Yesterday, I took part in my second EdCamp, EdCampMadWi, or Edcamp Madison, Wisconsin.  These are my themes from the day’s events:

1) Choice

First, as in all EdCamps, you vote with your feet, which I did. I was in a session that wasn’t bad at all, but yet, I got up and left to see Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) via Skype.  If you’ve not heard of Dave, check out Teach Like a Pirate and the #tlap chats on Twitter.  Dave “in person” is awesome.  He lives “Teach Like a Pirate” and challenged us all to do what we need to do to be great.  I used my feet to step into a group dealing with Genius Hour.  Wow, what a brilliant, wonderful, and utterly overwhelming idea!  I was there to listen, to absorb, and to take in the wonderful group of teachers there.

Choice was one of the main themes in my first session, “Building Passionate Readers”, started by Pernille Ripp (@pernillerpp).  Again, if you’ve not heard of Pernille, check out her blog at or look her up on Twitter. The session was outstanding, but one where choice was talked about again and again in creating readers who want to read, period. Not just at school, but just want to read.  We shared strategies, one of which being a “What I Am Reading” sign outside of the door.  Such a great discussion of reading by powerful teachers desiring the best for their children.

2) Community

Let’s talk community of teachers! Walking in the commons area, I was approached by a teacher who I used to go to high school with!  Brandy (@brandybartgrady) graduated with my brother and we used to hang out during different activities. It was really nice to see her again and catch up a little bit!  An active of my PLN, Joy Kirr (@joykirr), was another person I had the chance to meet.  We’d messaged back and forth before, then while at the actual event trying to find each other.  I waved as she walked by, and the rest is history! What an awesome teacher and person to have met!  She’s a hugger, but there’s nothing wrong with that! 🙂  I also had the chance to meet  John Gunnell (@gunnellAP), an outstanding principal from Baraboo.  Listening to him talk briefly about his educational experiences, I envy his staff because he truly gets it!  And finally, Michael Matera (@mrmatera) tweeted this out during a session on scripting inside of Google Chrome:


As it turns out, I’d walked in with the above mentioned Joy, and she just starts giggling, turns around to me and asks me if I saw Michael’s tweet, which I had.  She then points to the person right next to me and says, “Well, that’s Michael!”  I start giggling as well, and before I could do anything, she’d introduced us, which led to this tweet:


Reading Michael’s blog and tweets, it was certainly a treat to finally meet him in person and to put a face to the Beaker picture that currently resides there! 🙂

3) Developing Passion for Lifelong Learning

If these teachers are a representation of what is in our classrooms today, we are in very good hands.  Whether it was Pernielle talking about the thousands of students and teachers who participated in the Global Read Aloud, teachers talking about how their students stopped fighting and started writing when the topic was of their choice during Genius Hour, Dave Burgess talking about faking lyarengitis to have students step up and step into a class (something we will be doing I might add), or a host of others that I’ve all ready forgotten, the passion is there.  It’s there in how these teachers talked, how they spoke of their classrooms, their books, and their experiences.  It’s there in administrators like John, who look outside the box to find solutions, who allow their teachers the freedom to try and fail!  All of this added up translates into teachers looking into every avenue in hopes of sparking that child who needs the spark, teachers working to develop that love of learning in each one of their students.

All in all, a most successful trip!  My wife, Melissa (@mhjohnston) even got up, suggested a session on early childhood (she’s a professional development specialist for Head Start), and then sat with a small group of educators, suggesting things to help their classrooms.

My only downside to all this, the connections in my PLN I didn’t get to make: Pernielle, Tom Whitford (@twhitford), his wife Leah (@leah_whit), and Jay Posick (@posickj) just to name a few!  All are highly respected and if you aren’t following them, do it. Seriously, stop reading and go now! 🙂

To close, if you’ve not been to an EdCamp, try to find one around you.  They are well worth the Saturday that you spend as the rewards far outweigh the slight cost.  I look at all the information gathered, the faces, the conversations about just plain good teaching, I’m better for it.

You will be too.

And as a plug, check out the EdCamp Iowa page! There will be 5 separate EdCamps running throughout the state that day, the single largest true camp put on to date. We’ll be at the Cedar Falls site, so stop in and say hi. Who knows, I may even have the tie on! 🙂