Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Dynamic Learning Environment/Fun and Joy

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What roles do fun and joy play in the learning environment?
When we are active and truly enthusiastic about our lives and jobs, we are often much happier.

—Ron Clark, 2004

It has been said that we learn something new every day from the day we are born. What are these things? Well it can be anything from learning the a b c‘s, riding a bike, or repairing a car engine. Many of the skills or new information we learn throughout our lives are learned in a school or college and for many, they are things that are carried with them through the rest of their lives.

From preschool all the way to college, one common thing that we all learn is to make transition. What I mean by this is from early in preschool all the way to middle school, learning was fun. Most of us learned our alphabets by singing along with a nice tune. We got to play with blocks to learn shapes and put pieces together. So what happened to the fun once we grew up and the classes became longer? Those who teach or are being taught now aren’t having as much fun in the classroom as when they were younger, and for some, aren’t really retaining the information as well because they aren’t being engaged enough. Couldn’t there be a way to keep learning fun and exciting for any age group? Of course there can. It doesn’t have to be all fun and games, but it doesn’t also have to be boring and bland either.

According to John Luckner, integrating fun activities into teaching can help strengthen students’ communication skills, builds self confidence, and help instill a greater appreciation of alternate forms of education. (Luckner 33)

Enthusiasm and laughter can also go a long way in any classroom, which is why there can be fun and joy in a learning environment but it must be incorporated with the fundamentals of learning for all learning types.

Enthusiasm[edit]

If a teacher walks into a classroom full of students, back slumped and the look of not wanting to be there, then the students aren’t going to be all too excited to be there either. In their minds they are probably thinking about how tired they are from getting up early or how they can’t wait to get home to watch their favorite show. But if a teacher comes in with their head up high with a huge smile and a positive attitude, it will most likely get the students to smile as well and probably wonder why their teacher is smiling. Ron Clark, teacher and author of The Essential 11 describes in his book how he would capture his student’s attention by moving around and throwing his whole body and self into his lessons. Once they saw just how enthusiastic Mr. Clark was about teaching them, they soon became enthusiastic about learning from him. (Clark 20)

Creativity[edit]

Just coming in with a smile and positive attitude is not the only thing a teacher must do to get the students active in learning. As a part of planning the school day, teachers are responsible for a number of tasks. The most important task is how to make learning creative and enjoyable for all students. Some creative ways to spark a student’s mind to learn are songs centered around the subject being taught, toys or props, games, and more. There is an endless list of techniques and tools that are to get and keep the student’s engaged in learning, but it takes a teacher’s devotion and creative mind to bring it out.

Here are some fun activities to spark a student’s mind from Education World™ http://www.education-world.com/:

  • Quotations of the day
  • "Every Day" Activities Across the Curriculum
  • Journal Writing Every Day
  • Find it Fast! – a fast paced review of any subject
  • The Dictionary Game – Students guess the real meaning of unfamiliar words

6th Grade teacher Deb Odom used comics to help her students learn new vocabulary and also help develop their own creative minds by creating their own comics to reinforce what they were learning. This proves that with the right creativity and motivation, anything can be a tool and aid in the classroom to add a little fun and excitement to learning.

If as a teacher you don’t feel like you have a creative mind, but are enthusiastic about teaching and helping students learn, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources out there to give you many ideas and activities to add fun to your lessons.

Technology in the Classroom[edit]

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

—Henry B. Adams

Technology is growing bigger and better each day and has definitely come a long way over the years, and it is evident in today’s classrooms. Many schools have computers in each classroom, television, and smart boards “an interactive that is a large, touch-sensitive display that is placed on a wall or floor stand in classrooms, meeting rooms, boardrooms and other places where people gather to meet, teach, train and present.” (Wikipedia) The smart board is primarily connected to a computer so that a teacher can upload presentations, pictures, or other media to be projected to the class. This piece of technology is certainly different than the old chalk and blackboard. With this new method, teachers can implement many types of techniques and tools to go along with their lesson plans in a very fun and organized way.

“In today's world of video games, cable and satellite television, and high action digital video, teachers need to integrate technology in order to keep the attention of their students.” (Wikipedia)

Technology can be a very fun and engaging addition to the learning environment. A teacher can incorporate visual and auditory technologies into their lessons to promote a fun learning environment. This can be anywhere from watching a movie, listening to an audio disk, or playing a computer game. A fun activity utilizing the computer in a classroom where available is to have the students go on a virtual treasure hunt that goes with the subject they are learning. You can provide a list of certain things they must hunt for using the web.

By including some technology in the lesson plans, it not only keeps the classroom a fun and exciting place to be but it also helps to enrich the learning process by giving it that extra “wow” factor.

