Utilizing Technology to Design Learning Environments That Enhance The Creativity of Gifted Learners Gabriella J. Ducamp It is my mission to positively impact local, state, and national policies regardingexperimental and innovative approaches to teaching. Creativity is what makes life so amazing;the ability to solve problems and improve situations allows people to be resilient emotionally andto grow socially. However, children’s creativity is being stifled in academic settings, atincreasingly younger ages. This is evident in personal experience in the classroom, and researchpointing to decreasing scores on common measures of divergent thinking. Many of the activitiesthat teachers are provided with in their coursework and in textbook packages are repetitive anddisjointed. I prefer to examine how ideas relate to each other, rather than involve myself ininefficient teaching. Creativity is a potential each person has inside of himself, and I explicitlyteach and nurture creativity whenever possible for the benefit of my students and society. Notonly do I ask my students to come up with varied ideas, but I help them select and implementgood ones. When children act on their creative ideas, their unique skills and strengths arevalidated. A population motivated to reach their goals mitigates complaints by employersregarding workers who lack problem-solving skills, making businesses more globallycompetitive. This benefits our culture by improving individuals’ self worth and building on oureconomy’s strength, innovation. After I began pursuing grants and joining leadership organizations like the NorthCarolina Science Leadership Fellows Program, I experienced a convergence of my professionaland personal interests. The enthusiasm I felt as I collaborated with local and national leaders ontelevision show pilots, at conferences, and performing hands-on projects with my students, was
infectious and reflected in the quality of my students’ work. I found that my students graspedinnovative ideas more readily when they completed experiments. Channeling their creativeenergy toward their natural talents encouraged academic growth, as well as social and emotionalgrowth, in terms of confidence and kindness. I want to learn more about human developmentaltheories and the psychology of creative people so that students can experience this increasedpassion, efficiency, and quality in their lives and eventually in their careers. I hope to sharestrategies to expand creativity in individuals, as well as to use technology to monitor creativedevelopment and to provide feedback so people may reach their potential. As an elementary school teacher, I have demonstrated excellence in teaching across allacademic areas and made a conscious effort to round out my content area knowledge - I studiedscience as an undergraduate, completed my Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy, attendedsummer history workshops for teachers, and lead staff development in math and giftededucation. Although I spent the first five years of my career working in an at-risk school, I havespent the last four years teaching a self-contained class in the Highly Academically GiftedProgram. I have become increasingly interested in the unique academic, social, and emotionaltraits of these two groups – surely their intellects are not as mutually exclusive as theirenrollment demographics. The imbalance of naïveté and precociousness within thesepopulations is striking, but can be moderated. Students from all backgrounds can benefit fromenriching experiences and the development of talent is the ideal way to support students. Inorder to respond to the demographic shifts occurring in our schools, new education deliverymodels need to be created to help learners grow in their given strengths. Low grades and test scores get attention and funding, yet we reward excellence withapathy. Tutors are hired when a student is not getting good grades, and low-performing schools
have their class sizes reduced. Schools devote so much time focusing on shortcomings, yetcultivating strengths is the key to success. Talent development programs are misunderstood aselitist and are therefore underfunded. People assume gifted students will automatically besuccessful because they are smart, but they need to be taught skills, too. Gifted students haveunique social and emotional needs. They are aware of adult issues that are complex, painful, anddisturbing, yet they have little power to change them. Study and organization skills areundeveloped, as they have not needed them to succeed. I want my students to learn to struggleso that they will have the resilience to work through challenges when they eventually encounterthem. As a life-long learner I value the process of learning as much as the outcome, and work tocontinuously improve my understanding of the world. I hope to model this for my students sothey find their strengths. I would like to develop reliable, affordable identification measures so that the creativityand giftedness of all students can be assessed. Many districts rely on teacher nominations toidentify gifted students due to the high costs of testing, leaving many who have potentialunidentified. Sometimes bright children act out in school because of boredom or they do nothave the background knowledge to behave in ways that appear “smart” to teachers. I would liketo research performance assessments that are less academically and culturally biased. Theyshould incorporate motivation and creativity as components in identifying the talent of studentsso that these strengths can also be fostered. I believe the earlier that identification of studentstrengths are made, the more support can be given to build upon these strengths, and would liketo conduct research on the possible correlation between the age at which students first receivegifted services and their long-term academic, social, and emotional growth. Cutting-edge computer software and multimedia technology allow people from all walks
of life access to information once available only to those with wealth or power. I feel theeducational establishment has the responsibility to create a culture of social justice where thearts, humanities, and moral inquiry interact with science, technology, and math. I wish to studyhow technology can be used to tie all subject matter together through its interdisciplinary abilityto connect people within a school and around the world. If strong personal and communicationskills are encouraged, technology has the potential to increase exponentially the amount ofproductive work students can accomplish in school and later in life. It allows students to interactwith professional mentors that may not have the time or may be too far away to meet in person.It allows teachers to monitor student progress, gather data, and provide timely and substantivefeedback. Technology also plays a role in talent development because it can be tailored tostudents’ individual needs and interests. There is a confluence of factors that compel me to attend North Carolina StateUniversity. The evolving population that schools serve requires changing how educatorsdevelop young minds, and the ever-changing global marketplace requires shifting what we teach.The image of students sitting in rows behind open textbooks does not match the learning stylesor the future job requirements of today’s children. The prospect of designing curricula thatincorporate all subject areas, fosters creativity, and utilizes technology has become my teachingvision. Classrooms and digital environments need to reflect the increasingly complex networkof information and skills students require. Common Core Standards will help make the contentof public education more consistent, altering the focus to how and where these concepts aretaught. I would like to design curricula and classrooms using technology. Increased attention oncertain topics can greatly improve the quality of resources available by creating competitionamong service and material providers. Currently, two-thirds of my science textbook goes unused
because my grade level in my state does not teach weather, the human body, or plant growth. Ifthe entire nation is focused on teaching rocks and minerals at the fourth grade level, then thereshould be a greater variety of quality resources available for every fourth grade teacher to choosefrom. I would like to ultimately serve as a consultant for schools to better identify giftedstudents, systematize existing resources, and use technology to develop new materials that aremore accessible for all students. My work as a staff developer allows me to present complicatedtopics and communicate them because I easily pull together ideas, accumulate facts, and gaininsights on data. I have the stamina and work ethic to accomplish this and get satisfaction fromproductive work. I want to partner with people who are talented in areas that I am not, andsupport people with different interests or skills than I have. I expect to work as part of a researchand implementation team at a complex educational organization, possibly a university,government department, or private educational media developer. Wherever I work, I envisionmy career navigating and managing a group that conceptualizes and implements programs basedon reflective intra- and inter-institutional research. I foresee designing and teaching challengingcourses that train educators, employers, and policy-makers about ways to promote creativity andengage students. I plan on conducting relevant research studies and surveys that lead to effectivedecisions regarding educational policy, planning, and leadership, and hope to work as a memberof your institution to accomplish these goals.