PlayMaker School

The PlayMaker School (2012-2014) was an innovative school model embedded within the New Roads School in Santa Monica, CA. Funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it was a reinvention of the traditional school model with a focus on play, creation, authentic assessment, and project-based learning. I was a key contributor to the design of the school model and the design of the curriculum and learning experiences.

The PlayMaker School was a partnership between the education non-profit GameDesk and New Roads School in Santa Monica, CA funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was a school-within-a-school design that embedded PlayMaker within the New Roads campus. PlayMaker assumed responsibility over the entirety of the New Roads sixth grade class and curriculum. The school lasted for two full school years (2012-2013 and 2013-2014) during which it garnered significant media attention and was an overwhelming success with students and parents. The two teachers who were the shepherds of the school have gone on to launch The Sycamore School in Malibu, CA.

I was a significant contributor to the school’s design, curriculum, and operations. During my tenure with GameDesk, I helped to conceptualize the school model along with GameDesk’s CEO Lucien Vattel and the PlayMaker leadership: Joe Wise, the curriculum director, and AJ Webster and Tedd Wakeman, the PlayMaker teachers. I also helped to design the school’s philosophy, structure, and curriculum. Through deep collaboration with core learning design team — Paula Hidalgo, Mylo Lam, Agustin Molfino, and Kevin Keating — I helped to create lessons and units for implementation in the school. These learning experiences ranged from high tech to low tech to no tech and focused on interest-driven, cross-disciplinary, and project-based approaches that were assessed formatively and authentically.

Selected Press Coverage:

Barseghian, Tina. “A School Day That’s All About Play.” MindShift. July 9, 2014.

Herron, Kelsey. “GameDesk Opens PlayMaker School in Los Angeles.” Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning. September 28, 2012.

Holmes, David. “Gamedesk’s “Classroom of the Future.” Why is it so hard to reinvent K-12 education?” Pando Daily. April 29, 2013.

“California school integrates play with learning.” PBS New Hour. July 9, 2014.