On Monday, July 11, 2016, I was fortunate enough to participate in an EdCamp in Columbus, Ohio.  This was part of a network of events called “EdCamp Leadership” across numerous states and international locations.

Ohio’s event, titled EdCamp Leader Ohio, was held at the unofficial mother church of EdCamps, Clark Hall at Gahanna-Lincoln High School.  (I have previously attended two #EdCampCbus events at the same location, and am hoping to attend this year’s event on September 24.)  Clark Hall is an excellent example of learner-centered architecture.  Classroom spaces are flexible.  Collaboration spaces are open and well-furnished. Considerable attention has been paid to minimizing barriers to learning.

A great big thank you to Dr. Neil Gupta (@drneilgupta), and GLHS Principal Bobby Dodd (@bobby__dodd) for all the preparation and planning work!

Here are my big take-aways from the event:

  • Before we talk about what we do and how we do it, it’s never a bad idea to reaffirm why we do it.  It’s unusual (though certainly not unheard of) for an edCamp to start with a keynote, but #EdCampLdrOH’s opening keynote with LaVonna Roth was the perfect type of message for an event of this nature.
  • Movie clips have great potential as illustrative material for profesional development as well as instructional design.  Today’s educator should understand copyright law and “fair use” principles as part of a school’s digital citizenship effort.
  • Discussions about how we might construct and conduct courses on current events and social justice issues naturally lead to real-life application.  At this point, things like credits and grades and other artificial means we use to motivate students become secondary, or even irrelevant.
  • Educators want to develop effective ways to help students identify and utilize their strengths.  Time, relationship-building, and identifying authentic audiences are key parts of this effort, and it takes some boldness to break out of standards maps and pacing guides to lay this foundation.
  • All of our recent efforts at reform and school improvement have done little to transform, or clarify, what it really indicates when we hand a student a high school diploma.  The discussion about what a high school diploma means can drastically change the conversation about what school should look like.  It’s a system-wide application of the principle of Backward Design as explained in “Understanding by Design” – designing with the end in mind.  (ASCD Whitepaper, “The Understanding by Design Framework” [PDF])

Take a look at the day’s “Big Board” and follow the links to any of the resources posted from those sessions.  If you’ve never been to an EdCamp before, I highly recommend that you try it.  Look for one in your area, and plan to attend!

What is an edcamp?

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