Sunday, January 22, 2012

Play and Our New iPads

We are learning and teaching in a transitional time.  As we fine-tune our curriculum to meet the Common Core educational standards, I often find myself thinking and talking about the concept of play.  To that end, I'd like to share a bit about a short speech I bumped into on the website "Ted Talks" last summer.

The title of the talk was Why Play Is Vital--No Matter Your Age and the speaker was Stuart Brown.  Mr. Brown breaks play into categories.  He defines body play as "a spontaneous desire to get out of gravity", object play as "problem solving with our hands" and social play as "that which helps us learn to belong."  Brown goes on to share that nothing lights up the brain like play.

While listening, I couldn't help but connect with Jean Piaget's decades-old work on how children learn.  Piaget taught us that learning takes place when we physically act on (play with) new information AND when we mentally act on (play with) new information.

Combining the thoughts of Piaget and Brown in a most simplistic way, I believe that our iPads will give children a chance to mentally play with their learning in that they will get out of the "gravity" of our traditional routines while they "problem solve" with their hands.  The added bonus is that we are sharing the iPads which means that "social play" will be incorporated into many iPad lessons.

Last week, pairs of students started to use the TumbleBooks link that is part of the Portland Public Library website.  This week, they'll have a chance to take turns choosing titles to read from within the site.  It's not an app so it takes a bit of finagling to get in.  However, as you probably know--THAT is a playful challenge for a first grader!

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