Redefining Play

Last night, I wrote a blog post on “play.” I made some assumptions about what “play” is, and I made some assumptions about what it’s not. That’s when the comments started coming in. I thank all of the people that added to the discussion both through the comments on the post and through their tweets.  At one point last night, I felt as though I wanted to rewrite part of my original blog post, and I think that this post is the “rewriting.”

As I’ve blogged about before, I started my teaching career teaching Kindergarten. I taught Kindergarten for 8 years, and I LOVED it! But I knew that Full-Day Kindergarten was starting soon, and I heard a lot about the play-based program. I believed in the value of structure, routine, and direct instruction, and I didn’t think that I could enjoy teaching in a learning environment that was all about play. So I made a very difficult decision to leave Kindergarten, and I’ve never been back. Since leaving though, my teaching style has changed a lot. I learned about inquiry, and I started experimenting with inquiry in the classroom. I started giving students more control over their learning, and “student voice and choice” became important components of the classroom program. Thinking about the comments that I read last night, I guess that over the years, in many different grades, I watched, participated, and facilitated as students “played.”

But what does this “play” look like? What does “play” mean? How, as educators, do we support this “play” in the classroom? I think that these are questions that we need to discuss, especially considering how our classroom environment may continue to change as a result of the impact of Full-Day Kindergarten. Here’s a Padlet Wall that I’m hoping will help us start this conversation. Let’s share our ideas here and see what happens. Maybe, together, we can redefine “play.”

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