Friday, July 13, 2018

The #NErDCampMI Effect

The very first thing I want to write is that Colby Sharp and his crew of amazing Nerds have put on one of the very best conferences I have ever been part of in my entire life. Seriously, I am angry at myself for missing the past several years.

I have been meaning to attend NErDCampMI for a number of years, but things have come up. I really wanted to make sure I attended this year, so I blocked off the second week of July to make sure I would not schedule anything that might cause me to miss the event. I am so glad I did!

While I have spent countless hours writing about technology, Makerspaces, Project Based Learning, Raspberry Pi, and the like, I have always been a literary nerd at heart. My path has taken me away from the literary conversations I have always loved having. I have only been out of the English classroom for one year, but I could tell how badly I missed literary conversations after just chatting with a few people.

I submitted a session, because I have to present wherever I go. It is a disease. Anyway, I presented a session on Graphic Novels and had a nice conversation with the people that attended. I shared Bone, Watchmen, X-Man, and some of my other favorites. It was nice to discuss Graphic Novels and their role in literacy with other educators. The hour went by quickly we were all having so much fun with our discussion.

I tried to get into a Maker session and it was too jammed to find a spot. Instead, I found a spot in the lobby and started to have some fun conversations with educators and some authors/illustrators. We were just a few nerds sharing what we love to read and how we can use our love to instill the love of reading with our students. It was magical.

The end of the first day allowed attendees to wait in lines and meet the many authors that agreed to attend and share. I was excited because I needed to get Dav Pilky's signature in my son's Dogman book. It was my number one goal. Number two was meeting Judd Winick. He is the amazing author of the Hilo series. Leo has fallen in love with the series and I needed to meet Judd and get the book for Leo. Personally, I wanted to meet Judd because used to watch him when he was on the Real World San Francisco back when the Real World was an honest social experiment. He made a book, Pedro and Me, based on his friendship with Pedro Zamora. It was a book that was a big deal for me growing up and is still worth a read. Anyway, I was able to get both signatures and both of the authors, and really all of the authors I encountered, were amazing.


A post shared by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on


Day two was an unconference and I ran a session on the Hero's Journey in pop culture and how to connect that to literature. It was a packed session where I was able to discuss Star Wars, Disney movies, and The Catcher in the Rye. As an added bonus, Judd Winick came to my session! It was so cool to have conversations with all of these educators. Of course, it was awesome to listen to the Nerd Talks and Pernille Ripp made me cry with her talk. She is one of the most passionate educators I have the pleasure to call friend. Just spending time talking with her lights a fire inside of me to dive deeper into my reading and writing. She is a good friend and I'm lucky to know her.

By the end of the event, I was exhausted. This was the best type of tired I have had in some time. ISTE drains me physically. NErDCampMI was draining intellectually. I was given so much to think about and I made so many more connections in just two days. I couldn't be happier to have had this opportunity to meet great educators and authors. The NErDCamp Effect is the feeling of growth and inspiration after spending two days in Parma, MI.

Colby Sharp and company did an amazing job bringing everyone together and you can bet I will be back next year.