Teachers invited to edcamp ‘Unconference’ 2016

edCamp logoArea educators can now register for edcamp Northern Illinois, a free evening of professional development that offers nontraditional opportunities to share teaching techniques, discuss new classroom tools and make connections with like-minded professionals.

This innovative event will be held from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road.

Registration is open to K-12 teachers and administrators, university faculty and NIU teacher candidates.

Edcamp is an “un-conference,” which means no lectures or panels are set ahead of time. Instead, the evening will begin with participants sharing what they are most excited to learn about. Breakout sessions will form in direct response to the audience’s needs and expertise.

Participants already excited to discuss a particular topic can indicate their interest using an online form. Participants have already signed up to discuss classroom gamification, the power of science- and technology-themed fiction and electronic learning management systems.

“This is all about educators helping educators,” says Kristin Brynteson, professional development director of NIU’s P-20 Center, which helped plan the event.

“For example, we might have teachers who show up looking for classroom-tested tools they can use to build science skills with a particular age group. Some might want to discuss changes in state standards. Some might be curious about new technological options. Given the great mix of people who attend edcamp, including experts from NIU’s education faculty, we’ll be able to get a dynamic conversation started on just about any subject that comes up.”

Kristin Brynteson
Kristin Brynteson

The schedule will include three time slots for sessions. During each slot, participants are free to move between sessions as they see fit. Participants who bring their own charged laptops or tablets can post about what they’re learning to social media, enabling people in other rooms – or even off-site – to follow along.

“Edcamp’s flexibility and interactivity make it totally unlike a standard conference,” says Kelli Hamilton, an eight-grade technology coach at DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 who attended last year’s edcamp. “All the presentations are teacher-requested, and they often end up being more like roundtables, with teachers spontaneously sharing thoughts and ideas as they come up.”

A light dinner will be provided, professional development hours are available, and attendees will have the chance to win door prizes provided by sponsors, including Target, Noodles and Company, BirdBrain Technologies and Brain POP.

This will be the fourth Northern Illinois edcamp. The original motivation, Brynteson says, was dissatisfaction with the traditional conference model.

“Everyone’s had the experience of going to a conference and realizing that the most valuable learning is happening when teachers get to talking in hallway between sessions, or at lunch, or in the lobby. We wanted to create an experience where that energy was present every minute, and I think we’ve succeeded. Lots of our participants return year after year.”

In addition to the P-20 Center, other NIU planners for the event include the External and Global Programs Office in the College of Education and the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation. DeKalb School District 428 also contributed to the planning effort.

For more information, contact Brynteson at (815) 753-0928 or kbrynteson@niu.edu.

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