Creativity in the classroom
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Creativity in the classroom

>>FEMALE NARRATOR 1: Welcome to Creativity
in the Classroom. This video will help develop teachers’ understanding of their own creativity
as well as that of their students. We will provide research-based insights and suggestions,
as well as present ideas from experienced teachers about how to better understand creativity
and its role in the classroom. The presentation is organized into six segments.
Each segment addresses a question aimed at helping teachers develop their understanding
of creativity and its role in the classroom. Those questions are: Why creativity now?,
What can creativity add to your classroom?, What blocks creativity?, What do you need
to do to develop the creative potential of your students?, What can you do to be more
creative in your own teaching?, and Where can you go from here?>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme One: Defining Creativity.
Creativity involves newness and appropriateness that fits a particular situation.>>BETH HENNESEY: A standard definition typically
has two components. It has a novelty component—something creative has to be new and different. But
it also in recent years, people have decided that newness novelty isn’t enough. You also
need to have an appropriateness criteria.>>JONATHAN PLUCKERr: There has to be sort
of a contextual element to it. So, it’s definitely doing things that are different,
that are useful, but I think you have to define “different” and “useful” based on
the individual.>>LIZ DAVIS: Creativity in my mind is the
ability to kind of open up your mind and let things in that might not normally be there.
It’s sort of an openness, a kind of flow state that you can get into where you’re
experiencing and thinking of things that are different than the norm—a little outside
of the traditional ideas of what should happen and trying to think about what’s possible,
or what you thought might be impossible, and how you can make it possible.>>LAUREN PAYNE: Creativity is looking at something
and adding your own flair to it.>>DANIELLE OLIVER: I define creativity as
taking ideas that are not related and finding ways in which they connect.
Alice Yuan: My definition of creativity, I would say that, it’s a unique and special
way for people in this world to express and communicate with this world—like express
themselves and interests.>>LIZ MCANINCH: My definition of creativity
is someone who can look at something and see combinations of things in ways that have never
been seen before.>>BRIAN BETHEL: Creativity to me is finding
different answers—different approaches to problems—that are outside of the norm.>>KATY LINDSAY: Creativity means just getting
to kind of express how you feel about that. And if you’re drawing a picture, you can
do exactly what you think that would be. And that kind of stuff. So, if you’re drawing
a tree you can do exactly what you think would be in that tree, or exactly what would be
around it.>>ANNE CHENG: Creativity, to me, means really
giving kids the opportunity for choice, and allowing them to explore different ways to
address a particular problems or issue.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Two: Creativity
is a capacity everyone possesses.>>RON BEGHETTO: When I have an idea, or a
little kid has an idea—a new insight that is new and meaningful—that by definition
is creative. But maybe nobody else recognizes it. Isn’t that still creativity? And other
researchers have talked about this. And we call that level of creativity “mini C creativity”.
It’s recognizable to the individual—him or herself—and typically children, but even
legendary creators have these kind of moments of inspiration that maybe only they recognize—right?—but
then, they have the knowledge and skills and capacities to kind of take it to higher levels.
And so, what we recognize is that little kids are having this all the time—they’re having
these momentary insights, and any time they are making a meaningful connection it’s
a part of the learning process.>>RUTH RICHARDS: The key point here is it’s
not about what you do—art, science, et cetera—it’s about how you do it. You can bring a certain
orientation and qualities to your life, and make just about anything creative.>>JOHN GREGORY: I try to bring in creativity
into the classroom as much as I can. Not only do students naturally wish to be creative,
but it’s really what engages them through the process. If we did not have creativity
in the classroom it would just be really dull and unexciting. And I wouldn’t really get
to know who my students are as individuals.>>STEVEN PRITZKER: Creativity has the power
to energize students and teachers in a very positive way. Thinking of something you never
thought of before is exciting—it’s the opposite of rote memorization, because it’s
organic, self-generated learning.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Three: Creativity
and learning can go hand-in-hand—creativity enriching subject matter learning and subject
matter learning enhancing creativity.>>LIZ DAVIS: Creativity is part of really
everything I do as a teacher. It’s in the lesson planning, it’s “How I can I think
about this topic in a way that is different than what might have been taught before?”,
it’s “How can I inspire the students in my class to do something differently and in
an original way and not be constrained by the norms of society?”, and let them really
let go with their ideas.>>BRIAN BETHEL: If there was a little more
cross-curricular collaboration… Between art and math, there is a lot of similarities.
