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,
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
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).
Issue Two, May 2016 | TechEdge | 7
● ●AT A GLANCE
Learning is a creative
process that develops
life skills like resiliency,
and adaptability – skills
that will be critical in the
workplace and classroom of
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
• Establish expressive
freedom. Allow for
flexibility and create
norms that foster
• Ask more questions.
Give students time
to ask questions and
activities that allow for
wonder and exploration.
• Promote problem solving
and exploration with
guiding questions whose
answers cannot be
• 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
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.