The first edcamp for Manitoulin Island, Sudbury, and the North Shore took place on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at beautiful Red Lodge, on Lake Manitou. Nineteen participants from across Ontario and representing Public, Catholic, and First Nations School Boards invested their Saturday to learn professionally and diversify their ideas.
The day began with some opening “minds-on” activities by Jenn Chan and Colin Lacey of Exhibit Change ( a Toronto-based design-driven community engagement firm), and then participants built the day around the conversations they wanted to have. Caroline Black, teacher at Wasse-Abin High School in Wikwemikong connected with Andy Forgrave, middle school teacher from Belleville, Ontario, to co-host a conversation on how to inspire students’ curiosity and imagination, while another group of participants gathered to talk about strengthening the Professional Learning Community process. Other conversations included how to integrate the Arts in all subject areas, how to integrate technology in the teaching and learning process, and how to think about educational change.
Response to the day was overwhelmingly positive. Donna Fry, Ontario Education Officer, and former Manitoulin Island resident, commented that “The conversations were really rich. I saw “aha” moments in peoples’ eyes. We all learned and shared and saw the power in that.”
Participants also made new connections that day. Jillian Ospina, from the Sudbury Catholic School Board, was glad she made the trip over to the Island. “I met some really fantastic people. I really enjoyed hearing from others and sharing my experiences a supportive and non-judgmental environment.”
Connie Freeman, a grade 8 teacher at Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng, reflected on the fact that Edcamp Manitoulin Island crossed school districts and grade divisions, which was a unique experience for most edcampers. “It was a good networking opportunity and a chance to share with teachers from other locations and boards.”
Edcamps are one way educators can build their professional learning networks (PLN) and keep up with new ideas and educational practices. “You got the chance to interact with forward-thinking educators who all want to make a difference, which is very refreshing, “ explained Manitoulin Secondary teacher, Heather Theijsmeijer. Heather, along with Yana Bauer from Manitoulin Secondary School and Julie Balen from Wasse Abin High School, was instrumental in connecting Edcamp Island with Edcamp Sault (also holding their first Edcamp on May 10th) to help extend the conversations in both events.
Edcamp Manitoulin Island was well supported with 3 of the Manitoulin School Boards providing sponsorship for the event: KTEI, M’Chigeeng Lakeview School, and the Rainbow District School Board.