#clmooc Play is the game

Play / Collaboration

Play is the game, and collaboration is the strategy. Mindshift’s Jordan Shapiro article reiterates this:

          • Play is useful because it simulates real life experience — physical, emotional, and/or intellectual — in a safe, iterative and social environment, not because it has winners and losers.





        • There are connected, networked ways of knowing that will dominate the digital future. Sharing and collaboration go hand-in-hand with integrating non-competitive and non-commodified ways of playing. The way students play and learn today is the way they will work tomorrow.




So, how do we play and collaborate? In our CLMOOC, we have done both this week [ see my #f5f ]. We are still playing:

Each of us took the invitation to a game of our interest, or we followed the games of others just to observe. We incorporated interest, peers, and sharpened our writing skills (academics).  Through our shared purpose, we created products openly. I’d say we met the criteria of Connected Learning:  


We even confirmed our participation and paradigm shifts by observations, through f5fs, and  in reflections [this is mine], sharing badges of accomplishment.   Have you applied yours [ unofficial f5f and CLmooc ].

Connected Learning: Play, Connect, Collaborate, Create

So, how do I carry this into my classroom — and connect to yours? Our planning and designing is based on Connected Learning Principles through the framework of Thinking Frames, adapting the “Writing Frames” of Liz Stephens and Kerry Ballast.

Inside Thinking: investigating, discovering, and documenting a topic of interest to you by connecting with text, images, sounds, videos, etc. I saw this as we connected to our own game-playing and our own lives living through our poetry.

Responsive Thinking: communicating successfully face to face and online to collaborate and create through interactions and feedback to make sense of a topic by defining, labeling, questioning, challenging, and validating topic information. We tweeted, posted, and joined in #25wordstories and more. Some people met in Hangouts. We moved from our “inside,” personal ideas to sharing and discussions.

Purposeful Thinking: investigating and presenting one’s own or one’s collaborative team’s interpretation of the topic for an audience to review, be that notes, media, image, text, etc. We folded a story and Kevin Hodgson presented it to us orally.

Social Action Thinking: exploring and collaborating to create a multimedia production to move others to action using reasoned argument with digital tools that emphasize the message. Ah! Litterati! I bet you didn’t think we’d get to “social action” while playing, but there it is!  Thank you, Janis Shelby Jones!

Whether we are writing posts, comments, or tweets; poetry; annotated images; podcasts: we are composing and revising for the digital literacies for which our students need fluency. And we did this through playing collaborative literary games. William Zinsser explains:

“Writing is thinking on paper.” “Writing and learning and thinking are the same process.”

Our brains solve puzzles. Transferring ideas onto paper is a puzzle; it’s a process that requires careful thought, and the puzzling, although hard, is fun — we feel accomplished when we’ve done it right. And doing it right means, according to Zinsser,

“Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.”

I believe we accomplished  that. We should design a “Zinsser” badge! I’m really not into objectivized anything because we all learn what we need to learn at different times and in different ways. At any one time, we are expert and novice; so data and rubrics and badges don’t fit what I see as a lifelong learning continuum. And if we are moving towards interest-based learning, then even in similar projects, each person will learn something different, at a different level. To me, it’s too hard to quantify. So, yes, I accept that I’m shifting paradigms and will display the badge. I did attempt to welcome and guide #clmooc-ers and I know I provided guidance to several, so I will accept the Learning Concierge badge. But that’s not the end. I’m going to get better in both arenas. It just says that I’ve started my journey, and when you ask me at the end of CLMOOC, I’ll have more to add to a reflection on both. So, in my classroom, we’ll start with the Thinking Frames — and I’ll perhaps create a card/badge for each, but I’ve got a thinglink ready for all of them:  
So, I’m thinking of the writing class teacher with the elaborate game for his six trait writing class. I’d love to design that, but it isn’t going to happen. But I could create a card game of sorts using the Thinking Frames — a royal flush with all of the drafts completed, for instance. Some may be drafts, some ideas, some finished, and could be different projects — but the frames are iterative, so that’s OK. It shows learning and progress. It’s like Scott Glass considers with his first student projects:

…these kind of projects immediately introduce to the students a few critical ideas:

  1. They will use their devices to create,
  2. They will consider what is meaningful to them,
  3. They will share their work.

