EdCamp Eden Prairie Schools



#EdCampEPS was an outstanding first experience in the EdCamp phenomena.  @mlament (Michelle) talked me (indirectly) into getting up at 3AM and driving a total of 4 – 4 1/2 hours to attend this very different approach to Professional Development.

For those of you who haven’t participated in an EdCamp, here is what happens.  You sign up to go, but there is no set agenda.  When everyone arrives, there is a session building segment where you get to add sessions that you have interest in.  Let’s say I wanted to have a session on CGI, I could either want to discuss it, present it or learn about it.  That difference is usually denoted according to color codes.  You then choose what sessions you want to attend and that is EdCamp.

This was the schedule and notes from the day: EdCampEPS Schedule

Session 1: Project Based Learning

Online Resource: BIE

8 Elements for Project Based Learning

  1. Significant Content
  2. 21st Century Skills
  3. Driving Question~ Open ended, Student friendly
  4. Need to Know~ Always strive to make Students curious
  5. Student Voice & Choice
  6. Ongoing Reflection & Feedback~ Critical Friends Protocol
  7. Authentic Audience~ Community members, Distance learning
  8. In Depth Inquiry

Critical Friends

    • Presenter (4 min)
    • Clarification (1 min)
    • “I Like……” (2 min)
    • “I Wonder…..” (2 min)
    • Reflection (1 min)
    • “I Have…..” (1 min)

This was a great discussion overall and there was a lot of talk about capstones in high school.  Some of the biggest things discussed were “project burnout” and student interest in projects.

Project Burnout Questions: If we expect students to do PBL for all of their core classes, wouldn’t that mean that they are doing 4 projects all the time, all year?  After the novelty of the instructional approach wore off, would you also lose student interest like experienced in classes now?

Student Interest Questions: How can you keep student interest throughout a capstone or project?  How do you engage those students who have no academic motivation?

General Answers: Knowing student interest is the key.  Allowing students to choose overall topic and having a menu of tasks to complete the project seems to work best for students.  The task menu also allows student change paths in their project if they decide a certain part is not working.  Projects that can become cross-curricular will also encourage students- covering 2 classes in one.  Having students working on projects allows more teacher contact time to encourage and support struggling groups.  Make projects meaningful over just a busy task also instill authenticity and student interest/motivation.  Having students present to a whole grade, public display (school broadcast), or community presentation also provides motivation for students to complete a quality project.  Typically start the year off small, allowing students to understand expectations.

This was a great session to attend overall, there were great conversations about PBL.  It can be a daunting step in lesson design.  Make sure to do your up-front work, generate a list of options from students to choose from.  This way, even though you are allowing students the freedom of project choice- you provide them with choices that you feel confident will successfully display student proficiency and will have an effective evaluation rubric generated.  Even if you are not totally sold on this learning environment, try infusing a couple of great projects into your lessons and see how it works.

Session 2: Digital Leadership and 2.0 Tech

Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger (recommended reading)

Reach out digitally, but to do this effectively you need to be consistent.  It is not a process that finds instant success, you need to remind parents where they can find posts, and caution them that is an informational posting, not a chat.  Moderating the social mediums will be important, there will be parents and students who post things that are not appropriate for the site’s purpose.


Things to note when moving forward digitally as a school:

  1. Linking your accounts to support different apps helps: posting on wordpress will also automatically post to twitter, linkedin, facebook, etc.
  2. Having a school #hashtag will allow parents and students to easily look up posts for your school.
  3. We want students to enjoy school and parents to be involved- we need to provide as much PR as we can so they will become involved with our schools.
  4. Using students to create reports of school events instead of principal or staff increases student and parent interest.
  5. A weekly student news report worked very well.
  6. Student blogger per day/week.
  7. Having a school informational system displaying a live twitter feed during conferences and school events to promote digital connections.
  8. School projects can be tied in to digital movement (eg. Student Business Adventures).
  9. 21st Century Learners Video.


Some applications/websites to help you move forward digitally:

  1. Touchcast: Anyone can easily create professional-quality videos combined with all the interactivity you expect to find inside a browser. We call these TouchCasts, a new medium that looks like video, but feels like the web.
  2. EduAllstars: Podcasts with the difference makers in education.
  3. Podcast: Many different options for podcasts, check out the link.
  4. Bam RadioBAM! is an acronym for “body and mind” and BAM! Radio was conceived in 2007 on the premise that the key to success in life for children and youth is nuturing a healthy mind in a healthy body.
  5. iPadio: Broadcast live to the web from a phone call.
  6. Sound Cloud:  Our all-new app for iPhone. Made for you to hear more. Beautifully simple to use, the SoundCloud app lets you hear more of what you love.
  7. Voxer: Instant voice on smartphones that’s live like two-way radios, but is saved so you never miss a message. Alongside voice, share text, photos and location globally.
  8. iMovie: iMovie makes it easy to browse and share the HD video you shoot on your iOS device. Turn your favorite clips into blockbuster movies or Hollywood‑style trailers. And watch your mini‑masterpieces anywhere with iMovie Theater. A few taps, a few swipes, and you’re ready for your big premiere.

