My very good friend Shyra and I decided we’d trek ourselves down to CSUFresno to attend our first EdCamp. EdCampCV was headed by Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) on February 25, 2012. For those of you who don’t know what EdCamp is, there’s a great video on the EdCampCV website that explains it. EdCamp is not your every day professional development seminar. In fact, it’s not a seminar or conference at all. Teachers gather in a main area, write down topics they’d like to discuss, and eventually, the popular topics get posted on the board, listed with time and room locations.
The first session I attended was project-based learning (PBL). The teacher who created the session basically wanted to share his ideas and gather more ideas on PBL. He discussed a really great economy project, and Shyra shared her Monopoly/Game of Life project. (If she posts it online, I’ll gladly link it here when it’s up.) I shared my Poverty Project, and we shared things like Grammarly, Vimeo, and Prezis to help get those projects completed. It was a great way to start the morning, and I felt like new and experienced teachers all walked away with new ideas and reignited motivation to create projects that engage students.
The second session, I chose to go to Alice Keeler’s Google Forms group. One special-ed teacher was wondering how he could use forms to share documentation between teachers in a confidential, easy, paperless way. At first, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities, but Alice seemed to calm all of us with her ideas and expertise. We were learning how to do pivot tables and auto-fill forms. I had played with Google Forms at a Chromebooks Classroom event at Google, and I’ve dabbled with some forms with students. What Alice taught me about Google Forms was just one more reason to be addicted to Google Apps for Education.
Next, I sat with a group of teachers discussing the Common Core. The discussion evolved into a discussion about schools in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, where some of the teachers in the group taught. It was heartbreaking, but it was also motivating and inspirational to know that there are teachers out there that give 110% despite the frequent knock-downs from district and state mandates. These were truly great teachers, changing lives of children and giving them a safe start in the world.
Lunch at the Dog House Grill was another highlight. You wouldn’t think that it would be, but we sat and shared more ideas and talked about our passion for teaching. Being from a private school where collaboration with similar teachers can be difficult, it was great to know that there are other teachers out there who want to share and grow. I do have to mention that the lettuce-wrapped tri-tip sandwich was divine, and it reminded me that Fresno has awesome food, grown right there in the valley.
The last session I attended involved gaming principles being added to grading. Alice Keeler is doing research on this, and I expect it to be a game-changer in the field of education. It is innovative and genius. You’ll have to catch Alice at the many places she’s speaking because she is another person in the edtech world that no one should miss. In fact, I’ll be going to CVCUE at Minarets High School in April, and hopefully, I can register for the Rock Star Camp at Minarets in August.
At the end of the sessions, many of us were lucky to get a gift from the sponsor, SimpleK12 – a $297 year-long membership!
The greatest part of EdCamp is that it’s free. It’s run by teachers who are passionate about their craft. Some people say, “You get what you pay for,” but EdCamp’s bargain is a treasure-trove of priceless collaboration, inspiration, and ideas. If you have the chance to go to a local EdCamp, don’t hesitate to go. Take a friend with you if you’re shy. It will be one of the best days you’ve ever shared in your teaching career.