Play. This was easy for me to incorporate when I was teaching primary, but I don’t think I made time for play in any form aside from review when I was teaching at the middle and high school level. I see the benefits of engaging the mind (and the body) in this active form of learning which can take even the most mundane topics and make them tolerable, if not exciting, to most kids.
This past summer’s robotics class was really helpful in allowing me to think about how I wanted to engage my students in meaningful play. This is my first year teaching at the fifth grade level, so I am not sure if I will always have the same general level of excitement that my students have shown this year for all the different makerspace and STEM activities that we have done in class, but I sure hope I will. My students are so proud of the things they have created and the knowledge that they have gained. I know that I could never have generated this same degree of learning if I had simply had them read information or lectured on the topic. Play is to “blame” for their current obsession and love of circuits.
I liked reading the blog posts this week and seeing how many of us use play in our classrooms. I commented on Genevieve’s and Gerald’s blogs this week, but found useful information in all that I read.
On Genevieve’s blog, I wrote:
Play is important at all age groups, but, in my opinion, no more so than at this age group. There is so much learning that can take place through play. When I taught in a K-3 classroom, I used play at my centers to teach differentiated concepts to small groups of students, allowing me to work with other students individually or in small groups. Games made the centers more interesting for the students which helped keep them on task. It was a win-win situation!
On Gerald’s blog, I left the following comment:
I am also struggling with the idea of gamifying my classroom, but for me I think it is a philosophical struggle. With each class that I have ever taught, one of my top priorities was to teach students how to be intrinsically motivated, to move away from the rewards systems and want to learn for the sake of learning. Gamification seems like a step in the other direction with its points and badges and “get out of work free” cards. I do incorporated more game-based learning now than I ever have in the past because I can see the value in practice and discovery through play, but gamification, to me, seems like a reinvention of the star chart.
Here is a link to an article that I found reflected many of my feelings and is written much more eloquently than what I wrote above: http://www.nea.org/tools/59782.htm