It is the phrase any parent will know in their sleep. But why isn’t it echoing in our hallways at school? Where is the demand to be seen? To show off what has been created? To share one’s creative endeavours?
The other day I (somewhat) jokingly said to a colleague that we should “Banksy” the heck out of our school walls. Art Activists. Spreading a message. I think I would start with “Watch me!” – the war cry of children who create.
This leads me back to having a Bias Toward Action. Think of your kids. How often are they taking action? And don’t confuse this with “working” or “being busy” but actually making, doing, creating, producing of their own accord?
One of my Maker heros passed away last week. The phenomenal Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She was a maker. She was a creator. She was someone who looked at the same things as everybody else, but through “Amy colored” glasses. She was kind, lovely, generous, smart, and oh so creative. I miss her already. And I wish for more. I have more to say on Amy. But for now, in her honor, please think about having your kids make things. Challenge yourself to do away with worksheets and pre-cut shapes and cookie-cutter “art” projects. Let your kids MAKE things. Stop having them fill in checklists and tick boxes and conform to your timeframe and LET. THEM. MAKE.
The school year is about to begin – it’s the first day for teachers to arrive at school.
You walk into your classroom and there is a letter for you. From your students.
The most important thing you can do for us this year is to teach creativity. Consider yourself no longer our teacher but be our ‘Captain Creative’ and we, your eager cohort of innovators, curators, makers, and thinkers.
To teach creativity is to equip us with the skills to think critically. To examine, debate, discuss, agree, argue, dissent, come to a consensus, and to think.
To teach creativity is to question. To make sure you ask questions you don’t know the answer to and let us ask questions too. Let’s solve them together in short, frantic bursts of excitement and long, drawn-out wondering that go far beyond the lesson plan.
To teach creativity is to teach us that ideas are treasures, to be gathered and cherished with pirate-like pleasure! We need to come to school each day more curious than the day before and should know that our actions have an impact that goes beyond our classroom walls.
To teach creativity, one can start with empathy. When we know that to empathize is to arrive at the starting point for change and possibility, that to try and to trial and to test and to try again are all part of process, and that there is never a ‘one way’ of doing (but always your guiding hand should we get stuck down a wrong way), you will be a teacher of creativity.
To teach creativity, is to allow us to bloom. To nurture each of us through the learning process at a different pace and in a different space, feeding our quest for knowledge so that new ideas can flourish. Teach us to connect rather than simply collect the dots.
To teach creativity one does not need to be creative (but you are). To teach creativity one does need to rethink ‘school’ (and you will). To teach creativity is to respect us as individuals, to seek the ‘so what?’, and to be authentic in all that you do.
What are you waiting for? The creativity revolution begins with you. And with us. And it starts now.
What would this inspire you to do? What does it tell you about your school leadership team? And where does this school exist?
In a course I am doing at the moment on Creativity, we were asked to do some Informed Thinking.
This is the task we were given:
You will inform your thinking about the scholarship of creativity studies through historical and contemporary resources. Afterwards, you will share on the blackboard some key concepts, definitions, models, theories and information that is particularly important in your eyes. This should be in the form of bulleted list of at least ten items. Each item should have a 1-2 sentence description to explain it.
We were given a curated list of videos, studies, research projects, Keynotes, visuals, documents to read/watch and then had to create our own ‘top ten’.
About half of the class have done the assignment and it is really interesting to see what others pulled out as ‘important’ or stand-out ideas. It is also really interesting to think about yourself as a reader/viewer when ideas you never heard of appear in someone else’s list. And it is a great way to summarize and inform your thinking in preparation for the follow-up task (which is to apply the new learning).
This would be a great way to guide students through the research phase of a unit that is heavy in names/dates, theories/ideas. One of the group said she is planning on using this during her G5 Governance unit.
I chose to add pictures to the mix in addition to the one or two sentences. I love icons (shout out to the Noun Project) and it helped me to consolidate my chosen ideas into a visual image.
