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PANTHER PAUSE: Edcamp -- training camp for teachers

Although summer camps are done for the year and school is back in session, there are still camps going on at SCC, in the Middle Border Conference and all across the country. They are called Edcamps and they are not the normal camp you may be thinking of. They are specially designed camps for educational professionals that really have very little design at all.

According to the website edcamp.org, Edcamps are an organic, participant driven professional learning experience. In more detail, they are basically a gathering of educators who want to learn together about a variety of topics. There is no highly paid expert, no long power point, and no specific topic. Instead, people show up, sign up for topics they want to discuss and then someone organizes topics into sessions and the day begins. Usually there are three or four sessions in a day, with a working lunch and a “smack down” at the end. The “smackdown” is a time at the end of the day where everyone gathers in a large setting, such as a gym, cafeteria or auditorium and shares key things they learned from the day or items that they believe others may be interested in. The sharing in the “smack down” is usually done using a microphone and a digital tool so everyone can see and hear the information. A note taker is also designated for each session so that everyone can sign in and get a shared copy of what is discussed when the day is done.

We had our first Edcamp at SCC last Friday afternoon during our professional development day. It was a bit of a modified format due to our size, experience and time frame, but still modeled the theory behind Edcamps. We did a survey to gather ideas ahead of time, created a session board with two sessions, each containing ten different topics and then did a survey instead of a “smack down” at the end to gather people’s thoughts from the day. In each session, there was a sign in with a notes page that everyone could view and edit throughout the day.

On Oct. 14, St. Croix Central will participate in a full-blown Edcamp as part of the first ever Middle Border Conference Edcamp to be held in Somerset. Over 700 school professionals will gather from seven area schools to participate in the day of learning. There will be four sessions in each of three buildings, with each session having 15-20 topics for educators to choose from. The working lunch will specifically focus on collaboration between specialty areas such as Physical Education, Art, Music, Math, Science and so on. The afternoon will end with a “smack down” followed by a large group picture and individual school focus time.

If you are interested in learning more about Edcamps, go to edcamp.org where you will find general information and a list of upcoming Edcamps around the U.S.

Written by Glenn Webb, Director of Teaching and Learning at St. Croix Central. 

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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