Sunday, April 6, 2014

Planning & Running edcampPGH - An "unconference" for Educators

For the last year and a half or so I have been working with some amazing partners to bring an #Edcamp to Pittsburgh. Through social media, primarily twitter, I have met and partnered with some amazing educators- both formal and informal. (S/O to Justin Aion, Justin Aglio, Michelle King, Norton Gusky & Katie Bordner) After the first #EdCampPGH in October of 2013 at City Charter High School, my school, The Ellis School, hosted the second Pittsburgh-based #Edcamp. We were also fortunate to have a Senior at Ellis work on the event planning for EdCampPGH with us. Vimbai's support and assistance with the event made it even better. We also had two of the leaders of the Ellis Geek Squad help out and several other Ellis students, Pittsburgh Public & Woodland Hills students in attendance. We ended up with about 110 registrations, with close to 80 teachers, informal educators and educational friends making it this past weekend. We were lucky to again have the support of the Sprout Fund to help sponsor lunch along with PAECT for breakfast.

I was worried no teachers from my own school would show up to EdCampPGH but was so pleased to see so many of the Upper School teachers attend the event. It really meant a lot of have them there! I was disappointed more independent school teachers did not attend but was very pleased that Kim Sivick from PAIS (Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools) and one of the original founders of the national EdCamp movement came to show her support. The largest group of teachers represented folks from charter schools in and around Pittsburgh, a few from public education and many informal educators looking to connect with teaches. I would love to see more public education and specifically primary school teachers at our next EdCampPGH. We had folks drive from NJ, WV, and OH. - it was wonderful to get their perspective on learning and education. The food was great, t-shirts a hit, and great company! 

In addition, to amazing sessions on blogging, iPads, gamification and edmodo we had discussions about empowering students to be creators through Design Thinking and watched a screening of the Edudoc - If You Build It. This film definitely touched me and many of the other folks in the room. It was about the power of student voice, choice and creation as an authentic and empowering learning experience in the face of adversity. At the end of the screening we did an affinity clustering activity to see what key ideas and themes viewers came away with. 

An Affinity Clustering Activity at EdCampPGH

After six months of planning, its almost bittersweet for it to be over. Not for long though - after a bit of a break we will begin to plan the next EdCampPGH that will be hosted in October at Propel, Braddock Hills school. Propel Braddock is a school of innovation & design - and the perfect place to host the next EdCampPGH. If you are interested in starting an EdCamp, let me know!  I would be happy to give advice and suggestions for planning & running an edcamp. I recently started working with the Edcamp Foundation on the volunteer-run public relations committee and the "50 States Challenge" with the goal of getting an Edcamp into every state in the United States. 

Check out some of the other blog posts/tweets from the attendees:

Here is a storify of tweets from Dom Salvucci:

Michelle King's inspiring Ignite Talk:

Photos from Norton Gusky on Flickr


  1. Fantastic! I'm looking forward to being able to participate in the next one.

    1. It was amazing! Thanks for commenting and we look forward to seeing you at the next one!

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