A couple of months ago I attended an #edcamp “un-conference” at Montour High School. Several teachers from nearby schools and districts were in attendance. There were also quite a few administrators present.
I have been meaning to write a few follow-up posts about my experience but haven’t had the time nor the gumption. Now I do.
First, let me explain the un-conference…
I have been to many many conferences on education – both general and math focused. I planned my days prior to the conference by reading the brochure and choosing the topics I found to be the most interesting and beneficial to me as an instructor. I sat in a dark room and watched a slide presentation or some demonstration from a projected computer screen or ELMO. I made promises to change my ways and be a better teacher when I returned. Somehow, it never seemed to manifest but I was happy at the end of the school year because I had all the CEUs I needed.
That’s a conference for you.
At the start of the #edcamp, we sat in a large classroom and camp volunteers (my term) came around with sticky notepads and told us to use two notes to write two questions related to education or our particular teaching work, one on each note. They collected the notes.
As the guest of honor – more about him and his presentation in a later post – presented (are we going to just sit through more presentations?) the volunteers were busy sorting through the sticky notes and posting them according to relativity to each other. That is, they put the questions in groups by similarity. From these groups came topics.
After the opening presentation, we were invited to pick a topic from those which had sprung from our questions. The topics were assigned to different classrooms. Here’s the kicker: there was a facilitator in each room, but not a presenter! We were to be involved in the discussion. AND AND AAAAND we were ENCOURAGED to move from room to room. If you had played out or if you lost interest, they wanted you to leave.
That’s an un-conference for you.
It was a very effective approach.