Sunday, February 17, 2013

My first #Edcamp!

I was very excited to attend my first EdCamp on Friday, especially since it was for Kindergarten teachers! What better way to learn, than from a room full of educators who all teach the same grade as you? I had never been to an EdCamp style pro-d before and I wasn't 100% sure of what to expect. I had heard a lot about EdCamp from people on Twitter, but had never had the good fortune to attend one. Even though it was not a pro-d in Surrey, I applied for funds to cover my TOC so I could attend this workshop in Abbotsford hosted by Michelle Hiebert (@MauiMickey) and Meg Unger (@MegUnger).

To Michelle and Meg's surprise, they had 43 participants from 5 different school districts! A Fantastic turnout! The participants ranged from student teachers to teachers with 30+ years, a great mix for sharing and learning.

 For those new to EdCamp style workshops, participants and organizers suggest topics and people "vote" with sticky notes to show interest in a topic. The organizers then take the top workshops and organize them into time slots and rooms. The EdCampKinder day ended up being slightly different as there were a few tech workshops that all had some interest so those topics were housed in one room, while the remaining 6 most popular topics were in other rooms throughout the day. The sessions then ran by people sharing their thoughts and ideas on the topic of the session. Some sessions were "guided" by teachers with lots of knowledge in the area, while others were more free-flowing.The great thing about teachers, there is never a lack of leaders in a room to run a chat!

The first session I attended was about ideas for math. This session was held in a kindergarten classroom and led by that teacher. She shared with us all the ways that she makes her room rich in math. This particular teacher approaches number sense the way most of approach letters - a number of the week. She spends a whole week on 1 number and does different activities with the number throughout the week. This is something that I am planning on adding to my classroom after spring break. They explore the number, make it different ways (using manipulatives), draw about it, makes stories about it, journal about it and make a class poster of what they know about the number.

She also spoke about  the students exploring addition using a balance scale to come up with difference numbers that balance (equal) the scale on both sides. This is a phenomenal manipulative that I am hoping will be added to my classroom soon.

This allows children to learn and understand why things happen, and not just that 2+4=6 because I told it is. This video shown a Kindergarten student explaining his learning about math.

Here are some items around the class that inspired me!

The front of the snail made with tissue paper to show the pattern
The back of the snail to show pattern
Using a 10 frame to show the number on the calendar

Sign in board

The great thing about EdCamp is that it is a fluid day. You are free to move around between sessions, so when this group started talking about document cameras (something I know a lot about), I left and joined the conversation about apps in a different room. In this particular conversation, I became the leader as everyone else at the table was fairly new to iPads. We had a long conversation about the educational value of iPads and why they are great for kinders before I started sharing some of my fav apps. The table was blown away when I shared with them what my class last year had done with book creator. Here is the blog I wrote on that. 

Before we knew it 30 minutes was up and it was time to move on to the next session. I made my way to sharing session on behaviour strategies in the classroom. This is an area where a teacher can NEVER have too many ideas. The thing that stood out the most to me is that in Abbotsford, each district behaviour specialist has a TA attatched to them and your school based team can request that the TA comes and spends 6 weeks with a student that is having a tough time behaviour wise. I also learned that in Abbotsford, they have a special program called TKRP (Therapeutic Kindergarten Readiness Program) for children under 6 who have already been diagnosed with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress. When I googled this organization, I was shocked to find that while it falls under the Fraser Valley Child Development Center, it was only available to residents of Abbotsford.  

As a group, we shared things that we have tried with varying degrees of success in our rooms to help students with behaviour  issues, here are some of my favourites: 

  •  a 30 cm ruler voice --> show kids how long a 30 cm ruler is and then explain to them that is how loud their voice should be inside. That only people 30 cm away  (or less) should be able to hear them. We talked about how a child uses the volume of their voice as for control. There are not a lot of things that a child can control 100%, but their voice is one of them. 
  • "Are you making the situation bigger or better? --> demo this using a balloon. Blow up a balloon and talk about how the balloon can only get so big before it pops. 
  •  Ask student “if your body could talk, what would your behaviour be telling me?”
  • Provide a quiet place, such as a tent where children can go to calm down.
The conversation then turned to the differences between tattles and reporting and we ALL had lots to share, especially at this time of the year. A couple of things that I might try in my room are:
  • A "Tattle Toucan" - a stuffed animal where students can tell their tattles too. Sometimes, the kids just want to be heard. 
  • The  5 B’s of Tattles - don't come and tell me first unless you barf, are bloody, being bullied, have a bee sting or a broken bone.  
My final session of the day sort of "backfired" on me. I had suggested the topic of play-based learning and lots of people signed up for the session. I think we all wanted to learn more about play-based learning, the problem was that none of currently do it in our rooms.We all had ideas of what play-based learning was and had heard about it being it done in other rooms, but all of came to the session looking for info on how to transition from a more "traditional" style classroom to a Reggio Emilia play-based one. We all agreed that a play-based model based on the  approach would be fantastic, but none of us were such where to start to make sure that the learning was both child centered, but still manageable for us as classroom teachers. We ended our discussion talking about ways that do incorporate play into learning everyday in our classrooms.

For me, the BEST part of Edcamp, was being inspired the 42 other Kindergarten teachers that attended. The one that that has really hit me over the past few weeks is that we all do amazing things in our classrooms that we take for granted as they are part of our daily routines.  This video by Derek Silvers sums it up best.

Being able to share those things, it what inspires growth and change in our practice. I am so fortunate that for the last 2 Fridays, I have been inspired by so many wonderful people who have amazing ideas. It is my students who will benefit most from all of this sharing! 

Here are some pics of things around the school that inspired me! 



  1. A great post Jodi, and I wish I could have crashed too. I hear that maybe there will be a #edcampkinder in Surrey?

  2. Thanks for sharing your Ed Camp experience. I have been a couple of times and love it. You're right - "what is better than teachers sharing with teachers?" That's why I love blogging! Sharing is so important!

    Love your 30cm voice rule.

    Keep blogging!

    1. Thanks Lora! It was a great day of sharing, I am glad I can share a piece of it with this blog post. I would love to take credit for the 30cm rule - something else I leaned from another teacher. I love learning and sharing!

  3. Nice retelling of the day. It was a fantastic day. Thank you for helping out, in many ways. Looking forward to reconnecting with you soon, face-to-face and on Twitter. Loved that video by Derek Silvers.

  4. Thanks for organizing and letting me crash!! It was such a great day of learning and sharing and the video just 100% sums up how I feel about sharing. We take what we do in our classes for granted, but if we shared the ideas, we can inspire! We for sure need to do a tweet up sooner than later!