Develop a playful introduction to your topic area. This playful introduction activity needs to be both meaningful and playful so no cookie cutter “icebreaker” activities.
Once you have developed your playful introduction post it to your workspace and write about 500 words discussing briefly: a) your understanding of the cognitive tool of play (approximately 1 sentence), b) how your introductory activity is both playful and meaningful, and c) why you developed the activity you did.
In my work on genre study this semester the activities of the last month have been the most playful. In exploring the topic of genre from the domain of a writer instead of a reader, I moved from consumer to creator of words. That change gave me a lot of freedom. Everything was in my control, from the plot structure and events, to the setting, and even the creation of characters.
My work on the modeling project was particularly enjoyable because it involved playing a game. By creating a model of my character using The Sims 3, I not only had a visual representation, but I could experiment and control the character in the Game mode. Although I created my model to help illustrate elements of my story, someone could certainly do the opposite by creating a character and then using his or her virtual life as the basis for writing.
I wanted to bring the element of a game into my introductory activity as well. I often use games when culminating a study as a way of reviewing the material learned. This was the first time that I have thought of using a game to introduce a topic. I first thought of the idea of creating a sorting game based on an experience I had a few months ago. I decided to organize a book swap at school and students brought in their summer reading books and were given a coupon to choose the same number of books to take home. I had a huge cart of books to sort by genre and had taped big signs on the wall. A co-worker stopped by where I was working and thankfully offered to help me since it was clear I was not going to get it done alone before book club time. We spent 20-30 minutes going back and forth between the cart and these signs laying books out along the wall under their genre label. It was actually fun and I found it interesting that she and I, and a few students who pitched in at the end, were able to make the genre distinctions pretty quickly even though we had not read most of the books.
So I have decided to make my playful activity for introducing genre a relay race, ala The Amazing Race. I would love to do this activity to kick off my Genre Passport project for next year (since we've already started for this year).
Each group would start with an empty bag and one envelope leading them to a backpack full of books from my classroom library. The envelope would also give them a clue to which genre they are looking for in that backpack. Each time they think they have found a book of the correct genre, they will need to come back to me to have their passport stamped and to get the next clue. Their goal will be to fill their passport within the time I give them (probably about 30-35 minutes).
I think this activity would be playful and meaningful for my students. The relay element would be a lot of fun and the activity could lead to a fruitful discussion of the elements of genre and how some books may even fit in multiple genres.