Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom

On Friday, March 14th we had an all day professional development day for staff. We needed to do some work around standards and looking at Cornerstones in our work. One of the things we haven't talked about is how creativity and innovation fit in to our beliefs and learning expectations. 

We believe the best learning occurs…     
  • when positive relationships form the foundation for learning;
  • when students engage in high-level learning and access appropriate support
  • when students have an active role in their learning and in the school community;
  • in a culture of collaboration
  • when students and teachers extend their learning beyond the school;
  • in an environment of creativity and innovation.
School-Wide Expectations
  1. Communicate effectively
  2. Exhibit personal responsibility, civic engagement, and global awareness
  3. Work independently and collaboratively
  4. Demonstrate critical, creative, and innovative thinking
  5. Develop understanding through inquiry, research, and synthesis
We have been working pretty hard (we also have accreditation coming up in 2015), so I wanted to design some opportunities for teachers to be involved in the creative process and have some fun. They could then think about how they were designing their cornerstones and explore how we are meeting our goals of creativity and innovation. I also wanted them to have a chance to be a creative and innovative learner.

With some input from a couple of colleagues, I came up with two 45 minute sessions. Each session had 7 activities or challenges. If a teacher was leading a session, I asked them to only do it once so they could also participate.

My Script:
We will be doing some low stakes activities meant to warm you up for your work this afternoon. Take off your teacher hat and put on your learner beret. This is an opportunity to cross pollinate across learning areas and grade levels. 
Our norms:
  • No idea is too crazy.
  • Have fun with your project
  • Have conversations with your group
  • Designate a time keeper
  • Share your work
After we are done here , we will go to our groups. Each group has a task or challenge. You should allow about 25 - 30 minutes for the actual challenge and then use the rest of your time to share what you did and take pictures. You can share your pictures by emailing them to the address on the homepage of the website. It’s the same address that we used for Spirit week, just use the Subject Create.
There are 2 sessions. The second session ends at 9:40. We will then merge groups to read an article and give feedback. The article will be in your location. It is also online. Please do the feedback form (also online) after your read the article. There is also a link to add more materials 
  • Start as a whole group with directions above
  • Watch the video
  • Session 1 small groups
    • Travel Challenge: Plan a trip to anywhere for $2000.00
    • Dining Challenge: You have 5 ingredients, come up with an appetizer, main course and  dessert
    • Creative Writing
    • Repurposed Poems: Take a page out of a book, Make a poem from the words and color out the rest
    • Lego: Pick a card and make the object on the card
    • Toxicity Challenge
    • Active Challenge: team activities in the gym
  • Session 2 small groups
    • Travel Challenge: Plan a trip to anywhere for $2000.00
    • Dining Challenge: You have 5 ingredients, come up with an appetizer, main course and  dessert
    • Body Language: acting out language
    • Word Play Metaphors
    • Photoshop: Make a card in Photoshop
    • Lego: Pick a card and make the object on the card
    • Bridge Challenge: Make a bridge out of 10 sheets of newspaper. You can have a length of sting and a length of tape. How many pennies will your bridge hold?
  • Session 3 Larger groups for reading and reflection. We read The Creativity Imperative from ASCD October, 2013.

I like just having the opportunity to be creative in a different way.  I also enjoy reversing roles and becoming a student again.
Felt energizing and fun. I liked working together with people whom I don't usually work. 
PLEASE PLEASE include something like this that pushes us out of our comfort zones in a low-stakes manner.  If we are going to continue to encourage students to take risks, we have to be willing to do so with each other as well.  I also think that we need a better sense of how to foster creativity in our learning areas and how to assess it - now that it is a school wide expectation, we will have to assess it eventually.  Thank you so much!!!!  
Thanks to my colleagues who put themselves out there to come up with an activity and facilitate. And thank you to our principal who let me take the risk to plan this day!

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