It is time to start thinking about spring, warmer weather and the next edcampCleveland event!  This year’s edcampCleveland with be May 17, 2014 at Independence High School. A big thanks to Carrie Ciofani, Director of Technology and superintendent Stephen Marlow for agreeing to host edcampCLE14.

Maybe you are new to the edcamp idea, or maybe you have some preconceived notions about what it takes to attend an edcamp event.  In either case, rest assured that the only requirement to attend edcampCLE14 is a passion for teaching.  edcamp is not a technology conference, it is a place for educators to gather and discuss our craft. Methodology, philosophy, technology, best practices, and any acronym you can image are fair game for edcampCLE14 sessions.  All you need to bring is yourself and maybe an idea for a conversation you would like to have with other educators.

There are no “conference sessions” at edcamp events.  People generate ideas in the morning and then you choose where you want to visit.  YOU ARE allowed to leave a session and join another session.  YOU ARE allowed to talk and collaborate during sessions too!  Direct lecture and front-of-the-room presentations are not only discouraged, they are not allowed.  edcampCLE14 will have people facilitating conversations, guiding discussions and helping connect the dots, but not presenting.  We hope this year’s event can build from the last two successful edcampCleveland events.  Check below for some helpful links


Want to volunteer? CLICK HERE

Changing Perspectives

These responses are from the post-event survey sent to EdCamp Cleveland 2012 attendees:

My experience at EdCamp Cleveland changed my perspective on:

  • … how to effectively use the myriad resources out there! (Cathy Roderick, HS teacher)
  • … how a conference can be organized. (Andreas Johansson, Nort2h Consortium)
  • … how adults learn. (Morgan Kolis, elementary teacher)
  • … workshops in general.  This was the first time that a scheduled speaker wasn’t the focus, but each of our own experiences was the focus. (Diane Patterson, elementary teacher)
  • … How to provide professional development. (Paula Deal, consultant)
  • … My own level of expertise – I know more than I thought! (Beth Schwartz, elementary teacher)
  • … Standards based grading. I now have a better understanding of what it is (and isn’t) and plan on sharing my findings with colleagues. (Kiery Franklin, MS teacher)

We’ll see you at EdCamp Cleveland 2013.

Participant-Driven PD

It’s really just an illusion, right?


This “participant-driven EdCamp thing.” It doesn’t really work the way they say it does.

Why not?

Take a look at Wikipedia, for example. They say it’s a community-driven site where anyone can add or modify anything. But try to change an article or add something that the Powers that Be don’t think is important. You’ll quickly see how welcoming they are to contributions from the so-called community.

EdCamp isn’t like that. The schedule is determined on the day of the event by the people who are there.

And who ends up doing the presentations? They’re people who show up with their PowerPoint slide decks from presentations they’ve done in other places. They add their names to the schedule and recycle their sessions from bigger conferences. The whole EdCamp thing is just like having leftovers from “real” conferences.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Sure, some people may have a few slides with them, but it shouldn’t be a presentation. There are no presentations. They’re just conversations. If you’re ten minutes into a session and nobody has talked besides the facilitator, you should walk out.

That’s rude.

It’s not. There are hundreds of places where we can stand on soapboxes and preach about how schools should be. EdCamp isn’t one of them.

If you don’t let people do presentations, nobody is going to lead a session.

There aren’t any “leaders” of sessions. There are only facilitators.

Semantics. Potato. Potahto. Someone has to be in charge.

Someone has to get the conversation started and keep it moving, yes. But that someone does not have to be an expert on the subject. They just have to be willing to ask good questions and encourage people to participate.

If there aren’t any experts, isn’t everyone just stumbling around in the dark? How do the participants get anything out of the session, if everyone else is just as clueless as they are?

That’s the magic of EdCamp. We all bring our perspectives. We frame the questions in our own ways. We respond to one another and fill in little gaps of understanding. Together, we all develop a wider appreciation of the topic by conversing with one another. Our diversity and collaboration inform our professional growth.

