Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Edcamp High School

Today is the second time I have been an observer of Edcamp with high school students. I have now witnessed it in an English class (with sophomores) and in a science class (with freshman).  Both groups of students were Honors level students, which means the maturity level is a little higher as well as their ability to self-moderate and focus.


Here is the process (this was done in a 2 hour block schedule):

(1) Let students select topics they are interested in talking about/learning about/learning MORE about.

(2) Compile the topics to a few for the students to talk about.

(3) Decide the norms you will have students adhere to during the process. Here are a couple examples from @WellConnectdTch and @KathleenDiver.  It is important to describe the process and how to participate appropriately with your students.

(4) Choose how many sessions you will have and how many minutes you will allow for each session.

(5) Select how you will hold students accountable for what they learn in their session(s).

(6) Plan the space.  Know that it can get loud in a small classroom so you may want to find a bigger area.

(7) Be ready to facilitate.  Students sometimes need "planted" ideas to keep them going.

Know that whatever you try, this is the first time for your students.  This means there will be learning, not only about the topics of their choice, but also about how edcamp works. If you can still remember your first time at edcamp, you probably recall that you had no idea what was about to happen when the day began. Be patient and let the learning occur without having to control it.

Here is the reflection:
Like every lesson we try, it gets better with feedback and reflection.  So, after the English students had participated, the feedback they provided helped the science teacher plan for a more focused day.  My part in the whole process has been to connect ideas between teachers at different schools (and obviously different contents/grade levels).  Google's job was to give teachers the opportunity to share student reflections that are the most helpful with lesson design.  After all, in the business world, aren't products and services made better from the consumer's feedback?  So why not use that approach in the classroom? As adults, don't we love to have conversation? Students love communication! So how about we capitalize on that and see how much they learn if their conversation is focused?

The student feedback was that they enjoyed having an opportunity to talk about ideas.  They felt this process could be useful in other classes as well. Building in the opportunity for students to do some research (on chromebooks) actually seemed to help students focus more on the topics and provided a way for them to either fact check other's statements or find out more information when the group didn't know much.  It seems that this process could segue easily into passion projects by giving students an opportunity to explore something about which they might be passionate.  Some students suggested that this would be a great way to prepare for a test and I would agree that final exam preparation would be a perfect scenario for trying this out. I have another teacher who is going to try this at the start of a college and career exploration unit (I'll try to post about this again after she has finished).  I think the possibilities are only limited by one's imagination!!

Happy Edcamping!!  No tent required!