I participated in my first ed camp last weekend at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, hosted by @MrWejr and was so inspired by the people I met; some for the first time, others like @davidwees and @datruss who I’d been learning from all year. There were so many passionate educators/learners there that I’ve needed a few days to digest all the wonderful ideas I came away with. When trying to describe the experience to someone who wasn’t there I had trouble articulating what was so special about it. It wasn’t quite that I heard ideas I had never heard before, after all we share our ideas all the time online, but there was such a great synergy that came from being together, in person, sharing with and challenging each other, knowing we’re all working toward the same goal – doing whatever we can, wherever we are, to enhance learning. The image above came the closest to describing what I felt – many ripples on a pond, all overlapping to create waves.
Tami Oudendijk and I presented in the first session of the day. It was a little intimidating, as it was a first for us in this type of setting, but the format of edcamp is brilliant and we did okay We looked at “How we are letting structures (some that we may not even be aware of) drive our students’ educational experience.” and put out the question “How willing are you/is your school to bend the structure for the sake of your students’ learning?” In an ironic and very telling aside, the way edcamp works is anyone who has a topic to present writes their topic on a piece of paper and posts in on a board. There were paper and markers on the table, but when we started writing out our planned question we realized it was too long to fit. We started to rework what we could call our session when we started laughing at ourselves and realized that we were letting unnecessary structure limit what we wanted to learn. We got a second piece of paper.
As our session got underway we heard great examples of interdisciplinary teaching (math and art), student-directed learning and the difficulties that teachers and admin face when trying to make schedules and various groupings of students work. One of the biggest challenges educators had faced when structures were removed and learning became more student-led was how to ensure academic rigour was maintained. It’s difficult to create a system to track individual student progress without having the nature of the assessment drive the type of learning.
One of the concrete ideas that intrigued me most came from David Truss, who suggested the possibility of a digital portfolio (student work, marks, teacher evaluation, personal profile, strengths/weaknesses, interests) that would follow a student throughout his or her academic career and be accessible to all the stakeholders (student, parent, teacher, admin) in that child’s education. Imagine having access to all that history when evaluating where to guide a student next on their learning path.
We also participated in sessions on Knowledge vs Skill presented by Tyler Suzuki Nelson and Different Types of Reporting presented by Remi Collins
The best part of Edcamp Fraser Valley is that it’s not over. As I’ve been writing this post I’ve found Google docs, new blog posts and hundreds of tweets giving me an impression of what happened in other sessions. I’ve been trying to check out K12online and what I’m watching is that much richer because of what I learned at EdcampFV. I’m also feeling overwhelmed by all I’m missing because there are not enough hours in the day! But meeting with all of you gives me the energy to feel that it’s worth the effort and that there is so much we can be doing to take our practices just a little bit further towards where we want them to be. Thank you!