Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vacations Help Clear the Mind! EdCamp Fort Worth Experience

It took a vacation to get my mind clear enough to share my first Edcamp experience!  We spent a cool 6 days in Vancouver & Whistler, BC Canada and it was WONDERFUL!!

Before that though, I spent a Saturday at Edcamp Fort Worth, hosted by some great people in Keller ISD!  I had seen information on Twitter about Edcamp and I was excited to find one so close.  Two teachers and two librarians from our district went, each with our own individual focus.  I don't think any of us left disappointed!  And we are all excited about the next one, Edcamp Dallas!

The great part about an Edcamp is that it is so informal and provides opportunities for personal professional learning with peers.  When we first arrived, we listed topics we were interested in learning about on sticky notes and then grouped them on a window with like notes.  The sessions were then chosen from those and put into time slots. 

An easy tool to help with organization of your edcamp experience was the guidebook that I downloaded before I got there.  I could keep up with the sessions I wanted to participate in, and that is exactly what it was, PARTICIPATORY.  In two of the sessions, there were people who were more knowledgeable than most, but in two sessions, we just all shared and tried out things while we were in there together.  None of the sessions were lecture or just one person talking.  This is how Edcamps should be from what I've learned!  :)

The first session I chose was on Evernote, an organizational tool that can be used on iPads, as well as PCs.  It is a way to organize documents, websites, photos, and more in different "notebooks"  The notes can be tagged for easy access.  While in the sessions, I learned  how to create different notebooks, which I had not done with all of my notes.  Another attendee showed how she had created a checklist in Evernote to use for the beginning of school, which was interactive.  She was able to check off supplies/notes, etc for the students as they brought them in.  So much better than all of the paper checklists!  Evernote is definitely a tool I will be using this year to stay organized!

Next, I went to a session on Genius Hour, which is something we are interested in implementing at our school. It is based on Google's 20% time, where employees are allowed to pursue their passions & interest for 20% of the work time.  Amazingly enough, 50% of the new ideas put into use came during this creative exploration time. For school use, students & staff would be able to pursue their own interests during Genius Hour. Teachers would set aside a certain amount of time for students to work on their "passion projects." It was described as "messy" and "loud" but we are were still interested!  :)

While in the session, people shared how they are planning to use genius hour in their classroom. Some teachers plant to put no parameters on the projects, while others wanted to offer a little more guidance to their students.  I loved that each person could make it their own, which is an important part of this. Genius Hour, if nothing else, is individualized & personal!  All of this made me stop and think of how I could support classroom teachers with genius hour using our new Makerspaces in the library.  Our engineering makerspace, as well as the multi-media makerspace would fit in nicely with genius hour!  Light bulbs were definitely going on!

In addition to these two great sessions, I also went to one on Augmented Reality. This is something I had only heard of, and still am a long way from implementing, but it was oh so cool!!  I'll have to work on it during my own "genius hour" and look at the ways it can be used in the library. The last one I went to was on Google Docs, and although I comfortably use Google Docs, I decided to stay as a refresher, not to mention, I had so much already going on in my brain that I didn't think I could handle anything else new!  ;)

My first Edcamp experience was GREAT!  I learned quite a bit in a short amount of time and in a very relaxed setting. I was able to meet some of my Twitter PLN face to face, as well as make new connections!  The people who put it on did a fantastic job, and it ran very smoothly! AND there were door prizes!! 

 I can't wait to attend my next edcamp:

Oct 12th 2013
Plano, Tx (Sockwell Center)

Have you been to an edcamp?  What are your thoughts?  Have you helped present or facilitate at one? I'm hoping to try that in the near future....  Any advice? :)


  1. You were at EdCampDallas & we didn't meet up there? Oh. My. Goodness. Next year we will present together I think!

    1. I didn't end up making it to EdCampDallas, but NEXT year, definitely! Such an amazing way to learn & connect!