Edcamps: Professional Development for You by You

As you can guess from the title, this month my subject is Edcamps. Unlike traditional conferences, Edcamps are participant driven. Participants embrace the idea that fellow educators are exceptional sources of professional development. Experiences at Edcamps are more personalized than traditional conferences because participants choose the topics that are discussed the day of the event.

Ironically, as soon as I get finished typing this post, I am going to prepare for the presentation that I am making tomorrow at the Texas Library Association Conference. (Please excuse my typos too. It is rather late and I am still writing.)

I love to participate in conferences. I feel like I can always learn more. I appreciate the time and effort that organizers take to make conferences possible because setting up my first conference was a challenge.

Although I implemented a survey to solicit feedback on topics and sent out a call for participants, I was on pins and needles wondering if the participants would like the topics that were chosen. I didn’t relax until after the conference was over. Everything turned out fine. But the experience led me to think about what I could have done differently. After all, the ability to offer professional development is an important skill for school librarians.

Stacy Cameron

Recently, I noticed that Stacy Cameron and her colleagues are hosting an Edcamp during the summer. Stacy is the Coordinator of Library and Media Services for the Frisco Texas Independent School District. She was kind enough to let me interview her so that I could share the information with you. I would like to thank her profusely. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

The Interview

Me: How long have you been doing the Edcamp and why did you start?
Stacy: We started back in 2015, I went to Edcamp Awesome that they have in Royce City, and I loved it. It was my first Edcamp, and I was sitting there thinking, it would be really great if we had one just for librarians. Librarians love to spend time together. Being singletons on campus, they kind of crave and covet that time with other librarians. So I thought the Edcamp would be perfect.

Me: You mentioned that you have an organizing team for the Edcamp. What tasks did you need help with?
Stacy: The biggest thing with an Edcamp, as far as getting other people involved, is the day of the camp. You need a team to help get attendees where they are going, to answer questions, and to help with door prizes. During the school year, the team contacted vendors and helped to get door prize donations. They made suggestions on vendors and getting in touch with them. Since we also had never done the Edcamp, we talked a lot.

Me: Why did you decide to use the Edcamp format instead of the traditional conference?
Stacy: I really love the Edcamp style. It is not one person presenting. Everyone has a stake in what is being learned. There is an organic ability to talk to people that you don’t get when you go to the traditional conference. Don’t get me wrong, I like traditional conferences too. But, what I love about the Edcamp is that someone can be talking and you can go, “Oh I hadn’t thought about that. Well what do you do when…?” At that moment, when you are thinking of that question you get that answer right then and there. There is such a great conversation that can happen. With the Edcamp style, you let your feet do the talking for you. If it is not what you want, then you just get up and leave. And that is perfectly acceptable.

Me: How did you find vendors to sponsor the event?
Stacy: We contacted anyone and everyone we could think of. We contacted makerspace companies and database and library vendors. They were very willing to help. One of the things we had going for us is we had over 300 people registered. Vendors really like that. We called and tweeted them.

Me: How do you entice people to facilitate the conversation for you?
Stacy: Last year we frontloaded [asked friends to talk about different topics] the event a little bit. But we found out that was not necessary. We found out that morning that we had plenty of people who wanted to facilitate. We probably would have been fine without doing that. This year we won’t. We will do the whole entire schedule that morning like a true Edcamp is supposed to be. We will encourage them right there in the cafeteria with the microphone by saying, “We still need facilitators.” They will just come up to us and tell us what they want to facilitate. Then we will put them on the schedule.

Additional Tips

Stacy provided these tips in addition to answering my questions:

  • An Edcamp is free. Vendors were allowed to come as participants. Booths were not included in the event. Instead, vendors understood the benefit of helping was the advertising from the conference.
  • Many school librarians are not familiar with the Edcamp format. Be sure to introduce the format when the event is advertised.
  • Starting the day with a continental breakfast from sponsors and a sign-up table for potential facilitators is a great way to break the ice and solicit participation.
  • Go paperless with Google documents. Crowd-source notes and put the schedule in a Google document. Then display it with a projector. Share the links and the schedule and notes can be updated throughout the day.
  • Collaborate with a partner such as an educational service center for easy registration and the ability to offer continuing education credits.
  • Talk with someone that hosted an Edcamp and look for information online. Many people that have hosted an Edcamp are willing to give advice to aspiring hosts.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to hosting an Edcamp in the near future. I will be incorporating Stacy’s last bit of advice during my planning stage, to attend an Edcamp before hosting one. I plan to attend Stacy’s Edcamp this summer. In the meantime, please comment on your experiences and advice for Edcamps. I am sharing a few Edcamp websites that you might find helpful. The professional development for this month is listed below.