And there is a lot of things that come into play.>>HANNAH FRIEDEL: Art helps you see things
in a different way almost—like in patterns. And I think that in science and math, and
that kind of thing, it’s important to be able to see things in patterns—instead of
just memorizing things—so that you know how to do something, instead of specifically
what something is. And in that way, you can solve all kinds of problems and it doesn’t
necessarily have to be limited to just what you can remember.>>ANNE CHENG: For us, the problems that we
pose to the kids is, we said “Well, why don’t you find a problem in the school to
tackle that you think that you could make easier through developing a system of simple
machines? So, make a human task mechanized.”. And we allowed them to find their own problem
and also figure out on their own, through engineering and design mechanisms, how to
put four simply machines together. We gave some broad parameters, but they really had
a lot of freedom to figure out on their own: “What’s the problem that has merit to
tackle in the school?”, and “How are we going to achieve that human task with four
simple machines?”.>>KEENAN HASHEM: I decided to make a pulley
connected to the catwalk at school and we would have a dumbwaiter at the bottom with
an incline plane on the floor. And you could put your backpack on the dumbwaiter, and then
you would pull on a string and it would lift the backpack up to the catwalk, instead of
walking all the way up the stairs.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 1: From theory to practice.
One of the best ways to understand how creativity and learning go hand-in-hand is to make a
connection to your existing curriculum. When developing an assignment, try adding one or
two additional directions that encourage students to express divergent and unique thinking.
Creativity researchers in China demonstrated how math teachers cultivated creative expression
by simply asking their students to come up with as many solutions as possible when solving
math problems. In this way, students can both deepen their mathematical and creative competence.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Four: Creativity
requires a willingness to play with ideas, be open and take risks in a safe atmosphere.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: I think one thing that
we need to get past is that Americans—and I’m not sure if this is true for other countries,
but the research has been done here—we generally think that if something is fun, it’s not
necessarily productive. And so, there have been studies that have shown that if you teach
people in two different ways—one’s very dry, rote, boring lecture and the other is
game playing, goofing around, but with a purpose—at the end, if you test those people, the people
who had fun are generally going to do better. They were more engaged, they understand it
better, but when you ask each group “Which one do you think learned more?” it was the
serious boring group. And I think the real take away from that, is that we’ve become
convinced that in order for it to be school-based and learning, it has to be boring.>>JOHN GREGORY: When I did my Masters of Education
there wasn’t really much talk about, “What’s fun in the classroom?”. There’s a lot
discussion of how to maybe lead a discussion or how to teach essay writing, but really,
when we teach kids we should remember that it’s supposed to be fun. They need to be
engaged through this. And so, creativity is a wonderful way to just try to open them up
and show them that learning isn’t necessarily a task, but it’s something that’s enjoyable
and we can all participate in together.>>KATY LINDSAY: If I were a teacher I would
probably teach science because it’s really fun for me. And then I’d kind of do really
fun stuff because now that I know that it’s way more easier and fun to do whatever you’re
doing in that subject when it’s a fun thing. So, I would probably try and do it like it’s
fun.>>LIZ DAVIS: Often people ask, “How do I
know they’re learning if they are having fun?”. And my answer is to begin with, “What
a sad question that we have to ask if we’re learning or we’re having fun.”, because
it’s the Listerine, Alfie Kohn says it’s the Listerine model of education. It tastes
bad, so it must be working. And really, learning should be fun.>>BETH HENNESEY: Creativity in classrooms
is about setting up environments that are conducive to students of all ages, taking
risks, becoming immersed in projects and problems, having the leeway, the freedom, the blessing
of their school and their teacher, and the materials necessary to make creative discoveries,
to take those risks, to go on a lot of different paths.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Segment review and reflection.
Summing up, we’ve covered three themes. Creativity involves newness and appropriateness
that fits a particular situation. Creativity is a capacity everyone possesses. Creativity
and learning can go hand-in-and—creativity enriching subject matter and subject matter
learning enhancing creativity. Creativity requires a willingness to play with ideas,
be open and take risks in a safe atmosphere. You can pause the presentation to think about
any of the questions we ask. Does the way in which creativity was described
provide new insights into how you might think about creativity in your own classroom? In
what ways do these descriptions expand you own view of your students and your own creativity?
What new possibilities for teaching and learning come to mind when you think about these descriptions?
