Saturday, March 28, 2015

#EdcampKids in 3rd Grade!



This week, we had our own version of #EdcampKids. It was one of my favorite hours of the year.  The kids were amazing and it was so fun to watch everything and to think about the possibilities that this can open up.  I've been thinking about #Edcamp and working through how best to run Genius Hour and how to incorporate more Makerspace time all year. I want it to come together in a way that makes sense for kids.  I've read a bit here and there about how others have done #EdcampKids work.

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
One of my favorite noticings was the variety in not only the topics but the types of sessions. Just like all Edcamps I've attended,  some sessions were more interactive, others were more conversational, and others were more lecture/presentation.  It was a good mix and will give us lots to talk about when it comes to different ways to share information depending on your goals. A few kids had things to set up. Most had done last-minute preparations at home. We had a good variety of sessions so some set ups only required logging into Google while other students had to set up supplies for participants.


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.


As you can see, every session was a hit.  Everyone had a great time and learned so much in every ten-minute session.

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.)



I had a total of 11 students facilitate a session this week. That is just less than half.  Students who did not have anything for this week are already asking when the next EdcampKids will be so that they can share the topic they love.   Presenters reflected on how things went, how much they enjoyed sharing topics they love and how nice it was to talk to others about these topics.  If we do this every 2-3 weeks, kids will have lots of opportunities to share in various ways across the year.

I loved our first #EdcampKids for a million reasons.  First of all, I worry about how much ownership we have taken away from student learning in this time of testing-- but things like Genius Hour, Makerspace and Edcamp bring that back and give kids days that are engaging and worthwhile as learners. I loved that kids had choice and that they made such smart decisions about everything that went into this hour--from what to share, to the tools they used to share,  to which sessions to attend, to the questions they asked, to the thinking ahead to the next EdcampKids that they are already doing.

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.

5 comments:

  1. Franki,
    This is FABULOUS! Thank you for sharing your resources. Giving ownership of learning to our kids is so very important. Now, I can only hope that I can talk a few teachers into trying this with me. :)

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  2. This is such a great idea and thoughtful post. Please link up for DigiLit Sunday. https://reflectionsontheteche.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/in-a-nutshell/

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  3. I love this so much!!! Thank you for sharing not only the finished product, but the process!

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  4. There is no question about the commitment and ownership your students have for their work and sharing their learning. Love to learn how you facilitated this type of thinking and learning from the start! Wonderful work.

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  5. I love this! So awesome! I can't wait to see it LIVE!!

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