mccoyderek

Informal Learning at its Best

This weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in an edcamp held at the Rowan-Salisbury School district, @EdCampRowan. Months ago, I received an invite to give the opening talk. I have shied away from calling it a keynote because keynote doesn’t fit the motif of an edcamp – I am calling it the ‘tone-setting talk!’ True to form, this event did not disappoint – it was all about personalizing learning for participants and making creating forums for sharing and connecting.

This day was a make up day of pd for teachers who lost several days because of snow. We learned at the start of the day that vast majority of our 200+ attendees were participating in their first edcamp. Lots of smiles made the eagerness to connect and grow visible and evident!

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I want to mention a couple of very impressive things about this event early in this blog [there are many more below]:

  • This edcamp became a makeup opportunity for RSS staff having missed some days for snow [I know I’m repeating this but it bears repeating], what a great way to value and promote learning time for teachers #innovative;
  • Superintendent Dr Lynn Moody, @lynn_moody, was an active participant from beginning to end;
  • There were a good number central office and school administrators participating in this informal learning;
  • A board member showed up around midday and sat in on one a session I dropped in on personalizing PD!

I had a great time with my tone-setting talk! It focused on several points: 1) Keep an open mind about learning – what is absurd today will be absurd tomorrow for a different reason; 2) embrace the power of collective learning and 3) we have to shift our focus of teaching to address the needs of learners and the skills we need them to embrace.

My talk was about embracing new modalities of learning, especially the informal and making sure that we connect with others here to further and continue the learning. As a challenge for the day and a way to get the group think started, I charged the group to come up with 4 C’s for our learning  of the day! I gave the first two, Courage – be willing to try something new, start or join a conversation and Connect – be intentional about connecting with someone that day who could be a help later. From the audience we got two more Contribution and Commitment – great sentiments to kick off the day. Kelly Hines, @kellyhines, being the innovator she is, took the idea and made it a living theme! Armed with a whiteboard, dry erase markers and a camera, she went to individuals and captured their personal messages, their own ‘C’ for the day! Looking through this slideshow you will be very impressed with creativity and passion the edcampers showed that day! I encourage you to look at her Twitter feed for the day to see all the diverse messages. This was a great learning legacy to document the day.

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20150307_094437For a first time endeavor, this district hit a homerun! I can’t say enough about the vision and drive of Tiffany Carter, @tpizzie1, and Rachel Lawrence, @Tchr_RachelM for their vision and drive to bring new learning opportunities to their district. Shift happens with an ‘absurd’ thought! I even heard that Dave Burgess, @burgessdave, made a guest appearance during our Teach Like a Pirate talk!

 

The learning was a great experience but connecting and reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen for a while really made this experience worthwhile. Learning and growing knowledge without building relationships builds isolated experts and we are about tearing down silos and building community.

20150307_091029Take a look at Google+ picture collection here – http://ow.ly/K4WbI

Great day of learning!

My First Edcamp – #edcampelon

customLogoSaturday 4.19 was the first day of my spring break. While that normally means testing the limit on the snooze button on cell, this day turned out to be phenomenal day of learning, connecting, sharing and growing.

For the past couple of months, I’ve had the fortunate experience to have been one of the organizers for @edcampelon. I’ve known several of the other organizers from my learning network here in NC and got to know the others through this planning venture. From beginning to now [we’re not at the end yet] this has been one of the most impactful learning experiences I’ve taken part in.

[Edcamps are local unconferences that capitalize on informal conversations and presentations to drive learning and growing for educators. Their grassroots approach and shift away from the formal, prescripted conferences.]

Personalized Learning At Its Best


BllprBwIMAA83cE These are greats shot of our initial efforts in building the board! There was a lot of work that went into making sure that all the voices in audience were heard. We started capturing ideas and topics on Twitter days before and began the visualization piece on the Padlet board you see on the right.

1397998743562Giving attendees the direct hand in creating the topics is a big part in creating a personalized learning experience. Not all attendees are as vocal/visible/knowledgeable of the edcamp process as some of the attendees in these pictures [no surprise there @plugusin @web20classroom] but we kept the building conversation active and as engaging as possible. Ensuring voices are a heard is a priority.

Great Learning and Sharing!

The sessions were phenomenal! To be honest, I was like a kid in a candy story during the first hour popping in and out of several conversations, joining in conversations and making connections.

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Personalized learning! Shifted professional development!

The Future of Professional Development

We ended the day with an incredible smackdown! Lots of people shared some great tools that are making a difference in their classroom. All tools are worth mention. Genius design facilitated the capture of all the tools on this link. This innovation is a testament to the genius of the group. Rob Breyer @rbreyer and Dayson Pasion @MrPasion were the gifts behind the app used for the event as well as the social media including the website, Twitter and Facebook account. This link leads to the site. From here you can access all the other media.

Here is why we need to change how we look at pd and shift to personalized experiences like edcamps:

  • Awesome lunch breakfast and lunch!
  • 1397998951381Connecting face to face with PLN members!
  • Embracing that learning can look leads to next level growing!
  • Embedding collaborative resources to capture thoughts and notes from sessions/gatherings and being able to reflect back to them is a major part of this shifted learning experience [Thnx @rbreyer51 and @MrPasion]
  • Organization is critical! Thanks to all who were involved and drove it forward! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the journey: Steven Weber, Rob Breyer, Sarah Henchey, Jeff Carpenter, Faith Howell, Melissa Nixon, Dayson Pasion
  • Sponsors are critical! They enable teachers to focus on learning, sharing and growing! Thanks NCPDK, Elon University, Discovery Ed, Edmentum, Yapp [link to the sponsors here]
  • Learning is NOT over! We are planning a follow up chat to the edcamp! There was so much follow up chatter, we had to create another forum for everyone to post some follow up thoughts.

This was my first edcamp experience but it will not be my last. I can’t wait to attend another edcamp as a participant and if I’m fortunate enough, I will happy to serve as another organizer.

Please add your thoughts below! I would love to hear from you on your takeaways and thoughts of this event.