What questions and concerns do these descriptions raise for you as a classroom teacher? How
might you attempt to address these questions and concerns? In reflecting on these themes,
how do they fit with or challenge your own conceptions of creativity? Segment Two: What can creativity add to your
classroom? Advocates of creativity have long stressed the importance of including creativity
into the everyday curriculum. So, why is it that there now seems to be an increased emphasis
placed on creativity? Theme one: The increasingly complex problems
we face in the 21st Century require creativity skills to solve.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: I do think in general,
at a national level, we do a good job with creativity and innovation. I don’t think
we train people and/or develop people in terms of creativity and problem solving well. I
think other countries are starting to figure out how to do it better—largely using things
that we developed here, like more advanced complex problem based learning.>>LIZ DAVIS: We want kid to change the world
in a positive way. And we think creativity is an essential piece of change in this world
to make it a better place.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Two. Research indicates
that enhanced creativity in the classroom can improve standardized test scores.>>FRANK WORRELL: Tests are related to the
increased accountability mandates that we have. And so, what that does is we are so
interested in what kids know and this increased sense of accountability that we are ignoring
individual differences. And so, students who are a little bit different have to bubble
in that one right answer. Now, it’s not that that one right answer is incorrect necessarily,
but it doesn’t allow for creative responses—and in fact creativity requires mistakes. And
so, for example, with the new Common Core Test, where you’ve got to put your answers
down—you’re thinking alongside your answers—this should provide an opportunity for the more
creative kids, who may not get the correct answer, but who will get some points for their
creative thinking. And if their teachers have access to what they’ve put down, the teachers
then will be able to use those things to help develop their creativity, while at the same
time their skill levels based on the thinking that they had and where they went astray.>>JOHN BAER: Creativity and critical thinking—every
kind of sort of higher thinking skills—aren’t at war, aren’t at odds, with learning content
knowledge. If there is one thing that I want teachers to understand it’s they go together,
they go hand-in-hand, that as students think about things richly, deeply in interesting
and unusual ways, they’ll also know and understand and remember those things much
better. So, it’s not one or the other. The two go together.>>JAMES KAUFMAN: Several studies have found
that the people who do better on standardized tests are the people who are more creative.
What people like Robert Sternberg and other researchers have found, is that creativity
can actual predict college success above and beyond what we get just from standardized
tests scores.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Does creativity play
a role in your teaching and your students’ learning? Do you think you could help both
your students and yourself and have more fun learning by using more creative teaching techniques? Take a few moments now to reflect on the following
key themes from this segment. The increasingly complex problems we face in the 21st Century
require creativity skills to solve. Research indicates that enhanced creativity in the
classroom can improve standardized tests scores. Clearly, teachers alone can’t reverse or
restructure the current educational system, but they can still have a meaningful impact
in their own classroom. What will it take for you to find the time and support necessary
to more fully incorporate creativity in your classroom? Which of these things will require
external or administrative support and which of these things might you do on your own?
What can you do to find ways to incorporate creativity in your classroom? How can you
communicate to colleagues, administrators, and educational allies what is needed for
you to meaningfully incorporate creativity into your curriculum? Segment Three. What blocks creativity? Roadblocks
include creativity stereotypes and misconceptions about how to include creativity in one’s
classroom. In this segment we’ll discuss ways you can successfully deal with these
roadblocks. Theme One. Be aware of stereotypes and misconceptions related to creativity.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: You’re busy, you’re
doing lots of different things, and you start to stereotype information. And some of those
stereotypes are that certain students are creative and certain students aren’t creative.
Or that poor students, who may be struggling to learn to read, doesn’t have a lot of
support at home. She shouldn’t worry about that, and shouldn’t worry about creativity.
