Monday, May 14, 2012

Ed Camp Milwaukee, the Unconference

I had the pleasure of attending an "unconference" this past Saturday.  I really did not know what to expect, but I must say that the reality far exceeded what I expected the event would be.  An unconference is where everyone meets at the beginning of the day and throws out session ideas.  The way it was done at my Ed Camp was people would come to the front of the auditorium and grab a post-it and then speak into a mic and say what sort of session they would like to see or what sort of session they would be willing to lead.

The day began with a catered breakfast from Panera.  We met and got the lowdown on how the day would work.  We ended up moving into the auditorium for 45 minutes of Intro to Ed Camp and session planning and posting.  We had a google+ hangout where we were able to have a presentation with the founders of Ed Camp of how it came to be.  So very interesting!

After the intro to Ed Camp people starting sharing session ideas.  Once everyone was finished offering session ideas a schedule was created on a google doc with all the sessions titles and time slots.  We had four different time slots with multiple sessions running during each time slot.

The first session I attended was about math instruction and it was such a great experience to network with other math teacher and share great teaching ideas.  The topics ranged from grading homework to ideas for teaching specific concepts more creatively.

My second session was on flipped teaching.  So much information was shared by teachers and tech coaches from various districts.  There is an 8th grade math teacher at my school that has been flipping her algebra class this semester with great results.  I really need to find a time to observe her in action.  She is an awesome teacher and she was able to share lots of info in our session.

We broke for a pizza lunch sponsored by Topper's.  There were so many sponsors that made this a FREE event for all attendees and also contributed some awesome door prizes.  I won a t-shirt and subscription to Evernote, as well as, several free app codes.

After lunch I went to a session on workshop model in middle school math.  I was hoping some awesome elementary teachers who use this type of model would attend and share some ideas.  Another teacher wanted info on using learning stations at the middle school level and another wanted some expertise on managing group work.  We ended up combining these three topics into one session.  I did not really get any ideas for the workshop model in the middle school classroom, but I did get contact info for two people should be a fabulous resource for me.  That is another amazing thing about Ed Camp, the contacts you make and the sharing freely of resources and information.

One thing I loved about this conference was that it was all about getting what you need/want out of it.  They gave us permission to enter and leave sessions at any time.  If you found yourself in a session that was not what you thought it would be or not beneficial to you, then you could leave and find something that worked better for you.  I just LOVE this idea, that it's all about what YOU want to get out of it.  People freely came and went during sessions and no one had hurt feeling about it.

Another thing I did not realize was that this unconference was not just about technology.  Of course there were many sessions dealing with technology, but people were free to request whatever they needed whether or not it was related to technology.

I cannot speak highly enough of what a great experience Ed Camp MKE was.  I WOULD STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO REGISTER FOR ANY ED CAMP YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND. <------ Yes I am shouting to emphasize how passionate I feel about this amazing experience.

Have any of you attended Ed Camp?  I would love to hear about your experience.  Please feel free to ask any questions about the experience.  I am no expert, just a super enthusiastic supporter of this unconference model for professional development.


  1. Wow! This sounds like an awesome event. What is flipped teaching? I have never heard of it! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Alana flipped teaching is when flip around instruction and homework (that's an oversimplified explanation) . For homework students might watch tutorial videos explaining what you would normally instruct in class. Then during class time students work on problems and the teacher serves more of a facilitator. I have a pinterest board specifically linking several blog posts about flipped teaching that would give you a much better idea of what it is.


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