Today in class I twice heard myself using the word "play". The first time was with a group of second graders who were on the National Gallery of Art website looking at interactive art students can make online. This was supporting their How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry which focuses on abstract art. We had already done several activities from this excellent website before the Christmas holidays: PhotoOp and Brushster. Today we were looking at Flow and I wanted the students to look at the pre-set images first and have a go at seeing them move around the screen before they designed their own. I told the students to go and play with it. Later I had a group of 5th graders and I was introducing them to XtraNormal as part of their Who We Are unit of inquiry which focuses on how rights and responsibilities change depending on which stage you are in your life. Again, after giving the students a quick demo, I told them to go back to their computers and play.
Several times today, our admissions officers have come round the school and into the IT lab with groups of what I assume are prospective parents. Often when they come into the lab I take the time to show the parents what the students are working on. Sometimes they stop and ask the students what they are doing. I wondered what the reaction would be if parents asked these grade 2 or grade 5 students and were told "Ms Maggie told us to go and play on the computer". I mentioned this on a Twitter post and got a great reply from Adrienne Michetti (@amicetti) who said:
Earlier this month at the BETT Show, I met up again with Professor Stephen Heppell and attended his Playful Learning presentation. He was also talking about play and said "play and technology have always been seductive". He went on to say that as a result of play, children observe, question, hypothesise and test - they are learning through playing. Another thing he said was "When you see engagement, you see performance too". So tonight I'm going to have a little think about play and entertainment, about engagement and empowerment, so that the next time a parent or an administrator comes into the room and asks what we are doing I am going to tell them that the students are playing - and I am then going to tell them how educational this in. I will be blogging about this again later this week once my thoughts are a little straighter. Watch this space.
there is nothing wrong w/that word. The problem is that we've stigmatized it, made it sound opposite to learning, when it's not
Have just returned to this blog post one week later as I have just seen this slideshow on the Langwitches blog and wanted to post it - there are some great quotations about play here.
Photo Credit: Lost in Thought by Sven Kellenberger