PlanePlanning: The Birth of #PLAYDATE13

This week I had the honor of traveling to the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit with my 1:1 iPad Pilot team from National Teachers Academy (the Chicago Public School at which I taught for the past 7 years): Anita Orozco (Middle School Special Education), Autumn Laidler (3/4th Science) and Holly Mullenix-Stack (K-8 Music).

[Side note: If you don't already follow these ladies' work - please do. They are amazing educators from whom I learn on a regular basis!]

We presented a session on how we've worked together to redefine teaching and learning at our school. While the presentation itself was rewarding, the most amazing takeaway for me was the reminder that the biggest contributor to our school's EdTech transformation was teacher teamwork. The fact that we have a group of open minded and creative teachers who are all excited to work together and learn from one another is what allows our iPad initiative to grow and be successful. I'm so thankful to have been - and to continue to be - a part of this great team.

So as we floated on cloud 9 onto our plane, accompanied by the great Sue Gorman, we didn't let the end of the conference stop our collaboration and brainstorming. Autumn, Sue and I ended up sitting next to each other and as the plane took off, so began 2 solid hours of edtech collusion. Autumn foolishly thought that she'd get a nap. Little did she know that instead we'd birth the idea for a new conference.

Around 10,000 feet, we all began to discuss the pros and cons of the past few conferences we'd attended. We all agreed that we greatly value meeting new educators and discussing the good gospel that is innovative technology use. And yet we also lamented that we learn about a myriad of new tools, websites, tricks and apps at these conferences only to go back to the "real world" and have little to no time (usually the latter) to ever master or even simply explore any of it. For me, they usually end of in my "to explore" Google task list.

Thus the idea of #PLAYDATE13 was born. I originally wanted to call it "ExploriCON" but as the nature of Autumn's and my relationship goes, we ping ponged ideas off each other until we got a shinier version of this original thought. First Autumn came up with PLAY- People Learning & Asking "Y". Then Sue joined in the acronym fun and suggested adding "DATE". Autumn found a great acronym for that - Digital Age Technology Exploration. And so PLAYDATE came about. After coming up with a catchy moniker, together we refined the idea to meet some of our unaddressed professional learning needs and leverage best practices we'd seen at other conferences. We're going to be pulling in the rest of our NTA 1:1 pilot team - Anita and Holly - as well as some other thought leaders in the area with whom we've been collaborating closely.

This conference will be geared towards those who just want to explore - or play with - apps, websites, programs or tools that they've always wanted to dig into more deeply, but never had the time or support to do so. Modeled after an unconference or an EdCamp, the sessions will be participant-driven and hands on. Most importantly - there will be no sit and get. Period. No Presenters. Period. All of the content will be learner driven, exploration based and hands on. Just like the model of education we hope for our students. At the end there will be a share out of learning and take aways "The Play Off" - and digital content and notes will be disseminated to all.

If this seems like the model of learning that is right for you - or you just have some apps, programs, tools or websites you've always wanted to learn more about (Evernote? Google Sites? iMovie? Apple Configurator? Twitter? Pinterest?) - then check out this site for more info and to sign up for updates.

PLAYDATE 2013Saturday 2-9-2013

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