PLP leaders Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson couldn’t be more excited after rolling out eight successful face-to-face kickoff events for PLP Communities and launching our first PLP Virtual Academy. One thing’s for sure: We’ve brought together an energized group of educators ready to empower themselves and their students as connected 21st century learners. Read on!

ADVIS/AIMS Community

Team members collaborate at the AIMS Face-to-Face Kickoff Event.

The ADVIS PLP Kickoff event took place September 20 at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J., and The AIMS PLP Kickoff event took place September 26 at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Md.

Robin Ellis, Community Leader, was very excited to attend both of these kickoffs as well as IU 13 in Lancaster, Pa:

Each of the groups had a great day, with lots of wonderful conversations and sharing of ideas among the schools around thought-provoking keynotes provided by Sheryl and Will. Some of the teams participating have had previous groups from their schools or districts go through PLP, so there are many groups who have support on site from our PLPeep alums! The individual kick offs left those in attendance feeling excited about the year ahead and what this new learning journey will hold.

Canada & New England Community

Team members at the Canada PLP Kickoff can’t stop talking about the learning journey ahead.

The Canada PLP Kickoff event took place September 30 at Upper Grand District School Board in Guelph, Ontario, and the New England PLP Kickoff event took place October 4 at Champlain Valley Educator Development Center in Colchester, Vt.

PLP Community Leaders Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen organized the get-togethers in Canada, while Tony Baldasaro provided PLP leadership in New England. According to Brenda:

Peter, Tony and Brenda are very excited because we actually had three separate kickoffs that will be joining into one exciting and diverse community!


We started with our Ontario folks who are serious about learning, but serious about having fun along the way too! Will kicked off the day virtually and the room was charged with sharing, ideas, and laughter as well as some serious plans and hopes for a great year. Sheryl kept us going with just the right amount of ‘whelm’ and we all left with a feeling of connection and excitement about our year. We’re not sure where the group will take us, but we know that we will be soaring!

And Tony reported from Vermont:

I was able to attend the kickoff event in Burlington. Despite some local connectivity issues, we were able to have a fabulous launch. The attendees were enthusiastic about joining our “Community Hub” Ning, sharing a bit about themselves in the getting to know you forum and asking a ton of good questions. One of the great things about this group was that we had several experienced Tweeters to start conversing with, @vtdeacon and @techsavvygirl to name just two.

Virtual Academy 

Our new Virtual Academy concept offers PD-on-demand to participants. Our cyberspace Kickoff, led by Will Richardson, was a chance to meet our very first VA teams, from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It’s been wonderful to start building relationships with these new folks and to begin finding our way around the community and into some really engaging discussions.

Here’s a recap from Community Leader Lani Ritter Hall:

 “Welcome to the room. Would you like to give us a shout out to check your mic?” to which many replied: “This is ____, can you hear me?” So began the cyberspace kickoff and celebration by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Virtual Academy community.


More than 100 educators from across the Archdiocese gathered in 2 webinar sessions and greeted each other in chat and by mic. For many, it was a first experience using Blackboard Collaborate, and so together under Sheryl’s facilitation we practiced raising hands, smiling, being away, whispering and using the text chat window, and controlling the microphone. Important skills, as all the Virtual Academy sessions are very interactive!


Sheryl led the group in a discussion of feelings around Common Core Standards, newly adopted by the Archdiocese; and everyone had an opportunity to share questions they had around teaching and learning with the new standards — questions they are now discussing within the Virtual Academy’s private space inside the larger PLP Community HUB.


For much of the kick off, we spent time making sure everyone joined the HUB (it’s a Ning environment) and felt comfortable in the Virtual Academy digs there. Sheryl modeled registering, joining the community, and creating a response to the “let’s get acquainted” discussion thread (far easier for a face-to-face group to accomplish together). Our Archdiocesan educators persisted, helped others who got “lost,” and are now veteran users, deep into discussions around learning about each other and teaching with Common Core Standards.


The next webinar session follows quickly, just one week after the kick off.  Virtual Academy members are challenged with new expectations, and excited at the possibilities that lay before them. We are on the first trek of what I sincerely believe will be an incredible journey into learning together.


If you’ve read this far, enjoy a free Web 2.0 Tools e-course!

As part of our gearing-up experience for 2011-12, PLP community members were asked to participate in a pre-game activity, a self-paced Web 2.0 primer. The response was so positive that Powerful Learning Practice has decided to open the experience to the public as well. If you are new to Web 2.0 and would like to participate in an easy, step by step introduction to web-based learning tools and concepts, you can register for the free eCourse here.

Our kickoffs also incorporated Cross Team Building, which enabled teams at different physical locations to get acquainted and begin to collaborate as a bonded community. We’ll all be connecting and learning within the PLP Community Hub, a Ning space where all the communities can share together and collaborate with Sheryl, Will and PLP’s community leaders and coaches. Instead of having individual Nings and wikis for each community as we’ve done in the past, the new PLP Hub brings everyone from around the world together to supercharge the synergy. Of course, each of the communities has its own private space inside the Hub to pursue their own special projects and local goals.

We’ve posted some photos from each of these kickoff events on our Facebook page. If you attended one of these events, be sure to look at the photos, tag yourself, and share them out on your profile.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead of connecting, collaborating and learning together!

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