I feel very strongly that playful exploration is an excellent method for all types of learning, but have found it especially useful for teaching technology this year. This week in the enrichment room there were two awesome examples of this that I hope will lead to future application!
In fourth grade during our enrichment/ library block we continue to work on media literacy and developing our critical thinking skills through the use of advertising strategies. Students are currently thinking about visual ads that have a video component-- for example TV commercials. As a part of our work together we will be creating book trailers that advertise a book available in the library. I have made movies with students in the past, but limited student involvement to writing the script and acting it out while I did most of the technology work to make the end product. This time we gave students dedicated time to use the tool to play. Students all made a fun trailer which they were able to share by the end of class. Their trailers were really funny and creative! They worked together in small groups and learned by trying. I believe that this playful exploration will lead to the ability for these students to create their book trailers from start to finish independently.
In kindergarten explore time two students approached me and said they wanted to ' do computers'. We had a great discussion about what that meant. These students really just wanted to play with this tool and that was their entire goal! We decided that they would login to a classroom laptop and check out a fantastic library resource called Pebble Go. I watched as they navigated through screens and decided which buttons led to videos or words or pictures. Their natural exploratory playfulness served them well as they taught themselves this new resource!
Watching students learn technology through play reminds me that this way of interacting with new tools and ideas leads to some great new knowledge and skills and it is a method that I as a teacher should not just encourage but also practice.