This past weekend I attended the most amazing professional development! Created BY teachers, FOR teachers, WITH teachers this “Unconference” in Biddeford, Maine was tailor made for everyone! Dubbed nErDcamp Northern New England (nErDcampNNE) was inspired by nErDcamp Battle Creek which was created by Colby Sharp
So what was nErDcamp? From their blog I found, “nErDcamp is an “unconference” modeled after edcamp but the focus is on literacy. An “unconference” means that participants decide which topics will be explored. During the first half hour we will fill a session board with different topics generated from participants. Participants decide which sessions they wish to attend. You are encouraged to move to another session if you are attending one that isn’t working for you. Some sessions may be led by participants who want to share a strategy, tool or idea that has worked for them (ex: Using Evernote in the classroom). Other sessions may be more like round table discussions in which participants discuss and share ideas on a topic (ex: How to engage reluctant readers).”
I HAD to try this!
The evening before the conference the organizers held a Nerdy Evening with the Authors and Illustrators at a local library. Children’s book and YA authors from Maine and beyond came to greet children, families, teachers and fans. Talk about an opportunity to network! Some authors discussed skyping with our classrooms and connecting via Twitter as ways to reach their young audiences. They all took time to talk and sign books.
I had the good fortune to meet:
Ed Briant, Kate Egan, Cynthia Lord, Lynn Plourde, Megan Frazer Blakemore, Cathryn Falwell, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, J.E. Thompson, Gail Donovan, Kevin Hawkes, Sashi Kaufman and Lisa Jahn-Clough all in one place!
The next day, I joined educators from around the state (and beyond) to create our own conference. Susan Dee (incredible Biddeford educator) facilitated the auditorium audience as we chose topics and created a Google Doc for sessions. People volunteered to facilitate sessions and others to take notes to capture the essence and resources in the discussions. We all headed off to our assigned rooms and immersed ourselves in rich discussions, abundant resources and tons of tips! I found myself checking out notes being created in other sessions I wanted to attend, wishing I could clone myself to be in more than one at a time!
We learned how to motivate ‘striving’ readers and writers, incorporate technology more easily into our classrooms, build our booklist of ‘must haves’, connect with authors, organize better book clubs…and more!
We took charge of our own learning! Creating our own professional development with a “tribe” of open minded and supportive educators was so empowering! We made connections with others that will go far beyond the one day event and it was FREE!!!!
So if your district, region or state is interested in creating their own edcamp they could post questions or comments on twitter #nErDcampNNE, follow their nErDcampNNE Blog, check out Colby Sharp’s nErDcamp in Michigan or follow Susan and the other nErDcamp team on twitter.
What’s on my Book Radar?
Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts have put together a superb book that provides us lessons beyond literacy learning in the classroom that will give readers a greater appreciation for the literate the world around us. Close reading is a real buzz word these days, I would recommend this book for teachers trying to encourage deeper thinking within the “4 corners of the page” and beyond. I think you’ll definitely fall in love with it!
I’ve also got to dive into all the books I had signed at the Nerdy Evening With the Authors!
Autographed books by Kevin Hawkes, Cynthia Lord, Lynn Plourde, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Gail Donovan and Lisa Jahn-Clough