Education Opinion

Teachers Need to Play Too: Playdate 2013

By Justin Reich — January 22, 2013 3 min read
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I’m taking a short vacation, so I invited two of my colleagues to share about their upcoming self-organized teacher PD event: PLAYDATE 2013, an extravaganza of playful learning for teachers happening in three cities across the country simultaneously on February 9th. Read on:

Teachers Need to Play Too: Playdate 2013
by Tracy Sockalosky, with a Q&A from Jennie Magiera

Learning is fun. We say it to the kids all the time, but is it true for us as educators?

This afternoon my son had a friend from his kindergarten class over to play. Within seconds of the friend’s arrival, the boys were actively engaged in a lego building, superhero attacking, Barbie takedown extravaganza. Their enthusiasm was unmasked. They were playing. Now I am not advocating that we turn professional development into lego building and Barbie destruction, but shouldn’t we feel such enthusiasm when we gather with colleagues in our field and work to learn and improve our practice and education?

For me the answer is yes, and thanks to several Edcamps, and conferences such as iPad Summit and BLC, I have had the great fortune of experiencing this overwhelming excitement for education while ensconced in events with incredible educators and friends. But then it happens, I leave and go home. My brain whirls with ideas and suggestions gleaned from the day, and my “to-do list” is doubled with apps and tools I want to explore. When is that going to happen?

This is the story of my professional development experiences. I get all riled up by possibilities but then leave and feel the stress of exploring on my own. What I have really needed is a chance to sit with equally passionate educators and share ideas and knowledge with one another based entirely on the growing to-do list I have. I was thinking just this when I read a post by Jennie Magiera about the plan that she, Autumn Laidler, Anita Orozco, Carolyn Skibba and Sue Gorman hatched on their way home from iPad Summit in November. Since that point, this great idea has become PLAYDATE13, the first event of its kind, with simultaneous events happening in Chicago, Boston and Portland, OR.

The amazing Jennie Magiera is here to answer some questions:

What is Playdate 13?
PLAYDATE13 is a space for us to come together and collaboratively explore the edtech tools we’ve always wanted to learn more about. The concept is to invite educators from around the area to join together on one day, sit in a room for a few hours and dig more deeply into these tools. We will collaborate with one another to explore functionality, application in our learning environments and experiment. There are no presenters in the room, no experts and no agenda. Simply time to play, tinker, and explore.

Why is Playdate different than an Edcamp?
When my colleagues and I have attended Edcamps, it has been wonderful to explore tools and have a more democratic learning environment. However, in most rooms the style is still “presenter/audience”. Even in discussion-based rooms, usually someone is at the front of the room and the learning experience isn’t even for all. We wanted to attend a conference that isn’t about receiving information about tools, but applying the tools themselves. We wanted to create a conference that was 100% hands on at every moment, where no one was presenting and everyone is a learner.

Why should people leave their homes on a presumably cold, February Saturday morning?
This event will be high-energy exploration time for you to rediscover playtime and connect with fellow curious educators. It will be a dedicated day for you to take out your “EdTech Tools to Explore” to do list and move them over to your “EdTech Tools in my ToolBox” list. Finally, it’s a great way for you to recharge your batteries and become re-inspired to try something new in your learning environment.

How can people join?
Spots are filling quickly, but hurry and you may be able to snag one of the last few. Info for all three cities can be found at the Playdate homepage. And if you can’t make it, be sure to follow the feed (#playdate13 and #playbos) on 2/9. It promises to be a great day!


For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my papers, presentations and so forth, visit EdTechResearcher.

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