This One Time, At Nerdcamp
Come for the knowledge, stay to admire the spectacular balloons.
Earlier this week 350 teachers, librarians, administrators, authors, and illustrators converged on Parma, Michigan for the second annual nErDcampMI. Like any good sequel, the is year’s camp was bigger and bolder. It also got some nice coverage in the local news.
It was an early morning…
…but worth it. NErDcamp is based on the EdCamp “unconference” model, which is to say it’s a conference where the sessions are unplanned. It’s the improv of conferences. Attendees show up, think of a session they’d like to facilitate, announce it to the audience, it goes up on the schedule. Then conferencegoers can choose whatever sounds good. What sounded good for breakfast that morning was oatmeal:
The logo this year was created by Michigan’s own Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America). Can we submit this for some sort of logo award? It looked great on the banner outside…
…and (in a different variation) on the conference shirts.
After reaching Western High School, this was what I saw at the check-in table:
Hey, I know that one! It was one of many book freebies supplied by publishers.
The conference has definitely grown since last year, as evidenced by the “Where ya from?” map in the common area.
This was the scene in the auditorium:
Colby and Alaina Sharp are the masterminds behind nErDcamp, so to kick things off, they took the stage to talk about how the day would go. They also had some special guests to announce:
Arnie was in attendance.
Before long, people were volunteering to lead sessions, which were posted on the big board above. Then it was off to let the learning begin. Sessions varied from literacy to technology, and all sorts of combinations of the two. The day was split in half, with two morning and two afternoon sessions. One of the cool things is that notes from every session are available online.
A nice nerd touch – all the rooms were named after Newbery winners.
There were authors and illustrators in attendance too. Like all these folks. I met author Jess Keating, which was great. Ruth McNally Barshaw was there and had just received a package of Ellie McDoodle foreign editions, at which I took a gander. This series continues to be a hit in my school library.
Matt Faulkner (author/illustrator of the recent graphic novel Gaijin: American Prisoner of War) was there as well, showing some intermediate paintings from some of the picture books he’s illustrated. The paintings above are from Elizabeth Started All the Trouble written by Doreen Rappaport.
After a wonderful day of learning, everyone gathered again to share something that they will take away from the day. It was an inspirational way to close. But the day was far from over for the organizers – as soon as things wrapped up, over 200 kids would arrive to take part in the first ever nErDcamp Jr.
Thanks to all the hardworking folks who made the day possible. See you next July 6-7 for nErDcamp 2015.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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