Any parent will tell you that the term “messy” is not such a good thing when it’s describing the condition of their children’s bedrooms. However, as a principal I need to clarify one thing; when learning gets “messy” there is potential for creativity to be unleashed!
I recently observed how magical “messy” can be. 3rd grade students were learning about the phases of the moon, and small groups were participating in multiple conversations occurring simultaneously (gasp!). They had clear learning targets and plenty of choices to immerse themselves in. There were songs being composed, iMovies being created, and sculptures of the moon being carved out of Oreo cookies. Click on the video below to see for yourself…it was marvelous!
The introduction of the iPads in our school has been a game-changer. They are tools for learning and offer limitless potential for research, collaboration, and creation. The Wayzata Public Schools’ MyWay approach is truly transforming the student learning experience and providing increasing levels of personalization.
Don’t just take my word for it! A parent recently sent me an e-mail sharing how her child was at a birthday party when somebody noticed the moon and said, “Look you guys, the moon is a waxing Gibbous!” The parent went on to explain that the kids at the birthday party carried on an animated discussion for 5-10 minutes about whether the moon was waxing or waning. I’m told there were some younger children at the party and the 3rd graders took time to teach them all about the moon’s phases too. Students really are talking about their learning. It seems as if technology is fostering some of the engaging conversations about their learning!
A research study focusing on the technology explosion in early childhood classrooms found that young students’ spoken words DOUBLED while working with computers, and were twice as high as other activities like art, games, play dough, etc. (Hertzog & Klein, 2005). We are seeing high levels of engagement in our school as well!
Messy learning really sticks…and inspires! When highly-skilled teachers integrate technology and the arts in meaningful ways the creative genius in EVERY child is celebrated. Kids are communicating like never before and exploring new mediums to connect in safe and supported environments.