The EdCamp Model for Professional Summer Reading

Our 2016-17 school theme was “Re-imagine” and the division directors thought it would be fun to reimagine our professional development reading for the summer. In past years, all directors sponsored a book of interest. Teachers chose any of the five books and attended a discussion led by the director during our preseason week. Fairly standard procedure, and it worked well.

Based on the success of our EdCamp professional development day last January, they decided to try a similar approach to summer reading. At EdCamp events, participants create an agenda on the spot and lead impromptu sessions based on areas of shared interest, need or expertise.

https://sites.google.com/site/edcampmaryland/what-is-edcamp

https://sites.google.com/site/edcampmaryland/what-is-edcamp

For summer reading, this meant that teachers could choose to read any book they felt would help them develop professionally. From the directors:

Summer is around the corner and with that comes our annual summer reading request. We’ve Re-Imagined for this summer and are going with an entirely different approach.

Being that our EdCamp Professional Development Day was such a hit, we’re going with an EdCamp Books  where everyone has his/her own choice of book to ignite their passions.

Your job is to choose a book you’ve never read before and return in August ready to share what the book meant to you, how it might affect your teaching, your daily interactions, etc.

We will keep a list on a Google Doc, so please add your information as soon as you decide the book you’ll read.

Some of you may join others in reading the same book.

However, we are hoping for some outside of the box books and thinkers that will introduce us to a variety of books and insight into our colleagues’ passions and interests.

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

Basically the Google sheet populated itself over the summer

Based on feedback from teachers throughout the summer and following yesterday’s discussions, I’d say that EdCamp-style summer reading was an unqualified success. There was some slight initial trepidation from a few teachers about choosing the “right” book, but that passed pretty quickly. The libraries recommended books to those who asked, and most teachers got recommendations from colleagues or chose books they had been wanting to read already. It’s nice to have an excuse…

We met in predetermined but random groups, and discussions formed organically. In my group, we found some themes common to our reading and offered the best tips from what we had learned. The hour flew by, and I made a note of several teachers with whom I’d like to continue the conversation in the coming weeks.

Summer reading is something like a fingerprint for each school with each program varying based on the school’s personality. If you have success stories of your own or questions about what we tried, please write them in the comments below.

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4 Responses to The EdCamp Model for Professional Summer Reading

  1. Shelagh Straughan says:

    Congrats, Christina! This sounds very exciting, and so successful. I love the idea of starting off the year with discussion about a shared book, with the key element of choice.

  2. Joanne Crotts says:

    We followed a similar tactic at my school this summer. More books and more free choice. Some of the books we read were: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt; Between the World and Me; Untangled; The Teenage Brain; and The Prince of Cocuyos.

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