This classroom is an invitation to play

Walking into Kellie Oxlade’s Grade 1 classroom is an invitation to play. The whole room has been turned upside-down and into a fully-functioning, living-breathing community. Their unit of inquiry is all about communities… and Kellie is determined to introduce more “learning through play” into her Grade 1 classroom.

On entering the room, I was given some “local currency” and asked to consider what role I would be adopting while in there. I decided to be a tourist. Straight away, my choice of role challenged the students -the airport was set up for departures, but they hadn’t yet thought about arrivals!

This is the whole idea that Kellie is experimenting with. She is putting the kids into the context, letting them play with it, letting them come up against real situations and letting them learn from other people that come in to play too!

The learning is complex and multi-layered – yes, they’re getting to grips with the realities of communities out there in the “real world”, but they’re also learning about themselves as a community. Yes, Kellie has a fairly good idea of where it may lead, but she also has no idea where else it may lead… and she’s excited about that! Yes, Kellie is aware of the types of issues and problems the students will have to deal with, but she also understands that the students responses will be more conceptual – and long-lasting – if they happen “just in time”.

A fundamental aspect of this type of learning – understanding it and allowing it to be whatever it will be – is realizing that everything is an assessment. This simple idea unlocks us from many of our old teaching habits because when we understand that everything is an assessment, we also naturally come to see that everything is learning. With that realization… poofff… all our old narrow interpretations of learning, our worksheets, our predetermined outcomes and our over-planned lessons vanish in a cloud of smoke!!!

 

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9 comments

  1. Liz Cho

    A shift in paradigm, a glass half full: “This simple idea unlocks us from many of our old teaching habits because when we understand that everything is an assessment, we also naturally come to see that everything is learning” – I. LOVE. THIS. And the pink sign for “Transelvania Hotel” with a heart! 💗

    • sherrattsamm

      They were so funny in that hotel… “sorry, Mr. Sam, the kitchen is right above your bed” one of them said. “But, have you ever been to a hotel where the kitchen is in your room and right above your bed?” I answered. “Um, no… OK, we’ll move it”. That’s the kind of on-the-spot learning that can only happen when you let go like this!

  2. Pingback: This classroom is an invitation to play | PYP B...
  3. Jarryd Heywood

    Looks amazing. Would love to know how this all started? Am beginning a unit of inquiry about communities in 2 weeks.

  4. Jessica

    Hi I really enjoyed the posted. I have been trying to make a part of my class more playful for the children. I was wondering what type of daily school schedule you have, are there times that the children go to music, P.E. or other activities during the day? Thanks

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