As though that kid is never going to have problem solve. And I think those are all really
strange misconceptions that we’ve really allowed to build up over time.>>JANE PIIRTO: There’s this myth that gifted
children are more creative than other children, so you have to speak to that. I believe all
children are creative.>>FRANK WORRELL: Children from underrepresented
groups often have less educational capital than their more affluent peers. There are
less books in the household, the parents may have less education. And so, therefore, they’ve
got to be more creative in what they do. They have less toys, less activities to do, so
they make up stuff. They’re often creative in their activities. And the teacher can tap
into that creativity and channel that into their school work.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Two. Examine your
own attitude towards creativity and help yourself grow by thinking about alternative solutions
and having new experiences.>>LIZ DAVIS: Teaching is constant problem
solving. You never know what’s going to happen, what you’re going to face. Kids
are a very tough audience and keeping them engaged is challenging. So, for me, I am constantly
trying to come up with new ideas and use my creative skills to build a program that fits
what kids need and excites them, energizes them.>>DON AMBROSE: If you use concept cartooning,
or have kids design and draw or paint visual metaphors to capture the essence of complex
academic information, suddenly you’re appealing to the artistic talents of kids.>>ABBY DAVIS: I’m more of a visual learning
sometimes. So, maybe I’ll use a strategy of drawing a picture or something like that.
For someone who is a visual learner, to read things, they might read the story and highlight
things that are important. Just now in math, we were working on this problem where we have
to draw a picture and try and make it so we can go over every bridge without going over
one twice or without lifting up your pencil. And although I thought it was really hard,
instead of reading a question over and over again, I kept drawing it over and over again
just kept trying my best.>>BETH HENNESEY: We still have those contemporary
stories of those “ah ha” experiences, where a creative idea or solution does just
seem to spring out of nowhere. It turns out that for most of us, the majority of the time—even
the Nobel Laureates out there—creativity involves a lot of hard work, a lot of time
and effort, sweat toil and trouble. There’s nothing magic about it. And I think that helps
if teachers realize that and if they also pass that message on to their kids.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: From theory to practice.
When planning learning and assessment activities, include prompts that include creativity. This
can be done by making simple alteration to the directions and expectations of an assignment.
Robert Sternberg highlighted the following six verbs that can be included as prompts
when designing or modifying assignments: create, invent, discover, imagine if, suppose that,
and predict. Help children develop their creativity by
being open and supporting students’ unique ideas, insights and interpretations.>>JOHN BAER: A lot of students don’t really
know how creative they are because they haven’t had a lot of chances to do things to show
that creativity and to get feedback to find out, “Yes, this is seen as creative.”.
They may know they are very good at math facts, but whether they are good at creating interesting
math puzzles… How would they know that? So, it’s hard if we just ask people how
creative they are in different areas. There’s a limit about how much we can trust that self-reported
information.>>JOHN GREGORY: I teach humanities. So, I
can do things like have the student roleplay as different historical roles, and then maybe
create that roleplay as a skit and preform it for the rest of the class. Or, even just
imagine what life would have been like and have them do a short story where they become
a historical figure. There’s lots of ways that students can just engage their imagination
and think through history or think through their writing in a creative way.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Segment Three: Review
and Reflection. Summing up, we’ve covered three themes. Be aware of stereotypes of and
misconceptions related to creativity. Examine your own attitude toward creativity and help
yourself grow by thinking about alternative solutions. Help children develop their creativity
by being open and supporting students’ unique ideas, insights and interpretations. Have the ideas presented in this segment helped
you recognize misconceptions about creativity that may still be serving as roadblocks for
you? What misconceptions of creativity do you, your colleagues, or even you students’
hold that may get in the way of teaching for and with creativity in your own classroom?
How might you work to address these problematic misconceptions? What questions remain about
creativity and its role in your classroom? How might you take steps to address those
questions? Segment Four. What can you do to develop the
creative potential of your students? Does developing creative competence mean teaching
students creative thinking skills and techniques? Does it mean spending class time encouraging
students to come up with 100 different uses for a chalkboard eraser? When you think of
how to develop students’ creative competence, what comes to mind? Theme one. Creativity
requires protecting and supporting students’ intrinsic motivation.>>BETH HENNESEY: What I’ve realized, both
as a former elementary school teacher and now as a theorist and a researcher, is that
one of the key components to creativity, maybe the key component—beyond certain levels
of knowledge or domain skills in whatever area you’re looking at—one of the key
components is motivation.>>JOHN BAER: It’s hard to pump up intrinsic
motivation—it’s a lot easier to kill it. But we can at least do somethings so we can
get out of the way of their own interests, and let them do it, enjoy it with them. Not
reward them for it, not bribe them for doing it, not grade them. Other times, we need to
evaluate what they do. So, that’s another thing we can do: we can sometimes not grade
things. And there are some assignments we can give, that are some of the most interesting
assignments we might ask students to do, that there is not fair way to give a grade—big
open ended, huge questions, that are really interesting, but how do you grade them? They
did them. Those kind of activities are wonderful to do. They’re wonderful thinking activities,
they encourage intrinsic motivation. We don’t have to grade everything.>>FEMALE STUDENT: Last year we dissected an
owl pellet. And that was really fun because it was kind of cool and it was kind of gross
also. And we got to work in teams. It was just really fun.>>ZORANA PRINGLE: The creative process is
full of emotional experiences. It is full of joy, of discovery—when discovery happens.
