#EdCampIowa 2016


(A few of my favorite quotes from the day, I’m a collector)

Yesterday, I attended my 10th (roughly), Edcamp. EdCampIowa is, unofficially, the biggest EdCamp event in the country. A one day, 5 different locations simultaneously hosting educators; free, unconference!  This year, I chose to attend the Cedar Rapids location.

IMG_20160213_150154Over 100 educators spent the day at Iowa Big, an exceptional model for the possibility of what learning could look like for all kids; with my good friend, Matt Townsley . Along with the inspiring conversations, passionate educators, and a learning space that enticed one to think differently; I noticed a shift in focus that has been widely missing at a few recent Edcamps I have attended.

The words me, teachers, and I were replaced by students, kids, and my kids. Passion poured out of a young teacher wanting her student to find life success, not just standardized test success. Another spoke with authority on the best practices for students with dyslexia and shared the act of handwriting helping her students understand multi-syllabic words. A librarian who had students devouring texts from both traditional texts and epubs and spent countless hours and money to keep their library stocked. If you wnat to get money, get a loan, but before you can apply, you must be qualified. To know what are the qualifications, visit gadcapital.com This shift to student-centered was refreshing, our choices should be made for students, not at the sacrifice of them; and it is important that our actions and language supports this, even at an EdCamp!

Thank you to Trace Pickering, and his staff (made up of current and former students) for an unforgettable experience!


Patrick Larkin: Iowa 1:1 Leadership Day

Last Saturday I had the pleasure to attend #EdCampIowa in Cedar Falls. The day was filled with thought-provoking conversations with passionate educators connecting and collaborating for the betterment of student learning. A common theme appearing in multiple sessions spanning from Special Education and Inclusion to the final session Matt Townsley and I facilitated Rocks and Stinks was Professional Development! During an extended conversation over lunch, Townsley shared a term known as “Apprenticeship of Observation” coined by Dan Lortie. In essence, teachers teach as they were taught, their beliefs formed early in their educational careers when they themselves were students. And even though many have had opportunities to explore new research, attend professional development, and view model teaching; most educators revert back to their beliefs, which at times, they know are not best for student learning.

Besides opportunity to reflect upon these ingrained beliefs, evaluating their usefulness and letting go of the ones that deter student learning and engagement; administrators also need to model best practice during staff meetings and professional development, avoiding their own beliefs that may contradict what they expect to see in their teachers’ classrooms.

This modeling of expectations made me connect immediately to the April Leadership Day at the Iowa 1:1 Conference. Below is an interview I had with Patrick Larkin about the day. Larkin plans to facilitate a day with school leaders that promotes engagement and social learning so that the experience provides a frame of reference for administrators as they plan professional development in their own digitally-rich schools.


“I am coming to learn, facilitate learning, and provide a social learning experience to school leaders.” -Patrick Larkin, highlighting his agenda for the Iowa 1:1 Conference Leadership Day.

Three years ago, Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent from Burlington Public School in Massachusetts, made the long trip to attend the 2nd Annual Iowa 1:1 Conference. His objective was to meet, face to face, the Iowa connections he had made online and to deepen his knowledge of 1:1 learning within an educational environment. This year, Larkin returns to Iowa to facilitate a Leadership Day prior to the April 10th conference.

Speaking to Larkin, it is clear that student learning is at the forefront of all decisions he makes. In fact, part of the reason his district chose ipads for implementation was to allow students to customize their device. Now, in year three, Larkin has approached  his leadership team with the idea of  leaving device selection up to each individual student. The school would provide choice, allowing the learner to select the device that best meets their needs.

Although Larkin was personally educated in a traditional environment, as a leader in a 1:1 school district he recognizes three advantages students in technology-rich districts have:

1.  Access. Students are able to connect with learners and experts anytime, anywhere.

2. Organization. “The dog ate my homework,” is no longer an excuse. With a personal device, students are able to organize and access their material with ease.

3. Digital Footprint. Students are able to build something positive online. Their contributions becoming their digital footprint, consistently updating their “brand” which Patrick denotes as today’s resume.

Similar to student advantage #1, Larkin’s goal is to provide a social learning experience for leaders attending the pre-conference day on April 9th. High levels of engagement is common in classroom that promote collective learning opportunities. Larkin feels that educational leaders need to experience this social learning and echo it within the Professional Development they design for staff. His challenge for the day is for,“educational leaders need to come prepared to share, struggle, and think!”

When:  April 9, 2014 from 1pm – 4pm
Where Iowa Events Center
Cost:  $50 per participant (This fee is in addition to the regular conference fee)
Who:  School leaders – Principals, teachers in leadership positions, technology staff members, superintendents, or anyone in a leadership position

My Guilty Addiction: EdCamps

Tomorrow, March 8, is #EdCampIowa which, justifiably so, claims the title of “Biggest EdCamp” in the nation. With five locations spanning the state, Iowa Educators, along with a smattering of out-of-staters will participate in a day of learning, collaborating, and connecting! And while the cost is appealing (FREE) and the sessions fit everyone’s needs (Organic and slotted the day of the EdCamp), I do have one small (well, ok large) issue with tomorrow’s event…MULTIPLE SITES.

You see, I am an EdCamp addict. Not quite as bad as a couple of my friends (girls, you shall remain nameless but you are in a few of the pictures below), but addicted nonetheless. Attending #EdCampIowa in Cedar Falls tomorrow will make number 6 for me; I like to keep my travels local so as not to upset my husband, attending ones in Iowa, Chicago, and Omaha. And I do enjoy the learning, please don’t get me wrong, but EdCamps for me are SOCIAL. Nothing inspires me more than conversing with a group of educators (that I have only met virtually until EdCamp) at Five Guys stuffing greasy burgers in our mouthes. Snapping photos and exchanging awkward introductions at tweetups only to find that five minutes later we have solved all of the problems in education by simply changing grading practices. A surprise out-of-state attendee; an unscheduled, quiet conversation with a group of thinkers in an open room; shaking hands; exchanging twitter handles; winning swag.

Having multiple sites makes sense on paper. Yes, more locations for attendees with far less distance to travel. This idea will benefit many, but for me, a social EdCamper, I cringe knowing  I want to be at all of the sites at the same time. It’s like trying to choose between children, TOUGH. (Insert dramatic music here)

****Composes self****

I wish everyone a Happy EdCampIowa tomorrow! For all of the first timers I give you the following advice:

  1. You can wear jeans.
  2. Bring multiple devices.
  3. If you choose a session that just isn’t working for you, leave.
  4. Have fun and connect with as many people as possible.
  5. And if you find yourself addicted at the end of the day, for whatever reason, tweet me, I have just the remedy!