Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Tweak on Things That Suck

I'm kind of an edcamp junkie. I may or may not have referred to edcamps as crack PD a couple days ago.

If you've been to an edcamp you know why I feel this way: by their nature, edcamps draw on the very best and brightest educators in a given area. Who else is going to give up their Saturday to go to a conference THAT DOESN'T HAVE AN AGENDA  until the day of the event?

One of the iconic edcamp sessions - there aren't any prearranged sessions that happen at edcamps, but this is an exception - is Things That Suck (TTS). If you aren't familiar with TTS, check out Bill Selak's post about it here.

Things That Suck at #edcampPS this fall
Why does TTS rock? Because it gets people moving. And thinking. And sharing their opinions about education.

A topic - homework, for example - is given to the participants. Folks array themselves across the room with one side of the room being the "this sucks" side and one side being the "this rocks" side. Traditionally, people have five minutes to discuss the topic. The facilitator checks in with the sucks side, then the rocks side, then gets the middle to weigh in. Obviously that order is flexible, but you want to hear from all sides in a couple minutes. Then, the discussion opens up and you've got three minutes or so to have a free flowing conversation about the topic. At the sound of the five minute timer, it's on to a new topic.

At some point this fall, I heard about an edcamp TTS session - maybe at edcampKC? - that used the last minute for each topic to talk about how to solve this issue. How do we make homework better and meaningful? How do we fix 1:1? Standardized testing. You see the point.

The last couple times I've facilitated TTS I've really enjoyed this tweak. It transitions people out of semi-debate and into problem solving mode. Which is really why we're all at an edcamp in the first place!

Best part? Plans are in the works to do some really cool stuff with TTS at a couple California edcamps happening on the same day in February!