Here’s a quick summary of my day: two indoor recesses followed by two assemblies. Need I say more? 🙂 My students were fantastic, but it was a lot of sitting time with not enough outdoor time included, so when the second assembly ended with 15 minutes until we had to get ready for home, I had a decision to make. It’s my scheduled computer lab period: do I skip my trip to the lab, go up to the lab and explain an activity for the students to do, or go up to the lab and give the students some “free choice time?” I decided on the last option. I knew how hard it would be for me to sit and listen to instructions at the time, so I figured that my students were feeling the same way.
I’ve put all kinds of activities in Desk Tools, so I thought that I would let the students login, go into Desk Tools, and make their choice. I’m so glad that I did! It was incredible!
Some students logged into our Commons Blog and wrote new posts. One Grade 1 student even managed to publish his post. Another couple of students commented on blog posts. A group of students went to the Starfall Website and started reading books. They decided to read them in a little group and help each other with the difficult words: it was almost like a mini-guided reading group led by the students.
The majority of the students decided to go onto Google Earth. I don’t know which person is responsible for putting Google Earth on our new Board image, but I can’t thank you enough! The students were problem-solving like I’ve never seen them do before:
- Students were reading off of each other’s uniform shirts to spell the school name, and then looking for the school together. With each other’s help, they all found it too.
- Students were typing their addresses into the search bar and finding their houses and the houses of their friends. They were figuring out how to get from their house to their friends’ houses and to the school. They were even giving each other directions, using directional language in a meaningful context.
- Students were searching places where they visited on vacation. They were helping each other spell the names of the different locations, and watching as they traveled around the world.
As far as the students were concerned, they were playing, but as the teacher watching them working, they were definitely learning. This made me realize that as many times as I let the students investigate and explore on their own, I need to continue to give them the opportunities to “play.” I love when they surprise me by coming up with even better activities than I could have planned on my own!
When have you let your students just “play?” What were the results? I’d love to hear your experiences too!