Bill Selak is an EdCamp organizer and one of the recipients of the 2013 ISTE Emerging Leaders award. Check out this latest episode of the Bedley Bros. as we learn more about #EduAwesome EdCamps and what it takes to put one together.
Part informal. Part structured. Educator’s Round Table brought together leaders in education from different schools, different towns, and different perspectives. Why? We share a passion for education and we want to collaborate.
Six educators: Tim Bedley (me), Brian O’Connor, Cherie Daniel, Ginger Fleck, Jen Wagner, and Mary Bedley (my wife.) Three topics: introduce yourself, tell us about a resource, and tell us about something you do with kids. One recording: listen below or download it to your device and listen on the go (right click, save to…) Share your feedback. Or better yet, join us next Monday!
I gave my 4th and 5th grade students the following math problem:
“Draw as many rectangles as you can that have the area of 18 square inches. You may use a calculator.”
15 minutes later all of my kids understood that there were three clear possible answers:
1 in X 18 in
2 in X 9 in
3 in X 6 in
But then something magical happened. I pushed them a bit harder and said that there were unlimited answers to this problem. “Can you find other answers besides these three? Don’t forget, you are allowed to use a calculator.”
Every student sat by her/himself and formulated an answer to the best of her/his ability. The students then met others in the back of the room to share their results and reach consensus (while the others continued to try to solve the problem near the board.) Eventually, all of the students realized that they could get answers like:
1.5 in X 12 in
4 in X 4.5 in
My students developed much better mathematical understanding and reasoning skills through this critical thinking lesson. You see, I didn’t spoon feed them the answers. I gave them a challenge and let them figure it out with the help of their peers. The problem was challenging enough for about half my kids to get some correct answers initially on their own, and the other half to at least take a stab at it. Then, by collaborating, the entire class was able to wrap their brains around the idea. This is the direction education is headed with Common Core.
Dena Glynn shares her experience trying a Kids EdCamp with her class.
We are working on a trimester-long research project. Each student chose her/his own topic. I wanted to see how much they knew about their subjects already AND see what they didn’t know (via other student’s questions). Kid EdCamp seemed to be such a cool way to showcase the learning and reveal the holes in their research.
I had been playing up the idea of a Kid EdCamp with my class since I first read about it on TimBedley.com but didn’t give the students much info. I told the kids, “There are some people who think kids can’t do this.” The night before, I assigned them a homework project to create a short (under 2-minute) movie, a collage, or a ShowMe about their topic. I thought these would make good introductions for Kid EdCamp presentations.
The Day of the EdCamp
I made the matrix schedule board (out of butcher paper) but left off the locations of the sessions. The sessions took place in six locations, four in my room and one in the adjoining library. Only 30 of my 35 kids were at school, or else I would’ve needed two library locations. We held five 10-minute rotations.
Students who wished to lead a session put their names and topics on large sticky notes. I selected students randomly to place their stickies in the matrix. I explained to the class that a session might include only one person or more (I didn’t set a limit because I wanted to see how it played out.) I expressed my desire to have every session with at least one attendee. I also explained that it is more important to choose a topic one is curious about, know a lot about, or want to learn more about rather than being with one’s best friends. Then, all students wrote their names on mini post-its and placed those in the boxes they wanted to visit. One tricky part was getting the students to NOT place their name sticky on a session time slot in which they were also presenting. The kids created new blog posts on our class blog entitled Kid’s EdCamp. Each student had to type the times, places and locations of the sessions they would attend. This was done to save time during the EdCamp. I didn’t offer the option of spontaneously changing sessions. I didn’t even know if this whole thing would work. Perhaps I will allow students to vote with two feet at future EdCamps.
I instructed the session leaders to take charge of their group. begin the conversation, and keep the discussion focused on the topic. Other students could ask questions and share experiences. The participants had to take notes during the sessions on their blog. We used this same blog post as a reflection at the conclusion of the EdCamp. When we started, I was so excited! I made that very clear to the kids. I told them I was most excited about the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
How did it go?
It was AH-MAZE-ING!! All students took ownership. One of my resource kiddos, who barely scrapes by, led a talk on candy and was basically as knowledgeable and well versed as Willy Wonka. The Dragon Fruit session got interesting when one person asked what they grow on. This led to Googling images of the plant and being grossed out at the sight. The parkour group hadn’t seen the YouTube video about the parkour dog, so I had fun showing them that.
What I learned
I learned by letting kids’ passions surface, it is miraculous. Everyone was able to be an “expert.” I had three sessions on”dogs” and they learned from each other. If we could tap into that intrinsic passion and align it, somehow, with other subjects, the potential is astronomical. I thought the 10-minute time frame was perfect. I started ringing the bell to rotate about a minute before.
The kids behaved ridiculously well. Visitors stopped by at different intervals and commented on the high level of engagement. I walked the course and some of the groups needed reminders to take notes but no incredible goofing off was noted. At the conclusion of one of the talks, the speaker shook hands with the audience. One thing I wanted was the leaders to be “higher” (either standing up or on a stool if they were on the floor) than than rest of the group. That way I could instantly see my speakers. The other thing was that the groups naturally were between 1-6 people, without my interference. I think a group larger than 8 is too big and more easily distracted.
This was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. I told them I think we’ll do something similar at the end of our research project but invite other classes to be a part of it. Maybe we could use our multi-purpose room and have different stations.
Guest blogger Dena Glynn is a 4th/5th grade teacher at Tierra Bonita Elementary School in Poway, California.
Here’s a fun game to engage your friends and family during your Super Bowl party. Have everyone fill in the form before the game starts. Post one master form somewhere to record the “right” answers as they occur during the game. Offer a prize to the person with the most points. You can even play this with friends online who aren’t in the same room, city, or country as you. It’s a great way to get non-football fans interested in the game.
*Showboating: This is where a player does a dance or some sort of exaggerated movement to spark the emotion of the fans.
Click on the link below to see a printable version of the form.