The EdCamp movement has swept education. They are popping up in different states, cities, and districts around the country. Administration isn't putting them together- teachers are. You can read more at the EdCamp site: http://edcamp.org
I wanted to try the concept with my students (sans the "vote with your feet" part) so they can partake in their own version of an EdCamp. I had seen a video from a great colleague up north, Tim Bedley http://www.timbedley.com. I felt empowered to try one for myself.
For an expository writing piece, I tried the idea of 20% time or "Genius Hour" and empower the students to teach and learn from each other.
Students self-selected a topic of interest from dragon fruit, parcour, horses, candy, football, and many more. We started using the research site Instagrok which allowed me access to their research and creates an interesting mindmap. It also was a safe way to search.
After about two weeks, I realized there were aspects to their research that may be missing. Instead of "being the teacher" and scouring through their facts, meeting with each student and telling them exactly what is missing, I wanted to try the EdCamp idea instead. The ability for students to present, discuss and answer questions after their presentation could help tease out any holes in their research. Hearing and learning from peers is far more powerful than any of my critiques or input.
For a homework assignment, students had to create some visual for their topic. Some did a short iMovie, others used UPad to create a poster from their work or created a Keynote. We were all very excited to try it.
I created the sign-up board below with butcher paper. I wanted something big, clear, and easy for everyone to see at one time. Each speaker received a larger sticky-note to fill with their name and topic. Once the board was populated with the topics, then it was the participant's time to sign-up. This second part, I knew, could've been so difficult for 4th and 5th graders so I tried a step-by-step approach.
Each student received four mini sticky-notes. With the five sessions, that meant they didn't sign-up for one during their own speaking time. I had students write their name on the slip and called a handful of students up at a time.
Prior to this sign-up we did discuss how hard everyone worked for their research and to make sure each person had at least two people in the audience.
I held my breath and then signaled the speakers to take their positions before I released the rest of the students. Rotations took place about every ten minutes and I started to ring a chime to signal it was time to switch. When the chimed stopped, speakers knew it was time to start.
Another student who selected "passion fruit" was a bit stumped by a participant's question when asked, "What does the tree look like?" She hadn't researched that part, so what to do? She grabbed her iPad and looked it up, amazing herself and the rest of the group. Do you think learning happened within these groups? You betcha!