Thursday, March 29, 2012

Serious Fun at ASCD

Yes, I used the "F" word in my Fun is a word that has been banned from many individual's vocabulary when speaking about education. People tend to feel that the word "fun" means that there is a free-for-all playground going on in the classroom with little to no learning occurring. That is unfortunate because fun, humor, cartoons, synectics, word play, analogies and true passion are all fun and foster creativity. This is one of my big take-aways from ASCD12 (more blogs to follow). There needs to be more fun in the learning process.

Now, let me be clear, if you asked one if my students if they had fun learning or being a member of our class, they would say "yes" without hesitation. However, there are aspects of this fun, creative thinking that I have overlooked in my classroom. By starting the day by putting up a cartoon or analogy for the students to reflect upon and respond to, they get another mode in which to become familiar. It reaches a different type of learner, sparks a different part of the brain. It helps them to really analyze (and perhaps get a good laugh) about a topic that they may not have taken the time to analyze.

With Rick Wormeli
By giving my students the opportunity to use synectics, where students compare two things that would not seem to have a relationship promotes creative thinking skills. If learners use these relationships, building metaphors, it takes learning that they are doing and puts it into their long term memory. It fosters learners who think outside the box and critical thinking skills that prepares them for their future. As Rick Wormeli said, "Novices think in pieces. Experts make connections." And don't we want our students to become those experts?

Reed Timmer
A true expert is someone who has a passion for their expertise and is so excited about their topic that they can't wait to share it with others. Anyone who was in the general session with Storm Chaser Reed Timmer knows what I'm talking about. He is so excited about storm chasing and the practical use of STEM in a real world application that it makes anyone listening tune in closely and care about what he's discussing. Passion is contagious. If we are passionate about learning and teaching, our students will be too. They will listen closely, become actively engaged, and strive harder to become those experts. We need to keep this in mind every day when we stand in front of our learners.

So I'd like to thank Rick Wormeli, Reed Timmer, Carolyn Hirst-Loucks and Kim P. Loucks for reminding me of the importance of fun in the classroom. Because (as I'm often reminded by my husband) if you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

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