We all know the value of physical space and the benefits it has on learning. Last week my students took things one (maybe two) steps further. I’m not even sure how it started…. one student made a comfortable space with a simple blanket and then others started to do the same. They were building, trading materials and supplies, negotiating, communicating, listening, designing, planning, innovating and on and on. I let it happen.
The result? The mood shifted. The focused increased. The creativity lifted. They were happy! This all happened on a Friday.
Then it was the weekend.
Monday morning came and students had been building, cutting wood, buying screws and tools and brought in things from home like lamps, pillows and toys. It was these touches that made their spaces feel very different. Once again, they took it to another level. And they did this on their own.
This natural and ever evolving process has revealed so many stories. Stories that are intertwined and overlap in the same moment. What they were doing is exactly what we want inquiry to be about. Where students are thinking about learning outside of school. Students are doing things that add to the experience. They take action without an adult instructing or guiding them.
While I am not pointing out the obvious, it made me stop in my tracks. I took a step back and observed what was happening around me. I realized that they are 10. They love to play. They love to hide. They love to escape. They love to pretend. We must never forget who they are at heart. The assessments, the testing, the home learning, the reporting…. Don’t let that stuff over ride you (and your students) and leave the creativity, wonder and imagination behind.
This is a project that has evolved from a number of different conversations we’ve had in class. The students and I are concerned by a few things:
- The amount of time some people spend staring at screens
- The fact that people now say they “play Facebook”
- The fact that many students do very little exercise
- The fact that many students seem to have physical problems caused by sitting using computers
- The fact that students in Year 7, which has a 1-to-1 laptop programme now sit staring at screens in the mornings instead of playing physical games, talking (real talking!) or just running around
- The fact that many students seem to be losing their imagination and ability to entertain themselves without a computer
So, we have started a year-long Flickr project that will celebrate and share – digitally – all the things we do in our lives that don’t involve computers, smart phones, video games or screens of any kind. You can see the Flickr set here.
The great part of this project is that we are sharing these things by taking digital photos, editing them and uploading them to Flickr. We’re using technology as a tool, a tool that enables us to capture and share all the interesting and creative things we do in our lives without technology.
It would be great to connect with other class communities on this to expand the project. Any suggestions about how we could do that?