Day 48 (of 143) Positive Play via @scotteach @chriswejr @LS_Karl @msmcdteaches globalschoolplayday.com #GSPD2016
I’m an advocate of serendipity. I also like connecting patterns. I’ve been very happy with a few things going on at my school of late. One of our CEAs is asking if “we” (staff) want to take part in the Great Kindness Challenge – something that has us all mindfully aware of what actions we are doing and how it impacts ourselves and others.
Our counsellor (and teacher) has started a bulletin board focusing on ‘changing our words, changing our minds’
And one of my intermediate teachers (@msmcdteaches) at a Self Regulation workshop mentioned she needed to read Carol Dwecks Mindset (a book I happened to have on my shelf so I drove it to her before her workshop was over) – she has been very mindful of using positive reinforcement around math (and her students have declared math as a favourite subject – shocking 😉
AND THEN I tuned into Voxer to join into a conversation about ‘strengths based learning’ (a specialty of @chriswejr – check out THIS) wondering about ‘what students hear at school – especially positives…do they outnumber the negatives that they hear….”you still need to work on ____”‘ (great thinking by @ls_karl) and of course one of my new favourites pushed by @bedleybros globalschoolplayday.com (February 3 – our school has already signed up) and the thinking about ‘learning through play’ (done very well by @scotteach)
My point of view:
Focusing on positives is essential. One of the keys I use to introduce formative assessment (to teachers, students and parents) is “two stars and a wish” – providing two positive pieces of feedback on a task/assignment/activity/etc and one area to focus on for growth. Not overwhelming the learner with a list of “redos” or Xs or …….
It’s not easy – trust me – giving a score /10 is much easier (hint: an 8/10 or a B usually guarantees very little argument or debate – and since the range is really big [typically 73-86%] you can almost be guaranteed to be within a range of reliability) but….it doesn’t help identify what gaps may need to be identified, and what the student should be proud of already accomplishing. Reinforcing the strengths of the student helps. Identifying ‘a’ thing to work on helps keep learning focused.
Play is key. Play in learning can be done by following passion projects (geniushour) and guided questioning methods (SOLEs WonderWalls etc). When the direction of learning becomes more controlled by the learners. This can be tough. I used to refer to it as ’embracing chaos’. Because play is chaos (at least if it’s being done right). The first 15 minutes are usually fun and easy. The next 15 minutes are when ‘complaints’ are brought up and (too often) adults fix problems. It’s the 45 minute mark where the magic happens. There are articles on Deep Play (45-60 minute mark when there is no indication of when time will be up; no bell; no 5 minute warning etc). This is when things get very cool. The problems from the 15-30 minute range tend to resolve themselves. Areas of ‘trying out’ are replaced by ‘things that I love to do’. And while Feb 3 is a great ‘day’ to start exploring and experimenting – in no way should play be a one-off event; it needs to be an integral and ongoing part of the learning experience.
Of course (serendipity) this thinking has come just in time as our learning community starts looking towards creating a “new” code of conduct – which I’m hoping will be positive-based, allowing students to use their strengths, and not a list of DON’Ts….
And…at a time when I’m re-thinking and synthesizing about the problem-solving we do in my office; often it looks like “we are playing games”…..because we are….sort of…using them as tools to open up conversations, to help identify strengths of students that I can use to make connections – and provide time to de-escalate stressors and allow the brain to slow down (or more accurately, be willing to focus on the issue) so we can actually (and authentically) problem solve.
It’s amazing what play, time, and descriptive feedback can do – especially when combined with a positive-language/stengths-based focus!