June 2018

NYTimes Features Edcamps!

Katherine Schulten at the New York Times, published a longform article that covered the benefits of Edcamps for teachers, including interviews with Edcamp Newark organizer Juli-Anne Benjamin, EdcampSTL founder Robert Dillon, and Edcamp Foundation Executive Director Hadley Ferguson. 

Edcamps are “soul-refilling, a booster shot, a way to realize you’re not alone,” said Robert Dillon, 44, the director of Innovative Learning at the School District of University City in St. Louis and one of the founders of EdcampSTL. This year his camp attracted nearly 600 people from states across the Midwest.

Read the full article here. 

Edcamp Hays, Kansas

The Hays Daily News sent out reporters to cover the story of the 2018 EdcampKS - Hays, which took place on June 11, 2018. 

“To hear how other people are doing it, all age groups, I learned new strategies, new information about something I knew about,” she said.

(photo via https://twitter.com/EdCampHays

"The teachers created 40 sessions on topics including flexible seating, morale, technology in the classroom, best practices for young teachers, social and emotional education, STEM and STEAM, working with para educators, and subject- and grade-level specific topics, Henderson said."

Read more about EdcampKS - Hays here. 

Find out more about the full slate of EdcampKS. 

Edcamps Evolve: Checking in with Edcamp Greenville

The idea of Edcamp Greenville originated in the summer of 2016, after attending the Edcamp Organizers Summit in Atlanta and helping to plan  Edcamp Sparkle in Spartanburg, SC.   I knew this professional development model would be perfect for the educators I had been working with in Greenville County.   After assembling a team of dynamic organizers, made up of instructional coaches and curriculum specialists within Greenville County, we decided on the location, date, and time.  After all hours of planning and collaboration, on March 25, 2017, around 200 educators attended Edcamp Greenville at Bryson Elementary in Simpsonville, SC.

"By the end of the event, teachers were recharged and ready to take on the rest of the school year. Many teachers commented about how their professional learning networks had expanded because of this event and were already asking about when the event would be held the next year."

Teachers were treated to breakfast, refreshments, snacks, a delicious lunch with numerous choices, and frozen yogurt to end our day.  Conference bags filled with a professional text and small prizes were given to each attendee.  Many corporations and areas businesses donated items to give away for door prizes to these very deserving teachers.  By the end of the event, teachers were recharged and ready to take on the rest of the school year.  Many teachers commented about how their professional learning networks had expanded because of this event and were already asking about when the event would be held the next year.  

This past year, Edcamp Greenville was held on February 3, 2018 at Blythe Academy in Greenville. We expanded our planning team to 10 members and included stand-out attendees from the year prior, to help round out our team by adding additional technology coaches and administrators.    We welcomed over 250 educators from all over the state, and several from out of state.  We were able to add a “S.T.E.A.M. Room”, Discovery Education, and a fun photo booth donated by an area vendor.  We wanted teachers to feel “treated” and refreshed to finish the school year.  We are already planning for our next Edcamp on February 2, 2019.  

Stay in contact with your planning team. 

Choose people with different roles. 

Involve many organizations from your community

Have fun!

Some strategies I would recommend for a successful Edcamp would be to stay in contact with your planning team and choose people with different roles in education.  Having different perspectives when planning this event is extremely valuable.  I would also suggest involving as many community businesses and organizations as possible.  Many businesses want to help and be involved, but they don’t know how.  Best advice, is to have fun!  Enjoy this time with your colleagues and take time to love what you do.  

Kelli Coons is an organizer for Edcamp Greenville. She works in Spartanburg School District One at Inman Intermediate School as a Technology Coach with the Dynamic Learning Project. She enjoys working with teachers to promote student engagement and teacher professional growth. Twitter: @TooLegitTeach


Recapping the Year with the District Initiative

Submitted by Cynthia Leatherwood, Outreach Manager at the Edcamp Foundation.