You may have seen examples of using entertainment or gamification for positive social outcomes demonstrated as part of Volkswagen’s Fun Theory campaign. These included a Piano Staircase that encouraged people to take the stairs instead of the escalator and a Bottle Bank Arcade machine that encouraged people to recycle.
As part of SMART’s What Are You For? campaign, the car manufacturer created an experiment to see if it could improve safety at traffic lights by incentivizing pedestrians to wait for the green man:
Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait for the green light than previously.
How could you challenge your students to solve problems and create solutions in a creative, game-based way?
I recently came across a stunning photo essay via National Geographic. Titled Behind the Mask: Revealing the Trauma of War.Soldiers who have returned to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan undertake art therapy classes creating masks to represent their state of mind. Images painted on their masks symbolize themes such as death, physical pain, and patriotism.
While the idea of creating art to represent How We Express Ourselves is not a new one, especially to those who teach in PYP schools, what is interesting about this exhibition of work is the personal narrative that accompanies each mask.
Images of the soldiers who created the art wearing the mask, quotes from them or their family members and haunting recordings of their own voice, telling their own story, make up the exhibition:
This could be a beautiful way to showcase student art work. Using an app like Book Creator, photographs of the art and artwork, typed text, and audio recording could be seamlessly added to a book and then exported as an iBook or video. You could even add a soundtrack to your book.
Book Creator has become one of my favorite apps. It’s functionality, ease of use, multiple features, and intuitive features make it accessible to my Grade One students to use independently. And it would seem I am not alone in my praise of this app. Book Creator was awarded the Judges Choice Award for Educational Apps in the Bett Awards 2015. The Bett Awards play a key role in identifying and rewarding innovative ICT resources and services for use in education, and awards are considered the highest accolade in the industry.
In my humble opinion, it is totally deserved and I am grateful for the continued innovation and refinement that the Book Creator team put into their app development.
Book Creator is $4.99 for the Education version that does not include in-app purchasing and allows for unlimited books to be created. If you would like to give Book Creator a trial run, your first book is free with the option for more via in-app purchase:
Are there any original ideas or are all ideas sparked by something that already exists, somewhere?
Everything is a remix. If you watch the series, you will know this to be true. Science says we are all connected and if you watch this film, you might see new ways in which that is true – the arts and science bouncing off each other, creating theories and movements which mimic each other, disciplines evolving and co-existing together. Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite:
So where does that leave us? I would say in one of the most fortunate, creative, inspiring times in history. The more I read about the development of technology in education the more I think the motto should be “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. It covers everything! With this in mind, fair and ethical use of ideas already “out there” comes down to knowing how to Steal Like An Artist: to be able to differentiate between good theft and bad theft:
Austin Kleon suggests that when we honor those who have created before us by studying their work in depth rather that dipping into their work for a minute, when we givecredit to all those who have inspired us, when we draw inspiration for who we are and who we want to be from a wide pool of talent, when we transform ideas into something truly our own, and when we create what can genuinely be called a remix (as opposed to a rip off) we have done ourselves proud.
The ‘takeaways’ from these notes that should be shared with students?
Rubbish In/Rubbish Out: You are what you let into your life
There is a ‘hierarchy’ of creativity: It is ok to start with copying as inspiration but don’t stop there and call it what it is – not your own.
Ask yourself: Would you be ok with meeting the original creator of the work you are claiming as your own?
Here’s an example of what I consider “Good Theft” (and I may be biased because I am the artist in question!). I am a big fan of Seth Godin. Love him. When he wrote his manifesto on education, I devoured it. In it, he challenges people to do something with his ideas, so in the spirt of Dr. Seuss and mirroring the monochromatic, square book that I associate with Austin Kleon, I penned my own version of Stop Stealing Dreams and called it Imagine A School.
