We are less than a week from the start of school, and I am ready to start my 25th year in education. As I enter this school year, things are going to be dramatically different for me as I will be returning to the classroom. I am sooooo excited. The last fifteen years I have been a school or district administrator and it has been extremely rewarding, but I decided near the end of school last year to pursue my doctorate. Knowing that this would be a massive undertaking, I announced my need to move away from being the corporation curriculum director. Fortunately, the high school principal approached me and ask if I could fill a need, teach engineering classes and I accepted.
So what does this have to do with Let Them PLAY, well it is the opportunity to execute a grant we had written and received from the department of education. With the grant we created innovation stations to allow our students and teachers to PLAY, Project-Based Learning to Accelerate Young minds.
The premise behind the project it that too many times in education teachers are expected to explain how new high tech tools can be utilized completely in the classroom before actually having them. Essentially, the teacher is not given the chance to PLAY with the tool to understand its capabilities and see how the tool could be beneficial in the classroom. As a result the teachers become discouraged and the opportunity to innovate is lost.
Therefore, knowing the difficulty of implementing a full level, somewhat canned approach to project-based learning, we built mobile innovation stations to allow our teachers to P.L.A.Y. with cutting edge technology and develop methods to incorporate lessons to their classrooms. Each station includes a cart with a MacBook, five iPads, five ipods, five Spheros, five Quadcopters, ten Makey Makeys, Go-Pro camera, Theta-S 360 camera, twenty Google Cardboards, five Fitbits, two Breakout-edu kits, and a 3D Printer.
To start the PLAY movement, I have participated in four Summer of eLearning conferences and allowed teachers, students, and administrators to PLAY, literally. Session attendees were given the drones, spheros, makey makeys, ollie, and google cardboards and had an opportunity to PLAY.
Robert Marzano states in one of his column writings that there are six steps to enhance academic vocabulary instruction. The sixth step is PLAY. He recommends making learning academic vocabulary terms into a game. Marzano states, “Games seem to engage students at a high level and have a powerful effect on students' recall of the terms. Games not only add a bit of fun to the teaching and learning process, but also provide an opportunity to review the terms in a nonthreatening way.”