Wednesday, August 5, 2015

EdCamp in the Classroom

Today I attended #EdcampGCISD - it was hosted by the district I belong to. Have you attended Edcamp before? Wait... what IS Edcamp you ask?? 
So, Edcamp is organized by the hosts and is customized to the needs of those attending. As the topics are posted, those attending come forward and offer to facilitate the discussion, or at times the presentation (I've attended both formats - a presenter with all participants offering ideas or a facilitator with all participants involved in the discussion). Today I was able to share my experience with Google Docs, Google Classroom and Blogging while learning new tips from those in the groups. I enjoyed learning more about Canva, Data Notebooks and Google Slides from fellow educators. It tends to be a laid-back atmosphere that welcomes all learners. Plus, there is the rule of '2 feet' - if at any time you decide the session you are attending isn't for you (for whatever reason) you use your 2 feet and move to another session. It isn't to offend anyone, but instead to truly meet everyone's needs.

Last year, I read an idea on Twitter (from @BethHouf ) to have Edcamp in class. I was blessed with an amazing group of young learners and figured they would really enjoy this idea! I talked it up for a few days, getting a feel for the interest level and also building the anticipation. I challenged everyone to think of something they could share in class that they are learning about. We had an open list for a day and they wrote several ideas. Next, we read the ideas and pondered how to narrow them down. We decided to do 2 sessions for 30 minutes (give or take, pending engagement) with 4 groups per session (4 options to choose from). We decided to repeat the 4 groups so the facilitator could attend a similar topic after sharing. They decided on iMovie, Coding, Prodigy and a cluster of Reading/Writing/Art - ok, so we couldn't decide on only 4. ; )
Once we had the sessions, they were PUMPED. Now, we decided this in advance so those that were sharing could think about it ahead of time. Having this posted for a few days built even MORE anticipation. : ) Next, we set guidelines:
I explained the rule of '2 feet' and we discussed how to handle someone who changes their mind and also how to exit a discussion without distracting or disrespecting anyone. We decided there should be a 'leader' who would facilitate the discussion. We decided this isn't a lecture - part of the time is to show how and part of the time is to try it out. I'm telling you, my students ROCK!

When it finally came time for Edcamp, the suspense was everywhere! You could hear a pin drop as they waited to begin. I soaked it all up!! I love their excitement and anticipation! I have to admit... it went AMAZINGLY!!! (is that a word? it should be!) The engagement was high. The participation was stellar. Students teaching each other, helping each other, learning from each other. Students with gifts other than academics were able to show their skills through this outlet. Students who have academic gifts were able to glow, as well. Everyone's needs were met. I walked around and listened, laughed and smiled. It. Was. Incredible.

One of the requests as we continued in the year was for more Edcamp. They LOVED it!! We did it once more but due to End of the Year business... we didn't get to it again. Next year I hope we can do it regularly and include other classes in our Edcamp!