1. I loved following your adventures on your trip and getting to be part of the "fun" that two very dedicated educators could have when engaging in "play." I was a Kindergarten teacher for eight years, and the term "play" in used a lot in Kindergarten. I have varying thoughts on "free play" that are certainly too numerous to share in a little comment here, but I will say that when you speak of giving teachers time to "play" with technology, I think that's fantastic! I actually plan on e-mailing your blog post link to my administrators now, as I think that this is a fabulous idea for PD if the time is available.

    As much as I learned about technology from connecting with others on Twitter and talking face-to-face and online with educators about various tools, I learned the most when I got the chance to experiment with these tools. This year, I gave my students a number of opportunities to "play" with technology and create using tools of their choice, and I was always amazed with what my Grade 1's could do. This type of playtime is definitely valuable, and I can only imagine how valuable this "day for play" would be.

    I hope that you'll share some more about all of the wonderful things your teachers do after having this opportunity to "play." Thanks again for a wonderful blog post!


  2. Shawn Ram

    I was wondering when you were going to post this. Great post as always George. I enjoy playing when trying to figure out a program or planning.

  3. One of my favorite quotes related to this is one stating that "tinkering is the space between work and play." I'm not sure who said it, but my colleague used it once while in my office and it has been written on my whiteboard ever since.

    I was a physical education teacher for a number of years before taking my current position 5 years ago. As such, I've always known play to be an essential part of learning. We play with things (gadgets, etc.), people and ideas. I'm happy to read that you are looking to provide your staff with the precious resource of time. I recently wrote about my experience at Constructing Modern Knowledge (http://www.briancsmith.org/node/9) and how we need to take time and dive deeply into learning.

    I'm curious about your statement that teachers should pursue something that will move the school forward. Is this somewhat limiting?

    • George

      Thanks for your comment Brian. I even struggled writing that term in the post for lack of a better one. To say, you have a day to play on whatever you like, may not be the best way ever. I think that Google gives time for their employees to create new innovations for the company, so maybe that would be the term. New innovations for the school. Thoughts?

  4. I thought that might be what you were thinking. But I wonder if it means that they are expected or assume it must be something they "play" in relation to the initiatives of the district or school? If so, I think it could be limiting and not foster the creativity and innovation that so many of us throw about (I'm in that mix too).

  5. I loved reading this post because it reminded me of how some of my strongest connections were made. I was lucky enough to find two people on opposite sides of the country who truly enjoyed testing out web tools as much as I do. We call the time we spend online playing with these tools sandboxing. I don't dare disclose how many hours I have spent doing this. I'm guessing it's at least as much as a kindergartner puts in on the playground in a year! In return for this investment of my time I have learned so many tools inside and out. One of the the things we always do during sandbox time is we look at the tools from our perspective as teachers as well as how it looks to the student.

    I am always amazed when teachers are apprehensive about playing with tools. How else are we going to learn them? To truly learn something we have to play with it. Sure, they might need direction and guidance on how to implement it in their classroom, but playtime is essential. I just wish more teachers would trust themselves enough to play and explore on their own. I cannot count how many times I have wanted to scream, "IT'S OK! YOU WON'T BREAK IT!" Good for you for giving them time and encouragement.

    • George

      Your quote hits the nail on the head. I have said that so many times. I love your comment about how the tools look from the perspective of the student and teacher.

      I have always said that I cannot pay teachers more, but I do have the opportunity to provide them time. Hopefully the playtime really helps staff to feel more comfortable with the tools we are using in school.

      Thanks for your comment Beth!

  6. I so love this! So glad an admin sees the importance of play!! When I taught elem I would drive my bosses crazy bc of my need to play. They didn't like that we were all laying on the floor (including myself) bc we all needed a moment to think or under our desk having pretend time. Yeah they were ready to commit me when I hot glued googley eyes to my forehead but the kids got what I was teaching at the moment (don't recommend, it scars). Luckily I now work with teacher who have the same play concept. We have so much fun together bc there is that relaxed atmosphere.

    The idea of taking that controled play time we should give to kids for them to learn to adults is a wonderful idea. People (well my mom does) don't read manuals, they figure things out. But most adults don't take time out of their busy lives to figure out how to use things. Your idea is brilliant! I love you are taking that risks! I hope your play date is a huge success! Your school is going to be so mcuh better becaus of it!

    • George

      Amanda…through your interactions on Twitter, you can tell that you would be a super fun teacher. Those moments that we take to play around, laugh, and enjoy students pushes things forward in education more than any initiative. When students feel that they are cared for as individuals, they will surpass expectations that we could ever have for them. They will want to do well for people that care about them because they will in turn care about them. It is human nature.

      I love your analogy about reading manuals. I for one NEVER read them and take more joy in learning it on my own (except for Ikea furniture which I hate putting together). The process of learning is usually more important the end goals of it.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Michelle (@mrs_honey

    Great post, George… Have you read Stuart Brown's book, "Play". Here is a video link :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHwXlcHcTHc for a part of a TED talk he did about 'Why Play is Vital–no matter your age'.

    One of my favourite quotes: “Playing is both a survival skill that helps you cope with life and one of the great creature comforts; it’s even a biological necessity, shaping and sharpening our brain.” ~Stuart Brown

    Heading into teaching full day Kindergarten this fall, the topic of play is foremost in my mind.

    As far as your situation goes, I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are providing your teachers with 'playtime'… And I think using the term 'play' is both appropriate and encouraging!! Play suggests that there is no 'right way' and that it is 'fun' and 'exploratory'… To me the word 'play' allows for 'imagination' and 'self-expression' as well as for 'experimentation'…

    I for one have certainly done most of my best learning through play!! Thanks for writing about the importance of play for adults too!

    • George

      I love this: "And I think using the term ‘play’ is both appropriate and encouraging!! Play suggests that there is no ‘right way’ and that it is ‘fun’ and ‘exploratory’… To me the word ‘play’ allows for ‘imagination’ and ‘self-expression’ as well as for ‘experimentation’…"

      That is absolutely great thinking and help me to solidify my own use of the word. Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. I've always believed that teachers should be able to have time throughout the school day where they can focus on an area of their teaching, like technology. Our current local agreement does not totally allow us to provide subs from our school based PD for this purpose, but this should be changed soon. Like you said, this is an efficient and fairly cost friendly model to provide time for teachers to explore and focus on new learnings. However, I do find that it is not used enough. If professionals have time during the school day to work on innovations, it is quite amazing what a teaching staff can accomplish.

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