Andrew has written this in response to Tara's last two blogposts:
In the Foundation class with our Year 1’s and 2’s we have a group of children guided by teachers who have an inquiry focus of “play”, this is aside from the normal reading, shared reading, writing and maths.
I found it really amazing that when we are looking at “play” as an inquiry topic what the children are learning as they play. It can seem as though play is just something that they do and it is a natural part of a kids life that will live at playtimes and lunchtimes outside of the class and has its own life in parallel to learning. I have to admit that in the beginning no matter what was said I was still a little skeptical about the value of play as a learning tool.
My opinions changed after a week or two of watching the kids play and watching how Tara questions the kids as they play, she will focus them and guide their learning after they have made a play choice. I have been following her lead and really consciously questioning and focusing them in on different learning without trying to interrupt or changing what they are doing.
To really cement what they are learning and how I know they are learning Tara has been teaching and mentoring me in writing “Learning Stories” about the childrens’ play and the ways we have subtly directed their play in various directions with careful suggestions and questions. This has put a significant focus on how these everyday situations that they want to learn about and do, have as real learning with measurable benefits that can be transferred to other learning areas and curriculum areas.
For example when the children are playing with cars as a way to learn math, they are building ramps and looking unconsciously at the trajectories of the pipes and wood and concluding that certain angles are better than others, with steep and shallow angles less efficient than a moderate angle of decent. This was an eye opening example of real learning and transferable learning.
In an other example we have a core group of 5 year old girls that are really interested in insects and bugs and want to go on” bug hunts” to find new and different bugs. This is the time when they are most receptive to new vocabulary about the insects and arachnids. We can call them this and really look at the differences as to why they are different in real ways with real bugs and the learning is authentic and meaningful with so much learning and cross curricular focus this “FUN” becomes learning.
When we are doing theses things with the kids we are constantly asking questions and quizzing them on what they want to learn and focusing them in directions for learning. It is only when I started to write these learning stories that I really began to understand how much learning and what the different areas of learning are.
Real learning through real life play situations, how amazing is this to the kids learning.