Monday, October 17, 2011
After reading Making Learning Whole last summer, I really got to thinking about how to make the game of school transparent for my students, and how to honor the work they do at home for fun and personal learning.
It's this kind of "work" that I want to honor in my students. I want them to see connections between the learning we do in school and the playful exploration of these ideas that they can give themselves as "assignments" and bring in to share with the class.
Filling the wall around the straight line design which was my long ago home "work" are photos of students and the things they've brought in. One budding car enthusiast brought in the engine he made from a kit during the summer. Several have brought in collections. One girl has made several different tri-o-ramas, following directions she found either online or in a craft book. They have practiced math facts, and made a connection to a read aloud (I got a cupcake in honor of PAULIE PASTRAMI ACHIEVES WORLD PEACE).
When we were studying landforms, they made paper and cardboard and clay models of the landforms we were learning about. Although the landform unit is complete, a student was looking at the wooden M on her wall (one of the letters of her name) and she saw a canyon between the two peaks of the letter. When she shared it with the class, another student saw two plateaus on the flat tops of those points. They have seen that learning and thinking about a topic don't have to end just because they've taken the end of unit assessment.
Last week, when I was exhausted beyond belief and in a value-added/data-induced funk, my student who has inspired girl and boy readers of all abilities with her quest to read every Babymouse book in the series (she and several others have created checklists), brought in the Cupcake Tycoon board game she made.
The time, energy, detail and thoughtfulness that this student put into her board game, which was an assignment SHE GAVE HERSELF, repaired my funk. My students really are more than just test scores, and I have finally found a way to honor their joyous learning "work" that is more like play, and which they seek out on their very own.