership in August!