Many recent posts mention a group of educators that have joined in a cross-school, cross-state collabo-rama team. We like to call ourselves #BurNTA as a mash up between two of our schools - Burley and NTA (National Teachers Academy). This team is made up of three educators from Burley - Ben Kovacs, Kristin Ziemke and Carolyn Skibba, joined by three from NTA - Autumn Laidler, Anita Orozco and myself, finished off with a cherry on top - the great Sue Gorman from Racine, WI. While I apologize if you're getting a bit weary of hearing about #BurNTA, I must continue to mention them on this blog as they are are continuously inspiring me. Having a team of colleagues who motivate, challenge and support you is key to successful and ongoing innovation. Afterall, I suppose you can be creative in a vacuum, but what's the fun in that?
An example fruit of this collaboration is #PLAYDATE13. In a previous post, I wrote about how our #BurNTA team cooked up a crazy idea about a new kind of event... PLAYDATE (People Learning and Asking "Y" - Digital Age Teacher Exploration). Here we set out to create a conference that didn't have any presenters... no presentations. Just time to explore, collaborate and recharge your edu-batteries. We wanted to simply provide a time and space for educators to get geeked about about teaching again and play with tools they've yet to ty out.
So yesterday, after months of planning, PLAYDATE went from being a twinkle in our eyes to a real, live conference. We even worked with colleagues in Portland, OR and Boston, MA to send this idea to both US coasts! In addition to frequent and energized tweets throughout the day, we also brought in off-site explorers by doing a live Google Hangout on the Air to share learning during the PlayOff Demo Slam! To see a quick visual summary of the Chicago event, check out this amazing video by the talented Carolyn Skibba - embedded to the right!
And how did the participants react? Well the evaluations are still coming in, but so far we are smiling. Besides everyone tweeting from both Portland and Chicago with such fervor that #PLAYDATE13 reached the #2 trending spot on Twitter, check out some of the great comments and tweets below!
Some evaluation comments...
- "You said it would be different, collaborative and learner centered . . . And . . . It was!"
- "I loved the time we had to just play and talk to other teachers who might use the tools."
- "I liked the easy going, 'there are no rules' atmosphere. It was really nice to have the freedom to just explore!"
- "Thank you for all your hard work and taking the time to put this on! This is the time of year when I get a little run down in the classroom and playdate13 was inspiring and rejuvenating. The sessions and the people around me reminded me why I love Teaching and got me excited and revved up for Monday!"
- "I can't get over how awesome
#PLAYDATE13 was! Great people collaborating. Love talking, trying, teaching and learning abt tech together!" @mentortexts
- "#PLAYDATE13 power was it was centered on collaboration not presenters. Everyone there wanted to learn and share and create" @mwhitedg
- "Sitting in the sun playing with my new tools from
#PLAYDATE13as my kids play in the snow. Perfection!" @jmaclaurin
- "Best thing about
#playdate13 was that I actually made stuff. Less philosophy and theory, more doing." @ShawnMcCusker
- To see more of the tweets from the day, check out this Storify.
Needless to say, we are thrilled with the outcome and are so thankful to the many people who came out on a cold Saturday morning to learn with us. We do plan to have more PLAYDATEs. Additionally, we hope to soon create a kit so others can have a PLAYDATE in their own hometown. As for now, we are all napping and dreaming up new crazy ideas to put into action.