I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

#EdCampHOME Experience

I've been to four EdCamps in one year. I LOVE edcamps!

So when I saw tweets about an idea of an online edcamp, I was intrigued. Online would mean I could attend in my pajamas! Well, the dream of four pioneers - David Theriault (@davidtedu), Karl Lindgren-Streicher (@LS_Karl), Kelly Kermode (@coachk) and Shawn White (@swpax) - was realized today, with #EdCampHOME.

How many behind-the-scenes conversations were there between these four? Well, I follow each of them, so I see plenty of their conversations in my Twitter feed. They bounced ideas off of each other very often, and were in many Google Hangouts prior to today. Only they can tell you how many hours of planning and family time was sacrificed for this endeavor!

They only asked a few things of us beforehand - Register, sign in to the Google+ community, change our Google+ name to be an actual name, and if I remember correctly, fill in some quick form. Check, check, check, check. I thought I was ready for today.

Hah! Didn't everybody?!

The build up on the #edcampHome hash tag was tremendous - everybody was geeked! My husband said something I had to tweet out:
It got many retweets - teachers are so geeky at heart - myself included!

Finally, it was time...

What was next? We went to edcamphome.org and watched the livestream of David, Karl, Kelly, & Shawn. (If you ever think you'd like to try something like this, watch all three hours of this video - you'll learn of many obstacles they had to overcome!) They seemed excited and nervous, and ready to go! Of course Kelly had to start with technical difficulties, and we couldn't see her "live," but that was fixed by the end of the three hours. Who knew what other difficulties would arise? They showed their tenacity and their passion to make this work shone through!

Participants next put ideas on a LinoIt board:

Ideas started rolling in faster than the organizers could distribute and organize them. Kelly actually had to ask us to hold off on adding any more ideas, they were appearing so fast! She then (amazingly) took these ideas and had participants fill out a Google form. We chose three sessions we'd most like to see.

As they were discussing these items live, tweets were still flying - everybody was ready to jump in - even people who were not registered. They discussed having two sessions for (can you believe it?) Genius Hour, two for inquiry-based learning, and two for augmented reality. Now they just needed more moderators and they had to rope in some facilitators.

I thought this would be an easy day for me. I'd already declined an offer from Shawn and then an offer from David to moderate a session (I'm not THAT techie!). I'd told them a week or two ago that I was scared of messing it up. And today I was going to learn something NEW! I was going to get in on that augmented reality chat to see what that was all about. Alas, it was not meant to be. David asked if I'd facilitate a Genius Hour chat. How could I say no this time?!?! I promised to ask more questions than talk...

Then they opened the document where you put your Google+ name if you want to be invited - so chaotic, as so many people were trying to access it at once. It got sorted out (again - amazing!), and sessions got under way. I was not comfortable facilitating a discussion, but I knew I would get through it, and I knew I'd be better off for it... somehow! Little did I know what I'd read in Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) book, Classroom Habitudes, later that afternoon!

My computer started "ringing," and I answered the invite to my first EdCampHome Google Hang Out. 

This. Was. AWESOME.

Here is a recording of our discussion - Robyn (@RobynThiessen) and I were the only ones in ours who have tried Genius Hour, so I did talk more than I planned, but our group asked some stellar questions. I felt very fortunate. Thank you to Kevin Fairchild (@kfairchild6) from California for being our fearless moderator! (Note: This recording is not yet on the edcamphome.org site, but when it is, I'll put that link here, too.) Kind of crazy that I "met" two other Illinois teachers in this discussion, we had Robyn from British Columbia, Canada, and Sean Cole (@SeanHCole) from South Africa!

And here is the second session:

I really feel like I was part of history. 
Thus, the reason for this blog post!

I did my small portion to help the day along, but the four exceptional educators - 
David, Karl, Kelly and Shawn 
- they really hit it out of the park...

On this day in 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. 
On this day in 2013, hundreds of educators from around the world came to discuss ways of teaching...

It's as if you were there... Recorded discussions archived here:
     Session #1
     Session #2 


  1. Joy. One of the hardest things about being an organizer was not being able to participate. Your blog post, and others, give me a sense of what it was like. I'm even more bummed we didn't have time for three sessions, but that will be fixed next time. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this and you are another person who I am ever so excited to meet in person. See you online! David.

  2. Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing! Loved the screenshots and embedded hangout!

  3. Hi Joy,

    Thanks for sharing this! I loved it! I watched the entire video as well. I wish that I was able to come to EdCampHome. :(

    Genius Hour is Life-changing for kids. When I did it, the kids were so darn motivated, engaged, and happy! You can not underestimate HAPPY! Thanks for all that you do to bring Genius Hour to the classrooms around the world!

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.
    (great job facilitating the session, by the way).

  4. I've officially added you to my "People Saying Smart Stuff" page on my blog. :) http://goo.gl/TLy0Bp

  5. Love this! Thanks for all you share!
    Your Genius Hour LiveBinder is featured on my blog today!