A while back, I got the chance to go to my first EdCamp. In case you’ve missed the EdCamp movement, it’s conferences and workshops essentially run, managed, designed, and led by the people attending. Sessions are not decided upon until the day of and then you go to the ones you are most interested in. There are no designated session leaders; you build once you get there.

I was very excited to go and experience this. I went into it knowing that I may not get the specific librarian stuff that I’d get at a library-specific conference, so having that in my head to start really helped me not care if what I was getting wasn’t library-specific. Overall I had a great experience, though I think there was one major improvement that could be made.

First, here’s a little about the session I went to.

1st session – Managing MakerSpaces

  • This became less about management and more just a discussion of what people are doing in MakerSpaces.
  • It was nice to get that information, but I really was looking for help on managing things like making sure students have equity in their access, advertising and marketing, keeping up with the supplies and equipment, etc.
  • I did learn a lot about where to go to find supplies and equipment.
  • This was the most library-specific session.

2nd session – What can you do with Canvas? (

  • Canvas is a new (?) Learning Management System ala Moodle, Blackboard, etc. It’s very likely that everyone in NC will be getting it soon.
  • And it sounds great! (Mental note: so do a whole lot of other things that didn’t turn out so great, so I do still have my doubts.)
  • It works collaboratively with any online programs including automatic grading and pushing grades to PowerSchool, all Schoolnet stuff, and Google Classroom.
  • I made a note here that said only “Problems with 1:1.” I think I probably meant problems without 1:1 student access to computers. We already have an issue with not enough computers in our building, but 1:1 is coming, so we will just deal with it until then. Another attendee at this session suggested doing stations in the classroom, where you split up into groups and only need 5 computers at a time.
  • I got early access to Canvas, but haven’t had time to mess with it yet.

3rd session – Using Twitter to Grow Your PLN

  • I ended being a big voice in this session as I was (surprisingly) one of the higher users of twitter.
  • I loved sharing what I know and why I use it.
  • And I learned about some hashtags and twitter chats I had missing.

My biggest complaint was the way the sessions were chosen. I love the general principle of suggesting the sessions on the day of and letting the group vote; I thought the whole process wasn’t delineated enough. What I mean is that we were told to suggest sessions and vote on them, but I didn’t feel like I was given enough time to do both. When I looked up to start voting and see how things were going, they were already putting sessions into time slots and I think some of the later votes weren’t really counted, if that’s the right word. I think it would work better to specifically brainstorm and suggest topics for 10 minutes and then specifically vote for 5 minutes. Or something like that.


Lunch Fun

My current school operates on a schedule that includes SMART lunch. When I was in high school, we called it tutorial, and they got rid of it shortly after I graduated, and I’ve never worked at a school that has had anything like it since.

I think it’s genius. Ours is an hour long lunch period in the middle of the day. Students can get lunch at any point during that hour, and teachers have a designated 30 minutes for lunch. For the other 30 minutes, teachers have duty, tutoring, club meetings, etc. depending on the day of the week.

The library is open for all of SMART lunch, every day, for the most part. There are always things that cause us to close (testing), but we are usually open. So I’ve decided to use that time to try to bring our program into the makerspace movement and 21st century learning.

We’ve designated areas in the library for certain things. We have quiet study, mostly-quiet whatever, computers reserved for school work, the gaming computers, the games area, and the lounge. There are several tables that don’t fall under any of those specifications, which I think is fine.

We are also adding activities on certain days. Every other Friday will be Artsy Fartsy Friday, with art projects in the area designated mostly quiet whatever. Unfortunately, that area is next to the quiet study area, which I want to keep open all the time, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Right now, since we are starting in the middle of the school year with this, these things will end up being mostly a test for next year and we will be able to make adjustments, so there’s that.

On alternating Tuesdays, we will do Reading Hour and Book Club. Students will only be welcome in the library on Reading Hour days if they are reading a print resource (or for quiet study). There will be no computer access on those days and no games. Book Club days will still be open to everyone, with book club being held in the lounge as long as there is room for everyone there. Since we are a school and have limited access to numerous copies of the same book, I tweaked the Book Club format so that we just choose a subject or genre or author or whatever I can think of and participants get to choose the book they read and share with everyone else.

All three programs are drop-in; no one is required to show up every time or even at a specific time. The latter may have to change with Book Club but like I said, we’re trying it out.

I’m really excited about each of these things and I will definitely post about what happens with each of them.