As we are trying to move staff and students forward being effective with technology integration in the classroom, it is essential that we look at ways we can move things forward. One of the key ingredients in our school’s plan is time to “play”. Now I am not sure if the term “play” is the one that sounds the most professional, but it is the one that I choose to use.
When I am talking about play, there is still learning involved. There have been many studies that have shown that play is crucial to childhood development so why is there a need to stop when we are adults? Here is a summary from the article:
- Childhood play is crucial for social, emotional and cognitive development.
- Imaginative and rambunctious “free play,” as opposed to games or structured activities, is the most essential type.
- Kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults.
I am wondering why we feel the need for play stops when we are adults?
If you followed any of my trip to Europe with my brother through the #CourosBrosEuro10 tag (this is a time sensitive link), you would have seen that two committed educators like to goof around quite a bit. The fun and enthusiasm that is brought about through play is important to the culture that we bring to our schools and building relationships. If we are suppose to be role models and believe that play is essential to the development of our students…you get the point.
One of the elements on how I have tried to bring play into our learning environment for our teachers is by providing them time to just play with technology in the school. Each teacher is given one covered day (I am trying to have more next year), where they can just use some technology and play around with it to see how it will work in the classroom. Of course it is still work, but some of the best innovation comes from opportunities when there is just time to mess around.
Most of the stuff that I have learned using technology has come through just playing around with program and website. I actually was inspired to start Digital Storybooks several years ago from finding the Emotion Eric site (which is hilarious) and looking at his adventures. My students thought it was hilarious and had so much fun making their own stories based on the site.
If you watch a fantastic video by Dan Pink on the science of motivation, he talks about how Google (have you heard of them?) gives staff 20% of their time to just come up with their own innovations, which have led to some fantastic products from the company. Working within our budget, I am trying to free up time for staff to just have a day to work on whatever they want to move our school forward and will not limit it to technology, since there are many ways our school can improve.
I was so happy when I walked into my grade 2 teacher’s classrooms and she was having the students to their own art projects from whatever they wanted. Some of the ideas that they came up with were amazing and they were so excited about just having this time to do their own thing. Amazing how when restrictions are taken off of people, they can actually surpass our expectations.
Now the term “play” may not be the best word for what I am describing, but if it done right, that is what it should feel like.