Thursday, January 7, 2010

Idea of Playing

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the first gathering of a small group of colleagues interested in discussing The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks. We were only supposed to meet for an hour but the conversation was flowing so well when we looked at the clock we were of course over that!

An interesting topic of conversation that was raised was the idea of play in using technology. Some educational philosophers share the idea that children learn new concepts through play. Some academic programs are based around the concept of learning through play at the primary level. I say - Yes! - learning through play is a great idea!

When I was teaching first and second grades it was always powerful to allow students time to explore new tools before getting down to "the real work" we were going to do with them. It never failed that the students would start driving the instruction and learning through the discoveries they made while exploring.

I, and others, are finding this same concept of learning through play holding true with students learning new technology tools. By allowing students time to explore/play with a new tool they end up learning the features of that tool. Students end up sharing with one another what they have figured out and this leads to them engaging in conversations. And always, I mean always, they end up figuring out something I didn't even know yet!

What do you think about the idea of play using technology? Is it powerful? Do students learn from it? Feel free to share your thoughts!


  1. You know I just wrote about this the other day as I ventured into Glogster with my students. I do believe in play and not just for students -- teachers need time and space to play, too, and the ability to allow themselves that time. With tech in particular, the way you find possibilities sometimes is to stumble upon them and realize/reflect on what it is that you have stumbled upon. You can only do this outside of those scripted PD sessions where every step is outlines for you and learning is robotic.
    With my students, the play time is important learning time, and what I find is that they use this time to show each other what they are learning -- a very valuable time indeed.

  2. I ABSOLUTELY believe that play is important! I built in time for play with my theme unit before I started giving assignments. And I TOTALLY agree with Kevin about the need for TEACHERS to play, too!!

  3. I actually reflected on the playing idea after a conversation with Mary Lee, so I can't own it as my own. What I do know is that it is powerful with students. Give them the tools, and they will be able to apply the right tech tool when they want to publish something. Matching tool and project is an important skill to learn.

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  5. Mary,

    I agree with you that time for play is certainly important, and I hope that you are able to create some time and spaces for your students to explore technology together.

    Thanks for sharing the book with your colleagues and please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to seeing what your students produce!


  6. Hi Mary,

    I've been trying to contact you via email. A group of teachers from Hilliard are meeting tomorrow to do a book talk on The Digital Writing Workshop. Karen told me to get in touch with you. Will you email me at I'd love to hear more about what your group did in your book study. Thanks! Julie