There are so many challenges in shifting from the “what” classroom to the new culture of learning classroom. One is the buy in. There are so many people who are not open to this way of teaching. They feel that we give the students too much freedom or that we are just playing rather than learning. They do not see the benefits of the students using their own imaginations. I loved the scenario Thomas and Brown explained about the two piano students who both attempted to play but using their own approach to a Bach piece. There are teachers who would say that these students were approaching it wrong, but “(i)n the new culture of learning, the teacher would see a budding rock star and a jazz musician” (2011, p 79) Students tend to be more open to learning when they are allowed to express themselves and attempt things they are passionate about. It is just as important as differentiation. Every student is different, they learn differently and they enjoy different things. By allowing them the ability to navigate their learning with their own inquiry they begin to explore and learn for pleasure “play” rather than feeling like they are just being crammed with information.
“(P)lay is not something we do; it is who we are” (2011,p 97). I loved this quote since it has been my thought for years. How I play, what I play has helped to define me. If a student gets drawn into a game such as Minecraft, they may enjoy engineering. If we can take this activity and focus a lesson around it, it becomes a guided lesson that the students enjoy and will surprisingly exceed your expectations because they will continue to “play” even after they have completed the minimal requirements in the task. Brennan helped to create a curriculum-aligned social studies game called Historia. They had found that kids were not interested in social studies so they brought gaming into the classroom. Through this play-based system, students are led through an interactive game that displays itself like a graphic novel. Students do research to learn how they can make decisions to solve historically accurate problems to help keep their team alive. (Brennan, 2015) I have conducted a game like this one, but it wasn’t using a PC or Mac. It is amazing how far technology has come.
Chaplin, H. (2015). School Uses Video Games to Teach Thinking Skills. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128081896
Brennan, R. (2015). Historia: Game-Based Learning for Middle School History. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/short-happy-history-of-historia-rick-brennan
Stephenson, N. (2007). Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning. Retrieved from http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html
Thomas, D, & Brown, J. S., (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.