Remote learning has created a whole new teaching environment for many of us. From colorful lively classrooms, bustling with activity, and noisy with chatter from students to isolated learning at dining room tables and couches across the country. Teaching and learning in this format may mean structured online learning management tools with timelines and checklists. For others, this time may mean more freedom and opportunity to try new things. WIth state assessments on hiatus, this is the perfect time to create opportunities for your students to express themselves in creative, imaginative ways.
As many of us enter into the last month of this unusual school year, let’s take advantage of the opportunity and provide learning experiences that boost the imaginations of our students and ignite their creativity. There are simple activities that can unlock creative thinking for our students despite them being at home. During the month of May, think about incorporating one idea each week so that you can inspire students to continue developing their creativity throughout the summer months.
Build Creative Habits
Developing habits means that we can engage in activities that become a part of our regular practice. Since many of us have established entirely new habits at home, it is the perfect time to add a new creative habit into our repertoires. Think about adding one new creative habit into your online classroom practice. Maybe you’ll add a creative warm-up each morning? Students can keep a journal to document their creative endeavors. Here are a few suggestions to start the day:
Draw an image of the first thing you saw this morning
Share an emoji about how you are feeling today
Create a rhyming couplet that describes what you ate for breakfast
Listen to some classical music and have students doodle while they listen
Not only can these habits spark creative thoughts in our students, but they can also serve as a way to calm students and interject humor when students need it most.
During this unique time of learning at home, younger kids have lots of questions. (With 6 and 8-year-old sons at home, I get bombarded with questions all day!) Use this time of uncertainty to build on curious questions. These can be used as writing or drawing prompts or discussion questions. Post a question on Padlet or record your question on FlipGrid and have students respond.
If you could travel anywhere by hot air balloon, where would you go?
You have to give up one of the five senses. Which one would you choose and why?
If you could only eat 5 things for the next year, what would it be and why?
Building student curiosity with questions and activities prompts them to think in different ways. It may also allow their minds to wander and explore new ideas.
Give students a break from technology and encourage some hands-on opportunities for maker learning. Making can mean drawing, designing, building, deconstructing, cooking, or composing--it is any active learning experience that allows students to work with a hands-on, minds-on kind of way.
Think about things that students might have at home. Infuse creative options into your weekly lessons. Can students sketchnote their responses to questions? Maybe write their answers to class questions using sidewalk chalk? Can they build something to show their understanding of content using cardboard boxes, toothpicks, paper, or tape? Maybe they can use outdoor materials to design, explore, or experiment? What about practicing math skills with a measuring/cooking project? These are important parts of learning that can often be neglected inside the classroom. Now is the time to unleash creative learning for every learner.
When students engage in maker learning of any kind, they are tapping into skills of creativity and critical thinking.
Boosting our own creativity and the creativity of our students doesn’t have to happen in large scale projects and bold exhibitions. We can incorporate short challenges that can get our creative juices flowing by activating our imagination. Try one of these one-minute creative challenges:
Search Google images and capture one that evokes creative thinking to you
Brainstorm the names of three songs that inspire you to create
Sketch a logo that can symbolize your personal creative thinking
Write as many words as you can that can be built from the letters in the word “creative”
Think about the ways you could hack a paper clip to create a new invention. How many uses can you come up within one minute?
Creativity can look very different for each student. Providing different options within your instruction and sharing opportunities to think flexibly can jumpstart creativity in your students. Unlocking creative thinking is needed now more than ever. Try one of these strategies to build creative habits, spark curiosity, engage in maker learning, and try some creative challenges.
An educator for the last 23 years, Dr. Jacie Maslyk, has served as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. She is the author of STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom, Connect to Lead: Power Up Your Learning Network to Move Your School Forward (ISTE), Remake Literacy: Innovative Instructional Strategies for Maker Learning, Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students and All In: Taking a Gamble in Education. Jacie is a featured blogger with Demco, Defined Learning, and Education Closet, as well as maintaining her own blog, Creativity in the Making at www.jaciemaslyk.blogspot.com . Jacie has a featured speaker for FETC 2020 and recently served as the keynote speaker for the Virginia Children’s Engineering Council annual conference. Jacie presents around the country and enjoys consulting with school districts and providing professional development for teachers.
Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students
Every classroom is filled with creative potential. Unlock Creativity will help you discover opportunities that will make every student see themselves as a creative thinker. The keys shared in this book will spark your personal creativity and offer you imaginative ideas that will open new doors for your students to explore. Now, more than ever, it is time to unlock creative opportunities for our students.