Also, more positive emotions help the creative process because they help people to think
in broader ways.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 1: From theory to practice.
Beth Hennesey offered research-based concrete suggestions to help teachers protect the intrinsic
motivation of their students. These include: try to limit competitions and comparison with
others, focus on their self-improvement, try to experiment with lessening the monitoring
of students, provide opportunities and options for students to feel in control of their learning
by offering some choice on assignments, find ways to help students take pride and celebrate
their accomplishments, provide opportunities for students to share and discuss their work
with others, provide feedback on students’ work that highlights both their strengths
and areas in need of improvement, make it clear to students that creativity does require
effort and if one works at it, creativity can be achieved—it’s not just reserved
for the select few.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Two. Developing
our own supportive attitude is the first step in establishing a creative supportive classroom.>>RON BEGHETTO: I think what we can do as
a teacher, instead of saying, “Uh, why don’t you think about that more.”, say, “Tell
me more about that.”, “How might that fit with what we’re talking about in math
right now?”. And so you can help students learn that there is a context for creativity.
And maybe they are saying, “Oh, well, I guess it might not fit with math. I was thinking
about something else.”, and that’s fine. So, I think part of what we want to do is
help students know when to be creative, when it’s useful, and how it might fit and when
it may not fit, without stifling it. And I think the only way we can do that is to be
present with those ideas and draw them out.>>DANIELLE OLIVER: I teach a gardening class.
And we were exploring ecosystems. And so, we took a kind of walk around the neighborhood
to see our ecosystem. And the question came up—we ran across a Persimmon Tree, and the
students were saying, “Oh, it’s poisonous. I tried eating it and my tongue went numb.
”—and so the question came up, “Well, why would a fruit be poisonous if it’s supposed
to be edible, so some creature will carry it around?”. And so, we are going to be
exploring next week toxins: why would plants develop toxins? And it’s just very exciting
to see what we are going to find out.>>JOHN BAER: The good news is the best way
to learn content, which is what teachers naturally worry a lot about because it’s kind of their
job to help students learn history, learn science, learn language arts, to learn content,
and the best way to learn content is to think about it by exploring creativity and teaching
for creativity in all the areas where we teach. This will not only help students be more creative
in those areas, it will also help them remember the content and understand the content they
need for all kinds of tasks.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme Three. Challenge
students to think for themselves.>>MAGDALENA GROHMAN: I think that sometimes
those challenging or distracting questions are really about showing that: I am here,
I am thinking, and maybe I want to get something that will interest me.>>STEVNE PRITZKER: The reason I got interested
in creativity and education is that I was one of those disruptive kids in the back of
the room making jokes, talking, truthfully bored out of my skull. A few times a teacher
inspired me by letting me follow a character that really interested me, like Napoleon,
but most of the time in class I was essentially brain dead. Research indicated that some students
who drop out may be exceptionally creative. They leave because they are bored, they aren’t
involved in what’s going on, and they may end up getting in trouble. If you can get
one of those kids excited and engaged in school you can change their lives forever.>>LIZ DAVIS: I think if you engage the mind
of a kid, you put them in a place where they want to learn, and they do what is being asked
of them. And so, if you allow a child to express their creativity, I think they’re much less
likely to be a difficult child in the classroom.>>RON BEGHETTO: If we’re afraid of taking
chances, there is no way our students are going to be willing to do that. And I think
for teachers, it’s kind of hard. We always feel like there is this third eye watching
us like, “Am I acting like a teacher now? Shouldn’t I know the answer to this?”.
So I think instead of running away from that, just being really honest—and again, being
really present—saying, “You know what? I have no idea, but let’s see if we can
figure it out together.”.>>LAUREN PAYNE: How I measure creativity in
myself is what makes me feel better and what is truest to who I am on the inside and what
ideas I want to express. It’s not depending or relying on other people’s opinion to
back up my work and give it value.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme four. Establish
relationships with your students that are sensitive to cultural and economic differences.>>JAMES KAUFMAN: One thing that’s interesting
is that if you look at measures of intelligence or achievement there are certain differences
by ethnicity and by gender, but when you look at creativity those difference disappear.
