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Creativity in the Classroom

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How to Teach Creativity?
Get students out of their comfort zone as part of your
lessons in order to encourage student flexibility, resiliency,
and intellect.

Published in: Education
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Creativity in the Classroom

  1. 1. 6 | TechEdge | www.tcea.org/techedge ● ● AT A GLANCE Light It Up: Creativity in the Classroom by Dr. Lisa Gonzales and Cyndi Maijala Imagine walking into a classroom where students are designing, building, and inventing - so engaged that you know students are driving their own learning. Whether using structured assignments or those intended to push the periphery of thought, creativity can not only be taught, but can also be used to extend emotion, thought, and imagination. By giving some control to students, teachers can create impactful learning opportunities by combining collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and communication with assignments that don’t have one right answer. Navigating new tasks within a safe environment develops student flexibility and problem-solving skills. What Is Creativity? Let’s face it: creativity is very subjective, but navigating new and unfamiliar scenarios is a part of everyday learning. Creativity is a skill, and how that skill is applied in our classrooms has everything to do with context. However, the ability to look at something a certain way now and then find ways to improve it or apply it to different scenarios? That is creativity. Much of our classroom time is scheduled and task- oriented, even though the magic tends to happen when we slow down and think. The joy of the creative process is more important than the product of discovery. Why Is It Important? Learning how to be creative, imaginative, and adaptable are important in preparing students for college and career. The technological advances that surround us are a direct result of creative thinking. But it isn’t just about designing thought-provoking, useful products; creativity can also focus on change. How to Teach Creativity? Get students out of their comfort zone as part of your lessons in order to encourage student flexibility, resiliency, and intellect. Instructional approaches like Project-Based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, open-ended problems of the week, and design thinking can all easily marry the core subject matter with performance expectations that result in a product, service, or process. In addition to designing projects that encourage creativity, nurturing a culture that promotes creativity is crucial. Allowing divergent thought, creating prototypes, redesigning failures, and asking questions are essential as students learn to take creative risks. Infusing Creativity with Technology Many websites and apps are available for free that extend learning and tap into creativity. These are some of our favorites: Writing. Use Google Hangouts or Skype to enable students to make new contacts, conduct interviews, and then use that information to craft a well-researched paper. Reading. These websites and apps go a step further than basic reading material: Bluster (vocabulary building), Newsela (current event non-fiction), Spelling City (spelling), Storia (reading with embedded questions). Math. Many math apps and websites are designed for skill development, but some promote creativity. Minecraft, Cyberchase 3D Builder (turn 2D into 3D shapes), Marble Math (math mazes intertwine physics), Questimate (students design the questions), DragonBox Algebra (algebra through gaming), and Brilliant (advanced math, physics, forums) are all examples. Social Studies, Science. Students can explore geography alongside history, literature, or any number of other subjects when they map out a road trip in Google Maps. Other useful resources include Newsela, Google Earth (virtual field trips), Tellagami (create an avatar and design historical fiction presentations), and Angry Birds (physics and math). The Arts. Many resources can help students enhance their creativity and boost imaginative thinking. We recommend Skitch (drawing), How to Draw (step by step drawing for primary students), Kids Doodle (select the brush), and Stop-Motion Movie Creator (stop motion movies).
  2. 2. Issue Two, May 2016 | TechEdge | 7 ● ●AT A GLANCE Learning is a creative process that develops life skills like resiliency, resourcefulness, innovation, and adaptability – skills that will be critical in the workplace and classroom of the future. Encourage Creativity in Your Classroom • Set aside time for creativity and exploration, such as a weekly Genius Hour. • Encourage discussions. The ability to defend, argue varied perspectives, and solve social challenges are all aspects of creativity. • Don’t limit assignment format. Let students experiment with new technologies. • Establish expressive freedom. Allow for flexibility and create norms that foster imaginative approaches. • Ask more questions. Give students time to ask questions and intentionally design activities that allow for wonder and exploration. • Promote problem solving and exploration with guiding questions whose answers cannot be Googled. • Infuse the arts. Create songs about scientific concepts, poetry, social issues, and math. Dr. Gonzales is the Vice President of the Association of California School Administrators. Ms. Maijala is the principal of Corte Madera School in the Portola Valley School District. (More Than) Eight Student- Created Projects for Social Studies by Dr. Nancy Allen 1. Let students create a blog that details a specific event. Students can write as a former slave in the Reconstruction era, a woman entering the workforce in the 1920s, or a member of the counterculture during the 1960s. 2. Have students create a podcast that tells a story from history. Investigate the arrest, trial, and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti or Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Were they really guilty? Students could also create a daily news podcast, broadcasting details from the battles of the American Revolution. 3. Use digital storytelling to share a biography of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr. Students could also tell the story of an immigrant traveling to the United States or of a family moving west to the Great Plains. 4. Create a web quest to help other students learn about a topic. This tool is very helpful in allowing students to find information that they can then use for in- depth analysis. Students might create a web quest on the fight for Women’s Suffrage or the Civil Rights Movement. 5. Have students create an interactive timeline that presents basic information on a topic. Students can integrate videos or images and links to primary sources. Quizzes and other opportunities for assessment can also be included. Great topics for an interactive timeline would be World War II, the Cold War, or the settlement of Texas. 6. Book creator apps can be used by students to compile information about a subject. Students can integrate pictures and text to tell the story of a historical event, like the Great Depression, or they can create an ABC’s of a decade, including information about the political, social, economic, and cultural features of the time. 7. Have students become tour guides, leading a virtual field trip of important historical places. Students could trace the movement of the Freedom Riders across the South or the movement of African-Americans during the Great Migration. 8. Use the My Country HD app to have students participate in a simulation that allows them to create their own country and make decisions to help it develop successfully. Students could also use Minecraft to recreate periods in history and interact with one another to learn about citizenship and government. Dr. Allen is an educator at Angleton High School.

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