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Learning and Playing

ANCoL

I’ve been loving these past two weeks reading of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

The first two chapters (“Arc-of-Life Learning” and “A Tale of Two Cultures”) speaks of this “new culture of learning” phenomenon which is currently happening beyond the traditional classroom setting, even the hierarchy of how information was once transferred from expert (teacher) to another (student(s) or to the masses) is no longer the case.

“This new type of learning…takes place without books, without teachers, and without classrooms, and it requires environments that are bounded yet provide complete freedom of action within those boundaries” (Thomas & Brown, p.18).

The basic components of this arc-of-life learning are composed of play, question, and imagine. Reading “Sam’s story” was heartwarming and such a great example on this phenomenon. As I learn about remix this week, it was inspiring to hear this nine year old beautifully and “without hesitation” describe the difference between remix and a copy.

“Gaming across Generations” was another great example of this arc-of-life learning between a mother and son. Reading this story made me think of a previous colleague’s wife and young elementary-age son. I remember this colleague would share/complain how they’re into gaming (which he wasn’t); I am guessing he found it a waste of time and wasn’t into it himself. I also imagine that he didn’t understand or know about the games they were playing either. I don’t what game the mom and son played, but I do know it wasn’t one of those violent or graphic ones (colleague is a educator/teacher & his wife works in social work at the hospital). anyway, reading and learning more about “World of Warcraft” is what I imagine it was or similar to the like. It also made sense to read that it’s more than just playing a game but rather…

“During the time they spend together, family members are not just idly chatting; they are actively engaged with one another-questing, learning, and building teams to complete real tasks. They feel that the connections they build in the context of gaming can be about something concrete: accomplishments and shared experiences that bring them together and motivate them.” (Thomas & Brown, p.28).

Lastly, the part I’ve been wanting to blog about is “Learning through play and imagination” in chapter 3 of “Embracing Change.” The first thing I thought of was how we incorporated “Games” as workshop/activity for our professional development day last week. Since it’s a day to learn (via workshops) and network, we like to end the day with some physical activity. This year, we added games onto our usual pickle-ball and chair yoga. Since I facilitated the “game” portion, I was able to teach two staff three new games: Big Two/Deuces/Pusoy Dos card game, Mancala, and Othello. At first the two wanted to play “Uno,” which was something they knew; but I really wanted to encourage “change motivates and challenges.”

Although the two I assisted found the card game slightly difficult even though they knew the rules to “poker.” Overall, what I saw in them were the curiosity of play and if they were doing it right (learning the game and strategizing): What do I do now? What do I do next as I process the hand just played. I saw this “thinking out loud” and “looking from a different perspective” as they would make an awesome move or fail at it within all three games that we played. I also see gaming as such, not just a time to interact and connect, but also exercise our brain in a fun way. So, remember it’s important to play play play!!!

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Teaching with iPads

Through following tweets, I stumbled across this blog on “Upcoming iOS 9.3 Update a Potential Game Changer for Teaching with iPads.” A few thoughts came to mind right away. Bare with me since I have no idea how iPads are used in the K12 classroom; so, my thoughts will seem naïve and infantile like.

First, it would be so cool if each student could own their own iPad or borrow one from the school and take responsibility for damaged or loss of device. I would love to haul this light and powerful device around in my backpack in place of several, heavy textbooks, notebook paper, and binders/pocketful of papers full of worksheets. I am not saying that we won’t have some old-fashion writing mediums, just reducing some of the load would be nice.

Second, the ideal is to have most of the materials, including textbooks, on the iPad for access. I have noticed that this is becoming more popular with college, math and science textbooks. Students are able to access an online copy as well as have their hard copy, which they often leave at home. As a means to save paper, it would be convenient to access teacher’s Power Point slides and worksheets online as opposed to having printout of all these materials. Additionally, students often don’t have enough writing room on their math worksheets or would like a fresh copy to rework/practice the problems again later on in preparation for cumulative finals.

Third, it would be so awesome to simply DO the work on the iPad. For example, I would just use the keyboard to type or stylus to free-write, work out math problems, then upload the assignment. If internet is a problem, then a solution is to have the text and worksheets downloaded and saved onto the device; so that it can be opened when the student gets home. These students can then work their problems on a piece of paper, use the camera feature to take a photo of their work (homework completion), and use the first five minutes of class to upload it or once they get to school. Regardless, all students can always turn in their hard copy instead.

It would be so cool to say to the class, “Turn to page 26 in your ‘Beginning Algebra’ book.” As the students change class into a different subject that day, another teacher could do the same for their subject discipline. The fact that you can go online, do many online/offline activities directly on the iPad, then have the students “turn it in” is endless.

I think it’s just a matter of time before something like this becomes mainstream. What are you thoughts or what do you know that is happening with iPads in the classroom that I don’t know?