Thursday, December 22, 2016

More on Purposeful Play: When the risks kick in.


Have you read this book yet?  I've written about it a few times before.  And all fall, we've been dabbling in "play and project" time.  It's been good!

Then December happened.

You see, the short story is, in December, in our Faith-based school, the Christmas Pageant is the hard work of December.   The kids are engaged in:
  • Large group community work.
  • Shared reading in musical lyrics.
  • Exposure to reading basic melodies.
  • I was fascinated to watch as the kids were exposed to speech enunciation techniques.  
  • The self-regulation it takes to stand with a large community of kids and focus on singing.
  • The fun and festiveness of dressing up and presenting a beautiful story.  
Christmas Pageants are hard work.  And may I say, Music Education rocks?!?!  

A purposeful teacher is careful then, about how to proceed with the classroom setting.   I could have steamrolled through lessons.  I could have insisted on routine.  I could have ignored the needs of my students.  

None of those would work for me.  
Yet, we need to also be engaged and learning.  

Today, I want to share the work of Play and Project time and the moment I realized my Firsties were taking risks in their writing during this time.  

In our classroom, there was a place to work with foam, nails, screws, bolts and washers, and rubber bands.  First, the project encouraged kids to create Christmas Trees with these items.  They took these items and started to create Robots.  Hey, it's cool!

A safety note:  I have a small class size with kiddos who have a LOT of self-regulation.  There are years where this wouldn't have been an option.  

Enter the Robot Store.  Every good store has signs.  Come Now!  Play!  Love and Name Him!  
These three signs?  Made by a former reluctant writer.  In these moments, to protect her risk taking, I always ask what she thinks of them and I honor what she is saying.  Occasionally she will revise a sign, but she is also starting to monitor her work as she is creating it initially.

Come On to the Shop!

That last sign?  We've also been working on digraphs in our word study time.  When I asked her to read it to me, she did.  And she self-corrected herself on the placement and directionality in this writing. For this student, it was way more powerful than even a mini-lesson on editing and revising.  Because it revolved around her play.

She asked if she Had to make a new sign.  I left that up to her.  (She didn't.)  But as a developing writer, I was so pleased  to have the opportunity to have this conversation with her.  

The other thing you don't see in these few pictures, are the volume of signs that were taped around my classroom.  On desks.  On my desk.  On cupboards.  Tables, Doors.  They just kept writing.  

Keep in mind, this wasn't Writer's Workshop.  Intentionally, I didn't swoop in and conference on the writing process.  But I did observe risk taking, joyful writing, a large volume of writing.  

December showed me that play does encourage risk taking academically.  We'll be playing in get the picture...

How are you using play in your classroom?


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