My list of creators that inspired this book is long, I wanted to be unique AND part of something, and while I haven’t stood in an elevator with Seth Godin, I have stood in an auditorium with him and he didn’t punch me in the face but rather gave me a standing ovation on behalf of all teachers who are trying to make a difference.
We have to teach responsible use but at the same time we have to teach awesome curation skills, expose our students to quality ideas that inspire, connect them with people who are making a noise. The more they are exposed to how to do it right and more importantly WHY they need to care about doing it right, I believe the richer we all will be.
And it can start young. My second graders are able to find images via Google search that are licensed for non-commercial reuse with modification. My fourth graders are adding links to Keynotes to reference their images. There are tools that are making it even easier for people to make the right choices – because they are being made for them. Apps like Haiku Deck and Adobe Voice use Creative Commons licensed images when you search for a photo within their app or icons from The Noun Project which are licensed for reuse. All images are then cited in the credits of the presentation and options are given for you to add your own credits if you source images from elsewhere.
Why? Why go to all this bother of citing, referencing and giving credit? Because otherwise we are devaluing ourselves and the original creators of the work and drawing everyone into a less civilised society. And we are all better than that, right?
It’s coming soon! International Dot Day is on September 15, 2014. It is a day to celebrate “making your mark”. I have posted about Dot Day before: Dot Day 2012 and Dot Day 2013. Both posts will give you lots of ideas for Dot Day and some thoughts on how we as educators, can help students connect rather than simply collect the dots on their learning journey.
This year, FableVision Studios have come up with a song for Dot Day. If you are familiar with “The Dot” you will see the connection between the book and the song and be inspired to make, make, make your mark! How can you encourage your students to use their talents to make their mark?
Last year we had Taylor Mali visit our school and share his poetry with our faculty, staff, and students. I never got the chance to speak with him personally but I wish I had. If you have seen or heard his poem about teachers, you might have some questions for him – I know I did.
I was told by a great friend to always give the benefit of the doubt to someone – to always believe something good, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either. My friend would tell me that everyone operates from the best of intentions, and I try to believe that this is true. When working in a school that offers a values laden curriculum, I would hope this to be true.
So, with that said, listen to Taylor’s poem with the benefit of the doubt. Some people say he is too strict, too controlling, too self-centred. I say that he is trying to make a point and is using poetic license to do so. Don’t dwell on the fact that he makes kids sit in silence or not use the bathroom, dwell on the good in his poem.
“I make a difference” – this is the crux of the poem.
How will you make a difference in the life of your students this year?
For the past three years, I have ended the school year with a “Dear World” inspired photo shoot. This is a chance for my kids to express who they are and the message that they would like to leave as they depart our classroom and head on to new things.
This past June, I did it again with my gorgeous kids. Their quotes were original and heartfelt and their photos make me cry! They are strong, determined, passionate kids with so much to offer and they possess the determination to see them through anything.
Here are our messages of love and hope from us to you….enjoy!
Tinkering School is a place where kids can pick up sticksand hammers and other dangerous objects,and be trusted.Trusted not to hurt themselves,and trusted not to hurt others.Tinkering School doesn’t follow a set curriculum,and there are no tests. It sounds like my kind of school!
Gever Tully shares more about his school in the following TED talk:
I came across this video when looking for ideas about Genius Hour and Genius Year – the latter being the idea that self-directed learning be embedded into daily school life. This was interesting to me as that was the outcome of a year-long group study into Genius Hour: that time be allocated – or more accurately, prioritised – so that students have a chance to engage in truly self-chosen projects that see them pursuing their own interests and passions throughout their time at school.
Time is definitely of the essence – and is something Tully acknowledges children need a lot of if their creativity is truly able to flourish:
“we can offer the kids time —something that seems in short supplyin their over-scheduled lives”
Will you be a passionate teacher this year and help your children explore their inner genius?
If you are looking for a regular boost to inspire your creativity, Creative Something is for you. I came across this website a while back now and every now and then I find my way back there for some inspired reading. Check it out.