I can still vividly remember those old classic Reese’s commercials. The person eating chocolate bumps into the person eating peanut butter and both are distressed until they take a taste and realize that the combination is delicious. (And they are delicious, by the way…let’s just get that straight!)
Sometimes the combination of two seemingly incompatible products, thoughts, or ideas leads to a third all new creation that is better than either one was individually.
I call this the Reese’s Effect, and I see it all the time in education. The most prominent example is the combination of fun and learning. Too many people set up a false dichotomy. They believe a classroom can only be about having fun and playing around, or…it can be about “rigor” and learning. Total BS!! This is a classic example of a false dichotomy and it is prevalent in our field.
“Okay, so I understand that this #tlap stuff would be amazingly fun for kids, but when do you get around to teaching the objectives for the day?”
What? DURING all of that amazingly fun stuff…that’s when!
Not only can fun and learning go hand in hand…they go BETTER together! It’s the Reese’s Effect in action.
“Don’t you worry about the fact that you are making school so engaging and fun that when they get to their college classes or to a real job they won’t be prepared?”
This is truly ridiculous on many levels. First of all, teaching in a way that empowers students, develops a love of learning, sparks curiosity, encourages an Innovator’s Mindset (See the George Couros book), embraces risk-taking, and encourages persistence in the face of obstacles has a LIFE-CHANGING impact on our students.
Secondly, I remember being asked the above question on a podcast once (the host was just playing Devil’s Advocate…which reminds me of one of my favorite Seth Godin lines that he uses when people say that, “The Devil doesn’t need an advocate”) and my response was confrontational:
“So what people are saying when they ask this is basically, ‘Okay…since life is going to suck for these kids later, shouldn’t we make it suck now, too, so they’ll be ready for it?’ I don’t buy it, at all.”
This kind of attitude makes no sense to me. Our goal should be to make school an absolutely AMAZING experience for our students and the incorporation of fun and play are two very powerful weapons at our disposal…use them liberally.
That’s why I’m so incredibly excited about the 4th book in the “Like a Pirate” teaching series, Play Like a Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics. It’s written by Quinn Rollins, a fantastic teacher from Utah and former toy company consultant. It is off the charts amazing. I had the pleasure of seeing Quinn present a workshop at an NCSS conference and was blown away by not only how he had incorporated so many creative ways to use toys and action figures to teach his content, but also how most of the ideas involved high levels of student creativity and critical thinking. This isn’t just playing for the sake of play (As a huge supporter of the Global School Play Day initiative, I believe in that, too!); this is play that is intimately tied to teaching the curriculum in a powerful way.
You’ll find ideas for all subject areas and all grade levels…trust me, this isn’t just for younger students! There are KILLER ways to incorporate action figures, superheroes, Legos, Minecraft, Play-Doh, Hot Wheels, Barbies, Board Games, Trading Cards…too many to list…and yes, we’re talking about Pre-K to 12th grade possibilities (Even use with staff!). It is a Teach Like a Pirate fan’s treasure chest filled to the top with educationally sound and at the same time fun and amazing ways to teach and learn.
I’m totally in love with the fact that students get to create, design, and MAKE as a major component of these strategies. It will set your classroom on fire. We have added QR codes into the book that link to templates that you can print and use to easily implement these strategies AND examples of student work from Quinn’s classes. That’s right! He is a PRACTITIONER…he does this stuff!
There is also a wonderful section on how to use comic books and graphic novels. Quinn not only shows you a wide array of ways to add these to your teaching repertoire, but also delivers a masterful sales pitch on why they are an entirely legitimate form of literature. The kinds of connections that must be mentally drawn and the deep processing required to tie together the threads of a story from the artful combination of words and pictures is exactly the kind of thinking we want to encourage in our students. We link to an extensive list of recommendations from Quinn for those new to the use of graphic novels.
The book also serves as an object lesson for a key tenet of #tlap, the concept that you can take what you are personally passionate about and bring it to life in your class. That is EXACTLY what Quinn has done.
Okay, maybe this is less important, but I’m not sure. The book is intensely funny and just as quirky as the author…and that is really quirky! We are talking about a guy who travels with a rubber duckie (like for YEARS…and prominently featured on the cover. Even has an “About the Duck” section), lives and breathes action figures, Legos, Star Wars, and comic books…and even writes whole sections about things like his “secret socks.” This is hilarious stuff! Another perfect example of The Reese’s Effect…yes, you can read a professional development book, get a ton of ideas to immediately implement in your class, be inspired, AND laugh and giggle your whole way through it. Quinn, and this pun is entirely intended, is an odd duck. And that is coming from a guy who dresses like a pirate!
Not sure what else I can tell you except that you are going to LOVE THIS BOOK!
Follow Quinn on Twitter: @jedikermit (I know you are shocked)
And join the conversation at #PlayLAP
As the back of this bright yellow book of goodness says, “Serious Learning can be seriously fun!”