Today I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Innovative Learning Designs Phase 2 EdCamp at Johnson Heights Secondary. My first EdCamp and definitely not my last!
For those of you new to EdCamp, the format was very different than traditional ProD. We were all given a google doc ahead of time and submitted possible topics to be explored. When we arrived we were given sticky notes and placed them on the topic of our 1,2 and 3rd priority. While we were greeted and entertained by our fearless leaders, Elisa Carls0n (@emscarlson) and Jordan Tinney (@jordantinney) the Helping Teachers were busy populating this google doc to organize the whole event:
Then if you click on the underlined topic in the doc it takes you to a fillable form where we recorded who attended each session and people in the session “live edited” notes of the conversations. What a valuable resource to find people and to share links and remember the conversations! I know I will return to this GDoc many times and look at what the other groups talked about during their sessions.
The sessions were great. Because only a handful of the group had attended an Edcamp before, there were a few quiet moments of “what do we do?” before someone jumped in and got the ball rolling. We introduced ourselves, someone gave an example and the conversation evolved from there. We did what teachers do well, we talked and shared. It was so refreshing to be able to have conversations, give examples, debate, struggle and wonder in an environment where everyone was there to learn.
Some of my learning moments from EdCamp came to me later in the day. There was so much to process that I am sure I will still be consolidating my thinking for days to come, but here are a few things I am pondering right now:
How am I changing the way I teach? The main word in this project is INNOVATIVE learning designs. Innovation is meeting needs with new processes and ideas. A new way to do things.
I look at the “old” way-the way I was taught and I think of the successes I experienced in school and the frustrations I had as a learner too. I was very fortunate to attend one of the top ranked private schools in the country and as a result, had many diverse opportunities to develop my skills as a learner. I had great teachers and a really good school experience, and yet I wonder if I had the opportunities to personalize my own learning when I was in school, where would that have taken me? What would I have done differently given the opportunity to pursue my own learning more?
I want my students to learn about what interests them, using the tools and processes that I can offer them as a teacher. I want to teach them how to explore, discover, process, sort, predict, evaluate, think critically, analyze, create… and go deeper into those higher order thinking skills that we never spend enough time on. But most of all, I want my students to know themselves as learners and to be able to say what they need to be better learners. To understand how they think and learn and to use that to their advantage.
I’ve always been a big fan of Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences and learning styles. This EdCamp has shown me that I can take “tried and true” research and use innovative ways of teaching to help develop the whole child.
The two sessions I attended were “Passion Based Learning” and “Flattening the Classroom”. I enjoyed both sessions and am feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the information that was shared. Now I have to take some time to step back and reflect on what fits best for me and where to go from here.
Oh, and the best part of EdCamp? I got to meet some of my twitter friends in person! 🙂