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Activities to Bring Curiosity, Play and Joy to Student and Professional Learning

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Monday, November 30, 11:30 am–12:15 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Barbara Bray  
Kerry Gallagher  
Dr. Leigh Zeitz  

Learners become curious when they tackle a problem they want to solve. Imagine adding voice and play to the mix? Join us in activities where you will explore and brainstorm ideas using multiple tools. Collaborate in joyful learning experiences that spark curiosity, empower learning, and develop agency.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Best if they bring a device but they can work with another attendee if their device is not available.

Apps we will be using:




We will be sharing links to a Google doc and our slides

Topic: Student agency, choice & voice
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Empower educators to exercise professional agency, build teacher leadership skills and pursue personalized professional learning.
For Educators:
  • Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation, Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Educational or infrastructure challenge/situation.
To build a culture of learning, it is important to engage students right from the beginning so they are motivated to want to learn. Without joy and curiosity, some students don’t feel they belong especially in a virtual environment. Teachers have been overwhelmed about teaching remotely during the pandemic and need resources, time, and training to develop and grow relationships with students.

Technology intervention. Include specific names/titles and descriptions if tools are not widely known and available.
Collaborative space: Learners can meet synchronously online to learn, collaborate, brainstorm, and solve problems.
Google Docs/Slides: Learners can write, collaborate, and present ideas and resources
Mentimeter: Learners can share ideas in a poll and generate word clouds, diagrams, and other forms.
Padlet: Learners can collaborate with others to virtually brainstorm ideas and curate resources.
PearDeck: Learners can answer questions and participate in discussions in interactive lessons, presentations, or slides at their own pace.
Wakelet: Learners can curate, save, and share collections that include stories, videos, and blogs.

Models employed. Include a brief description.
The presenters will use the ISTE collaborative space to connect and engage attendees to develop a sense of belonging through play. They will invite attendees to participate in individual discovery, whole-group activities, and breakout rooms to brainstorm together and have fun. There will be multiple opportunities to collect ideas, models, examples, and resources using various tools.

Lesson plans or instructional activities/strategies employed. Include a brief description of your instructional electronic resources or tools used.
We want the attendees to be curious and motivated to want to learn with different activities using the ISTE collaborative space, accessing the information on Google Slides, creating a word cloud using Mentimeter, capturing ideas in the chat, brainstorming on PearDeck, and using breakout rooms to draw or dance. We will invite collaboration during the session, use the Twitter handle #JoyISTE20 to capture and archive images, ideas, resources, and make a collection in Wakelet .

Evidence of Success
Experiencing joy as they play, participants will recognize their own feelings and how the experience can benefit their students. We will provide a Google presentation and other resources with the activities along with links so they can replicate the activities in their classrooms. Last year, we did a similar session and received amazing feedback on how the activities worked in their classrooms. We reworked our ideas to convert the activities into a theme and process in a virtual environment since this may be where teachers are teaching more often during these uncertain times.


1. Overview (8 min)
--- Introductions with links to resources
--- Share a fun picture on Padlet or Twitter #ISTE2020 #JoyISTE20
--- Whole Group Activity: Poll on Mentimeter with 4 characteristics

2. Curiosity (8 min)
---Curiosity around a problem, Play discovering a solution, Sense of Curiosity (Magic)
--- Initial idea brainstorm in chat why we are going to do it this way
---Explore problem: What are you doing to have encourage curiosity with your students these days?

3. Play (10 min)
--- How can students share their identity, have a sense of belonging, and feel safe enough to participate in play?
--- Play activity drawing using Pear Deck

4. Joy (12 min)
--- Check and choose dance moves to use in breakout rooms
--- Whole group Dance party with music

5. Closing(5-7 min)
--- Why are curiosity, play, and joy important for a sense of belonging especially now during the pandemic?
---Review resources and how attendees can access after the session
--- Q&A, evaluations

Supporting research

Bray, B. Define Your WHY: Own Your Story So You Can Learn and Live on Purpose. 2020. EduMatch Publishing (launching March 2020)/

Bray, B. and McClaskey, K. Make Learning Personal: The What, Who, Wow, Where, and Why. 2015. Corwin Press.

Csíkszentmihályi, M. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Invention and Discover. 2013. HarperCollins

Martin, K. Learner Centered Innovation. Spark Curiosity. Ignite Passion, and Unleash Genius. 2018. IMPress.

Robinson, Ken with Lou Aronica. Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education. Penguin Books.

Shareski, D. Embracing a Culture of Joy. Solutions for Creating the Learning Spaces Students Deserve. 2017. Solution Tree Press.

Smeda, N., Dakich, E. & Sharda, N. Smart Learn. Environ. (2014) 1: 6.

More [+]


Barbara Bray, Rethinking Learning

Barbara Bray is a creative learning strategist who hosts the Rethinking Learning Podcast, author of Define Your WHY, co-author of Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize Learning, co-host of the #rethink_learning chat, and founder/owner of My eCoach She is an international speaker, keynoter, coach, and changemaker. Barbara has been on a mission to transform teaching and learning with the use of technology and innovative practices. Barbara is focusing on the WHY so you own and tell your stories so you can live and learn on purpose.

Kerry Gallagher, St. John's Prep

Kerry Gallagher, JD is Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. She’s also the Director of K-12 Education for – internet safety non-profit in Palo Alto, California – a FutureReady Instructional Coach, ASCD Emerging Leader, Adobe Education Leader, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator, and EdSurge Columnist. Kerry is a TEDx & keynote speaker, and co-author of several award winning guidebooks for parents and teachers. She was recognized with accolades for her work by the Family Online Safety Institute, MassCUE, SmartBrief, and St. Anselm College. She is on social media @KerryHawk02.

Dr. Leigh Zeitz, University Of Northern Iowa

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