The first year of our new District Initiative is completed. It was an awesome year full of learning for me and the districts! I am thankful to have the opportunity to share the Edcamp model and empower educators across the country. Thanks to all the teachers and administrators who were willing to do things differently and for those who empowered their teachers to take risks. I cannot thank you enough! In every city, the pre service, practicing teachers and administrators go through a training to become Edcamp Specialists. They learn how to introduce the model at the start of the Edcamp, facilitate sessions, build a session board and everything else it takes to host an Edcamp. The goal of the training is to empower them to host future Edcamps. 

This year my District Initiative work was in Philadelphia, PA, Newark, NJ, Queens, NY and Florence, SC. In Philadelphia I had the opportunity to work with Temple University pre service teachers and the School District of Philadelphia. Temple University hosted 2 Edcamps. Their first Edcamp had lively discussions around field work, building relationships with cooperating teachers, securing a teaching position and preparing for interviews. During their second Edcamp, they invited practicing teachers and administrators to sit on a panel. The pre service teachers prepared questions to ask. Then, they built their session board. Their topics focused on differentiated instruction, actively engaging students, networking, resume tips, and next steps. The panel guests stayed and participated in the Edcamp portion. 

For the School District of Philadelphia, we had a theme of Open Educational Resources. We had a keynote speaker who specializes in O.E.R. Then, the teachers wrote their questions and ideas they wanted to talk about for the session board. The Edcamp Specialists built the board. We had facilitators and note takers in the rooms to capture the shared resources and to continue the conversations after the Edcamp was completed. 

In Newark, NJ there were 2 Edcamps with Newark Public Schools and 1 hosted by Marion P. Thomas Charter School. There were 23 Edcamp Specialists trained in Newark. All Edcamps had 200 attendees. The third Edcamp was just held on June 21 and had a theme of “Culture and Climate.” The teachers embraced the model and their energy and discussions were incredible.


I continued to work with pre service teachers at Florence Marion University, SC. 13 pre service teachers went through the Edcamp Specialist training and they will be spreading their knowledge and working on hosting  Edcamps.  I finished up this year with a District Initiative in Far Rockaway, NY. 23 educators became Edcamp Specialists and held their first Edcamp with a theme of “Checking for Understanding.” They invited educators from schools across the peninsula and it was a huge success. They are planning a second Edcamp in the Fall.

Stay tuned for the continued updates on my work in Far Rockaway, NY. During the next school year, my District Initiative work will take me to New Mexico, Missouri, and Virginia.

Edcamp Tips: Bling Your Badge and Connect with Colleagues

PBS Edcamps are bringing PK-3 teachers together in the spirit of collaboration and meaningful conversations around educating early learners. Our Edcamp in Billings, MT hosted 43 teachers from early childhood and primary classrooms. For many of these teachers it was their first Edcamp experience as well as the first time they had attended an event with one another. Bringing Pre-K educators and after school program facilitators to the conversation with K-3 teachers proved to be a rich learning experience for all! In an effort to help these two groups find and connect with one another we set up a “Bling Your Badge” station near our registration area. We wanted Edcampers to start the day by  finding one another quickly. We had them add name badge ribbons to their name tags that identified them as Pre-K teachers, Kindergarten teachers or Specialists. We tapped into the natural creativity of this unique group of educators and gave them the opportunity to add color and stickers to their name tags as well. As the day unfolded participants used the name badges to start conversations with one another and start conversations about important topics relating to early childhood education. “Blinging Badges” turned out to be a great connecting activity for our Edcamp and is something we encourage other facilitators to include in their event as well. Learn more about how to set up for “Bling Your Badge Station” here

Nikki Vradenburg is from the great state of Montana and is proud to be raising her two children, Jessica, 8 and Riley, 3 there! Nikki is the Teacher Ambassador and Technology Integration Specialist for MontanaPBS.  She works with teachers in rural schools to successfully integrate technology in their classrooms. An educator since 2001, Nikki has taught K-5 students in a rural school for most of her classroom teaching career. Her favorite moments in the classroom involved lessons where students used technology to create and share about their learning. Nikki is a National Board-Certified teacher with a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. She is a 2014 PBS Digital Innovator, a BrainPOP Certified Educator, holds Level 1 Google Certification and is a Microsoft Innovative Educator. She is honored to have been a finalist for Montana Teacher of the Year in 2017. Nikki happily delivers professional development to teachers all over the state of Montana and has presented at many national conferences as well. Nikki is also currently working on her Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction at Montana State University.

