Thursday, 9 May 2013

I'm proud

photo-2One of the elements I enjoy most about being a teacher is the element of surprise. I'm referring to that moment when a student, or group of students really amazes you. You mentor these students, give them your best as a teacher day in and day out without any required thanks, and occasionally this student or students  unintentionally returns the favor in the form of intrinsic motivation. They're driven because they find purpose in what they are learning or doing. This couldn't be more evident than with my help desk students who are organizing and running EdCampxEDU.

This is the first, to my knowledge, EdCamp designed, organized and carried out entirely by students. While I have been an advisor to these students, I have remained on the periphery of this project. Initially, I met with students who were interested in organizing this event and gave them the run down on what the format was and how an EdCamp functioned. Having organized three ntcamps (an edcamp format for new teachers) and created and run EdCamp Tuesdays at Burlington High School along with Dennis Villano, I knew what it took to make an EdCamp work. It's a daunting task for any team of organizers.

 The EdCampxEDU organizers have stepped up to the challenge. This week I observed as the team started receiving prizes from various vendors to give out on June 1st, I watched as they planned the opening address, and prepped the final details of planning. Oh, and when the organization team is not planning EdCampxEDU, they are at track or baseball practice, attending a full schedule of classes, or getting ready for work at his or her part time job. Some even managed to fit in prom last Friday.

This experience will impact them more than any SAT exam, AP Test or MCAS test. This experience provides students with the opportunity to elicit skill sets and apply them to a purposeful scenario. It's project based and challenge based learning at its best. It meets the needs of many common core standards and is something that will stand out on any college application or resume. This team wil get to say...

 "I designed, organized and carried out an education conference".

 "I managed a budget and networked with vendors."

 "I used social media for advertising and web 2.0 tools for marketing and promotion."

 I am proud of these students.

If you would like to register for EdCampxEDU or sponsor our event, please visit this link

Monday, 6 May 2013

The best technology integration is a conversation: An EdCamp reflection

One of the hallmarks of an EdCamp is the ability to choose your own adventure. The model allows everyone to participate and have a voice. Nothing is mandated. And, No one is tweeting that they are ‘giddy’ about seeing “Insert so called Twitter Celebrity”. There are no over-priced keynote speakers and you’re not getting hounded by vendors. Instead, everyone is giddy (I promise, last time) to learn, to share, and to listen.

And, before I go further, I understand that the critic would argue that there is no research to prove an EdCamp as an effective model of professional development. However, leave it alone. Participants leave an EdCamp feeling good, refreshed, and eager to get back to work on Monday. That is all the data you need.

One of the misnomers with an EdCamp is that it is a tech conference, or rather, that it is driven by sessions geared toward education technology. This is false. While an EdCamp incorporates a fair amount of technology for promoting and sharing, the sessions really don’t require any technology. If you took a moment to observe the surroundings at EdCamp Boston on Saturday, you would have noticed lots of conversations. Sure, there were some people looking at a screen, but more often than not that screen time was for notes or to share.

In fact, the best technology integration at an EdCamp is a the ability to share and to listen. In short, a conversation. This is why the EdCamp model thrives and continues to grow globally. Not because everyone is on Twitter or understands how to use an iPad, rather that everyone is excited to listen, process, and share. This is why EdCamps matter. This is why the EdCamp model works and will sustain for many years to come. This is why participants leave excited to get to work on Monday after giving up a gorgeous, Spring Saturday in Boston to learn inside.  And this is why more schools should be thinking about going one-to-many with conversations before considering any piece of hardware. It’s the best technology integration you could give your students and teachers.

Thank you to the EdCamp Boston organizers for hosting another engaging event on Saturday and thank you to anyone who has taken on the role of an EdCamp organizer. Your efforts are appreciated by many.