#edcampBOS: An embarrassment of riches #edcamp

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Mixes | 3 comments

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I’m honestly still having a hard time processing Edcamp Boston this weekend, because even in comparison to the many other events that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend and organize, this one really stood out as one of the best Edcamps ever. Seriously. No joke. No hyperbole. My high water mark for Edcamps before this was Edcamp Philly last year, and Boston at least equaled that.

It’s a funny thing, but I think it takes a city a few years to really click with Edcamp. The first couple of years there’s a lot to learn as a starting point. New tool, new pd format, new people, new everything. if you look at the schedule for a typical first-time Edcamp, it’s very heavy on the Intro. Intro to Twitter. Intro to iPads.

Year three seems to be a different ballgame entirely.

Check out this ridiculously awesome schedule:

This is pretty much my definition of an ideal Edcamp schedule. It’s lean and mean. There’s not a lot of fat on there. There’s a few open slots, which means everybody who wanted to facilitate something got to do so, but there’s no so many empty slots that people should find it impossible to get to something that will interest them. In the days leading up to Edcamp, we sent out this message to participants:

Since this is the third Edcamp Boston, and New England has hosted a whole bunch of Edcamps by now, we’re really looking forward to all session facilitators bringing their A-game. At this point we should mostly be past just sharing lists of tools. We should be talking about how we’re actually doing stuff in our classes. We should have grand debates about the future of education. We should be talking serious pedagogy, teaching, and learning. Less tools, more teaching and learning! Bring it.

Their response, as exemplified by that schedule above:

In. Sane.

We started the day off as Edcamps are wont to do: light breakfast, building the schedule. Because it was May the Fourth, I used this to get things started during the kickoff:

During kickoff, we clarified the discussion/hands-on nature of the sessions, talked about voting with your feet for any reason at all, and I, in a bit of ominous foreshadowing, made sure to mention that hallway sessions are just as valuable as those occurring in scheduled rooms.

We did a quick icebreaker, and then we were off. People quickly broke apart the rooms from neat, orderly rows to messy circles and clusters. I loved it.

On a personal note, one of the reasons that this Edcamp was so great for me is that Laura and I brought some of our students with us! Five fifth graders came to talk about our 1:1 iPad program. We wanted to give them some time to get acclimated to their surroundings, so we didn’t put their session in until the second block and encouraged them to check out what was happening int he other rooms. They went to a session on games in the classroom, found it not to their liking, and then you know what they did?

They voted with their feet!

Yes, 11 year olds can do it! You can too!

They went to a session on art apps for the iPad, totally loved a bunch of them, and then made sure to email me their lists of favorites so we can look at getting them onto their devices. I love my job.

When their session came up, my students completely blew me away. We didn’t do a lot of prep with them. We told the kids they’d probably be asked a bunch of questions, and that they should answer honestly. They all went up to the screen and showed off their work at some point. We Skyped in one of their teachers so she could listen and sometimes chime in. Laura and I answered a few questions, but mostly, it was the kids doing the talking in response to things the teachers wanted to know.  They were articulate, forthright, graceful, sweet, and funny. They were amazing. I can undoubtedly say that being in the room with those kids and watching them work the room made me so happy. It reminds me why I got into this job in the first place. It was absolutely one of the highlights of my entire career as a teacher. I love my job.


The rest of the day is a blur of amazing conversations. Remember that ominous foreshadowing? I didn’t get to one single session other than my own! Every time I was hanging out at the board considering my options (because yes, I like to look at the actual physical board, thank you very much), I’d end up in yet another conversation with somebody about what’s going on in their schools, classrooms, and parts of the state, and the next thing I knew, time was up! Then we held our smackdown and prize giveaways, moved on to the afterparty for even more great conversations, and finally went home, where I posted this on Facebook:


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previous post: #edcamp is turning 3: a shared responsibility next post: Incredible concept map of learning theories


  1. Hi Dan,
    I agree – I was at the other two EdCampBos and although they were great for me as well – this one seemed to have a variety of different teachers – I know I dragged a few newbies with me – that spread the wealth all around. Thanks to you and your team for all the work you do to make it great!

    • Thank you for coming every year! It wouldn’t have been great without the experienced Edcampers like yourself to help lead the way during the event!

  2. Inspired.

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