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EdCamp Elmbrook 21

  We had out 5th annual EdCamp this past Saturday and it was a very different PD experience. Due to the pandemic, we help the EdCamp virtually. That meant that anyone across the globe could attend. While we usually only have educators from out region attend, we had educators across the nation and in some in Canada attend. In addition, we had an attendee from Turkey! The conference was conducted using Zoom and Zoom breakout rooms for the sessions. The team did a great job of organization and management. I could go on, but this is my first blog post in a while and I'd like to keep it brief. Below you'll find the session board for the day with notes docs linked. We had some wonderful sessions and the notes documents house some wonderful thoughts and resources. So, I recommend checking them out. Although this EdCamp was only for the morning, there was a lot of learning to be had. We had no technology issues from our end as organizers but I can imagine participants may have had iss

Becoming a Matchmaker

My goal in the class is not only mastery of course outcomes.  I really want learners to find some connection to physics. When they hear the word physics, it won’t not something unattainable. It is directly connected to who they are. If I plan to help students make these connections, it is not enough for me to just learn my students names and faces.

As the content expert, I bring something essential to the table. I know what physics is beyond a narrow or incomprehensible definition one might find online. Students on the other hand have topics they are passionate about.  If they are going to find a connection to physics, I can’t expect all learners to find that attraction on their own. I am the one who needs to show them that physics can be connected to their passions. I am the matchmaker between the student and physics.

In all of my teaching career when first getting to know students, I basically looked at a their faces on the roster and their names and played a little game where I just memorize that connection between names and faces. I took all the shortcuts to learning students do when they simply memorize facts in order to simply pass the test. That doesn’t not work well from the matchmaker’s perspective.  

This year on day one, students started work their ePortfolios using Google Sites.  The first page they made is their “Passions” page. Students were asked to add 4 YouTube videos that tell me about themselves.  They then explained what each video is and how it connects to their interests or aspirations. I did this last year as well a couple of weeks into the term. But I didn’t take this valuable information any further than treating it as a way to make small talk. This year I’m taking this information and creating a spreadsheet of names and passions, no simply names and faces.  Instead of just studying names and faces, I’m learning deeper truths about those students in my classroom.

Why not use just a simple Google Form to collect this information? I’ve found that when I simply ask what students are passionate about and have them simply answer that question in words, they spend a lot of time deciding what they are passionate about. YouTube is a place they are familiar with.  They can actually show their passions by exploring their passions. What’s even better is that I can experience it as well. Whether it be an artist I never heard of or a topic I know very little about, the videos that they post give me that taste of their world.  The song is right there to experience. The amazing play is right there. The thing that makes them smile can make me smile just by hitting play.

These passions are what I hope will start driving some of the learning options in our classroom. It’s up to me to make these matches when I can. I may not be able to find those connections for all of our content topics. By looking at what students have shared with me, I know I can find a couple that are directly tied to each individual. Whether it be dance, video games, photography, make-up, Rick & Morty, football, dogs, or superheroes, those connections to physics are there.

By knowing their passions, I hope to help steer learners to content connections that they care about exploring not simply ones that I have assigned. I may not be able to make it a lifelong commitment to physics. But at the very least, physics can show them a good time.

I’d love to learn how you learn what your students are passionate about and what you do with that information beyond a topic of conversation.


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