By setting up a framework of thinking about their work in our class — the work of authors of media — students have an idea of the flow of our time together, and that the ideas come from themselves as much as from me. Hack is a good word for prompts and interests while they are developing.

But we all know it’s more than a framework; we need some guidance for what that work might look like.

How will our play, our work, our inquiry, our interests develop in process and product? Inquiry Frames.

Embrace a story.

Tell your story — how the project developed and why.
Explain a story — what’s the issue?
Create a story — narrate a fictional, nonfictional, or remixed story.

Create quality contributions.

As you inquire on the narration or facts of your story, contribute to the topic so that others may learn or question more.
Develop your story and document its formation and process.
Create a path for others to follow.
Create multi-media that explains, questions, invites, or solves the ideas of your topic, your story.

Consider worthy intentions.

Thoughtfully dig into your topic. Consider the facts and the story. Consider its value to yourself and others. Choose to matter; your time and others’ time is valuable.

Value and provide critiques.

Communicate your ideas to others — get suggestions, and help others with their topics. Value the input into your drafts and creations. Consider the feedback as from your audience — what they understand and need. Give feedback that improves others’ work and ideas in a positive way. A critique helps you and others expand ideas and revise confusion.

Share inquiry and results.

As you learn your topic and work with others, share your process and questions; get critiques. Share your results and reflections so others understand your process and the product.

Engage connections.

During your inquiry, engage others in research and conversation. Perhaps collaborate on the drafts, research, and product. Discover more ideas and expand your own. Find commonality in differences, and decide on the most relevant and possible of your ideas and suggestions. If needed, provide more than one opinion or solution. Let your audience decide — or ask them for more ideas.

Mesh all in academic goals.

As you inquire, research, connect, collaborate, analyze, and create, consider the academic goals learned: content, process, collaborative, design, etc. Be clear about your learning in your documentation, products, and reflections.

What I’m thinking about here are expectations as starting points for conversation on what we’re learning and how to develop ideas, which will depend on the student’s audience and purpose. I appreciate the ideas for games from Jennifer Denslow, which will help develop a sense for connectedness and conversation. These inquiry frames provide guideposts for connected learning. So, as Scott Glass said in his blog:

 “I suggested that teachers early on challenge students with quick creative challenges aimed at having students reflect on and create multimedia statements about themselves.”

By starting out with word play and memes, we can discuss the process through the Thinking and Inquiry frames. From there, the game is on — I don’t know what it will look like, but I’ll take advice from my students. My feedback usually includes specific information, and those students become the teachers for the others who don’t get it. We usually get wrapped up in knowing that by the end of the time, all of us will understand, demonstrated through their project. It just seems like we are already collaborating and playing.  I think we just need to celebrate it — the completion, the process, the products — as another level of our learning game. I’ll let my students design the concept and badge. We’ll start and end the year with this one:



And finally, how do we connect to learn? Hmmm, it just so happens I started this last year, and as I continue on my learning continuum, I’ve revised it. So, I’d like to invite the middle school teachers to help me with this, if it fits their interests. We’ve all got our own standards to meet, but we’ve learned through CLMOOC that those can be met in a variety of ways, and that connections and collaborations deepen the learning of more than finite objectives. So, what if a group of middle school teachers collaborated on a blog of makes and prompts that promote the Connected Learning Principles through the lens of the Thinking Frames? The blog would suggest the prompts and makes; the students could write about their projects in their own blogs or Google Docs [ and collaborate in Google Docs or Wikis ], and share their play/work in comments on the blog prompt. Whether we incorporate prompts from Digital.IsCLMOOC Make Bank, or our own prompts, the blog will be the hub for our connected classrooms. Here’s what it might look like:  Blog, Connected Learning and Writing Frames, Guidelines.

I’m excited to be more playful this year, to bring joy back to the classroom. I want my students to expand their worldview carefully and become more digitally literate. And maybe together we can make it “Game on!”

How about you?

Will you connect 2 learn to keep the game going?




 keepthegamegoing visual