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October 4, 2016

5 Ways to Foster Creativity in Students and Why You Should!

By Angela Bunyi
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    It was 10 years ago that Sir Ken Robinson created a TED Talk on how schools kill creativity. I remember the impact of watching it — especially the feeling of urgency. Urgency to help prepare our students for a future filled with jobs not even dreamed about yet. Robinson argued that creativity plays a crucial role in preparing our students for the jobs of the future. Read on to see how you can help develop creative thinking — while creating a little fun — in your classroom.

     

    Creativity Development

    I am writing this post as a reminder to myself that creativity development is something every student can benefit from throughout the year. It’s easy to do some out-of-the-box activities and thinking at the start of the year, but much harder as the year rolls on. Dr. Susan Baum has spoken extensively about how creativity can be taught/developed in our classrooms. I was fortunate enough to attend a few of her sessions recently at the University of Connecticut. The first two ideas come from her discussions.

    Baum teaches a creativity course at the University of Connecticut, has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children, and is past-president and co-founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students.

    1)    This is NOT…

    Not a Box is a popular book that demonstrates creative thinking by turning boxes and sticks into a variety of fun tools and concepts. Take it one step further and bring in a stick from the playground with the following directions:

    “This is not a stick. I want you to imagine it as something that no one else would imagine. The more creative and unique, the better.” When you call on students to share their ideas, ask for them to demonstrate their vision in use. If a student shares something like, it is a trident spear, ask if anyone else thought of that as well. If so, can they think of another use that no one else has thought of before? This is a great way to get students thinking, well, outside of the box.

    Last year, I had one quiet student continue to utilize this concept all year long. In one instance, I was on the playground and this student came running up with his snack in hand. “This is not a banana!” he said proudly as he shared his spin on the delicious yellow snack. In his imaginative thinking, it was a telephone. This is the kind of thinking we need to foster for our students!

    2)    Farm Animal Greeting Warm-Up

    As a morning ice breaker, assign the students the role of pig, cow, chicken, or sheep. Ask students to walk around and greet each other as their assigned animal using various moods, such as sad, excited, or upset. Wrap this up with a reading of Funny Farm or other farm related read-aloud book. This is an excellent way to wake up the creative juices in your classroom. In addition, it’s just simply fun to do.

    3)    MakerSpace

    If your school or classroom hasn’t been inspired by the MakerSpace movement, now is the perfect time to launch it. The basic premise is that students identify a real-life problem and create a solution. Using readily available materials, they create a prototype before building anything.

    I make sure to focus on the concept of a new new, which is not creating something that is already available, but creating an improvement on something already known. If you think about any smartphone, it is a combination of what was already available: a phone, a camera, and a computer. Putting them together created a new new. Additionally, I focus on the importance of making mistakes. Creating and building something is a process that requires going back to the drawing board more than a few times before perfecting.

     

    4)    Regular Discussion Time: Socratic Seminars

     

    Recently, one of my coworkers came to me and said her students were struggling with higher order thinking, especially within her first few Socratic Seminars of the year. She asked me how to get the students to think past the surface level. When we provide students the opportunity to discuss an article, text, and/or clip that is just outside of their reach it:

    ·       develops critical thinking skills

    ·       fosters collaborative thinking, building new ideas off of what other students have to share

    ·       challenges students to listen to each other

    ·       challenges their thinking

    Over time, creative and critical thinking will develop naturally. I am always amazed to reflect on seminars from the start of the year to the end. It’s such a critical component to developing higher order thinking in our classroom.

    To learn more, here is an earlier post I wrote called "Higher Order Comprehension: The Power of Socratic Seminar."

     

    5)    Open Ended Projects/Assignments

    Having a son who is gifted and can easily be an underachiever without the proper support, I discovered quickly how limiting rubrics can be. My son was capable of acing a paper or project but refused to go above anything not stated. Being an overachiever myself I was pretty frustrated, but it made me aware of the creativity ceiling created by a set rubric in my own classroom and I determined to do something about it.

    Instead of a set of requirements stated for an “A” grade consider creating the essentials that will result in a “B” while asking students to create their own plan to earn additional points for an “A.” Often, students will go above and beyond what you might expect; the creativity factor far exceeds the limitations we might have imposed with a rubric.

     

    Creativity Ideas?

