Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Play is the beginning of knowledge.  ~Anonymous 
Last night my graduate students played with Playdoh.    The class is a writing class.  I teach graduate students how to teach writing through the lens of both teacher of writing and teacher as writer.   I try to put the students in situations that their students may also experience so that they understand  writers’ block, ownership of a piece without wanting to revise, being too close to a piece to revise and pride in working through a piece to publication—to name only a few.  It is a very hands on class and students have written to me over the years to say that this particular class has made them confident in the teaching of writing and in their own writing.

Much of what we do is rooted in the premise of playfulness.  Tonight we played with Playdoh as we learned about revision.  Each student built a Playdoh creation.  I give no boundaries regarding their creation and I let them play.  After the creation is complete I lead the students through a series of revisions, during which the students change, add and delete parts of their creation.  They title their creations and they provide feedback to each other about their creations.  In this class there is lots of laughter. 

The students then pull out the draft for which they are working for our final anthology.  As a first introduction to revision, we go through the same revisions as we did with their creations.  And then we talk about feelings about the process.  The feelings always range from being very protective of their draft and not wanting to make changes to finding the process helpful in making their piece better.  We talk about our students and their experiences with the revision process.  For the next two classes we will be playing with a variety of revision experiences.  Future teachers learning about both future students and very practical applications for teaching of writing as they play and learn about writing themselves.

Learning through play happens for adults as well as students.  Play is ALWAYS a great way to learn.

PLAY-TITUDE #24:   Play to learn.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for writers and teachers of writing to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. Play is actually a serious piece for learning. Learning should be mostly fun for the learner - though I guess we do " learn the hard way" sometimes! Great way to bring the editing and revising down to a concrete level!

  2. This is a fun lesson that I've done with teachers too. It does make them aware of all the possibilities for revision. No one seems to like revision, but with concrete strategies to guide them, it becomes easier.

  3. I've done this lesson with students, too, Deborah, but at the end they have needed to destroy the pal-doh draft, ready to begin again. I always thought it was so, so effective, glad you shared.