I've learned lots from Paul Solarz' Passion Time posts.
I loved this video of a 3rd grade EdcampKids.
And I read about Ann Marie Corgill's and their EdcampKids sessions.
And I learned a lot from this post on an Elementary Edcamp.
I think kids taking charge of learning and teaching is one of the most powerful things we can do in our classrooms. (On a connected note, if you missed Katharine Hale's most recent post on her 5th graders' iTunesU course, you can read about it here.)
I worked with my 3rd grade colleague, Kami Wenning, and we thought hard about what we hoped EdcampKids could be. We knew we wanted something that was part of our routine--not a one time event. For that reason, we needed it to be simple. We knew we wanted authentic reasons for kids to share their learning and their passions on a more regular basis with more than just their own classroom. We knew we wanted kids to have reasons to use various tools in all of their informational writing. We knew we wanted the parts of our days to become more integrated for the kids--so that any interesting learning could become part of EdcampKids. We knew we wanted the kids to take ownership and be creative in what and how they shared.
So we picked a date and decided to run our first #EdcampKids by seeing what happened when we tried to build the board. It turned out that we each had 6 kids or groups of kids who wanted to share something they had learned with the class. We decided to repeat each session of the 12 sessions so kids could attend a total of 4 sessions in one hour. Here is the final board (Google Doc) with location (which classroom) and notes for us so we knew how to set up for each group --Did kids need the Smartboard? a table? supplies? etc. We think kids could run all of this after a few rounds but for this round, we took care of deciding on spaces for each group.
At 9:30 on Friday, we gathered kids together and shared the board with them. We gave them each a hard copy of the schedule so that they could decide which sessions they wanted to attend. They were very serious in their decision-making. The presenters were a bit disappointed ,when they realized they'd only be able to attend 2 of the 4 sessions but that balanced out the excitement they had about sharing their learning.
|Students deciding on their sessions for EdcampKids|
|A student setting up for her Edcamp Kids session: How to Make a Tissue Paper Flower|
|A group getting organized for their Google Presentation|
|A student created this chart to hang on an easel for participants to refer to during her session.|
|An interactive session on learning to use the Explain Everything app on the iPad|
|Using the easel helped participants see demonstrations of Japanese writing.|
|The flower-making group was bigger than this student anticipated but she changed plans a bit and did a fabulous job at teaching everyone how to make the flower.|
One of my favorite moments of the hour was at the end of the 3rd session. A group had shared a Google Presentation about jaguars and I saw them handing out sticky notes. Curious, I asked what was up and one of the presenters said, "Someone asked if we could share our slides and then others wanted it too so we are just collecting the names of people who want to go back to our slide show and we'll share it this week with them." (We are in our first year as a Google District and the fact that these 8 year olds knew to ask and then knew what was possible with sharing made me smile. Google is definitely empowering kids to own their learning.)
And as always, I am amazed looking back at how many standards an hour like this meets. 12 sessions of students sharing their own learning and research. We met reading goals to get ready. We met writing goals to create presentation. We met speaking and listening goals. There was a great deal of collaboration and creativity involved in all of the preparation and the hour in general.
Our plan is this--we hope to incorporate #EdCampKids into our routine and run a 1 hour session every 2-3 weeks for the rest of this year and we hope to start next year with it right away. We know that if we start early, we'll have so much to build on across our days. We know it will grow in ways we can't yet anticipate but we know it will be a powerful thing to teach into. Our conversations about informational writing, sharing with various audiences, research and learning about your passions will be more authentic when we can share the things we want to share, when we are ready to share them. The idea that there are lots of ways to share learning makes me happy. I have never been comfortable with everyone sharing a project or presenting within a few days' time and this gives kids options--What have you learned that you are hoping to share with others? What is the best way to share it?
In this digital world, it is so important for our kids to have lots of ways to share their learning and to share information with others. EdcampKids gives our kids an authentic way to do this and then to connect beyond the classroom. We hope that adding this to the things we already do with blogs and social networks will give kids a good sense of the various ways to share, connect and learn with others.