I attended my first Ed Camp last year. When registration opened this year, I didn’t waste any time. Aside from ITEC, this is the best professional development I receive all year. The crazy thing is that it’s free (and breakfast and lunch are provided). How awesome is it that people in our community see the value in this un-conference day and support educators through space, food, drink, and prizes?!
This year was just as good as last year. In fact, I think I had even more takeaways. One of the things I think about a lot is that I don’t have to work very hard to motivate my Beginning Journalism students. I’ve figured out why. The projects I give them are authentic. We write articles that are published on our town’s newspaper website. People beyond the teacher are reading their work. Another reason these students are self motivated is because the designs they create are seen by people outside of our classroom. While I teach them a technique and they spend a day or two applying it, they know it will all come together in the end. For example, these students are in charge of designing the program for graduation. The one with the best design gets their cover printed for every parent and attendee on commencement day. I don’t have to motivate my students to work hard on these projects because they are already excited about them. It’s about so much more than a good grade.
The challenge I took away from EdCamp this year is to make more authentic projects for all of my classes. How can my freshmen who struggle with reading meet the standards of the curriculum while experiencing authentic learning? I don’t have the answer yet, but my mind is cranking out ideas. That’s the power of a professional development day like EdCamp.
February is a long month for everyone, especially with students and teachers counting down until spring break. A conference with this much positive professional development makes going back to work on Monday exciting.
Now the challenge of putting the new ideas into practice begins.