Let me get this straight: there are no presentations. There’s no schedule for the day. There are no speakers. No one is in charge.

It’s just like when you go to a traditional conference. The best parts are the breaks between sessions. You talk to the people around you. You meet someone in the corridor. You make connections and start talking and learning from one another. EdCamps take those best parts and make them the whole conference.

And this is free?

Yep. All you need to do is sign up ahead of time so they know you’re coming.

The Power of the Network

Here’s a simple idea: what if every teacher in the United States shared their single best lesson or teaching idea with the rest of the world? Say you teach seventh grade science. Of the 180 or so lessons you teach every year, what if you pick the very best one — the cream of the crop — and put it online for others to share?

And what if everyone did that? All 4 million teachers in the US (the number of teachers is actually between 3 and 6 million, depending on who you believe). That’s four million cream of the crop lessons. If we throw in preschool and kindergarten and do some convenient rounding, that’s about 1500 rock-star good lessons per school day per grade level. If we say, on average, that there are six subjects per grade level, that’s 250 outstanding lessons for each subject for each grade for each day.

What could you do with 250 outstanding ideas on how to teach every lesson?

As education professionals, we need to work together. We all have similar goals. Thanks to common core, we have nearly identical curricula. We recognize the changing needs of our students, and struggle to meet them. Build your personal learning network (PLN). Connect with other people. Work together to solve the challenging problems facing our schools. And model this idea of a culture of learning that extends beyond classrooms and schools.

We’ll see you at EdCamp Cleveland.

Photo credit: Gavin Llewellyn on Flickr

What Did You Learn at EdCampCLE?

These responses are from the post-event survey sent to EdCamp Cleveland 2012 attendees:

At EdCamp Cleveland, I learned:

  • How I can use technology to manage a large number of students and give them feedback quickly on their work. (Greg Roderick, HS Teacher)
  • How important the discussion on grades is and how we need to continue the discussion and come to consensus about what we believe in and will implement. (Matt Auble, MS teacher)
  • Curious people and life long learners find each other regardless. (Andreas Johansson, Nort2h Consortium)
  • How to communicate effectively, help others, interact better with adults, to agree to disagree, to hold my tongue, to let others speak, and about many iOS Apps for creation. (Morgan Kolis, elementary teacher)
  • teachers and students are interchangeable (Roberta Bandfield, elementary/MS teacher)
  • about the connectiveness of us all. So many similar desires and hopes for education. So many similar issues and questions. (Leah LaCrosse, MS teacher)
  • what a “Mystery Skype” is, that other teachers get as frustrated as I do when technology “has glitches”, about others’ experiences with PLC, and some great new apps to use in my classroom (Diane Patterson, elementary teacher)
  • Several things including how to better use Evernote, that I know more about the common core than I thought, and that there are great educators out there I can use as resources (Beth Schwartz, elementary teacher)
  • That students have amazing things to say about their education.
    (Ed Jones, Credit Flex evangelist)

We’ll see you at EdCamp Cleveland 2013.


UNconference, You Say?

EdCamp is an Unconference. The agenda for the day is built by the participants when they show up. There are no “experts” standing at the front of the room. Everyone is a contributor.

The folks at So-Mo in the U.K. have done a fantastic job of explaining the concept with a short video:

In the education world, we tend to call these things EdCamps, which have been popping up all over the world in the last several years. You can join us for EdCamp Cleveland on June 14, 2013.

Share Your Participant Perspective

EdCamp is driven by its participants. The perspectives, attitudes, and needs of the people who come to the event help make it a truly unique and valuable experience. Over the next few weeks, we would like to highlight some of those perspectives here on the EdCamp Cleveland web site. We want to run a series of “Participant Perspectives” posts that profile some of the people who will be coming to the event.

So we borrowed this idea from the good folks at EdCamp Philly last year, and it was a great success. Are you willing to participate? Just fill out this form to let us know a little about yourself, what you are hoping to get out of EdCamp, and how you think we can improve education. We’ll craft a post from your answers to share on the site.

Thank you for taking an active role in EdCamp Cleveland.