Sunday, April 15, 2018

Food for Thought: Play is for everyone

Dear all,

As we look to restructure Grade 6 for next year and then the rest of Secondary School I was thinking about where all the learning at school starts; Play Based Learning in Early Explorers. This is such a rich way of learning I started to think are we involving Secondary students in enough play based learning activities and games. Hence this week's Food for Thought pulls together a few articles about the importance of play for engagement and deeper learning. There are many good links in these articles that are worth exploring and connecting with in our thinking. 

As we continue to explore the way forward at ISHCMC, we should remember the words of Seymour Papert, "we must never forget that children are born great learners and that we, as adults, should, in fact, try much harder to be like them."

Image result for high school learning through play

In this article from Mindshift there are many different strategies to bring play based learning to the Secondary school, How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students.  Many of these are already in place but others are worth thinking about and ensuring that making and tactile experiences are not just for lesson time but can be fully accessed at breaks and free time.

"Teenagers need creative outlets, just like elementary school children. Those experiences helps open their brains in different ways, gets them excited about learning and allows them to have fun. Playful learning can in turn lead to deeper engagement with school, better retention of learning and a stronger motivation to persist all the way through school."

While researching this topic I discovered a wealth of material related to play emerging from the World Economic Forum. In 2017 it released the Human Capital Report with the subtitle “Preparing People for the Future of Work”. It points out that education systems today are disconnected from the needs of today's labour markets. It concludes that skills such as problem solving, creativity and collaboration are not being encouraged enough in schools and yet they are seen as being vitally important as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Will Richardson referred on numerous occasions at World EduLead to the 
 Future of Jobs Report. Here is a article from the World Education Forum that promotes the use of play in classrooms, Children should be playing more games in the classroom. Here's the reason why?

"Recent studies have indicated it is not what we teach, but how we teach that enhances student learning, particularly as it pertains to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)[1]. A key component of using games in the classroom is that games can be used across content areas and over a variety of age ranges to support content and deepen learning.

In primary school, social studies teachers can use digital games like Stack the States to help pupils master important geography skills such as capitals, flags, and the locations of different states.

In middle school, science learners can play the analog version of our deck-building card game where they take on the role of a scientist racing to solve a peptide solution, recreating the palliative treatment from venomous marine snails.

In high school, social studies may be taught using the hands-on World Peace Game about global diplomacy and the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental impact on the world community. Similarly, in the US a teacher may choose to use the digital game iCivics to teach about the structure of the executive, judicial, and legislative branch of government, as well as what it takes to run an election at the local, state, and federal level."

Finally, this TIME article further points to the benefits of play in Middle and High Schools that can be linked to some of the essential elements of education that will be needed in the future such as creative thinking , problem solving and perseverance. There can be no doubt that play based learning should be apparent throughout ISHCMC the question is not why but what, when and how to ensure that it encourages deeper learning and thinking.

"Giving students occasions to learn through play not only fosters creative thinking, problem solving, independence, and perseverance, but also addresses teenagers’ developmental needs for greater independence and ownership in their learning, opportunities for physical activity and creative expression, and the ability to demonstrate competence. When classroom activities allow students to make choices relevant to their interests, direct their own learning, engage their imaginations, experiment with adult roles, and play physically, research shows that students become more motivated and interested, and they enjoy more positive school experiences.
To be sure, there are times to be serious in school. The complex study of genocide or racism in social studies classrooms, for example, warrant students’ thoughtful, ethical engagement, while crafting an evidence-based argument in support of a public policy calls upon another set of student skills and understandings. As with all good teaching, teachers must be deliberate about their aims. But, given that play allows for particular kinds of valuable learning and development, there should be room in school to cultivate all of these dimensions of adolescent potential."

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