On Saturday, January 18th, I attend and “presented” at my first PLAYDATE. Downers Grove 58, #playdateDG58, held their second playdate. I would say it was a huge success. Here is a brief background on Playdates before we get started:

History & Explanation

PLAYDATE stands for People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration. PLAYDATEs are the brainchild of Jennie Magiera (@msMagiera), Sue Gorman (@SJgorman), and Autumn Laidler (@mslaidler). After attending conferences and having the good fortune to learn about “a myriad of new tools, websites, tricks and apps,” upon returning to school, they had no time to experiment with them. They decided to create an event where the focus would be on exploring technologies to learn more about them. 
After one such conference, Jennie, Sue, and Autumn envisioned the first PLAYDATE: “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.”
Read the full post on Jennie’s blog.
This Education Week article discusses the first PLAYDATE.
The first PLAYDATE was held concurrently in Chicago and Portland in February, 2013. Events in other cities soon followed. Visit the main PLAYDATE website to learn more or to get information on creating a PLAYDATE event where you live.
My Experience
The style of the conference was new and refreshing. Being able to learn new ideas, and having the time to practice them right away is what was so different about the PLAYDATE. The attendees are what makes the PLAYDATE so awesome. These teachers and administrators are the real game changers in education. Much like an EdCamp, with that many game changes in one place, you feel the excitement.
The ideas shared, and the connections made, at a Playdate are well worth the time on a Saturday. Look into hosting one at your school. Can’t host a Playdate? Look for one starting in your area. I will keep them on my radar as a great source of professional development.

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