On the way home from EdCampIS yesterday, I was feeling great. I had a wonderful time sharing ideas with colleagues, most of whom I did not know, about common issues. When I thought about what I would tell people specifically about what I had taken away when they ask me on Monday, I really did not know what I would say. There was no concrete, tangible takeaway.
Today, in thinking about my classes tomorrow, I went over the plans I my head – a power point presentation about the international situation in the twenties and either a cartoon history explaining the Great Depression or a video about the Stock Market Crash. It would have been fine, but it was really hard for me to imagine my students wanting to engage with this type of lesson on a Monday morning. They would have dutifully taken notes and inevitably confused hyperinflation with depression. I cannot get myself excited for this class.
So, I decided to ditch the plan, with apologies to my colleagues for straying off course. It was actually my power point I was going to use. Instead, I am beginning the class with the question, “Could an economic crisis on the magnitude of the Great Depression happen again?” – all of the background on how it happened and what people did to try to solve it are directly relevant, as well as the human condition of what it felt like. Those are my learning goals. I will have students create sub-questions to investigate, crowdsource their findings, teach each other, explain to me, ask for clarification, all in service of the beginning question. I hope their journey takes them to all the places I would have and then some. The key is that it will be their journey, not mine. At the end I plan to have them write a blog post with their answer to the big question.
I did not get this idea from EdCamp. I could probably with some effort see the threads of different conversations in my inspiration. But that misses the point. It is the conversations about experience, ideas, even dreams of committed thoughtful educators that are in abundance at EdCamp, along with the encouragement to experiment and imagine a better way of teaching and learning. This was my fourth EdCamp, and I always leave energized. I will go to any EdCamp I can. It is truly the best professional development ever.