Week 4 #F5F,

I got really excited about this week’s topic, so my find FIVE, may become a bit longer than five…
Each addition on this list is about play, and implications of play to increase equity.

  1. Keeping the idea of “play” in mind, PhET provides fun, free, interactive, research-based science and mathematics simulations.  With the idea of equity, Science is a subject area that historically has been less about “girls” and more about “boys.”  The STEM program has been encouraging females to enter the engineering and design world, showing them that math and science can be subject areas where they, too, can gain profits and equally access the curriculum.  Click on this link to PLAY with Science! https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/new 
  2. Linked below is a great story that I stumbled upon this week.  The teacher who submitted this article works in a small Title 1 school of under 200 students. Her student population is primarily Latino, African Americans make up 16%, and she also serves a few white and Native American students.  In other words, this teacher has a pretty diverse group!  The teacher talks about how she hears phrases like:“She doesn’t even speak English.” or, “I guess we’ll let the white kid play today.”Another example, “I better give this broom to a girl. Sweeping is a woman’s job.”  Or, “Do I have to be in a group with him?”  In the article, this teacher decided to teach social equality through play.  Since many of her students may not have equal access to the language, she encouraged her kids to draw pictures and make a book about the issues that were going on.  Check it out!  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/781 
  3. This year I had the most incredible experience with my class.  Based off of, “Caine’s Arcade,” I hosted a cardboard challenge in my classroom.  I took an entire day (and my principal was totally on board!) to host this awesome STEM challenge.  I started off the day talking about recycling, and tying it into our Ecosystems science study.  Then, I told the kids that we would be collaborating with one another as they built arcade games to play later in the afternoon.  Watch the link for the story of Caine’s Arcade (a true story based off a boy in California.)  http://cainesarcade.com/
    Later in the day, I broke my class into groups of 3 students.  Each group was given a box, lots of cardboard pieces and some other recycled items (such as bottle caps, packing peanuts, empty jars, cans, etc).  Then, students were to work together in a set time to build a WORKING arcade game.  They also had to write directions so that when it came time to play, the kids would know how to play one another’s game.  Since we were studying persuasive writing in Language Arts, the kids later did a persuasive piece about their game and why it’s the best game in the arcade.  The students had a chance to work together, and to learn from trial and error.  More importantly, the children had an opportunity to learn through play.  For homework, I created arcade-themed questions integrating questions about elapsed time, making change, and area/perimeter.  This was an energizing activity that I would highly suggest trying with your class if you get the opportunity.
  4. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. We focus on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively.  When I think plan STEM lessons, I try to incorporate at least 2 of the 4 disciples.  A big part of STEM is design challenges.  I am currently working toward my STEM certification through Arcadia University, and during our classes we do a lot of design challenges.  During our first week of school we did the design challenge of building a spaghetti tower out of marshmallows.  Details are in the link below.  The TED talk is also worth watching, and explains the spirit of play.
    http://tinkerlab.com/spaghetti-tower-marshmallow-challenge/
    http://stem.wesfryer.com/home/construction-design 
  5. Last year in the New York Times I remember a playful activity which I brought into my morning message.  Similar to the new craze of “adult coloring books,” this activity brings play, creativity, and relaxation into daily life.  Where once drawing and other painterly pursuits were the province of starving artists or simply child’s play, unlocking one’s creativity has become the latest mantra of personal growth and career success.  Buy some crayons, we are told, and be more productive at work. Like mindfulness and meditation before it, creativity has become a mainstream commodity.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/opinion/were-all-artists-now.html?_r=0 

    6.  This teacher puts kids in charge of taping things that happen in the classroom.  The taping can be used to put digital stories together to share with parents, absent students, or simply used for re-teaching of concepts.  Equity could be gained by students who are not active participants, giving them specific roles in the classroom.  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/1807 

    7.  Cas Holman creates tools for the imagination.  Play, to Holman is “such an essential place of learning. Many kindergartens have managed to attain that. Learners still get to use blocks and tinker and work on projects. But starting in first grade, students are often treated like robots. They are in something that more closely resembles a factory than a playground.”GeemoThe toys that Holman designs enable those who play with them to invent stories about what they build.  Talk about imagination!  Talk about investing in learning!  Toymaking (creating “tools for the imagination”) is, for Cas Holman, all about learning. “Play and a playful pedagogy are so relevant to students. We don’t know what future jobs are going to be. Students are going to graduate into a world that contains roles we haven’t seen before. Every few years, whole new opportunities to do and be in ways that nobody has seen before open up, whether it’s about supporting ourselves or expressing ourselves or about how we move through the world. So I think that as younger generations come up, they should learn how to be good at inventing new models of how to be. One of the things I like about working with undergraduates is getting to plant that seed – you don’t have to become something you already see. Make your own version, whether it’s your business, your work, who you are as a person.”
    http://connectedlearning.tv/personal-stories/cas-holman-creating-tools-imagination

    8. Interesting in hacking your life?!  Follow life hack for some great, refreshing, and playful ideas to better your journey.
    http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/create-a-vision-for-the-life-you-want.html

    9.  THIS IS AMAZING!!  For those of you who have kids, you must check this out!

    http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/imagination-playground

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