Author(s) Title Link
Edcamp Foundation Organize an Edcamp http://www.edcamp.org/organize
Edutopia Edcamp Guide https://www.edutopia.org/edcamp-organizer-resources
Janet Warden & Caronline Pidala Organize an Edcamp for Your District https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=640&category=Professional-development&article=
Kristen Swanson Edcamp: Teachers Take Back Professional Development http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may14/vol71/num08/Edcamp@-Teachers-Take-Back-Professional-Development.aspx

May 2017 Professional Development

Title: Managing the Cheating Issue

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 11:00 am – 11:30 am EDT
  • Description: As more and more schools embrace technology, such as Chromebooks and Google apps, it becomes increasingly important for teachers and schools to address the issue of cheating and academic integrity in a variety of ways. In this webinar, join Deb Norton as she looks at some innovative ways to address possible cheating issues. She will discuss non-technology options, as well as technology-based tools and resources that can be proactive in preventing plagiarism and cheating. Deb will also focus on changing how we assess students and share strategies that can deter students from attempting to cheat.
  • Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2749

Title: Text Complexity: Best Practices for Matching Students and Texts

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT
  • Description: For decades, educators have known that quality instruction requires a careful matching of materials and students. However, selecting appropriate reading material for students can be difficult. What makes a text “hard?” What’s the best way to measure students’ reading abilities? How do we ensure our students are gaining the skills needed to read increasingly complex texts? Join Dr. Nancy Frey, Professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University, for a research-driven webinar focused on the quantitative and qualitative factors of text complexity as well as the ways in which readers can be matched with texts and tasks.
  • Link: https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC59DD80874C3B

Title: Balanced Literacy Part 3: The Secret Ingredient in the Recipe for Literacy Success

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Monday, May 15, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
  • Description: In Part 3 of this three-part series, Author Jill Eggleton will detail the final secret ingredient necessary for creating the perfect balanced reading burger. You might know it as “reciprocal teaching,” but we call it peer reading. Peer reading bridges the gap between small-group guided reading time to literacy success by allowing students to first work cooperatively with their peers to read and comprehend a text, independent of the teacher. Join Jill as she dives deeper into peer reading and describes:
    • What peer reading is and why it works
    • The fundamental differences between solo independent reading and peer reading (group of students reading independent of the teacher)
    • The four critical parts of a successful peer reading session
    • And much more
  • Link: https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC59D786854E3A

Title: Where’s Your Power? What’s Your Point?

  • Organization: Insync Training
  • Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
  • Description: Tired of seeing PowerPoint shows that have neither power nor a point? This session provides strategies for developing memorable slides with punch, not just pretty slides peppered with bullets. Join us as we look at ways to hook our learners, highlight critical information, and create learning points that will stick.
  • Link: https://reg131.imperisoft.com/InSyncTraining/ProgramDetail/3236343931/Registration.aspx

Title: Uncommon Creativity: Using Technology to Work Smarter Not Harder

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
  • Description: Are you looking for more time in your school day? Join Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert & Master Trainer Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., STEM, as she models unusual and creative uses of technologies to make your school day more effective and efficient. Tammy will share how to use free technological tools to help with absent students, IEP meetings, test review, home/school communications and even sub plans! If you’d like to learn tricks on integrating tech in order to work smarter not harder with some great Microsoft tools, don’t miss out on this seminar that will raise your creativity to uncommon levels and save you time!
  • Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2755

Title: FREE Microsoft Tools to Ignite Student Engagement and Increase Productivity

