Tuesday, September 29, 2015

EdCamp Harmony

Melissa and I went to our first EdCamp, EdCampSTL, two years ago. We loved it. The best part about EdCamp is that we get to learn what we want from the experts among us, our peers. The learning is relevant and immediate and has become the best PD we've had. We always go to EdCampSTL and other EdCamps when we can swing it.

The other day, on a Twitter chat, a teacher asked what our "moonshot idea" for the year was. My response was, "A student EdCamp." Melissa and I had thrown the idea around before but never seriously. But then, I thought, why not? We control our own space and time. Why can't we organize a student learning event modeled after the EdCamp model? After discussing it for a few minutes, EdCamp Harmony was born. Our first EdCamp Harmony will be Monday, October 12 from 8:45-10:15 am.

Using five learning spaces (four classrooms and the tech room), and ninety minutes of our core time (8:45-10:15) we can run an EdCamp featuring five sessions running concurrently in each of the three 25-minute time slots (8:45-9:10, 9:15-9:40, 9:45-10:10) for a total of fifteen sessions. Kids will be able to attend three sessions in the ninety minute block of time. Kiddos will be able to teach a class (or three) or just attend classes that other students will teach. This event is strictly student-driven. Teachers will not be presenting or teaching any of the sessions; this is an all-kid event. Melissa and I will organize the day but after that, it's all up to the kids. 

I introduced the concept of EdCamp Harmony to the kids today. They were stoked! "Can I teach Minecraft?" one student asked. "I know how to work the 3D printer. Can I do that?" another asked. "What if we want to teach two sessions?" a third student asked. "What if we don't want to teach anything?" another kiddo asked. And finally, "Does it have to be school-related?" on student asked. Needless to say, the kids were ready for this kind of learning. I told them that I was happy to see them so excited and if this one went well, we would repeat this model a couple more times this year. 

Next week, we will post the blank time slots so that kids can fill in those slots with their session topics. We will get a good idea at that time of the kinds of sessions that will be offered. Kids will then be able to put together their schedules and have those schedules in hand on Monday morning. We are opting for efficiency here over spontaneity. This pre-planning does deviate from the EdCamp model a bit but we think it will be good for our kids to do it this way for our first EdCamp. It will also allow the presenters to plan their session a little better by knowing how many kids will be attending their sessions.  

This kind of learning is important for kids. They need to see each other as experts, teachers and students. Our kiddos have to understand that everyone has genius within them and everyone is an integral part of the whole. We believe this is going to be a great learning experience for all of us and eagerly await October 12.

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