We live in a digital world, our parents and students are digitally connected.  They live via the web or smartphone.  To be effectively connecting with them, we need to meet them on that level.  Using digital applications to connect our school to parents and students isn’t only easy to do, it the smart thing to do.  If we can make school more accessible for parents and students, we will find that they will become connected and involved.


Session 3: Gamification

A list of resources to get into the Gamification process in your classroom:

  1. Class Craft– cool platform for tracking gamification, creating clans, giving badges and stats to students, etc.
  2. Iwoa 1:1 institute– Introduction to Gamification: What is gamification? Definitions and examples.
  3. John Hunter– WOW in SchoolTED Talk about Game Based Learning by John Hunter
  4. Caitlin Cahill Presentations
  5. Gamification Workbook– Lesson Planner and Organizer for your Gamification process
  6. Badges- Make badge:http://www.openbadges.org/ Moodle one is fabulous, or Credly
  7. Language Arts using World of Warcraft- http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/10/04/wowing-language-arts.aspx
  8. Assassin’s Creed in school… no? YES!!!http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/tech/gaming-gadgets/assassins-creed-3-history/
  9. Fantasy Geopolitics:http://www.fantasygeopolitics.com/
  10. Scratch lower grade levels:http://scratch.mit.edu/
  11. Game Salad for middle school:http://gamesalad.com/
  12. Sweden: gamifying the speed limit- http://www.npr.org/2011/03/27/134866003/gamifying-the-system-to-create-better-behavior
  13. Yukai Chou, “the Game Master”http://www.yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/octalysis-complete-gamification-framework/#.U6G8IRb2u-U

Suggested Readings:

  1. REALITY IS BROKEN, book by mcgonigal
  2. GAMING THE PAST, Using Video Games to teach Secondary History. by Jeremiah McCall
  3. DRIVE by Daniel Pink

Ideas to start a Gamification for your class:

  1. Star Trek- Teacher is the captain. Get a silver bead for their pin.
  2. Harry Potter house points
  3. Remember the team structure ( collaborative and competition)
  4. Leaderboard
  5. Quests
  6. Spy Training


Here’s a video presentation Eric Braun gave at the 2014 Tufts Teaching with Technology Symposium about my use of gamification in his Entrepreneurship class (@SouthShoreEric). The students loved it! https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byq-qWAQuXf6SVpSTlVtTlVJZ0U/edit?usp=sharing

Gamification can be an effective way to pull students into curriculum where they might not otherwise become engaged.  There is a lot of front-end work to do: you need to build your world, decide how students will “level”, what tasks or quests are involved and what end rewards students will be working for.  Students enjoy creating avatars for themselves and once they buy into the process are typically very engaged.  You need to have a strong directive/narrative for Gamification to be effective.


Session 4: Standards Based Grading

4-point scale for grading

Eliminated the “How many points is this worth?” discussion

Formative assessments  (HW, practice, etc) in grade book so they can see the “trail” but it has zero weight

Need to lay out expectations clearer for what it will take to “meet the standard” and “prove” it

Reassessment for growth – complete retakes to show growth for lower students


Grading rubric:

  • 2 – basic application of standard
  • 3 – meets standard
  • 4 – above standard


This session was just an open discussion format brainstorming how to implement SBG into any classroom.  One of the biggest concerns was: does homework count?  How is homework graded?  The general consensus was that homework may be collected, marked and discussed but overall in the gradebook it would not hold any weighted value.  Having a pretest on the standard is necessary as it will allow you to measure growth and determine what RTI interventions is needed.  RTI seemed to be a topic we all discussed- should we not push those who will have met the standard instead of letting them tune out class?  Leveled assignments could accomplish this.  Create assignments where a 2-3 (on a 4 pt scale) will likely be proficient on the standard, then create a scaffolding assignment and an enrichment assignment for each standard.  Students then choose what assignment they want to complete, knowing the corresponding grade they will receive based on the difficulty.  SBG, although seemingly easily defined, can be quite complex based on the teacher’s vision of what they deem proficient.  It seems that it would be a system best implemented as some type of team, so you can reflect and evaluate.


I really enjoyed my first experience with EdCamp, and I thank Michelle.  I would highly recommend it for any teacher- you will find it very rewarding and helpful.  One thing I would suggest is to be like me and take a drive to an EdCamp from a different area, networking with teachers outside your locale will help you look beyond your district’s mindset and creates opportunities to change or improve curriculum within your school.

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