Posted: May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

When asked to reflect on play and its role in my life I initially thought this would be an easy exercise. Of course I play! There’s lots of play in my life!

Specific questions regarding play however proved more of a challenge to answer than I would have originally expected. “What does play look like for you?” After much more thought than I would have predicted necessary I come up with this rather academic, sterile definition: “play is movement or action that is spontaneous and enjoyable”. A few days later, as I write these words, I already disagree with my own definition. Does play necessarily have to be spontaneous? Are planning, rules and boundaries not required for most play?

“What do I do for play?” Easy…or is it? Again I find myself digging way too hard in my life to find examples of what I do for play. Finally I come up with travel, photography, and riding my bike. These are the activities I look forward to, the activities I enjoy the most and aim to practice as often as possible. But is it play? The personal value of play for me? “A change from the routine of grown up stuff like work and meeting responsibilities”. This is one answer I can still stand by.

Next, what do I know about the value of play-based learning theoretically? Admittedly, very little. Generally speaking my many years in the classroom have taught me that play can be used to draw interest, or rejuvenate enthusiasm for subject matter. In my Senior High Social Studies classroom a regular review tool I use is a modified version on tic-tac-to, that I call tic-tac-know. Students never seem to tire of this game I use to review material, even the older students ask to play on an almost daily basis. It certainly makes the curriculum more palatable for the students. And it reinforces the usefulness and importance of play in the classroom.

In the reading I selected, Games Children Play, author Maxwell makes a few interesting points/statements. Namely that he learned 95% of the subject matter before he entered school, that games and intellect are contagious, and that while children do require teachers, they “learn best in a balance between dependence on and independence from adults”.

While I can agree that games and intellect are contagious and that students require a balance between dependence and independence from adults, the first statement that 95% of subject matter is learned before entering school is harder to endorse in my heavily content driven Social Studies 11 curriculum. This however does not deter from the importance of play in the classroom and in learning activities. The challenge I plan to address is how to meet the needs of the curriculum while devising activities that include play. How can students learn what they will need to meet with success by means of play?  While the play-centered activities in my classes are successful, they are mainly organized and planned by me.

The challenge is now to enable a more student centered approach to game planning. How can I give them the “independence from adults” Maxwell argues is important for the balance required for best learning?


Technology just a tool?

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

My reaction to Dean Shareski’s blog post found here:

Saying technology is “just a tool” can be a very dangerous statement. I understand that when people say this, they’re simply trying to point out that technology is a peripheral that enables us to do the things we want to do better than before. I can agree with that concept but the problem with this thinking is that it often gets used to see technology only as a means to automate or make current practice more efficient. There are very few people involved in any level of education that thinks technology isn’t necessary for our students. Where we disagree is in how we’ll use it and most often there exists a lack of understanding and appreciation for the trans-formative nature of technology.

(Continue reading)        or maybe here:

To say technology is just a tool seems a little short sighted to me. Paper is a tool. A  pen is a tool. No one would argue that it’s what we do with them that matters. It appears to me that it’s also what we do with technology that matters. Am I embracing all the possibilities afforded me as an educator? The ability to make connections across the globe opens up so many possibilities for my Social Studies classroom that it boggles my 1980s teacher’s mind.

So, people can call it just a tool, but it is a tool that is forcing me to take a serious look at how to maximize my students’ learning. It has precipitated a fundamental change in how I look at what I’m doing, and has rejuvenated my whole outlook and approach. No other “tool” has had that effect on me.

A Conundrum: Rubrics or Creativity/Metacognitive Development?, by V. Chapman and D. Inman
Lists advantages and disadvantages of Rubrics. Among some of the advantages: provides guidelines, expectations explicit, aligned with standards, easy to use, informative feedback for students, provide answer key, allow constant assessment,can be impartial, document and communicate grading procedures, allow one to be organized and clarify thoughts. Disadvantages identified: evaluate doing vs understanding, too vague, dysfunctional detail, test mastery over skill mastering, may not convey all we want students to know, may limit imagination if students feel compelled to complete the assignment strictly as outlined in rubric,could lead to anxiety if too much criteria are included, reliability could be a factor as more individuals use the rubric, take time to develop, test, evaluate, and update.
Authentic Assessment Rubric, by Joel R. Montgomery, U of Phoenix
Argues that while traditional assessment approaches using multiple choice tests do not accurately measure knowledge, authentic assessment does: it opens up a collaborative approach to assessment that enables teachers and students to interact in the teaching/learning process. He goes to say that frequently rubrics for authentic assessments are provided to support meaningful self-assessment as well as criterion-referenced assessment by teachers. Rubrics assist the student to achieve appropriate performance targets. They can also support continuous assessment of student progress and serve as a collaborative tool to be used for dialogue between students, peers, teachers, administrators and parents.


Posted: January 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Un Nouveau Monde


Posted: January 6, 2011 in Uncategorized