To begin, I must admit that the idea of being creative can be nerve-racking. As an adult, when asked to create or design something, I panic. I first admit to the team I'm working with that I am not creative and I offer to record our ideas or hold the chart paper when we present to the group. I had to reflect and determine the reason I don't consider myself creative in the situations I just described.
My conclusion is that I am in fact creative, just not in that way. I don't care to perform a skit, or sing lyrics to a song that incorporates the topic discussed at the professional development. This is especially true when working with people I've just met. Skits and singing in public invoke a fear of embarrassment and failure. My fight or flight response kicks in and I'd rather flight. Call me when you're done and I'll congratulate you on a job well done, but please oh please, don't make me do it!
In my mind, being creative had to do with the arts, drawing, sculpting, dancing, and singing. I realize it can be defined as much more and when taking technology into consideration, that's where I am creative. Original and completely new ideas are a challenge for me because of the deeply rooted idea about what creativity is, but I can be successful in solving a problem in a new way or challenging myself to take an old idea and make it something new and more effective.
When asked to talk with a student about the role of creativity in our classroom, I was interested in hearing what he thought. Jason would be considered one of my higher students with the respect that he learns concepts very easily and quickly. He's one that I must keep in mind when planning lesson extensions because I know he will grasp an idea quickly. Because he can finish sooner than most, he is the one that might be sitting there waiting for the next thing to do. He's quiet and doesn't say too much, so I took this opportunity to learn more about what he thinks.
The best way to began was by asking him what he knew about the word creativity. He said, "What I know about it is that you have to use your imagination and create stuff that nobody ever created." When asked if he thought he had a chance to be creative in our class, he responded, "Um, yes, I think I can be creative in this class because last time we had to build robots and I designed mine with black and blue spots and it was so much fun for me." Now, those robots were an area and perimeter activity that used grid paper. Given the area or perimeter, students had to design a robot that fit the specifications. The class loved it, and I agree with him, it was a chance to be creative because no two robots were alike and it really told me something about their understanding of the math concept.
I asked him to think of some things we have done with the iPads and laptops that he liked. "I really like that we get to use the stylus and the iPads and we get to go to Google Classroom. We get to do assignments and answer questions." Styluses. Ok, that's an easy one and Google Classroom has been hit so far. He also mentioned that he enjoyed creating the math tutorial on how to solve a specific word problem. He liked recording his voice and showing others how to solve the problem. One thing I need to keep in mind is that my students are 8 and 9-year-olds and their memory of the projects we have done exist within a 2-3 week time frame. They often need prompting about activities done between August and December.
Now, time to get real...I asked him if there was anything he would change in our classroom, to give him a chance to be more creative. He first responded with, "I don't know what to change. I'm not sure what's out there." And there it was. So honest and true...our kids have no idea what's out there until we show them. His idea of what creativity is, "using your imagination and creating stuff that nobody ever created," is spot on, but the extent to his own creativity is limited to what he has been taught and the opportunities that are brought to him. Especially when I know that my students' families don't always have the means to provide them with experiences outside their community, it's up to the school to do that. Jason then added that he would like to see more activities in Google Classroom and practice with coding.
As Gardner suggests, I can provide and encourage different ways for math problems to be solved, but I must go beyond that and bring in artists, inventors, and other professionals that have gone their own way and have been successful.
**Post originally appeared on Weebly Blog**