This past Saturday, I attended my first edcamp which was organized at Lamberick Park Secondary school. It was a day of learning, sharing, and excitement. For those of you who are unfamiliar with edcamp, it is a user-generated conference that does not follow any rigid schedule for workshops that are planned in advance. It is commonly referred to as an “unconference”. Ideas for topics of discussion are determined by registered guests at the beginning of the day.
Instead of a single person presenting for an hour, attendees are encouraged to participate in group conversation. People are organized in circles to facilitate conversation among all the members. The demographic of attendees range from pre-service teachers, actual teachers and parents.
The edcamp topics I attended throughout the day were 1) Promoting creativity in the Science and Math Class 2) Teaching to indigenous students 3) “grit” in the classroom.
As a person who plans to teach science and mathematics at the secondary level, I was extremely excited to participate in the “promoting creativity in the science and math classroom” discussion. In summary, we addressed the difficulty of making math come alive to students. According to many teachers, math has the reputation for being a motivation killer and tends to be a subject that most students dread. The traditional ways of teaching math through rote learning from a textbook seemed to be the culprit for such experiences. Some suggestions included incorporating art in math. One grade 9 math teacher assigned a project whereby students had to create a self-portrait using geometric shapes. Students had to plan this portrait on graph paper with Cartesian coordinates, and had to plan which shapes and shape sizes would be needed to create an ideal self-portrait. This was very neat way to incorporate art into mathematics.
During my second workshop, we addressed the relatively low graduation rate of indigenous students. We came to the conclusion that teachers must have a firm understanding of the difficulty that most of these students face daily. This doesn’t just look like support in the classroom, but actively seeking the root of such issues in these students’ lives at home.
The last workshop I attended was on “grit”. Grit is passion and perseverance. We discussed how kids who have grit always end up successful in their adult lives, no matter their grades in school and upbringing. This is because these students understand that life is a marathon and not a sprint. When these kids fail, they try again. They ignore the doubt from themselves and others. We discussed ways to teach grit in the classroom.
Edcamp was a fantastic way to learn and discuss topics relevant in today’s classroom. The insight given by educators of all types was extremely valuable and eyeopening.