21st Century, Change, Creativity, Innovation, Inspiration

Imagine A Teacher

img_8758

Imagine you are a teacher.

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.

Dear Teacher,

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.

Sincerely,

Your students

What would this inspire you to do? What does it tell you about your school leadership team? And where does this school exist?

Creativity, Inquiry, Thinking

Informed Thinking

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.

Can you use this in your classroom?

informed-thinkinginformed-2

Creativity

Creative Problem Solving

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 23.15.28

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? 

Creativity

The Art of War

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 00.13.48

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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 00.21.24

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:

Click image to visit App Store
Click image to visit App Store
Creativity

Make Your Mark!

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 23.10.39

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?

 

The Dot Song from FableVision on Vimeo.

Here are the lyrics (download the PDF)

Dot Day Lyrics

 

Are you interested in joining the Dot Day celebration? Sign up today! Discover more creative ways to celebrate Dot Day
on the FableVision blog and Pinterest pages.

Creativity

What Do You Make?

I Make A Difference

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?

Creativity, Inspiration

Dear World….

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 23.30.23

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!

 

Dear World….xoxo MIS 4D 2013/14 from Munich International School on Vimeo.

Creativity

Creatively Tinkering…

Tinkering School is a place where kids can pick up sticks and 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 supply in 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. 

Creativity, Inspiration, PYP

The Sound of Silence

Clint Smith is a teacher, poet, and a doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University.  In July of this year, he shared a TED talk that was just over four minutes long. It is a spoken word poem that I listened to three times and could easily watch again…and again.

Chris talks about “your silence” and how it is important to start giving a voice to those things you never say.  Your voice is one of the most powerful things you have.

How do you create a classroom in which your students are free to express their silence, to say what has previously be left unsaid?  How do school administrators create an environment in which faculty feel the same way too?

As a teacher in a PYP school, we talk about cultivating an attitude of empathy.  But how? I think one way is to start having the conversations that are a little uncomfortable – but perhaps not as a first step.  Like most things that you want to see flourish and grow on their own, building empathy can take a little ground work. 

An article posted on Edutopia fits the bill well: Empathy – The Most Important Back to School Supply.  

Mostly, I think we will find the silence will end when our students start to realize that what they have to say matters and that their silence actually speaks volumes.