Wednesday, May 14, 2014

EdCafe - "Students in Charge of Their Corner of the Universe"

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the spring EdCamp Chicago this year held at Palatine High School. It was such a fun professional development opportunity! If you haven't attended an EdCamp, they are referred to as an "unconference" because it's a conference that is participant driven. The sessions are not pre-determined by someone else. They are created that same day by the people who attend. People volunteer session ideas and the ideas get plugged into a schedule grid for the day. After the schedule is complete, you choose what you want to go to. The hard part is choosing because there end up being so many great ideas!! Once you get to the session, you along with everyone there can participate. If you volunteered a session idea, you may end up leading the group discussion, but you don't have to have anything prepared ahead of time. You'll find as the session gets going, people will share things they know about the topic, ask questions about it that maybe someone else knows, and it goes from there! It's just awesome being with people who are interested in learning about the same topic as you. 

Because I'm such a fan of the EdCamp model, I was super excited to hear about one particular session idea! The session idea was on having EdCamp in the classroom, or an  #EdCafe. Brilliant! This session was volunteered and led by Katrina Kennett. I loved it! 

Here's a great explanation for What is an EdCafe (more info found HERE): 

An EdCafe is a way to structure class that promotes student choice and ownership over learning. 
The model was inspired by EdCamp conferences, where participants build the schedule and choose what sessions to attend. 
This bottom-up approach shifts energy, engagement, and opportunity for exploration to the students, and transforms the teacher into expert facilitator instead of gatekeeper/manager.

So, what you'll need to have an EdCafe in your classroom
  • a class of students and a space to work with them
    (12-15students works well with three corners, 15-23
    with four corners, 24+ students use the center of the room too)
  • a way to make and see the schedule
    (a piece of paper on an overhead, a whiteboard and markers, or a projected Google Doc)
  • a topic / theme / text / stage in the writing process
    (ex. WWII, Leaders as Behavior Monsters, 1984, thesis statements)

There can even be corners designated to where the students are at in a project they're working on. For example: stuck, confident, finished, beginning. The possibilities are endless!
Video: "Students in charge of a corner of their universe"

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