Why Edcamp?

It was October when my colleague, Chris Basile, and I discussed the idea of bringing an edcamp experience to Elmwood School.  Although it would be mini, modified, and optional, we received immediate support to offer edcamp style professional development during December’s building based meeting.

The first thing Mrs. Basile and I did was hold a fifteen minute informational session in late October explaining what edcamp is all about.  Although ours would be unique, we used this video to help with understanding the concept.

We then created video advertisements we would share over the next couple of months, and Mrs. Basile even came up with a catchy slogan: “Remember December!”  Our message was clear; On December 18th our colleagues would have the option to lead each other and ignite conversations around topics in education they’re passionate about.


Capturing attention was a priority.

Since we would only have an hour and a half (most edcamps are several hours), we knew we needed to reach out to our colleagues to identify who would be willing to lead or facilitate a session.  In order to include everyone, we sent out a basic Google Form with a few important fill in the blanks.

*I would like to ___________________ sessions. Check any that apply. *

 *Attend (I do not wish to lead or facilitate a session this time around, but pumped to learn:) 

*Lead (I’d like to share a topic and lead a conversation)

I would like to LEAD a session on…
I would like to FACILITATE a session on...

Including Mrs. Basile and myself, there were five of us who chose to lead or facilitate.  With a few teachers willing to team up, lead more than one, or both, we were able to offer two rounds of three half hour sessions.  Meeting as a team was important as edcamp is new to most and pretty unconventional.  I wanted all of us to be prepared to be unprepared.  I made sure to stress the importance of honoring the conversations that would unfold as this is what edcamp is all about.

Teachers and administrators knew the schedule beforehand in order to save time.  We also made sure that each session would have at least a couple of people by asking teachers to submit another quick Google Form allowing them to choose the two topics they wanted to learn about the most.  Luckily, we had plenty of interest in each.

To share an educational passion we have in common, Mrs. Basile and I decided to go with a PIRATE theme representing the many PIRATE books and authors making a huge impact in education.  Although there are many books, we displayed those that have the acronym, P.I.R.A.T.E. (Passion, Immersion, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm)  Although Learn Like a PIRATE is unique, it supplements Teach Like a PIRATE beautifully.


At 3:30 on December 18th,  twenty colleagues showed up to the library ready to learn.  After a quick introduction, teachers as well as our principal dove into meaningful conversations around social emotional learning strategies, Breakout EDU, video creation apps, Seesaw, the PIRATE revolution, and Genius Hour, which included Thrively and Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®.  Although mini, modified, and optional it was certainly an edcamp experience.


Teachers explored Breakout EDU together finding and sharing videos of students in action.


Do Ink, Chatter Pix, and Clips oh my! Many teachers shared ideas on how these fabulous video creation tools have (and could in the future) enhance learning and empower students. Immediately after this session, my colleague led another on using Seesaw to capture student learning including with the tools above.   


What’s in your toolkit? Chris Basile has created her own to help students regulate their learning readiness and was willing to share her research and creations!

Although a small group, we dove further into the PIRATE mindset and the impact on teachers, students, and administrators.

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One teacher shared her Genius Hour experience and how Thrively and Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E® lessons within Thrively played huge roles.  Curiosity was sparked as well as a thoughtful discussion on how teachers might be able to make Genius Hour happen in their own classrooms.  It was such a rich conversation, it’s hard to identify who’s leading. 


Edcamp style PD doesn’t happen without a CREW willing to be unconventional right along with you. (A second grade teacher who led sessions on video creation apps and Seesaw, is not in this picture but did one amazing job.)

Staying true to the edcamp model, we wrapped it up with sharing experiences and giving away prizes.  In fact, the last ten minutes were simply a joy to witness.  Enthusiasm and laughter filled the room. High on their priority list, teachers also took with them something they could try with their students the very next day.  Most had walked in with only an idea of what to expect, and went home that afternoon craving more.

There is no better way to learn than from your colleagues! Thank you to everyone who shared- it was a great experience and I learned a lot!

I loved learning more about such exciting opportunities. It was so great to talk to my colleagues and to share their excitement – and my own!

I loved the enthusiasm brought today. Such a great change of pace and it was engaging. I would love to be able to do something like this again!

So why edcamp?  Because teachers leading each other, sharing what they’re passionate about, and creating enthusiasm around education is one outstanding way to learn.





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