Professional Development

21st Century Professional Development: Edcamp Fraser Valley

If you are a new teacher, veteran teacher, parent, student, administrator, or hold a job directly/indirectly related to the education profession, edcamps offer an alternative to traditional professional development opportunities.

Edcamps are modelled after Barcamps.  Barcamps are user-generated conferences hosted by programmers, open-source developers, and techno-geeks, and are designed to develop new skills, share best practices and maintain an open dialogue about the development of the computer industry.  Edcamp was started by a group of dedicated educators, in Philadelphia, USA who saw a need to improve traditional professional development, and who saw the opportunity, and need, for an unconference model in education.

Edcamps are now offered in every major city in North America as well as England and other countries in Europe.  This December an edcamp, Edcamp Fraser Valley (edcampfv), is being offered close to where I teach and I’m excited to be part of it.  Chris Wejr organized Edcampfv with help from David Wees and Grant Frend and a  small group of volunteers.  Here are the details:

What is the format of an Edcamp?:

Edcamps try to capture the best features of traditional professional workshops, which tends to be the conversations that pop up in the workshop itself, or the conversations between educators at lunch or between sessions.  With that in mind, an edcamp can best be described as a gathering of individuals with strong interests in the field of education with the intention of exchanging ideas, sharing their experiences, and learning from others in a hierarchy free setting.  Everyone has a voice in an Edcamp!  There are no expensive keynote speakers, no preset workshops, and no cost.

On the morning of the event, all attendees have the option to lead a discussion by placing their name and the topic of their discussion on a large board for all attendees to view.  Once all discussion topics have been displayed, attends vote on which discussions they would like to contribute to and attended.  Once the discussion begins, others are actively encouraged to contribute and share their experiences in order to maintain or move the discussion forward in way that the groups sees fit.  Best of all, if the discussion doesn’t suit your needs, just move to the next one.  No one will judge you to be impolite.

Who can attend?:

Anyone with strong interest in the education professional.  For example, teachers, support staff, administrators, school board employees, parents, students, etc…

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Professional Development Ideas for 21st Century Teaching

Does your school offer the professional development you’re need?

Recently I worked with my Twitter PLN on the topic of professional development.  Directly after the Tuesday Edchat session we worked on a document together, describing the kind of professional development opportunities we wished our schools districts offered.  We also discussed how we could developed our own in the interim.

Here’s a list of my favourite professional development opportunities I wished my district offered:

Personally, this type of collaborative effort excites me as an educator.  I would ultimately like to master my craft (education) and I feel like I move one step closer every time I connect with fellow educators from around the globe.

Many thanks to #Edchat, my PLN, the following educators – @actionhero, @missbartel, @21stcenturychem, @DrTimony, @cybraryman1, @davidwees, and everyone else who contributed to the document: http://bit.ly/aFuWAd

Virtual Professional Development (VPD)

Since immersing myself in the Twitterverse I’ve developed an educational voice and have been exposed to a wide array of Virtual Professional Development (VPD) opportunities.  If the right professional development opportunities are not offered at the right time in your school district, then the following post will be of significant importance to your development as an educator.  What I like most about Virtual Professional Development (VPD) is the freedom to choose exactly what I’d like to learn about.

VPD’s come in a variety of forms including email distribution,  webinar’s (web conference usually one way conversation, from speaker to audience), and webcast’s (webcast’s allow for collaborative participation through interactive video, audio, and chat.  Communication is often two-way)

Literally there are VPD’s happening every night of the week somewhere in North America, covering a variety of topics from “Setting Up A Classroom Blog”, “A Fresh Look at Teaching The Diary of Anne Frank,” to “Learning How To Use The Latest Web2.0 Tools.”  I’d like to share a couple of recurring VPD’s I attend regularly with you today in the hope you’ll take the time to check them out and finally work professional development around your schedule instead of scheduling your life around professional development:

1. #edchat on Twitter – occurs every Tuesday at 9am and 4pm (PST)  Topics include; improving student engagement, creating a culture of learning in the classroom, and best practices around assessment.  More information about #edchat can be found at the #edchat wiki

2. Classroom 2.0 Ning offers VPD on Saturday morning sessions as well as the occasional work-week session.  Topics include,  author webinar’s, preparing effective online learners, and Earthcast 2010.

3. The Future of Education Ning offers VPD mainly on Wednesday’s starting at 5pm (PST).  View calendar here  Topics include, Think Global School, Networks, Communities, and Role of Facilitator, and Neuroscience of Learning.

4. EdTechTalk is a collaborative open webcasting community.  Webcasts primarily take place on Tuesday through Friday and Sunday’s at 4pm (PST) Topics include, 21st Century Learning, Teachers Teaching Teachers, and Instructional Design.  View calendar here.

5. Learn Central is also a popular provider of VPD for educators.  Register for a free account and start to connect with other educators.

An extensive calendar of VPD events can be viewed here:  Events

For those who use Google calendar, all these events are easier imported into your existing calendar with once click.  It makes the job of keeping track of upcoming events easier and also you to share the information with others in your personal learning network (PLN).