Sunday, April 6, 2014

Educational Professional Development in a National Park

 A few months ago I saw a post on twitter about EdCampYosemite. I had heard the term EdCamp before but was not sure what an EdCamp was all about. So like any curious educator I did a little research on EdCamps. So where did my search start will with a quick "Google" search of course. What I happened upon was the Edcamp Foundation web site.

So how does the Edcamp Foundation explain edcamp? A form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs. Read more here. After reading my first thought was sounds cool and if it is boring, well I will be in Yosemite so I could just leave and enjoy the National Park.

Well EdCampYosemite was definitely not boring. I started the day by attending what had been advertised as I pre-camp Instagram and Action Movie FX walk in Yosemite lead by Jon Corippo (twitter @jcorippo) and Walt Hebern (twitter @whebern). I have used Instagram for a while and had Action Movie FX on my iPad but had never used it. So I showed up around 8:15 armed with a iPhone, iPad and Digital SLR ready to take a walk around Yosemite Valley. Jon showed me how to take better pictures with my iPhone for Instagram. He also sparked a great idea for using Instagram for better outreach with parents on a trip I will be taking with students in May. Plus ideas on how to use Instagram with a class. Walt in mean time showed my how to use Action Movie FX and has opened up a whole new world for me to explore with my students.

Next up was check-in were everyone was given a form to fill out with topics for the day. Then the opening welcome talk by Rushton Hurley (twitter @rushtonh). For the first session of the day I had wanted to know more about Mindcraft for education, I was not the only one to write that down for a topic. Fortuantely John Miller (twitter @room162) was on hand to share his passion for Mindcraft Edu with everyone.  I now know who to turn to when I try out Mindcraft with students.

Next I went to see what Rushton's new project Geo-Video was all about. It is a very interesting sounding project that got me to thinking about could I get students involved in the project and if so what would the focus be?

"Things That Suck" was very well attended and a lively debate. I can tell you one thing that does not 'suck' EdCamp!

Since my school is talking about starting 'Instructional Rounds' I went to the session with a small group of teachers/administrators talking about Instructional Rounds. I heard how some people are having success and others are not. I did not talk much during this session as I just soaked up as much information as possile both good and bad so hopefully as a member of the leadership team at my school I can take back ideas on how we should and should not implement Instructional Rounds next year.

When the day started I was not sure about the concept of Edcamp. I came away saying I would be back for the one at Yosemite next year and I would attend any Edcamp within driving distance of my location. This was one of the best PD's I have been to and it was free other than the gas to get me to Yosemite.

Massive props to Marlena Hebern for being the founder of EdCampYosemite (twitter @edcampyosemite). You Rock!

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