Congratulations to our Spring 2018 Impact Grant Award Winners

The Edcamp Foundation would like to congratulate our 43 Impact Grant awardees! Each awardee demonstrated a want to increase professional development within their communities and we are excited to see these projects implemented! This was one of our largest rounds ever, with over 250 applications submitted for entry. We would like to thank our committed volunteer readers for their hours spent grading each application, everyone who applied, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting this wonderful program. 

Spring 2018 Impact Grant Award Winners

  • Taylor Williams, Birdville Independent School District, Fort Worth, US-TX
  • Shelly Lansford, Birdville ISD, Haltom City, US-TX
  • Jennifer Canizares, Birdville ISD, Haltom City, US-TX
  • Lyndsey Nicole Kubos, Brenham Elementary School, Brenham, US-TX
  • Elizabeth Crosby, Brook Avenue Elementary School, Bay Shore, NY, Bay Shore, US-NY
  • Melissa Buchhop, Century Elementary, Grand Forks, US-ND
  • Ashley Lucke, Challenger Elementary, Snohomish, US-WA
  • Lynne Hendrick, Chesapeake Public Schools -- Deep Creek High School, Virginia Beach, US-VA
  • Sara R Boscaino, Crossroads North Middle School, Monmouth Junction, US-NJ
  • Angela Milversted, E. J. Marshall Elementary School, Chino, US-CA
  • Katelynn Ryan, Erie Middle School, Longmont, US-CO
  • Julie D Keyl, Foothills Elementary School, Maryville, US-TN
  • Shelley Davis, Freeman Elementary USD 261, Wichita, US-KS
  • Amber D. E. Brouillard, Geneva County Schools, Geneva, US-AL
  • Stephanie Pinkin, Gravelly Hill Middle School, Efland, US-NC
  • Mary O'Brien, Henderson K-12 Inclusion School, Dorchester, US-MA
  • Jennifer Woll, holley navarre primary school, Navarre, US-FL
  • Cheryl Kelly Pahl, Hunter's Green Elementary, Tampa, US-FL
  • Cynthia Mullin, J.L. Simpson Middle School, Leesburg, US-VA
  • Teresa Meyers, Joplin Early Childhood (Joplin R-8), Joplin, US-MO
  • Carol McBroom, Liberty Junior High, Richardson, US-TX
  • Cathy Schultz, Margaret Buerkle Middle School, Saint Louis, US-MO
  • Katherine Barrack, McMurray Middle School, Antioch, US-TN
  • Mary Alicia LYons, Morris Grove Elementary School., Durham, US-NC
  • Elizabeth Cramer, Mountain View Middle School, Albuquerque, US-NM
  • Bonnie K. Curran, Newtown Middle School, Newtown, US-PA
  • Sara Hricik, Northeastern Middle School, Manchester, US-PA
  • Danza Riatusso, Oriole Beach Elementary, Gulf Breeze, US-FL
  • Christina McQuaid, Pocomoke Middle School, Hallwood, US-VA
  • Elizabeth Carter, Richland Elementary, Richland Hills, US-TX
  • Murphy Mogensen, Richmond Hill Middle School, Richmond Hill, US-GA
  • Karen Medved, Riverside Elementary School District, New Castle, US-PA
  • Shari Sauer, Robert Martin Elementary, Wichita, US-KS
  • Renee Jones, Rogers Middle School, Prosper, US-TX
  • Amy Chevalier, San Antonito Elementary STEM Magnet, Sandia Park, US-NM
  • Mary Lakey, Sayre ISD, Sayre, US-OK
  • Melissa Schramp, St. Benedict Catholic School, Atchison, KS, Atchison, US-KS
  • Marie Puskas, Steinbrenner High School, Tampa, US-FL
  • Michelle James-Yarish, Steinbrenner High School, Odessa, US-FL
  • Tom Crilley, Tabernacle Elementary School, Tabernacle, US-NJ
  • Amy L. Brewin, Tabernacle Elementary School, Tabernacle, US-NJ
  • Kathleen McEleney, Woodcrest Elementary School- Cherry Hill Public Schools, Cherry Hill, US-NJ
  • Katelyn Hall, York Suburban School District, York, US-PA
A Running Start with Your PLN to Edcamp Rewards

