Saturday, July 13, 2013

nErDcamp Round-up

I have been blessed in regard to the conferences I have attended this past school year: NCTE, MRA, IRC, All Write, ALA… so much to learn and so many friends to see. All of the conferences have been special in their own way, but none have intrigued me as much as last week’s nErDcamp.

Based on the Edcamp model, nErDcamp was the brainchild of an awesome friend, Colby Sharp. Along with his wife, Alaina, and a fabulous group of educators/friends, the first nErDcamp occurred this past Thursday.

I headed north to Michigan on Wednesday with Donalyn Miller driving and book titles flying between us. We were both excited to see some friends and intrigued at what nErDcamp would be like. That night many Nerdy Book Club friends met up for dinner at Dark Horse Brewery. I won’t even bother to list the folks that were there for fear of forgetting someone, I’ll just say it was an amazing evening and if you were there, the chance is good that Colby Sharp convinced you to write a post for Nerdy Book Club – or called you to remind you to write the post.

Thursday dawned early and many of us headed to nErDcamp – after picking up some much needed coffee. Upon approaching the high school we were greeted with the sign welcoming us

And many enthusiastic volunteers. The nErDcamp organizers had bags of goodies for the first one hundred and fifty people there – advanced copies of books, posters, bookmarks, and more. We checked in, ordered our lunch, and headed to the main room.

Once everyone was settled, Colby explained how the day would work. We had six slots each hour and were going to have two hour-long sessions before lunch, two after. We brainstormed as small groups what sessions we would like to see the first two hours of the day. If you were willing to lead a session, you told the organizers and your session title and your name were added to the Google Doc. Once the morning sessions were filled, it was off to learn.

I will say regarding the brainstorming session that I was floored by how quickly the sessions were filled. I was worried at first – what if no one wanted to lead a session? What if everyone just sat there? I needn’t have worried; the energy in the room was electrifying. I wish it could be bottled and passed out at faculty meetings around the country. AMAZING!

I first attended a session on Evernote led by Cathy Mere, Karen Terlecky, and Alaina Sharp. I was super excited about this because I’ve begun using Evernote this year but know there are ways to use it I haven’t even begun to see. The session was wonderful with great ideas being shared by presenters and participants.

The second session I attended was Motivating Readers and Writers through Technology led by Suz Gibbs and Donalyn Miller. Again, great ideas given by the presenters and participants. I left with new ideas for my class and was tying the new learning to the #cyberpd book I’m reading as well.

We broke for lunch and then brainstormed the sessions for the afternoon. Again, the energy rocked. I ended up agreeing to led two sessions – one with Jerzy Drozd and Laurie Keller on Graphic Novels: A Pathway to Learning. The other session was with Cindy Minnich and Donalyn Miller entitled Nerdy Book Club Needs YOU.
Nerdy Book Club Team

I’ve led several professional development sessions over the past few years and these were some of my favorites. I didn’t have to prepare, stress out, work hard on a presentation before attending nErDcamp. After lunch Donalyn turned to me and asked if I wanted to do something on Nerdy Book Club. I said sure. Shortly after that Colby came up and asked if I’d join Jerzy in talking about the importance of graphic novels. I agreed. I walked into each session with no preparation beyond what I know to be true in my classroom – and that was all that was needed. I also loved that the presenters learned as much from the participants as they did from us. This was collaborative learning as it was meant to be.

We wrapped up nErDcamp back in the large room with door prizes and folks heading to the front to share what they learned that day. I shook my head as we finally headed to the car. I spent the day with folks that willingly gave up a summer vacation day to learn, lead sessions, and grow as professionals.

I keep thinking about this model of learning – could it be done on a district level? Would that work on one of our Inservice days? I’m sure that it could, but I need to think it through. What I do know is this, it was incredible and I cannot wait to attend again.

If you couldn’t attend, the link to the doc showing the sessions is here:

Google Doc

Click on the room number to be taken to the notes page someone in that session recorded for everyone.

If you did attend and wrote your own blog write up, will you link the blog in the comments? I will add them to the bottom of the post as we go so we can have a one-stop spot for our reflection from the amazing day.

Thanks Colby, Alaina, and everyone who worked hard to make the first nErDcamp such a success! 

nErDcamp blog post round up 
(click on the blogger's name to be taken to their blog - this will be updated)

Franki Sibberson
Travis Jonker