Learning & the Power of Play

Kids playing

Winnie the Pooh just sauntered by my office. An Italian Cafe is set up outside of the Athletic Center. Everyone from Caesar to Elsa is in the house. It’s Halloween at HHS!

Tradition dictates that Seniors not only dress up, but also compete for various prizes — from scariest to best team effort. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious (okay, and maybe a bit distracting…), and led me to reflect upon the importance of play in our students’ daily lives.

In his book, Play, Stuart Brown, M.D., emphasizes the importance of lifelong play: “Playfulness amplifies our capacity to innovate and to adapt to changing circumstances” (Aran Levasseur, “The Power of Play in Learning” Mind/Shift).

The playfulness on display at HHS today reminds us of the potential games and play have to engage students and transform learning. Digital tools and a 1:1 environment can help facilitate this shift — but no tech is needed to create quality learning opportunities for our students.

Here are some ways we see teachers integrating play, games, and the “gamification” of learning into students’ daily learning experiences at HHS (with and without technology):

  • Rubberband car races in Physics
  • Alka Seltzer lab competitions in Chem
  • Barbie Bungee Jumping in Math
  • Physics “party tricks” lesson activators
  • Silk Road and Paper Clip Factory simulations in World History
  • 1-minute science videos to open class in Chem (see this blog post on the importance of first few minutes of class and game design)
  • “Tech” challenges in Freshman Tech Seminar
  • Kahoot in Bio, Wellness, English, and more
  • Competitive Debate in US History
  • “Speed Dating” in World Languages (using the great DiLL Lab paid for with a HEF grant)
  • “Franchocia” election simulation in AP English Language & Comp
  • “Telephone” Photo Project in Digital Photography
  • “Trick or Treat” review activity in Math (see Ms. Fairbank’s great blog on this!)
  • Jeopardy and $25,000 Pyramid for test prep in multiple subjects
  • Human Tic Tac Toe review activity in English
  • Padlet for creative brainstorming in Art and English

Yes, students will always say that going trick-or-treating is more fun than going to school. But they come away from the experience of school with a lot more than a bag of candy.

For more images from today’s Halloween event, see this flickr photo album.

By Colleen Worrell, PhD, Secondary Technology Integration Coordinator

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