Everybody has the same potential to be creative.>>RON BEGHETTO: I think one of the problems
we have with schooling currently is the game of school is if you can guess the way a teacher
wants to hear things, because you have a similar experience with them, you’re already going
to be advantaged in that situation. Whereas creativity honors a different perspective.
And so, automatically, if you have a different social, cultural, historical lived experience,
and you’re given voice in a space, that’s going to create a situation where creativity
can really be cultivated and grow.>>RUTH RICHARDS: This one study was done through
NYU, but it was national, so they had teachers around the country, who were integrating arts
into a multicultural curriculum. And in this particular example, which is very nice, this
one young girl at this high school—and she was from a pretty disadvantaged background
in a school where a lot of kids didn’t even finish—was told that she could be the mayor
of her city. And it was up to her to choose art to hang in city hall that would reflect
her heritage. She picked a particular one called The Flower Vendor—if you know that,
by Diego Rivera—and that, for her, and she also wrote about it, meant so much in terms
of what it meant for her parents to come to this country, for her father to work so hard
to support the family and here it was displayed. And then she could write about it. The kids
in this particular program not only did better on standardized tests, they had higher self-esteem
than the kids who didn’t do this.>>FRANK WORRELL: As you know, it is important
for teachers and students to have a relationship. And that way, the kid is willing to work for
the teacher. I love the movie Avatar, where they say, “I see you.”. So, I see you.
And teachers need to see students just as students need to see teachers. Because being
creative requires going out on a limb, and if in fact I am going to go out on a limb,
and I’m going to make a mistake in front of you, I’ve got to trust you and trust
that you have my back.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Review and reflection.
Summing up, we’ve covered four themes. Creativity requires protecting and supporting students’
intrinsic motivation. Examine your own attitude towards creativity and help yourself grow
by thinking about alternative solutions and having new experiences. Challenge students
to think for themselves. Establish relationships with your students that are sensitive to cultural
and economic differences. In reflecting on these themes, how can you
adapt or modify your existing lessons to incorporate these ideas? What new possibilities for teaching
come to mind when you reflect on these suggestions? What is something you can try the next time
you teach a lesson? How can you adapt or modify your existing assessments to also assess creativity?
How might you learn more about the creative process so that you can recognize and incorporate
into your everyday teaching? Segment Five. What can you do to be more creative
in your teaching? Although teaching for and with creativity typically go hand-in-hand
it is sometimes helpful to take time and consider how your efforts aimed at teaching for creativity
can be supported if you attempt to teach more creatively. Theme one. Develop your own creativity
and allow your students to see your creative passion in your teaching.>>BETH HENNESEY: It’s important for teachers,
for their own personal growth and education, to develop their creativity in small ways.
But it’s also important that their students see that. That they see teachers who have
passions for things, whether it’s drawing or painting or music or writing or theater.>>JOHN GREGORY: I love writing. I try to show
my students my own work and share my writing with them—even if it’s just an example
of something that they could create for an assignment. They love to see what we’re
capable of as teachers. And to share our work with them, they’re able to identify with
us a little bit more, and that strengthens our bond as well.>>LIZ MCANINCH: I could never teach the same
way. Things that worked I like to teach again. I go to lots of conferences with other English
teachers who are showing best practices and giving us ideas. And usually, I get an idea
from them, and then I take it and I tweak it to make it fit my students and my situation.
And I like doing that. And I like trying new things and then going out and sharing them
with other teachers too.>>BETH HENNESEY: Kids need to see that teachers
care about creativity in order for students themselves to think, “Well, maybe that would
be interesting for me to take a risk.”. Creativity is all about risk taking.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme two. Use creative
instructional strategies, models and methods as much as possible in a variety of domains.>>FRANK WORRELL: One way for teachers to enhance
creativity in their students, is for teachers to model creativity themselves. So, for example,
if you are teaching a lesson, you can say, “You know, I thought about three ways to
introduce this lesson. I’m going to show you two ways that I thought about it. And
I’d like you to come up with a third. And then, when you share your third, I’ll share
my third way.”. And that way, both students and teachers are modeling creativity.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: Probably the best example
I can give of really just transforming an entire curriculum is, I’ve over the years
worked with teachers, we’ll just take something that is inherently interesting to students.
