EdCamp Detroit was an eye-opening experience. A perk of being a university professor is attending a lot of conferences (NCTM and TEDxGrandRapids to name two recent ones). I had never been to an unconference, however, and was looking forward to checking out this new approach to improving teaching.
The first thing to know about EdCamps is that there are no prearranged speakers. Participants arrive and encounter instructions like those shown below. EdCamp Detroit had 32 slots available spread equally between four one-hour sessions. To my amazement (since we always struggle to find enough K12 teachers to present at Math in Action) these slots began to fill rather quickly.
I have given plenty of talks, but I will admit that this format intimidated me a little - maybe because I had not done my typical preparation. After overhearing one of the organizers encouraging another participant to put an idea up on the board, I decided to take a risk. I selected a time slot at the end of the day and a topic that I thought would allow participants to be actively engaged. Most people feel like their brains are full at the end of a conference and I wanted to provide an opportunity for them to release that pressure by reflecting on what they learned. There will be more on my presentation later, but first I want to provide an overview of the EdCamp Detroit experience.
I chose sections that I thought I could incorporate into my final session. The first was called "The Flipped Classroom and Screencasting." Dan Spencer shared his ideas for using available technology to enhance learning and referenced examples like Khan Academy and MathTrain TV. Steve Dickie led the next session on "Pseudoteaching." He referenced blogs by Frank Noschese and Derek Muller (which actually questions some of the assumptions made by Khan Academy). In the third session, Mike Kaechele led a discussion about "Collaboration Across Classrooms." This included a Skype session with a group at EdCamp Boston (led by Marialice Curran) which allowed participants to share their experiences and see the power of this resource in action.
|@TheNerdyTeacher shares with participants at EdCamp Boston|
Very little of this was new to me. Again, I have more time than your typical K12 teacher to explore emerging educational approaches, ideas, and resources. Still, I was energized by these sessions because of the involvement of the participants. EdCamp presenters expect everyone to get involved and in most cases participants oblige. I left Mike's session excited to see what would develop in mine.
To be continued...