My First EdCamp Experience
I have to begin by telling you about my Twitter history. I have been using twitter on a consistent basis for about three months now. I had my twitter account made two years ago, but I didn't really understand how to use it effectively for my professional development. It wasn't until I took a PLN grad class (taught by @pughamy) and I learned about hashtags and twitter chats. These tools came at just the right time. I work in a pretty progressive school district, but I have been operating in my own little bubble this year (I gave up my prep and team time to take on a PBL facilitator role along with teaching my traditional social studies classes). I was starting to feel my passion dimming; stuck under pressure from standardized testing, starting this PBL environment, and parents trying to understand taking away grades. Participating in these chats and growing my PLN really helped me regain my passion. It gave me a platform to discuss issues that I felt were important, I got great ideas, and I passed advice from my experiences.
I had heard of the term "unconference" last summer and I thought it would be a cool idea. Then a month ago, I saw that their would be an unconference near Chicago called EdCamp Chicago. I must say I was nervous about attending this conference. I had no idea what this would be like, but it intrigued me and I saw that a lot of my PLN members on Twitter would be attending this or other EdCamps. How could I possibly pass up this free opportunity for me to get relevant professional development?
I found the experience wonderful. I was able to attend sessions that I was interested in. No one was telling me where to go or even to stay in one session the whole time. Amazing what choice means to people (my students love having a choice in their education and so do I). My favorite session was on grading. I have been interested in making my social studies class standards based. During this session I was able to hear how others view grades and homework. I heard of two books that I am going to check out: How to Grade for Learning by Ken O'Connor and Drive by Daniel Pink. This discussion reaffirmed my feelings about my current grading system and how I need to change it. I met people who have already made this change and were happy with it.
I learned so much from this type of conference and I am determined to improve professional development time in my own building. I am looking to use one of our half days to conduct an unconference with my own colleagues. I know we can learn so much from each other; we just need time and someone to take the lead.
Thanks for the inspiration EdCamp Chicago!