Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our First EdCamp

We held our first EdCamp in Del Norte County on October 5, 2013.

We are waaaayy up there

Del Norte is the northernmost county in California, nestled on the coast among the redwoods, pristine rivers and the Pacific ocean. Ours is a remote county, and I mean R-E-M-O-T-E. For the few of you reading this post that have traveled this far for fishing or camping, you know we are about two hours form the nearest anything.

I began planning EdCamp Del Norte about 8 months ago.  There were no EdCamps happening near us and I wanted to bring the power of the professional learning model to teachers in my county. So, I decided to plan my own with the help and guidance of many EdCamp experts on twitter, including @LS_Karl@kristenswanson and @VisionsByVicky.

The EdCamp wiki was my guide to everything and really helped me to plan the event, develop my logo, and get my website listed publicly. The EdCamp Guide to Organizing was my planning tool and helped me create a dynamic and memorable event. Thank you to the creators of the guide Amanda Dykes, Jerry Swiatek, Nick Provenzano, Kyle Pace, and Josh Allen.

Planning Edcamp went surprisingly smooth. Sponsors came on board readily and I was able to get plenty of prizes including the grand prize, an iPad mini. I began to stress a little toward the end because I didn't have t-shirts and I was worried we might not have a large enough crowd. But, then I told myself that the power was in the people who attended. T-shirts and swag were not the focus of this grass roots movement, learning from each other was.  When the day arrived and people started walking in the door I felt a sense of relief and excitement for what was about to happen. I knew it would be a great day of learning for everyone. 

I welcomed the group and asked if anyone had heard of EdCamp before, I think no one raised their hand. So, I explained what an un-conference was and how we were going to be deciding on and running all sessions ourselves. EdCamp Home Co-Creator Shawn White joined in via Google Hangout to talk about his experience with EdCamps. He spoke with us right from his the soccer field with his kids, now that is an awesome guy!

Brainstorming session ideas

We started building the session board by brainstorming what we wanted to learn for the day. This helped to get the ideas flowing was a great way to get inspiration for sessions. People saw things on the brainstorming board and then stepped up to lead sessions on those topics. Once session ideas were posted on the board, we did a little arranging of times and locations then off we went. Groups went to the assigned rooms and began to share ideas.  Session topics included Smarter Balanced Assessments, Screencasting, Standards Based Grading and iPads in the classroom.  We even partnered with EdCamp San Diego which was happening the same day and held a joint session on Connecting Classrooms and Teachers with Google hangouts led by me and the always eduawesome and fellow Google Certified Teacher, Jo-Ann Fox

Everyone who attended our Edcamp was focused on learning and collaborating. One group even held a lunch session on Number Talks.  This demonstrates the power of Edcamps and how getting educators together to learn works.  Teachers were able to learn what they wanted when they needed it.  I was impressed by what were were able to do in one day. To learn more about our EdCamp Del Norte you can see our website and and view our session board.   

Our session board being built - so exciting!
Since EdCamp, several people have talked to me about planning future events. Ed Tech leaders in a neighboring county have started planning and one of our data coaches/instructional leaders talked with me about holding a focused EdCamp which would target a specific topic like instructional strategies.  I look forward to working with colleagues on these new ideas and seeing what happens next year with EdCamp Del Norte II!

More EdCamp Del Norte Session Photos

Brett Lauble sharing student screencasting projects

@colbysmart and @kendallp50 leading a session
on Smarter Balanced Assessments