    This just scratches the surface. What do you do in the classroom to foster creativity? Please share in the comments below. 

    It was 10 years ago that Sir Ken Robinson created a TED Talk on how schools kill creativity. I remember the impact of watching it — especially the feeling of urgency. Urgency to help prepare our students for a future filled with jobs not even dreamed about yet. Robinson argued that creativity plays a crucial role in preparing our students for the jobs of the future. Read on to see how you can help develop creative thinking — while creating a little fun — in your classroom.

     

    Creativity Development

    I am writing this post as a reminder to myself that creativity development is something every student can benefit from throughout the year. It’s easy to do some out-of-the-box activities and thinking at the start of the year, but much harder as the year rolls on. Dr. Susan Baum has spoken extensively about how creativity can be taught/developed in our classrooms. I was fortunate enough to attend a few of her sessions recently at the University of Connecticut. The first two ideas come from her discussions.

    Baum teaches a creativity course at the University of Connecticut, has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children, and is past-president and co-founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students.

    1)    This is NOT…

    Not a Box is a popular book that demonstrates creative thinking by turning boxes and sticks into a variety of fun tools and concepts. Take it one step further and bring in a stick from the playground with the following directions:

    “This is not a stick. I want you to imagine it as something that no one else would imagine. The more creative and unique, the better.” When you call on students to share their ideas, ask for them to demonstrate their vision in use. If a student shares something like, it is a trident spear, ask if anyone else thought of that as well. If so, can they think of another use that no one else has thought of before? This is a great way to get students thinking, well, outside of the box.

    Last year, I had one quiet student continue to utilize this concept all year long. In one instance, I was on the playground and this student came running up with his snack in hand. “This is not a banana!” he said proudly as he shared his spin on the delicious yellow snack. In his imaginative thinking, it was a telephone. This is the kind of thinking we need to foster for our students!

    2)    Farm Animal Greeting Warm-Up

    As a morning ice breaker, assign the students the role of pig, cow, chicken, or sheep. Ask students to walk around and greet each other as their assigned animal using various moods, such as sad, excited, or upset. Wrap this up with a reading of Funny Farm or other farm related read-aloud book. This is an excellent way to wake up the creative juices in your classroom. In addition, it’s just simply fun to do.

    3)    MakerSpace

    If your school or classroom hasn’t been inspired by the MakerSpace movement, now is the perfect time to launch it. The basic premise is that students identify a real-life problem and create a solution. Using readily available materials, they create a prototype before building anything.

    I make sure to focus on the concept of a new new, which is not creating something that is already available, but creating an improvement on something already known. If you think about any smartphone, it is a combination of what was already available: a phone, a camera, and a computer. Putting them together created a new new. Additionally, I focus on the importance of making mistakes. Creating and building something is a process that requires going back to the drawing board more than a few times before perfecting.

     

    4)    Regular Discussion Time: Socratic Seminars

     

    Recently, one of my coworkers came to me and said her students were struggling with higher order thinking, especially within her first few Socratic Seminars of the year. She asked me how to get the students to think past the surface level. When we provide students the opportunity to discuss an article, text, and/or clip that is just outside of their reach it:

    ·       develops critical thinking skills

    ·       fosters collaborative thinking, building new ideas off of what other students have to share

    ·       challenges students to listen to each other

    ·       challenges their thinking

    Over time, creative and critical thinking will develop naturally. I am always amazed to reflect on seminars from the start of the year to the end. It’s such a critical component to developing higher order thinking in our classroom.

    To learn more, here is an earlier post I wrote called "Higher Order Comprehension: The Power of Socratic Seminar."

     

    5)    Open Ended Projects/Assignments

    Having a son who is gifted and can easily be an underachiever without the proper support, I discovered quickly how limiting rubrics can be. My son was capable of acing a paper or project but refused to go above anything not stated. Being an overachiever myself I was pretty frustrated, but it made me aware of the creativity ceiling created by a set rubric in my own classroom and I determined to do something about it.

    Instead of a set of requirements stated for an “A” grade consider creating the essentials that will result in a “B” while asking students to create their own plan to earn additional points for an “A.” Often, students will go above and beyond what you might expect; the creativity factor far exceeds the limitations we might have imposed with a rubric.

     

    Creativity Ideas?

    This just scratches the surface. What do you do in the classroom to foster creativity? Please share in the comments below. 

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