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!!!