Edcamps catching on for fueling student discussions
- Educator-run and tech-minded professional development sessions known as Edcamps have caught on with teachers interested in facilitating informal discussions of ideas and techniques.
- As a way to encourage student-led discussions and improve communication skills, some teachers are starting to implement the model with their students
- The typical format involves teachers (or in this case, students) volunteering to present on a subject, which is intended to spark lively debate and discussion that leads to new ways of thinking about a topic.
"The conversations are awesome," Scott Bedley, a teacher in California's Irvine Unified School District who rolled out the Edcamp model in his classroom, told eSchool News. "When you allow kids to have a voice and a choice in their learning, it increases their level of investment."
Bedley and others said the informal conversations are actually a great way to help students build the speaking and listening skills Common Core standards call for. "This is a great opportunity, in a short amount of time, to help foster those 21st-century skills," said Jason Seliskar, a district technology coach and former teacher in the Covina-Valley Unified School District in California.
But making it work may take some maneuvering and preparation. Bedley focuses his student-led Edcamps on a single subject and models an Edcamp presentation for his students before letting them loose. Seliskar said he had to cheer up a student after just two peers attended the student's Edcamp session. And both said getting to know the model before using it in a classroom is key.