I should have titled this blog post -- First We Play, Then We Learn.
Yesterday I had the opportunity of sharing my iPad with a group of new middle school students at a summer camp I am teaching. You should have seen the room light up when I took the iPad out of my bag. It was like I held in my hand the Holy Grail itself. The students practically fell down and worshiped it.
I wanted to show them how cool it was and how it was going to change education, things like the iBooks and the great educational apps that I have, but all they wanted to see were the games.
"Show us the games Mr. Flick," they all shouted.
At first I was sort of ticked about this. I wanted to yell "There is so much more to an iPad than games!" But last night I started to think about what happened...
You see, games are everything to these young pre-teens. They live and breath video games. Knowing this can change how teachers can manage these new school technologies like iPads or other PODs (Personally Owned Devices). One of the greatest classroom management strategies is the "preferred activity" of in other words what the students wish they were doing instead of your lesson. I can imagine with iPads in the classroom a teacher can simply say, "Okay class as soon as you are done the XYZ assignment, and I have checked it, you may have 5 minutes of free time on your iPads." Not only would the work be done fast, but it would also be done right, since the teacher is checking it. Classroom efficiency could skyrocket with the iPad!
So back to my story... I showed them the incredible games that the iPad has and then they could finally focus on the educational apps that I had to show them. It was like I had to prove that there were really good games with really cool graphics before they could sit back and take in the rest of the message.
In the end they really were blown away with all of the things I showed them on my iPad, but I had to first start with games.
My lesson from this is such: when it comes to school technology and students -- learning follows interest, and interest usually follows fun. If we show them how fun something can be, then we have then hooked for learning more about it.