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CDT
  • Description: Who doesn’t love free tools? Come join us for a 2-hour session as we take a look at some of Microsoft’s top free tools for empowering teachers and students and making learning fun. Learn how these tools can be used across the curriculum to increase productivity and student engagement. To be able to participate you will need an active Microsoft or Office 365 Account. You can set up a free account here (https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/) if you do not already have one either on your own or from your school division. As a result of this session teachers will:
    • Increase awareness of top Microsoft free tools that can ignite the classroom in all content and curriculum areas;
    • Discover ways to increase productivity and student engagement;
    • Expand skills into industry leading trends: Flipped and Blended Learning, Global Learning, Gaming/Coding, and Productivity; and
    • Explore learning beyond the classroom walls with resources like Bing and Skype
  • Link: https://events-na8.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/1116418017/en/events/event/shared/1127345348/event_registration.html?sco-id=2074225343

Title: Strategies for Encouraging Reading Readiness in Young Children

  • Organization: edWeb.net
  • Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
  • Description: Do you have children in your program that struggle with oral language skills? Join Dr. Howard Goldstein and Dr. Elizabeth Spencer Kelley for this webinar to learn how to help improve the language and literacy skills of children at risk for reading challenges. Learn new ways to address key elements of reading success—oral language skills, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and alphabet knowledge.
  • Link: https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC59D784864B3B

Title: A Dozen Things Our Schools Must Do to Remain Relevant in the Next Decade

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 03:00 pm – 03:30 pm EDT
  • Description: Whether for good or bad, the Internet and the information revolution have impacted nearly every aspect of society and social organizations, including our schools and how our students learn- and the challenge becomes how to address that impact. Technology and the Web have changed how students learn, study, and research, as well as how they interact with information, teachers, and each other. From Khan Academy to BYOD to Disrupting Class, it is increasingly clear that this is “Not your Father’s School,” and educational leaders who don’t respond and plan accordingly will see their schools left behind. Join Jonathan Martin as he offers a fast-paced overview of a dozen things educators should be considering in order to make learning relevant and compelling for our students in the coming decade.
  • Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2738

Title: Getting Started with Google Draw

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm CDT
  • Description: Explore the hidden treasure that is Google Draw. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, there are many things hidden in this versatile tool. Learn how to make interactive lessons and activities through the ease of the drawing tools and sharing ability of Google Draw. Learn how to make interactive lessons and activities with ease using the drawing tools and sharing ability of Google Draw. Learn how to navigate through Google Draw to make engaging lessons, interactive graphic organizers, exciting assignments and much more. With the amazing sharing abilities within Google it is easy to share information with students and colleagues and work toward a more paperless classroom.
  • Link: https://events-na8.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/1116418017/en/events/event/shared/1127345348/event_registration.html?sco-id=2074263110

Title: Become an Ally for Children Facing Adversity by Bridging the Relationship Gap

  • Organization: Early Childhood Investigations
  • Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm CDT
  • Description: Children who have endured stressful experiences in their young lives may be especially challenging to teach. They may be overly disruptive or withdrawn in the classroom. However, early in life children are especially resilient to stress and can recover from trauma and adversity through supportive relationships with consistent and caring adults.So how can educators bridge the relationship gap with children facing early adversity? In this presentation, Sara will share scientific research and practical strategies from her book Bridging the Relationship Gap (www.drlangworthy.com/book), and from her experience working with an elementary school that has adopted trauma-sensitive learning practices. Sara will address approaches for working one-on-one with children to build resilience and self-regulation skills, and share promising organizational practices that shape school environments to promote student learning and success.
  • Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1260259508610886403

Title: Tech Integration Made Easy with Adobe Spark

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 07:30 pm CDT
  • Description: Engage students and deepen content area knowledge using instructional imagery. Deliver instruction in a compelling way and transform your classroom activities by learning how to use Adobe Spark, an integrated suite of FREE storytelling applications. Learn to use Adobe Spark, Post, and Page for classroom projects and personal productivity. Select images and make minor edits to bring additional context to content area instruction for your students. Brainstorm with others how you and your students can use Adobe Spark in your classroom.
  • Link: https://events-na8.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/1116418017/en/events/event/shared/1127345348/event_registration.html?sco-id=2074254807

Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Uncategorized

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