For the Prezi presentation, click here
Now that we’ve talked about the problem, we need to talk about some of its solutions. With the help of my personal learning network, I have come up with 4 steps to reignite the creativity at the secondary level. As we go through this, I will provide some ideas and examples of ways to incorporate creativity in the English Language Arts curriculum, but it can really be incorporated in any content. I am most encouraged and excited about how technology inspires creativity in our students. I have received many great responses and feedback from my personal learning network and encourage you to leave your notes as well.
The first step in reigniting creativity is through modeling. That’s right, as the teacher it is crucial that you model creativity. What does this look like? Creative design refers to the types of lesson plans and activities you design for your students. Gone are the days of tedious worksheets. Creative solutions refer to how you deal with problems. As teachers we go through a great number of obstacles throughout or day and we need to demonstrate to our students that we can come up with creative solutions for them. And finally, creative exercises are fun ways to exert creativity.
Some examples of the modeling step could be incorporating creative lesson plans, talking through creative troubleshooting, or engaging in creative mini-lessons or activities. For instance, here is a fun activity I do with my students when we talk about metaphors. I have a list of metaphors and I ask each student which one they are like and why. So I will ask, “John, are you more like thunder or lightning?” John and the rest of the class know that the winner of this activity will be the individual who is the most creative with their answer. It’s a great, fun exercise where students use creativity to answer questions and to understand responses.
The second step in reigniting creativity is by giving your students choice (guided choice). By giving our students choice, they find the things that are most relevant to their lives. Relevance empowers them and gives them motivation. Choice is a very powerful thing. One of the best ways to encourage creativity is by assigning a multigenre project, which can be incorporated in any class. As an English teacher, I would use this in place of a traditional book report. I would first allow my students to choose their own books because I want them to find a book that really speaks to them. I would give requirement for how many different genres they need to choose and any other specifications for the assignment. Then it is up to them to put together a project and presentation. This project is a great source of creativity and motivation and students really pour into it. A note of caution when giving students a choice: make sure you conference with students to touch base with them, support them, encourage them, or whatever it is that they need.
The third step in reigniting creativity is collaboration. Group students together and give them a problem to solve and any tools they might need and watch creativity spark. Have you heard of the marshmallow challenge? If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, check out the link provided on the bottom of this page. When students collaborate, they are learning how to be engaged citizens while working through a project or a problem. And in their discussions you can hear them start putting things together and build that higher order of thinking. I have created a project where my juniors partner up with the 4th graders at the elementary school. Partners will choose a social issue that speaks to both of them. Let’s say they want to address the issues of bullies. Partners will work together for 8 weeks, working on projects individually and together. 4th grade buddies will create posters while junior buddies will create a tech presentation. Then on the final day everyone will come together and share their work. This is the type of collaboration is what we need in our schools. It instills community, connection, encouragement, motivation, and learning that is purposeful. Students can share stories with each other and both parties are making a difference in the lives of the other. It isn’t just our students who need to collaborate with others. We, as teacher, need to collaborate with other teachers in and out of our content area as well.
The fourth step in reigniting creativity is self-actualization. This step is more like how you would assess creativity, as this is something many struggle with. Creativity, like everything else in the classroom, should be purposeful. Some examples might be that students can transfer knowledge to other areas, guide themselves to similar tasks, come up with their own inquiries and self direct themselves, and under the process and how to execute it. A way in which I could assess my students is to see where they are on the self-actualization spectrum. I was thinking about adding a writer’s portfolio as a final project, where my students would reflect on their struggles and their growth throughout the trimester. Asking them to reflect on the process will demonstrate that creativity does result in learning and that it can incorporate both convergent and divergent thinking skills.
The wicked problem of creativity not being explored, encouraged, and fostered in the schools will not be easy to solve. In fact, it has been a growing wicked problem for some time now. We need to do something about it. The only way I see it is this: we can all work together to be part of a solution and be agents of much needed change in our education system or we can do nothing and let creativity get buried. I tell my students all the time that if they aren’t part of the solution, they are adding to the problem and I think this is the same thing. If we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem and I refuse to be part of the problem. What about you?
- Using technology to inspire creativity
- Using technology to tap into students creative potentials
- Using technology to motivate and encourage learning
- Higher-Order Thinking [transforming information and ideas]
- Modeling [lesson plans, creative solutions, etc]
- Creating atmosphere that will encourage and cultivate creativity [student-directed]
- Active Engagement/Citizenship [connecting students to their community and things that matter to them]
- Problem-Based Learning [illustrating -> teaching -> practicing -> reflecting] – school & community projects
- readings information text on the issue of Education and Creativity
- videos, music, media, art, etc. [TedTalk, RSA, YouTube, etc]
- technological resources/tools