After attending Learning 2.010 in September, I really wanted to incorporate the the learning environments that were used at the conference at my school.
In November, for our schoolwide in-service day, I informally pushed the cohort model and got teachers creating artifacts to showcase their learning for the day.
And on January 12, two days after our winter holidays came to an end, the MSHS teachers created and facilitated their own unconferences. Here’s how we did it:
- Before the winter holiday, I created and distributed a promo video for the unconference. Most of our teachers had no previous experience with an unconference so it was a way to introduce them to the idea and to outline the process.
- On Monday morning, I loaded up the staffroom with “Topic/Facilitator” forms, markers and Blu-Tack. I also added the first possible session title (“Creating Better Wikis”) but left the facilitator blank.
- Over the next two days, teachers slowly began adding session titles. Most of them were without facilitators but that didn’t bother me too much.
- I sent out an email reminder every day encouraging teachers to create sessions and to vote for those that interested them.
- On Wednesday afternoon, I took down all the session titles and tallied the votes. We ended up with 10 sessions 1 in total, divided into 2 groups of 5. Most of these sessions were without specified facilitators.
- I sent an email to all MSHS teachers with topics and room allocations and left them to learning!
- As a first go, the whole thing went relatively smoothly. It was nice to see the vast majority of teachers taking responsibility for their own learning.
- I was hoping for a wider variety of possible topics. I’m used to participating in unconferences a tech conferences, so there are always plenty of ‘experts’. Planting the seeds of presenting with some teachers I know are doing great things is going to be key.
- There needs to be more voting! This is something for me to stress in the future.
- It was my intention to not lead a session but because of numbers I needed to. Unfortunately, my session was somewhat heavily attended when my focus was on giving others the opportunity to present and lead.
- Even though most sessions (8 out of 10) didn’t have an identified facilitator, I think the teachers got a good sense of others who are interested in learning about the same things; a truly organic PLC.
- This was the easiest PD session ever to organize!
Now that the groundwork has been laid, it would be great to be able to run an unconference (as one teacher said later, it doesn’t need to be about technology but just about sharing good teaching!) every 6 or 8 weeks. This would give teachers a chance to share, learn and celebrate on a regular basis. Is this something you can incorporate at your school? Any other ideas on how to improve it?
- Session Topics:
- Film/Video Clip Editing (Movie Maker?) (5)
- OneNote Tips for Improvement (2)
- Google Docs/Forms – Survey Learning and Help with Planning (6)
- Setting Up Digital Portfolios (6)
- Saving Time with Digital Marking (16)
- Digital Storytelling with Film (11)
- Formative Assessment and Technology/Tablets (3)
- How to Design a Webquest (5)
- Using Discussion Boards on the Portal (2)
- Creating Better Wikis (6)