Thursday, March 28, 2013

EdCampFSE - Week 26 March 25-28, 2013

First off I have to say I work with some pretty incredible people.  So I heard about the whole EdCamp idea last year when I attended EdCampDallas.  I fell in love with the idea so much that now I am in the midst of planning EdCampWaller for our area.  When explaining what an EdCamp is to one of Reading Teacher partners, she said "Wouldn't it be cool to do that with kids??".  And from that idea EdCampFSE (Fields Store Elementary) was born.  So thank you Jean Marki!

We took our spring benchmark about a month ago.  From those results, the students who earned commended spent the last three weeks creating a 15-20 minute presentation over our state standards that were scored lowest on the Benchmark for Reading and Math.  We didn't give them any instructions besides...
 - Make a 15-20 minute presentation
 - It must be hands on
 - It must include technology somehow

The commended kids took the idea and ran with it.  They worked during our class in groups of 2-4 every day, while I was able to teach my other struggling students.

It all built up to this week.  Yesterday afternoon I met with the groups that were to present.  We sat down together and created a schedule for EdCampFSE.  We had a total of eight sessions planned throughout the day.  We also sent out an email to about 20-30 other educators in our area but only heard back from two.  So thank you Lauren Crites (our District Reading Specialist) and Terry Garrett (our campus Assistant Principal) for also leading sessions during our EdCamp.  Us teachers were very hands off and only there to monitor, take pics, and add advice.

By the way, these are FIFTH graders.  They did INCREDIBLE!  Sure there were some presentations that struggled  but these kids haven't had a lot of presentation experience   I had kids that used Google to create and share presentations with their entire group.  Kids that created games to play with their group.  Kids that took their group outside to measure things on our school property, kids that used a presentation tool called Presefy which allowed them to stream their presentation to every students device....and they came up with all these ideas completely on their own!  We've worked really hard to build creativity, independence and sense of fun and learning in our students and it is really showing more than we ever imagined.  In all honesty, who cares how are kids do on their state standardized test, our kids are LEARNING!

The kids also had a blast learning from each other and getting to CHOOSE what sessions they wanted to attend....we had sessions...

- Poetry Please - all about poetry
- Lights, Camera, Drama - about the different types of stories we study in 5th grade
- Got Organization? - about organizing your story and cause and effect.
- Bac Bac - about identifying and working with prime and composite numbers
- Simplify ME! - about simplifying fractions
- What are the Chances - about probability
- PA Hunt - an outside scavenger hunt about perimeter and area
- Yummy Fractions - about adding, subtracting, and converting fractions
- The Future is NOW! - about predictions
- Graffiti Wall - this session was designed to have kids write inspirational messages and reminders for their test next week.
-  ESL - lead by our AP about using dictionaries and how to work through a test if you're an English Language Learner
- QR and Reading - This session was lead by Lauren Crites about using QR codes and how to prepare for the Reading Test.

The kids were rockstars.  They were super professional and their sessions were better than some adult presentations I've been to.  Yes they were short (less than 20 min) but honestly with 5th graders that's about all the attention span you had!

We also hosted a "Presenter Lunch" where the students were able to eat lunch and get a free dessert with us if they were a presenter and at the end of the day, just like a real EdCamp, we gave out door prizes and had a SMACKdown where the students shared their favorite parts of the day!

I know we are already planning a second EdCamp for the end of the year, except that all the sessions will be kids presenting about things they're interested in.  One of our state standards in 5th is to teach researching, so when we teach that we're going to have kids research something they're passionate about and present about it.

Here are a few pictures from our day...BTW I also recorded all the sessions and will upload them and post the link soon! (Hopefully in the next week!)  Feel free to leave any comments below!