What if These 50+ Activities Made Up 90% of Every School Day?

Given that I’m persistently arguing for reframing the nature of learning environments (ala the new book, Breathe: A Vision and Framework for Human-Centered Learning Environments), someone recently asked me what I want to see instead of traditional classrooms with desks rows, letter grades, and teacher’s directing and dictating while students have the primary roles of achieving expertise in compliance and conformity.

Here is my quick response…

I envision learning environments where one or more of the following 50+ items make up the bulk of every school day. I see schools where learning is rich, inspiring, meaningful, and transformational; and where the dragons of tests and grades no longer demand fear and submission. I envision a learning environment that is deeply human and humane, one that is responsive to the needs, callings, passions, proclivities, perspectives, and voices of all learners.

All of this is possible, but we must slay the industrial dragons that rule while boldly exploring and embracing the breadth of possibilities offered below (and beyond).

Note: There is plenty of overlap from one concept to the next in this list.

Adventure-Based Learning

Challenge-Based Learning

Quest-based Learning

Competition-Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning

Experiential Learning

Phenomenon-Based Learning

Framing Study as Adventures & Quests

Engaged Citizenship

The Individual & Collective Pursuit of the Unknown & That Which has Never Been Accomplished Before

Service Learning

Acts of Service

Learner-Led Activities

Expeditionary Learning

Inquiry-based learning

Socratic Circles

Meaningful Engagement with Music, Art, Literature, & Performing Arts

Storytelling & Story-Making

Public Performances 

Learning in Depth

Self-Designed Projects

Self-Directed Learning Plans


Passion Projects

Genius Hour

Authentic Collaboration, Cooperation, & Teamwork

Positive Psychology Interventions

Random Acts of Kindness 

Game-Based Learning

Gameful Learning

Case-Based Learning

Gamification in Education

Real World Design Thinking Projects

Life Experiments 


Startup Competitions 

Games & Puzzles


Deliberate Practice Inspired by a Personal Goal or Aspiration

Deeply Meaningful Direct & Indirect Experiences with Mystery & Wonder

Rough and Tumble Play

Social Play

Communicative Play

Locomotor Play

Dramatic Play

Object Play

Explorative Play

Recapitulative Play

Deep Play

Creative Play

Socio-Dramatic Play

Symbolic Play

Mastery Play

Role Play

Fantasy & Imaginative Play

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