All for Fun and Fun for All![edit]

Preschoolers and elementary schoolers are not the only ones who can have fun learning. Learning can be fun for all ages! Some ways a teacher can promote fun in a class of high schoolers or even college aged students are through fun stories, often about personal life experiences that can give them something to relate to, competition games such as classroom trivia, or lively class debate. No matter what the age, learning can be fun for everyone of any age. It is just a matter of finding and channeling that fun to make what is being learned more enjoyable.

In a learning environment such as a classroom, it is up to the teacher to figure out how and what kind of activities would help keep everyone interested and also help enrich everyone’s learning. Don’t fret. Again, if you are stumped as to what kinds of activities would make learning fun, search the web or ask other teachers how they keep their students engaged in learning and at the same time having fun doing it!

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

What kinds of activities implement technology into the lesson?
A. Watching a movie
B. Surfing the Internet
C. Listening to an audio disc
D. All of the above

D. All of the above

In addition to creating the lesson plan, what is another task that a teacher must be sure to do?
A. Eat lunch on time
B. Talk to another teacher about weekend plans
C. Make learning creative and enjoyable for all students
D. Implement nap time in the classroom

C. Make learning creative and enjoyable for all students

What is a smart board?
A. A special talking board that is almost like a robot
B. An automated voice responding surfboard
C. "A smart what?"
D. An interactive, touch sensitive display that can be used to project presentations, pictures, or other media

D. An interactive, touch sensitive display that can be used to project presentations, pictures, or other media

Can fun and joy take place in any classroom at any age level?
A. Yes! You are never too old have to fun learning!
B. Of course not. Once you hit a certain age fun time is over.
C. Only if it doesn't involve singing, games, or peer interaction.
D. none of the above

A. Yes! You are never too old have to fun learning!

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal sample responses.

Looking back at your early school career, what kinds of activities would you have wished your teacher incorporated into his or her lesson plan? Think about your future classroom. How would you incorporate fun into your students' learning environment?

Looking back at my early school career, I can say that my teachers did a great job incorporating fun activities in their lesson plans. Some activities that I would have enjoyed more of would be reenactments for history, game reviews for all the subjects, and the use of any type of hands on material such as clay, etc. For history, the reenactments worked best to help me personally remember events that happened. An example of this is in my third grade class when we pretended to be Paul Revere and the British soldiers. It was such a fun experience that it is one lesson in history I will have a hard time forgetting. As far as my future science classroom, I plan to incorporate fun into the learning environment through the use of demonstrations. I believe that allowing my students to make practical use of what they are learning and to have a visual or hands on experience with the subject will allow them to understand concepts better. I also plan to use game reviews for tests and in preparation for the often dreaded SOL tests. Incorporating fun into the learning environment of our students is essential if we want them to enjoy and benefit from learning. —Lauren Teed


High school taught me many different educational facts. I encountered many different teaching styles. I mostly enjoyed and remember the lessons that were taught through either review games or role playing. I also enjoyed a class were the students were able to teach one of the lessons from our textbook. I would have like to have learned more about computers and the new uses of technology.

In my classroom I would like to have a similar set up to an Elementary classroom. The local schools have block schedules, meaning each class is about two hours long. I would like to lecture for the first part but then have the classroom break up into groups for the second part. One group would be using the computer to understand how to use math programs to solve the problems that were lectured on. There would also be a group that discusses the topic as well as answer each others questions. Those are just a few examples of group work I would like to have in my class. I would also like to involve the students by having them work in groups to teach the class a section from the textbook. I would like to play games with the students to help them review each chapter taught.

I would like to involve the students in the learning process as much as I can to help all of the students learn the given material. I hope my class will be fun as well as educational. I want to make sure my students enjoy learning and leave my classroom with a strong understanding of the math skills learned in class. Using exciting ways of presenting the material, my goal is to have 100% of my students passing my class with confidence about the material taught. —Victoria Monaghan

References[edit]

  • Clark, R. (2004). The Excellent 11. New York: Hyperion.
  • Education World: The Educators' Best Friend. (1996-2007) Retrieved September 15, 2007, from Education World Web site: http://www.education-world.com/
  • Harmin, M. (1994). Inspiring Active Learning: A Handbook for Teachers.
  • Kaplan, A., Patrick, H., & Ryan, A. (2007) Early Adolescents’ Perceptions of the Classroom Social Environment, Motivational Beliefs, and Engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology. v 99 no 1, 83-98 14 Sept 2007
  • Luckner, John. "Using Fun as a Teaching Tool." Clerc Center. 2002. 15 Sept 2007 <http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/Odyssey/Spring-Summer2002/fun.pdf>.
  • Morgan, B., & Odom, D. (2006). Stories from Tween Classrooms. Educational Leadership. v 63 no 7, 38-41. 14 Sept 2007
  • "Smart Board." Wikipedia. 14 Sept 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_board>
  • "Technology Integration." Wikipedia. Mar 2007. 14 Sept 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_Integration>.