At the #HackED15 pre-conference at #ISTE15 I spoke with Peggy Sheehy (@PeggySheehy) about what she is doing to create an environment that inspires fun and meaningful learning with her middle school humanities students. I already knew she was inspiring student learning via games like World of Warcraft (here's her wiki that shows how), but it's not just about the learning that happens behind the screens. It takes more than throwing a bunch of cool new computers into a room to make a space where students want to be.
Peggy's classroom, instead, isn't a classroom at all. It is an "EPIC (Every Person is Counted) Learning Studio" where adventures and conversations happen both face-to-face and face-to-screen. Walk into her classroom and you'll see vibrant colors. Posters on the wall and rugs on the floor are all designed to invite learning. Students can learn sitting on yoga bags, bean bag chairs, standing or spinning at bar height tables, or learning on the more traditional chair.
Walking into Peggy's Learning Studio provides a great environment to get kids EXCITED about the edventurous journeys they will take together. Trying an activity multiple times as an avatar is remarkably less threatening and more rewarding than doing so as yourself. In fact game playing can transform reluctant readers and writers into those who actively seek information to read and write to collaborate to achieve their mission. Both the games and the environment encourage collaboration and celebration.
As Peggy explains in her recent EdWeek article, where do you think students would rather learn? Playing games in her learning studio or in the next classroom where students sit on chairs in rows of desks reading textbooks, taking lecture notes, and filling in worksheets?
Ask your students. If they say learning studio, work with them to make it happen.