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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Edcamps Are a Must




If you're reading this and either went to Edcamp Waller or another edcamp recently then I want you to send this to some friends who didn't go so they can read what I have to say.

Edcamps are the greatest thing since, well, just about any professional development (PD) you or I have ever been to in the last 20 years.

Yes that is an incredible statement. But anyone who has attended an edcamp knows that what I just wrote is true. The obvious reasons - it's free, there are great door prizes, and it's fun. The one simple reason that is important to your school and your students is that you will learn something you can use in your classroom.

How does an ecamp work? I'll leave that to the information at the Edcamp Wiki page and to this blog post from Simple -12. But the bottom line is that you sign up and then give up (usually) a Saturday. And then you have fun learning something.

While I have you (if you're from Texas), think about attending an edcamp in your near future. There's Edcamp San Antonio on July 15th (2013) and Edcamp Fort Worth on July 27th (2013).  If you have to wait until the Fall there's Edcamp Dallas on October 12th (2013). (If you're from somewhere else just look at the link, above, for the Edcamp Wiki Page and you'll see a listing of edcamps and their dates.)

Still looking for reasons to attend? Here's a look at the line up of sessions held at Edcamp Waller:

     There were 4 session times; two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

     During the 1st session there were  discussions about (1) Open Sources in Education (such as Ubuntu and Joomla), (2) Ways to use Google Apps, (3) A student presentation on a flipped classroom, (4) Standards Based Grading, (5) Twitter basics, (6) App sharing for the elementary level, and (7) Using SMART Notebook.

     During the 2nd session there were conversations about (1) Increasing student engagement based on the Teach Like A Pirate book (TLAP), (2) Using Google Chrome, (3) Using Wiki's for authentic writing, (4) Getting Google Certified Teacher Training, (5) School Pad and Class Dojo, and (6) Tech in the multi-ability classroom.

     During the 3rd session teachers talked about (1) Student discussion groups, (2) An intro to PBL, (3) iPad projects, (4) Basic Twitter, (5) Global/Connected classrooms, and (6) How to get free stuff for your classroom.

    During the final session there were discussions about (1) What you need to know about going to Google Chromebooks, (2) Google Stuff, (3) Ways to implement iPads and BYOD, (4) Techie tips and tricks for the K-2 classroom, (5) QR codes, (6) Flipped classrooms, (7) Genius Hour - unleashing student passion, and (8) Unconference 101

That's 27 conversations with around 150 educators over four 1-hour periods.  And in the middle, everyone went to lunch and continued conversations from the morning.  In all there were 7 hours of incredible learning and sharing and everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - enjoyed themselves.

When was the last time you spent a full day at a PD in your district where everyone was happy at the end of the day?  Heck when did you ever have a non-bitch session lunch during the middle of a PD day?  Go out and support these people putting on edcamps in your area.  You won't be disappointed. Then, when you get back, work with your district and host your own edcamp.