Schreen Marvin, a teacher at Centennial Elementary School in Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson, will use the AZEdNews Classroom Grant sponsored by Davidson/Belluso for her Playing Is Learning initiative.
“The Playing is Learning initiative brings game play and building back to the classroom to teach multiple subject area concepts in a fun and engaging way,” said Marvin, who teaches second grade in a Title I school that serves children with diverse backgrounds.
Davidson/Belluso is a full-service advertising agency based in Phoenix that is dedicated to supporting teachers and schools in Arizona and is long-time partner of Arizona School Boards Association and AZEdNews.
“We recognize that the work done by schools and teachers like yourself have a huge impact on our communities and is vital to that success,” said Rob Davidson, president and CEO of Davidson/Belluso, to Marvin.
Since it was founded 20 years ago, Davidson/Belluso has been focused on helping purpose-driven organizations achieve their marketing goals while contributing to the community. They work with all levels of educational institutions, as well as other private and public sector organizations.
Educational communication and marketing are primary areas of expertise for Davidson/Belluso, which has helped public educational entities from K-12 and higher education in their marketing efforts by communicating with their audiences, increasing enrollment, and maximizing resources.
“Each student’s home life is unique with challenges and obstacles they may have to overcome just to get to school,” Marvin said. “It is my responsibility to make sure they have an equitable opportunity at learning, regardless of their background.”
“Giving my kids an opportunity to learn through game play and building helps to bridge the educational gap that they have no idea they are a part of,” Marvin said.
Video by Jacquelyn Gonzales/ AZEdNews: Schreen Marvin named AZEdNews Classroom Grant Winner
Flowing Wells is a smaller district, which helps to foster the sense of family, and you often hear teachers refer to their students as our kids, said Marvin, who has taught at Centennial Elementary for the past six years.
The games and building sets will last for many years and benefit many students, Marvin said.
“Kids engage best when playing, because they are having fun,” Marvin said. “Games engage learning concepts like math and language arts, in a fun and interactive platform.”
“Allowing students to build structures helps stimulate imagination, problem solving, and creativity all while engaging the students in science and engineering practices,” Marvin said.
“When students are given an opportunity to learn in a fun way through play and exploration, the learning has a magical way of sticking in their brains,” Marvin said, which you can see in their growth from the beginning to the end of the school year.
“As a primary teacher, it’s imperative that I build the foundational understanding for concepts that they will use through high school. Let’s make that foundation strong by ensuring the learning sticks,” Marvin said.
Marvin told Davidson that her second graders are into playing with learning.
“So different things that I can try with them they’re willing to take that risk, versus sometimes with older kids they’re already set in their ways and they’re not interested in trying something new,” Marvin said.
“My idea was to bring game play and building back to the classroom,” Marvin said. “My area specifically where I teach is very low income, so a lot of the kids don’t have board games or games they can use at home for educational purposes.”
“If we play a dice game in math class for example, they won’t be able to translate that learning to home, because they don’t have any of that stuff, Marvin said.
To work around that, Marvin provides students with paper cut-out dice that they build at home to use.
The Playing is Learning initiative helps students “to do different learning activities through social studies or language arts or math or science in hopes that it sparks an inspiration in them that they can do learning outside of the classroom with things that they might have at home,” Marvin said.
“The idea was born through Learning with Legos, but a lot of kids don’t have Legos where I teach because they’re very expensive,” Marvin said.
The grant will help provide building materials students can use to further develop those engineering ideas they’re learning in the classroom, Marvin said.
“Congratulations. I think it’s great what you’re doing,” Davidson said to Marvin.