This past week I was fortunate to be invited to the Microsoft Innovative Teacher’s Conference in Winnipeg. While there, it was a treat for me to be in discussions with some heavy hitters such as Clarence Fisher, Darren Kuropatwa, Chris Harbeck, and Ben Hazzard. Although the presentations were excellent, I feel that I learned the most from the discussions with these talented teachers.
Darren started one discussion by musing that “kids learn best when they are in survival mode, outside and moving”. We kept coming back to this theme in our discussions. As we discussed Darren’s three criteria, I was struck over and over again by how often this type of learning is not represented in most classrooms, including my own.
Dr. Rick Van Eck provided some insight into how this type of learning can be achieved in a classroom in his presentations about the importance of gaming. Playing a game can put a child’s brain into survival mode. It is also an opportunity for children to use problem-solving skills which exercises more of their brain than listening to a teacher does. Do children automatically transfer these problem solving skills from the game into other problem solving situations? Rick Van Eck’s answer was a definitive “no”. They need to be shown how to make those links.
I have often used games to reinforce concepts that I have taught in the classroom, but I less often use games to initially teach a concept. I hope to change that.