Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Creativity Comment-a-Thon Starts Today

I was emailing with my FableFriends about some ideas, when I came up with the next Comment-A-Thon topic.

"What do you do in your job or life to foster creativity in kids?"

A lot has been written lately about the importance of creativity. Research, ISTE Standards, and journal articles seem to be catching up with what many of us have believed for a long time, Creativity is important!

As my day job is being a music teacher, being creative is not really a stretch. I frequently try to get kids to think "outside the box." Last year, my goal was to get the high school kids to be more involved with the text of the songs they were singing. I invented games and crazy contests, all in the name of greater involvement. One of the things I did in the Spring seemed to really bring out the creative spirit in the kids.

I asked the students to bring in a visual representation of something that was in their songs for state vocal contest. They could choose to depict the words of the song or a musical term. They could draw, use the computer, or, as a last option, they could find pictures in a magazine. The students did a great job. Some of them took photos, many found pictures online, some drew their pictures, and one kid made use of photoshop and created the best (and most humorous) assignment I have seen!

We were singing the song "In This Very Room" and it talks about how the higher power is always with you. So, the kid took a picture of the group and added a picture of Jesus in between a few kids. Because I don't know exactly whose parents have signed the agreement to post pictures, I have cropped most of the kids, the real picture was much better quality!

I teach in a public school and questioned whether I should post it with the others, but it was just too good to not post. Singing the music is protected....religious symbols might tread on thing ice..... Getting kids SO excited about learning.....Worth it!

In the earlier grades, we write rap songs (read about it here). Fifth grade kids animated some of their songs. All kids have an opportunity to write music on Garage Band. And, one of my favorite activities is having kids come up with new verses to songs.

What do you do? Please comment!


Life's a comic strip said...

Wow. I wish I could be in your class too! We never had anything even close to this in school. Kids today are really lucky to have teachers coming up with more and more ways to spark their creativity and interest!


diane said...

What I do the best is not tech-related: I get the kids to look closer, look differently, at books and at the world.

I talk about far-away places, compare what is familiar to what is exotic or fantastic.

My slightly untraditional perspective sometimes generates interesting responses!

LWTHS- English 2 said...

Being a creative person, an artist and graphic designer, I have the hardest time with understanding why people, or kids, can't be creative. When I give creative projects, I get really excited about it, and I usually make my own to show them as a sample. But, alot of the time, I find that the kids mimic what I do. I do it anyways because I can't help myself, but I leave alot of opportunities to be creative wide open, I require a "WOW factor," and I always show examples after projects are completed. We have also taken to spending time on the "what ifs"- talking about "what if you took this one step further."

loonyhiker said...

What a great picture! As for being creative, I have had that problem in my class because my special education students spend so much time trying to be like everyone else that they think being creative means standing out. Also many teachers see creativity in my students as being a form of noncompliance. I like to start a unit and explain what I'm hoping that my students will gain from this unit. Then we discuss ways for them to show me that they have gained this knowledge and I try to ask them to think of creative ways for me to assess this rather than just giving tests on paper. Some of them give pretty good suggestions and I usually let individual students go with the one they feel comfortable with as long as it is one that I can agree on.

TJ Shay said...

Life's A Comic Strip- Thanks! Yes, I think that kids today are given more and more creative things to do. Perhaps as a payback for all the stress on testing?

Diane-- Creativity doesn't have to be technology related. The great thing about books is that e reader gets to visit places in their mind that they may never visit with their bodies!

lwths-english I too have struggled with kids copying what I have done. I am not sure exactly with your projects, but I have found success in giving them an idea that is from a parallel type project.

For example, my kids write a story as if they are an instrument. When I used to ask them what it would be like to be an instrument, I would say, "How would it feel to be stuck in a case?" Then almost every story had a reference to the case. The last two years, I have said, "What would it like to be a car." Then they had some ideas of ways to think about the issues an object has without giving them specifics, and then they have to transfer knowledge to instruments. This has been successful for me.

LoonyHiker -I smiled as I read your comment. It got me to thinking about the projects that I started this blog with, the Animation-Ish Political Cartoons. I didn't post any from 'Special Ed' students, but I can say that some of the best cartoons were done by struggling learners! I think the fact that they got to use their knowledge in a different way, it was refreshing! Thanks for commenting.

cinemaluna said...

Kids get creative when they "get out of their heads." One way to do that is to have them imagine things by using other sense. Ocean music, sage incense, and such.

Other times, I would physically put them in another place. While teaching an English Proficiency class with high schoolers, I had them walk out of the community center (our summer classroom) and had them observe what was going on. Since we were at a park they observed the elderly lawn bowlers and then began to write down what they saw.

Before that point, they were afraid to put down their thoughts because they thought it had to be perfect in grammar and form. But they could never get to that point without writing.

And of course everybody observed something different and that gave us a good starting point to start the revision process. But it was crisp in their minds because they had experienced it.

eplybon said...

One thing I always stressed in my science classroom was that I wanted students to question everything I said. Without skepticism and curiousity, there would be no science. I encouraged them to come up with off-the-wall explanations for ordinary events and then we'd all figure out why those explanations couldn't be right.