Original Central Texas Edcamp

First, we all need to agree that one should never, NEVER, do a sit-n-git session at ANY professional development. This is especially true for edcamps. Just putting that out there.

If, for example, you have to start a portion of a PD with the phrase, ” I apologize, but for the next hour or so there’s material I have to give you. It could be a bit dry.” Then, you’ve already lost the audience. Do your homework and figure out a way to chunk the material in 10 to 15 minute pieces with activity between the sets. You now know where I stand.

This is on my mind because I have started thinking about what I will do at the next edcamp I attend. I’ve signed up for two. There’s Edcamp Dallas and a few weeks later Edcamp ATX (Austin).  These will be my 4th and 5th edcamps to attend (and I’ve run one edcamp (see the top picture)). For the first 3 I always did sessions on “Getting Started with PBL.” The sessions ended up being standing room only and were well received.  But I want to do something different this time, while keeping the PBL-angle with whatever I end up doing.

(You can ignore the following edcamp thoughts if all you’re going to do is present an app or two and let people work with them at the next edcamp you go to. Just like dessert, the attendees LOVE app sessions. Remember apps are teacher-tools. Give your audience examples of how you, personally, are using the app(s) in your classroom – with students – on a daily basis – like, all of the time.)

So here’s how you keep an edcamp session going:  (1) Hook them as they are coming in. By that I mean have some activity that groups them in some fashion as they come into the room. Force them to sit with someone besides their best friend, too. (2) Do a few minutes of intro and then get them going on an activity. (3) Ask for feedback/reflection (4) Add a couple of minutes of great thoughts. (5) Have another activity (6) Repeat as needed…(7) Have time for a final reflection and discussions

PBL is a hot topic. It will always bring in people to a session. So I want to make sure my session is a little different while being an expected hour of doing PBL. Math teachers are hard to convince to use PBL. I might be able to lure math teachers into my session with the word “math” and the letters P-B-L in the title. So I’ll work on producing a session title that ties the two together.

I think I need to have the attendees do a process that will lead them to solving a math problem. I just need to make sure the whole “doing math” part doesn’t get out. If you are one of the 14 people reading this post, then would you please not let them know I intend to use math in my session? Thanks.

Starting with the end in mind, I want them to experience a PrBL (Problem Based Learning) unit that they can replicate at any grade level and with any subject. They must see that this can be used for not only a math problem but also for a Social Studies or English topic.  It will need a Driving Question. How about, “How can teachers create a 2 or 3 day problem that allows students to think critically while allowing for the inquiry process?” That will need to be improved upon before my session starts but it will work for now.

The problem we will be solving is a real life problem for me. I have a patio that needs to be re-worked. I’ll give them the dimensions of the patio and the fact that I need new sand placed down for the tiles. They will need to figure out the amount of bags of sand to buy and whether I buy 5, 10, or 25 pound bags. I’ll give them some info to help with their decision.  I’ll use actual dimensions and costs. That will be good for the first edcamp but I’ll have to come up with another scenario for the 2nd edcamp.

The chunks I will need are: (1) presenting the problem, (2) creating need-to-knows and questions (3) drawing a diagram of the situation (4) setting up equations that will be needed, and (5) solving and presenting the solution.  Between each of these I’ll have the attendees working on the steps and asking questions/reflecting on the process.

People who come to my session will be getting the basics of PrBL. They will see it being used for math. They will see examples of the elements of a PrBL that they can take back and use in their classroom. But most importantly, they will NOT sit and wait for me – the old teacher – to talk to them for 45 minutes about what I think they should be doing in their classrooms. If I did that to them I’d want them to move down the hall to see if any of the Tech Ninjas are presenting. The Ninjas know how to do dessert that can be enjoyed like a main course!

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