Tuesday, April 4, 2017

5 Reasons to Have Play in the Classroom

When a child is asked, “What is your favorite part of school?”, what is the most common answer? Recess!! Why do you think recess is the answer to this question? Think about what happens at recess. First of all, it is a time of freedom. During recess students are not told what to do, rather they are allowed to make their own choices. Secondly, recess is nothing but play. Check out my 5 reasons why educators should harness the power of play in their classrooms.

1. Play is natural for kids. Kids have spent their entire life playing. In fact, until they start school, kids are experiencing the majority of their world through play. So, think about how you can use something that is natural for kids, to enhance their learning experiences at school?

2. Play provides a risk-free environment. Since kids have been playing their whole life, they feel safe during play. Play allows kids a chance to take risks in environments that are safe for them.

3. Play develops social skills. Kids are able to develop their social skills while playing. Play provides an environment where kids learn to pick up on social and emotional clues/cues. The social skill development that begins in play can then be further developed in the classroom. These skills can then be used to help students expand and deepen their reading and writing skills.

4. Play develops problem solvers. Problems arise throughout play time. Kids are then provided with the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. Play provides a safe environment for kids to develop their problem-solving skills.

5. Play offers student choice and ownership. Play is a way to empower kids through choice and ownership. Teachers may provide play stations that are tailored to classroom content, but students choose the play station that they want.

I have seen morning work replaced with play stations and it has had a positive impact on students. Play provides a positive start to their day and gives them choice and ownership from the start of the day. Students have learned to self-regulate throughout the play time. They have even become problem finders and problem solvers. How can you harness the power of play in your classroom?

Monday, March 13, 2017

We Are All Learners

"What if schools operated as if we should all be "learners," as opposed to students being the only learners? (George Couros, Innovator's Mindset)
What if failure was viewed as an opportunity to learn, make changes and try again?

(IMOOC Session 2 Short Blog 3)

The Power of Play

The Power of Play

The idea of deep exploration stands out to me on the learning side of George Couros’s comparison of learning vs. school. Never underestimate the power of play and the deeper levels of understanding that it opens up for children.

(IMMOOC Session 2 Short Blog 2)

The Power of Relationships

(This is a short blog for IMMOOC session 2.)

The early morning conversations, break room talks or after school hallway huddles are all opportunities to build relationships and trust with colleagues that will overflow into the classroom.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Breaking Down Walls with Tech Integration

I recently attended the H.E.C.C. conference and walked away in awe of what is possible. The conference was filled with aha moments and thousands of ideas and possibilities to take back to the classroom.

Never before had I considered looking at apps or programs that were created for businesses, to use in the classroom. For example Augment, Sketchup and Holobuilder. These are great tools for the classroom but they were not created with that intention. I loved hearing about how educators tweeted out about how they use Holobuilder and now Holobuilder is using suggestions from educators to improve their product!

On the last day of the conference I accidentally attended an I.T. session. Wow, talk about being lost. At first I thought, great this session is a waste. As they continued to dive deeper into the backside of what makes technology work in the classroom, I began to see how the I.T. department plays a crucial role in technology integration.

They know the ends and outs of the programming of the devices, apps and programs we use with students. Think about what could be achieved if educators and I.T. personnel collaborated on projects. What would be possible if we collaborated to make the inconceivable, conceivable?

In order for successful technology integration to happen, educators and I.T. personnel need to be collaboring and co-creating.
-How often do educators and I.T. personnel connect and share ideas and knowledge?
-How can you begin to co-create together?
-Why not work together in the classroom to make the inconceivable, conceivable?

Break down walls and barriers and make things happen!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cooking Club!

Cooking Club Blog
After reading a story about a muffin munching dragon, students discussed their interest in learning more about cooking and baking. As a group we discussed resources we had at school and began to develop a plan for a cooking club!

I am excited to announce that we will be having a cooking club twice a month during fourth grade recess! This group of students will have 30 minutes to learn and make a food item. The students have expressed their interest in learning how to make the food items listed below. We would love for parents and community members who also share a passion in cooking to volunteer to lead a session. Students are wanting to learn more about cooking and are excited about it! Our students also plan to add blog posts to our shared blog at http://wnecreativecorner.blogspot.com/ and upload videos on Youtube on Melissa LaShure's Youtube channel.

If you are interested in leading a session please contact Melissa LaShure at lashurem@westnoble.k12.in.us. If you would like to donate cooking items please click here to see a list. You can drop them off at the school or mail them to West Noble Elementary ATTN: Cooking Club 5294 N US 33 Ligonier, IN 46767.

Students are interested in learning how to make the items below.
Chicken Strips
Eggs - sunny side up etc.
Cake - They would also like to learn how to decorate a cake.
Ice Cream
Rice Krispy Treats
Jello Treat
Dirt Pudding
Cinnamon Rolls

Friday, October 21, 2016

Are You Stuffing the Suitcase or Are You on the Adventure?

I was recently at a conference and as I was packing up to leave,  I was struggling to get everything stuffed into my suitcase. I am sure we have all been there before, where we think if I just sit on it, I know I can get it closed. However, many times it does not work and we end up having to take stuff out.

As I was going through this process, I began to think about how this relates to education and how we often try to stuff as much information into short spans of time in order to meet the testing deadline. I had to stop and laugh because my suitcase was a great example of how this approach to teaching is not successful. Unfortunately, I must admit that I have spent the majority of my teaching career stuffing the suitcase. This has resulted in frustration for my students and myself ultimately leading to learning that only lasts until the test is done.

This year I have decided to stop stuffing the suitcase and get on the adventure of learning. I have been fascinated with makerspaces and have decided that this year I am going to have a makerspace classroom. I spend 10-15 minutes on a mini lesson and then students choose stations around the room to explore and practice the skills taught in the mini lesson. I do not set a timer, when students complete a task or are ready to move on they do so on their own. I either rotate through stations or stay at one station to provide more instruction one on one or small group. This small change in my approach to teaching has had an amazing impact on my students. (I should pause and say that I teach 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade special education. They are now excited to come to school even though it is tough for them.)

As part of being on the adventure I ask students to share what they have learned in a short video reflection. These reflections have been great! My students love to do them and it is a great way for me to see who understands the concept and who needs a little help.

Are you ready to stop stuffing the suitcase and get on the adventure? If you are I suggest that you start by reading the book The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and check out his book study on immooc.org.