Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Passion, Purpose and Play in Action

Slice of Life is hosted by Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Thank you to Stacey and Ruth for the inspiration and motivation to share our slices on Tuesdays.

Tony Wagner writes about the importance of play, purpose and passion in his book, Creating Innovators. I have written about his work before and I have watched his TedxNYED about it, as well. If you haven't gotten a chance to watch this talk, it's fifteen well spent minutes.

Last night, I got to see the power of play, purpose and passion when the three intersect in children's lives. We honored the Robotics team at our Board of Education meeting last night. They had won a major award in a competition and the coach had received a major honor as well, so it was appropriate to have them come to a meeting. Twenty-two high school students spoke about their experiences on the team and here are some of the snippets of what they had to say.
  • "What we do makes a difference. We see the effect of our work right away so we know the purpose."
  • "It's fun. We always are laughing and having a good time."
  • "Even after people graduate, they come back to see what's going on. It's their passion."
Many other comments reflected these themes, but these three comments so clearly showed the power of Tony Wagner's three p's. 

Literacy dominates my world and I am trying hard to weave passion, purpose and play into the academic days of students as they read and write. Through our workshop instruction, we offer students choice in reading, which certainly increases the chances of passion for their reading, while writing workshop emphasizes purpose. However, I am sure that we could do better and I would love to hear how others incorporate passion, purpose and play into their literacy instruction.


  1. One of the most powerful ways I have experienced that is through the authentic demonstration of those things by a teacher. Teachers who really are passionate, playful and purposeful about their own reading and writing lives - those who read and write with gusto - show students that it is a way of life worth pursuing.

  2. I really believe that true learning takes place at the intersection of these three elements - and I spend my days trying to make this happen in my classroom. I need to read Wagner's book!

  3. It's a great post of questioning, Melanie. I'd love to have a conversation with you, Tara & Elsie about this. I agree with what they said, will bookmark your book title, but I believe so strongly that choice is a huge thing in every facet of school. As for 'play' in literacy-play with words/genre/go beyond the expected, & always model it, just like Elsie said.

  4. Dear Melanie,
    I think the fact that you ask yourself these questions means you are integrating passion and purpose into your classroom. I am finding that the more I teach and learn, the kinds of things I ask my students to do must be authentic. I ask myself, "Is this something I would do as a reader or writer?" If not, I don't ask the kids to do it. Choice is such an important factor in all we ask kids to do. I have not read Tony Wagner's book, but I'm adding it to my list. I am currently done teaching this year as I recover from some surgery. My husband came home last night and told me he thought he may have to find a way to turn off Amazon.com while I'm home alone. :) Like Linda mentioned, I'd love to continue this conversation.