Usually, unfortunately, it’s disasters—students are fascinated by disasters. So, we’ll take
Titanic, in part because there is so much good material out there. For very little money
you can go to a second hand book shop and walk out with arms of material about Titanic.
And, to really walk students through what happened. And have them work to actually solve
the problem of saving people on board that boat. It’s amazing how fast students can
come up fairly advanced engineering principles, basic physics, biology, all things that they
have to learn to solve the problem. But they learn them so quickly, because it’s within
this really engaging framework. You can teach history using the Titanic. You can teach economics
too. Why were there so many famous and incredibly wealthy people on that boat? And why were
they wealthier than they are now? There’s no income tax. There were no planes to fly
back and forth. So, all these rich people were moving to their Spring and Summer homes
in the U.S. from Europe, which is where they wintered. There’s so much there! You can
teach them about journalism. One of the reasons why there were so many myths about the sinking—I
believe there were at least a dozen, if not closer to twenty, daily newspapers in New
York City at that time—it was the height of Yellow Journalism. They couldn’t wait
to find out what actually happened. They had to kind of guess. Because if they waited,
twelve other newspapers were going to beat them to the story. So, we have headlines that
say, “The ship sank and everyone died”. We have other headlines that say, “No one
died”. There is so many things that you can teach
about something that really happened over the space of two and a half hours. I’ve
seen teachers take an English arts lesson and transform it using the Titanic to bring
students in, get them thinking differently. I’ve seen take an entire unit, every content
area, and use the Titanic to teach all the relevant concepts. And they were able to do
it quickly and without much difficulty and the students were so excited. It’s just
not that hard to do. We’re just not used to think about that even being a possibility.
And if my teams work, if we’ve accomplished nothing else, but to get teachers around the
country to start to get thinking about what the alternatives are, then I think we’ll
have been successful.>>ANNE CHENG: Especially for kids that are
introverted, that may benefit from some time to think on their own, we allow them to have
some individual time to come up with their own ideas of how they can solve this particular
problem. And then, we get them together as a group and we say, “Okay, now you’re
in a group of three or four. You’re each going to individually present your own ideas.”.
And then, here are some criteria for evaluating, which ideas might be best and might best go
into a team project. That’s the power of collaboration—other people come up with
ideas that you may not have thought of. And I’m amazed, as a teacher, when you give
teachers some freedom within some broad parameters, they come up with things that I would have
never thought of myself. And it’s pretty amazing to see that process happen.>>ABBY DAVIS: So, I think it’s really interesting
that all the teachers are focusing on your strategies you use and not the things you
memorize over time.>>JOHN GREGORY: To get the students to engage
their creativity, it can happen in really quick and bit-sized ways throughout the day.
Quick writes. Just giving them a short writing prompt asking them to imagine a certain scenario
and how they might react, or to create a short story. Just in five minutes of a journal entry
can be a really great way to have access their creativity and maybe it can grow into something
larger later on.>>BRIAN BETHEL: I think the technology that’s
out there now really really helps build that creativity in itself. I don’t necessarily
have to come up with a lot of the stuff myself. There’s a lot of material out there. In
my class I use as a free site that is all open source material put on by teachers—so
all the information that’s out there is usable—so I built textbooks for my calculus
class, for my trigonometry class, that is parts that are missing from the textbooks
that I like or I don’t like. I also use the MIT Open Source for another source of
information for my students. There’s some really cool lectures on there by some very
interesting people.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 1: From theory to practice.
You may want to try converting some of your lessons into projected based learning activities.
In this segment Jonathan Plucker provided a brief overview of a project based learning
unit based on the Titanic. Project based learning provides an excellent vehicle for cultivating
both academic learning and creative problem solving. Fortunately, there are many sources
that can provide ideas and get teachers started in developing smaller scale projects. Edutopia provides an excellent collection
of videos and summaries of projects that can spark teacher’s and their students’ imaginations.
The Buck Institute for Education also provides useful resources and materials for the step
by step development, which can help make projects feasible and focused on obtaining academic
learning objectives. You are encouraged to review these resources and try converting
an existing academic unit using the ideas and guidelines you find there.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Review and reflection.
Summing up, we’ve covered two themes. Develop your own creativity and allow your students
to see your creative passion in your teaching. Use creative instructional strategies, models
and methods as much as possible in a variety of domains. In reflecting on these themes,
what does it mean to you to teach creatively? Do you see yourself as a creative teacher?
