A few weeks back I heard the rumblings of something new and interesting on twitter – Global School Play Day. #GSPD I checked it out and found out a group of educators I follow and greatly admire on twitter came up with the idea of having a day of unstructured play for our students. If you want to know more about it, I strongly suggest you check out the Global School Play Day site (www.globalschoolplayday.com) to find out more about this amazing event.
So after learning more about it, I knew I was in. The challenge was for me to step up to the plate and bring it to my colleagues at my school. I discussed things with my principal, got her on board (which I knew I would because I have an amazing admin. this year) and explained how I wanted to present this idea to the staff. At the next staff meeting, I brought up global school play day, explained the premise behind it and why I thought it was such an important thing to be part of. Now, you need to realize the interesting part of this whole scenario. I am a new member on staff, I have only been at this school since September and have become widely known as the “tech” person on staff. I am always going around telling staff about new and interesting tech tools they can use to share their students learning or to reinforce student learning. So to have the so-called techie on staff now talk to them all about turning the tech off and just having our students play – well the irony was not lost on me. But they were willing to try it out and give it a chance, so I signed up the whole school – all 397 students to participate in our first ever global school play day.
How did it go you wonder? Well, to tell the truth, its hard to come up with the words about how happy I am with how it went. While we did not do a whole day of play, the staff designated the last hour of school would be our time to get together in grade groupings or buddy classes, however we wanted and just play. I decided my little gang of grade 3’s would get together with their grade 6 buddies during this time. It was kind interesting, because the grade 6 teacher told me how the 6’s were very unsure how this was all going to go because where were the ipads, the DS’s, the electronic toys. Finding out that they were going “old school” in their terms was something some of them were not so sure they were going to enjoy. Boy, it was nice to prove them wrong.
I had boys playing lego with their buddies, I had kids playing snakes and ladders, checkers, I had girls playing playdough. I had groups of grade 6 boys trying to build marble runs, make a Knex roller coaster do a loop. I had basically laid everything I had out on counters and tables and said enjoy. Not one group caused problems, not one group were fighting or arguing, everywhere I looked I saw kids working together, creating things, playing and just having fun.
I then went and snuck into the other classes to see how things were going. I saw grade 4 classes playing with grade 1, grade 5 classes playing games in the hallway with grade 2. Everyone was smiling, laughing and just playing. It was so great to see. Time and again the teachers thanked me for such a great idea, they said their kids were having so much fun and how happy they were that we had decided to give this a try.
I can’t thank enough those that came up with this wonderful idea. I especially thank my PLN for yet again showing me how twitter can expose me to a new idea that ends up bringing a valuable teaching opportunity to my students. I honestly can’t wait for next year – who knows, we might end up doing this again for even longer!!