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Play Make Learn Conference in Review

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Educators and stakeholders experienced how to make learning visible through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and speakers at the 2019 Play Make Learn Conference held in Madison on August 8-9. The Department of Public Instruction serves as a sponsor of the Play Make Learn collaborative, highlighting new games, maker space concepts, and cutting edge teaching and learning practices.

Sheila Briggs, assistant state superintendent for the DPI Division for Academic Excellence helped kick off the event discussing the importance of play in education. “We focus on play because we know it’s effective, and if we want to make sure our students are successful, it is not something we just take a break and do,” Briggs said.

This sentiment was reflected throughout the conference at all grade and age levels, alongside other themes regarding the importance of establishing purposes for making and playing contexts that address what students are learning, and examining representation in gaming, making, and technology spaces.

Keynote speaker, Winnie Karanja, founder and executive director of Maydm, an organization that equips girls, students of color, and students from low-income households with opportunities in STEM careers emphasized the need to bring more people to the table when it comes to technology leaders. “We have to knock down walls of exclusion,” she said. “The current table does not reflect our reality.” Karanja believes that this requires a concerted effort to reconsider several aspects of teaching and policy and to provide meaningful representation in technology examples and narratives.

Conference presentations featured opportunities for educators and stakeholders to explore new games, reflect upon assessment practices in maker spaces, study equitable access to various play/make/learn spaces, and playing to learn. The conference also placed an emphasis on including stakeholders from different disciplines to create meaningful spaces for all students to experiment, fail, and try again.

To learn more about the variety of creative, innovative teaching and learning practices that fit under the play make learn umbrella, visit the DPI Play Make Learn web page.