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Creativity Crunch

September 24, 2015

I surveyed my Grade 3s last week. I wanted to find out what they liked and didn’t like doing in class, after al we have been together for about 2 moths now. Feedback is important right?  I gave them the day to think about it- with a few reminders that this reflection was their ‘exit slip’ for the day and we also spent some time on why this question was important and more importantly why I wanted their honest opinion. To make things interesting for them and so they can learn better. And to be quite frank, kids are brutally 21023536784_4b07f05ba9_zhonest, maybe which is why I like working and learning from them.

So I discovered a lot of things last week about my teaching, reflected on how I can ‘teach’ for a better word, through a more inquiry based lens but I realised I needed to know more about my learners. I got to peek into the learners brains and find out a little bit more about them and what they are passionate about. We have something I call ‘Choice Time’ We have an agreement about what is good use of choice time, how we interact with each other.

During Choice Time in Grade 3 we:

  • talk, share and discuss
  • create, build and craft
  • are respectful, responsible and open-minded

So what did my Grade 3s enjoy the most? Well, Choice Time of course. It no surprise that we all want to learn more when we are interested in something. It was the overwhelming response and a frank one. So I’ve been ‘re-inspired’ reading Sir Ken Robinson new book: Creative Schools. I also watched this Sir Ken Robinson Interview the other night that was pretty inspirational.

I also got inspired by watching Cain’s Arcade so I thought what a great provocation. It’s over 10 minutes long if you haven’t seen it, I played  3 minutes of it and then stopped to get some learner feedback and I had 20 heads look at me and say ‘Hey!! Let it play!’ They were that engaged. The power of kids connecting with kids (Thanks Kath for that reminder last week).

So we watched the whole video and they thought it was awesome. It created a lot of discussion. Now I didn’t really plan to do anything with Cain’s Arcade other than show them but we starting to have these discussions about making stuff and what happens when you make stuff (create). So I got a butchers paper and write down what I though captured their ideas: “What does it mean to create’? We then put down our own ideas, some asked if they could write more than one idea. We had that many. While they were doing this I whipped up a quick challenge/engagement/task do try during Choice Time. It looked like this and they eagerly accepted.

Screenshot 2015-09-24 12.28.15

What happened was the learners had an opportunity to create, but more importantly explain the why and how and 21026398653_6d6c69f7c0_zcommunicate and work with others if they chose to and oddly enough they didn’t only work with the best friends. The class was somewhat noisy, but a busy noise like bees in a hive. Now Ive done this before in different ways but what I never got students to do was to document. They were responsible for showing the process. They got out their iPads. Some made time-lapse videos, other took photos and put them in order in Slides, Book Creator or simply beamed them up on the screen and said some words.

The point was we were moving, sharing, creating, talking and learning. Maybe not about what was in the textbook that day or even within the inquiry unit but that’s ok. For me I felt I honoured their request to ‘build more stuff’. Sure I could have linked it in with Math, our Unit, Science…whatever and put a bunch of learning intentions or standards to it (and maybe I will, or maybe I wont) but it I felt at that moment that I really connected with the class, they connected with each other and their passions and I could see them so very engaged with each other. It was a very spontaneous inquiry into being creative and it was an authentic one.

I know why some teachers might find this a challenge . Time especially. (I do too, so I’m not saying I’m some expert or do this all day every day). Its messy, chaotic but I really saw learning and creativity at its best and that’s the kind of learning space I want to be in as a teacher and a learner.

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