I felt like I’d been shot from a cannon. Edcamp was the crescendo of a story I’d already begun telling.

The energy in the room was palpable, and I felt like a lightning rod in a thunderstorm. I had big ideas about how to organize lessons around authentic phenomena. A recent conversation about standards-based grades has me thinking about how I promoted student mastery using grades as feedback. I also had questions, like, “What could making look like in a 2nd grade classroom?” When we were building the board of the day’s topics, I felt a sense of purpose as I made my selections.

I was surprised by how quickly I built momentum. I realized that my personal learning network  (PLN) had given me a running start for this year’s Edcamp. Building your own PLN can help you catch fire faster at the next Edcamp, and adding another resource can make anybody’s network more rewarding.

Build a PLN with many voices (including your own). The diverse perspectives are the greatest strength of your network.

The foundation of any effective community is people. Twitter is an excellent way to meet new people, but that network should be anchored in professionals who you trust. Educators with whom you share your core values. Humans who will ask questions, share their perspective, and disagree when appropriate. I’ve got some really awesome people supporting me (shout out Olathe East science department). On this foundation we will build!

I’ve been amazed by how meaningful my growth has been since I’ve expanded my PLN to include more professional sources. I’ve been hosting an education podcast for about a year now and I’m floored by the dynamic community that has grown around this medium. Our most recent episode included a discussion of Dr. Eve Manz’s paper on professional development, and her supportive, collaborative attitude led to a connection on Twitter. That interaction propelled a conversation in our Edcamp session on making (check out the discussion on Two Pint PLC, and her paper).

I’ve also been a voracious podcast consumer, and I find that the new connections feed into the discussion when we all come together. Brad Shreffler had a recent episode with Rick Wormeli (The Planning Period Podcast) and it prepared me for a rich conversation on student mastery, John Spencer did an episode on design thinking (The Creative Classroom) that aligned well with my own work on the design process, and Angela Watson did an episode a while ago (Truth for Teachers) that helped me have more challenging conversations about growth mindset in the classroom.

Connect with voices on a topic that is important to participants. Build space for those relationships to grow.

These folks are, almost universally, ready to connect and collaborate on Twitter and they will be valuable members of anyone’s PLN. Find a way to offer some value before an event to get the ball rolling: host a Twitter hashtag, be a guest on a podcast, or contribute to a related blog or forum. Whatever you’re sharing, make sure it’s useful on its own. Enrich the practice of teachers who will be attending, and the audience who can’t be there.

When you choose what to share, communicate with the hosts that they will have a chance to build on the topic at an up-coming Edcamp. Ask the leaders of the hashtag if they can visit a session (remote presence can make it possible to chat with anyone) to continue conversations that began the previous week. Invite the podcasters to live tweet with a session that is discussion the topic of the episode (you could even use a projector to show a “tweet stream” throughout the session).

One of the greatest values of Edcamp is how it is driven by participants. Remember to stay flexible and responsive to what the participants need. Empower them with space, time and tools so they can develop a conversation that starts. An event that prepares participants to connect with a broader PLN can have an impact on students all year long.

Michael Ralph serves as a master teacher with the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Kansas. Ralph works with preservice teachers in the UKanTeach program while he provides educational support for STEM teachers in and around the Kansas City area. Ralph also hosts Two Pint PLC, an education podcast, and work as an officer for the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers. He has also authored two instructional books on biology education and taught in a high school for eight years.