Want to foster rich academic discussions? Try a student #Edcamp

By Dennis Pierce
July 28th, 2015

An innovative professional development model comes to the classroom

edcamp-studentsEdcamp “unconferences” have shattered the traditional model for professional development, and they’re catching on as a way for educators to share their ideas and expertise in an informal, collegial way.

Now, some forward-thinking educators are adapting the Edcamp model for their students, as a way to spark richer conversations.

Edcamps are professional development gatherings without a predetermined set of topics or presenters; instead, participants volunteer to lead conversations and hands-on workshops among their peers. Content for these sessions is determined organically, during a common schedule-building time at the outset—and participants are free to float among sessions as their interests dictate.

Because the topics are participant-driven, this free-form arrangement often results in lively, passionate discussions among educators, said Jason Seliskar, a fourth grade teacher for the Covina-Valley Unified School District in California. In other words, the kinds of discussions that educators yearn to hear from their students.

“I thought: What would this look like if I tried it with my students?” said Seliskar, who is transitioning into a new role as a district technology coach this fall.

Next page: How it works with students