Instructional Strategies, Teaching Tips and Tricks

Friday, August 18, 2017

FREEBIE + Play Plus Engagement Equals Effective Instruction

Play + Engagement = Effective Instruction 

David St. Germain is an advertising guru. His client list includes Coca-Cola, Burger King, TCBY, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Marriott and about 70 other mega-brands.  He said that: “Play is one of the most misunderstood concepts anywhere.  We do know a few things: We seem to have played a lot in the classroom in elementary school, some in middle school, a little in high school and very little when we get into life” (Schools of Fish).

Play is the primary ingredient in any atmosphere, it is essential when a teacher is trying to set a positive feeling tone or otherwise motivate students.  It is a way to actively engage all those bodies staring up at you - in active participation.

The FISH! concept of Play taps into our natural way of being creative, enthusiastic and having fun. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” It’s a mindset you can bring to everything you do.

Engagement begins with active participation – engaging most of the students, most of the time.

Put them together and you’ve developed the perfect formula for student success.

Learning through play is essential when our goal is engaging most of the students most of the time. If active participation equates to the consistent mental involvement of most of the students most of the time…then by its very definition…play is key and could very well be the missing link to student engagement and achievement.

But let’s talk about play as it is often an extremely misunderstood concept when it relates to the classroom.  There was a teacher in a training who could not get past the word “play” and how she defined it.  She could not hurtle the notion that her class would be out of control and wild if she let them play…when in fact the opposite is true. A classroom at “play” is a classroom of learners actively engaged; because play is the primary ingredient in any atmosphere where students are relaxed, enthused and able to give their best and where students feel safe to try new things.  Any place where creativity and critical thinking flourishes – some form of play is happing.

Albert Einstein put it this way: “Play is the greatest research.”  Play is hard work you love to do.  As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to make instruction something students love to participate in - to do that we must keep student mentally and/or actively involved in each lesson most of the time.

Play is not what you say and do so much as how is said or done.

Engage Students with Read Along Stories

The internet is full of webquests and read along stories you can download or run on
computers, ipads, notebooks, tablets - any technology. Great FREE read alongs include:

Teacher Assignment

Elizabeth Chapin-PinottiElizabeth Chapin-PinottiStop and Take a Minute: Close your eyes and think of one way that you can actively engage your students in play in your classroom through play.

Teacher Assignment: Print these out - either now or later - think, draw and write your answers -  and then share in the comments sections if you are so included:

Link for: Assignments for all ages that are "Playfully" engaging.

Active Participation and Engagement


Strand, Phillip; Christensen, Halper, Andy. (2006) Schools of Fish!. Hyperion. New York, New York.

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