I came to Edcamp Philly today from DC because I like the unstructured nature of it. In the past, when I have gone to conferences, I was expected to sit back and receive information from experts. But here, I am expected to participate, voice my opinion, bring new ideas to the table. For example, I created a wiki for today's sessions so presenters can easily share resources. I am part of something bigger than myself when I come to an Edcamp."—Alecia Berman-Dry, Technology Coordinator at St. John's Episcopal School Olney, Maryland
Over 150 educators met on the campus of University of Pennsylvania on Saturday to take part in Edcamp Philly. Edcamp is what is known as an unconference—there are no hired expert speakers, no registration fees, no sponsors, or even a set agenda for the event. Attendees lead sessions and the day’s agenda is set by them as well. It is another form of the kind of PD I discussed in my last post, PD That’s For Teachers, By Teachers.
The power of edcamp lies in the belief that we are all learners. It breaks down the hierarchy of a traditional classroom (and PD workshop) and invites all participants to share ideas, raise questions and find solutions together.
One of the most interesting session I attended Saturday was actually led by a 4th grader and a 7th grader. I think it is safe to say that they are the youngest presenters in the Edcamp movement. Their session focused on use of Minecraft in an English classroom. Minecraft is an online game that allows users to build a fictional 3D world using textured cubes. The possibilities of what you can create are endless, and during the session we discussed way this game could be incorporated in the classroom. Imagine for a second if you asked your students to build the world of 1984, Alice In Wonderland, and Gulliver’s Travels in Minecraft and asked them to deal with the decisions the characters have to make in these works. The learning that would happen around this inquiry would be powerful and authentic. I haven’t tried this idea out but I can’t wait to share it with my students on Monday.
What do you think about the Edcamp movement?
How do you think it can help shape professional development for teachers?
I look forward to learning about your experience.
Meenoo Rami, coordinator of the #engchat weekly Twitter chat for English teachers, teaches English to students at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.
The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.