How might you find opportunities to discuss, model and demonstrate your own creative passions
to your students? Segment Six. Where can we go from here? The
field of creativity studies is still relatively young. Hopefully by paying attention to this
subject, you will be able to grow both professionally and personally. Theme one. Creativity needs
to be encouraged and supported by the combined effort of educators, researchers, parents,
and policy makers.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: How hard would it be to
work more on creativity and problem solving into teacher training programs? We don’t
do nearly enough of that. I think the biggest change that we need to make, is that we need
to change state education accountability systems. So that, helping students become more creative,
helping them become better problem solvers, is something you get credit for, as opposed
to being a barrier for other things that you get credit for. I think if you change things
like that, people are going to be shocked at how fast teachers start to worry about
things like creativity, because I think that the vast majority of them get that it’s
very very important. We’ve just made it almost impossible for them to focus on it.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Theme two. Teachers can
enhance their creativity by engaging in a variety of creative activities, and experimenting
with new ways of teaching.>>ZORANA PRINGLE: I study how personality
is related to creativity. And we find that there is one personality trait that is most
important for creativity. And that trait is called “Openness to Experience”. It involves
curiosity and imagination, asking lots of questions, being interested in intellectual
ideas, and playing with ideas. Examples of things that people who are more open to experiences
do is they read more books, they go to museums, they have conversations about ideas that they
are interested in, they challenge themselves.>>BETH HENNESEY: It doesn’t have to be fancy.
Teachers can have sort of off the cuff, informal conversations with kids about what’s really
important in school. What’s really important is to try your best, to find things that you
really love and are interested in, and to explore those things, to work hard at those
things. All too often, kids aren’t ever asked to really think about what it is that
they really have a passion for. It’s cooler to say, “Oh, I hate school. School is boring.”.
By the time kids are seven or eight years old you hear that, but if you really take
the time to sit down with students of all ages and talk to them about what they find
exciting, where their passions lie, and make those salient for students, that can take
them a long way in terms of maintain their motivation and creativity.>>RON BEGHETTO: Anna Craft talks about what
is to possibility thinking, “What if?”. And I think you can only do that with divergent
perspectives. If everyone is coming from the same lived experience, same perspective, knows
how to answer the question the way that I’m already conceptualizing it, then we are going
to get nowhere new.>>ZORANA PRINGLE: I have been working on a
big projects about sources of pleasures and pressures that teachers experience. The great
news is that teachers report a lot of joy in their profession. Teachers report really
enjoying and experiencing reward from coming up with new ways of teaching the material,
finding new things for their material, enjoying their subject matter. All these things that
are either created inherently or that are very much related to successful and creative
teaching.>>BRIAN BETHEL: I think this idea of creativity
in the classroom is huge. And if we can keep that spark and the new sense of trying new
things, it’s a huge deal.>>JONATHAN PLUCKER: I think there’s a lot
of hope. I think there are a lot of cool things that we know work well.>>FEMALE NARRATOR 2: Review and reflection.
Summing up, we’ve covered two themes. Creativity need to be encouraged and supported by the
combined effort of educators, researchers, parents, and policymakers. Teachers can enhance
their creativity by engaging in a variety of creative activities and experimenting with
new ways of teaching. How might you engage your colleagues, administrators, community
members, and students in discussions about the role that creativity can and should play
in the everyday classroom? How might you stay current with the field of creativity studies,
share what you are learning with your students and colleagues, and incorporate those ideas
and suggestions into your own practice? What questions do you still have about teaching
for and with creativity? How do you place to address those questions?>>FEMALE NARRATOR 1: Thank you for joining
us on our quest to bring more creativity to the classroom. We deeply respect the work
you are doing. As a teacher, you have the power to inspire your students and positively
change their lives forever. Our hope is that this video inspired you to think about utilizing
your creativity in new ways as a powerful teaching resource, and as an avenue for personal
growth. If you are interested in learning more about
the topic, here is a link to a website with relevant books, articles, websites, and videos.
Thank you for joining us.

About James Carlton

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5 thoughts on “Creativity in the classroom

  1. Thank you for sharing this video! The link to the website is not found, how can I have access to the website?

  2. If you have any personal tips for creativity in the classroom, please help other teachers and parents by listing them here.

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