Like many educators, I spend part of my weekend working. I do, however, try to leave my Saturdays open for me, for my daughter, for fun. This past Saturday, I engaged in professional learning by attending EdCamp Citrus. It wasn't a day of work, but a day of professional inspiration. I left feeling like I do after I leave NCTE and ALAN each year, awed by the professional teachers and energized to do more, do better. I woke up early and headed north with my BTF, Lee Ann Spillane. Lee Ann was my impetus to go because she has been thinking about hosting an edcamp in Orlando for awhile. I arrived at edcamp with no expectations. It was free and I had been hearing about unconferences. I wanted to learn more. EdCamp Citrus is five years old and the organizer, Jerry Swiatek, put together a day that more than exceeded my expectations.
If you haven't been to an edcamp, you go thinking about what you would like discuss or share with other educators. If you want to led, you sign-up that morning. Therefore the opening was just the pulling together of the topics for the sessions. I didn't choose to lead. I didn't, however, lurk; I actively participated in the sessions. The premise is you choose with your feet. You are encouraged to leave sessions that aren't meeting your expectations. The sessions were mostly teacher-led although there was one student-led session.
My learning path that day included Redefining Digital Citizenship, Using Data Binders, Gamefication and Bullying in Schools. The sessions ranged from informal discussions to formal presentations, but I learned more than I anticipated even when a session didn't meet my expectations. I gained insight into gamefication, a term I thought I knew, but the session uncovered my misconceptions. I am still thinking about gamefication and how it jives with the research on motivation. Lunch featured an App Smackdown where individuals came up and gave a 90 second share out of their tech tool. Of the many that were shared, I loved Kahoot, which a teacher could use for formative assessment or if thinking about Marzano, a virtual/face-to-face academic game. I am excited by the new tools, not just tech tools that I have to push my thinking forward as an educator.
Ultimately it was the connections that I made with teachers that mattered most. Tech experts helped me process some tools that I knew, but hadn't figured out how to use purposefully (LiveBinder). I discovered experts right next door, literally a third grade teacher at my daughter's school. I was awed by the work that teachers are doing in districts that have less resources than the district that I currently work. If you want to connect with Florida educators, join the Florida Educators Chat on Wednesday nights at 8 pm on Twitter, #fledchat. I can't wait to take my future teachers there. You can also check out the next close-by EdCamp in Lake County next month or if you are reading this from other place find an edcamp near you by checking out this Wiki.