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Creative classroom workshop


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Creative classroom workshop

  1. 1. ‘Creativity’ in the Classroom Developed by the Disney Learning Partnership and Harvard Project Zero, the Creative Classroom series has been compiled by viewing and studying best practices from teachers who have participated in the American Teacher Awards program. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 1
  2. 2. Why focus on Classrooms? Creative teaching involves the development of a creative environment – the classroom – in which the creative expression of both students and teacher is nurtured. The focus is therefore on the ‘opportunities’ being created by the teacher rather than the teacher themselves. By doing so, we avoid the common tendency to reduce creativity in teaching to a personality trait present in only a few exceptional individuals. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 2
  3. 3. Key questions : What is a ‘Creative’ classroom ? What do teachers in creative classrooms do? What do students get out of being in a creative classroom ? What can I do to develop a more creative classroom ? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 3
  4. 4. The 3 dimensions of a creativeclassroom One way to understand and define a creative classroom is to consider three principal dimensions: Creative approaches to content Creative approaches to teaching and learning Support of students’ creativity THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 4
  5. 5. Dimension 1 –Creative approaches to content A creative approach to content is directly connected to a teacher’s insight into his or her ‘subject matter’. A teacher’s understanding of and passion for the big ideas reveals itself in a curriculum in which the subject matter is organised in a way that facilitates connections, encourages excitement and makes learning a powerful endeavor. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 5
  6. 6. Dimension 2 – Creative teaching andlearning practices Creative teaching and learning practices usually entail finding new ways of accomplishing familiar tasks. Creative teaching practices are both effective and innovative in achieving a desired outcome – whether it is acquisition of skills, knowledge or understanding. Creative learning practices may involve students with material in new ways – using multiple ways to help engage students and promote learning. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 6
  7. 7. Dimension 3 – cultivation of studentand teacher creativity In a creative classroom, students are doing more than just learning the curricular content and teachers are doing more than just teaching the content. In creative classrooms, you will see teachers taking risks and students encouraged to think for themselves and develop original responses to the curriculum. It is not just the physical environment but the mental environment that really makes the classroom creative ! THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 7
  8. 8. What is a ‘creative’ classroom ? When teachers,parents and administrators say they are interested in nurturing and supporting the development of creative classrooms, what exactly do they mean? How is a creative classroom similar to and different from a ‘good’ or ‘effective’ classroom? What might a ‘creative’ classroom look and feel like? If you were to visit a creative classroom, how would you recognise it as such? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 8
  9. 9. Activity 1 – Getting started….. Review your past experience as a student and recall some of the best teachers you had and some of the best learning environments you experienced as a learner. Make a list of what stood out and share it in your group. Look for similarities in themes, images, attributes and list them under each. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 9
  10. 10. What you will see… As you watch the opening and listen to the introductory statements about creative classrooms, consider how the ideas that these teachers articulate compare with your own. In what ways do they capture your sentiments, and how do they expand your thinking in new directions ? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 10
  11. 11. Questions to think about … How is each of these classrooms creative ? What was similar and what was different about each of the classrooms ? What qualities from your lists of creative classroom characteristics did you see in these classrooms ? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 11
  12. 12. Closure …. Now, compose a working definition of a ‘creative’ classroom versus a ‘good’ classroom. List out the ideas, strategies and practices that you would like to try out in your classroom and share the ones you are already doing. Discuss what new puzzles or questions still remain about what you saw?? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 12
  13. 13. Perspectives… A creative classroom is not just a place where ‘effective’ pedagogy is practiced, but a more generative and responsive place as well. Creative classrooms have a spark of innovation, excitement and passion that distinguishes them from other type of classrooms. They are places where the line between teacher and student is often blurred and learning knows no limits. IN SHORT, they are places in which the stage has been set for powerful learning ! THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 13
  14. 14. What do Teachers in CreativeClassrooms do? How do teachers come up with creative ideas? What do they do when they are planning? What kind of activities and instructional techniques so they use with their students? Basically – what do teachers in creative classrooms do??? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 14
  15. 15.  Teaching in a way that develops a creative classroom is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ process in which a specific set of instructional principles can be given. However, most creative acts tend to involve both problem finding and problem solving. Problem finding often entails looking at a situation from a new perspective and problem solving occurs when you apply innovative procedures and methods when there is no ready solution to fall back on. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 15
  16. 16. Activity 1 – Getting started….. Recall a time in the past when you had a ‘great idea’ ( a novel way of looking at something, a powerful understanding, a unique way of doing something..) Articulate the ‘problem’. Try to remember this moment in as much detail as you can. Finally, take a moment to recall how you put that idea into action. How did you solve the problem ?? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 16
  17. 17.  Share the feelings and thinking with your peers. What common characteristics emerge? What useful mental strategies stand out? What makes these moments creative? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 17
  18. 18. What you will see… You will see examples of the three dimensions : Teachers’ creative approach to content Teachers’ creative teaching and learning strategies Teachers’ support of creativity of their students. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 18
  19. 19. Questions to think about … What are the ‘instructional’ moves that you are aware of? How would you characterise the role teachers play? How would you describe the actions/activities of students ? What do you notice about the relationship between teachers and students? How does it connect to your ideas of your role as a teacher? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 19
  20. 20. Closure …. Refocus on your practice and discuss where you may apply these ideas in your class. Which of the areas did you most connect with – share these with your partner and discuss what might prevent you from doing the same in your practice THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 20
  21. 21. Perspectives… Classrooms are complex places in which the visible actions of teachers and students tell only part of the story. Because of its dynamic and constantly changing character, teaching certainly qualifies as a creative act, but as we all know, teaching is more than just a matter of technique and strategies. Rather than accepting the mandated curriculum as a complete document, teachers in creative classrooms might ask themselves,”How can I situate these skills within a meaningful context?” THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 21
  22. 22.  Here are some strategies that have been found in creative classrooms and are generally recognized as effective teaching practices : Direct the teaching toward an important learning goal Situate new learning within a relevant context that motivates and helps students make connections Display enthusiasm for student ideas- model curiosity for learning Create open ended situations in which multiple responses are appropriate Offer controversial issues that force students to challenge and grapple with their beliefs. Foster student autonomy- encourage self initiated projects THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 22
  23. 23. What do students get out of beingin a creative classroom ? To explore the deeper meaning of this initiative, it is important to look at what a creative classroom offers students. Is a creative classroom just a fun and engaging place for students to be in, all style and no substance? With all the pressure on teachers to ‘teach to standards’ can a creative classroom contribute anything to the achievement of these types of goals? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 23
  24. 24.  Once you are clear about the benefits of a ‘creative classroom’, it allows you to communicate more effectively with colleagues, students and parents about the reasons for making changes in familiar classroom practices. And finally, being clear about thebenefits that a creative classroomoffers both the students and theteachers can serve to motivate andsustain everyone engaged in thiscomplex effort. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 24
  25. 25. Activity 1 – Getting started Recall your time as a student and think about what you gained from being in a ‘creative classroom’ ( if not during your time in school, it could be any other experience that motivated you ) Try to identify what you received from being in that classroom that was ‘qualitatively’ different to other classroom experiences THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 25
  26. 26.  As a group, share and list your ideas. As individuals share, it may be useful to ask them to give examples of instances that help them explain a particular benefit. Look for commonalities and differences across the benefits listed. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 26
  27. 27. What you will see You will view a classroom portrait that you have already viewed before. You will see students and teachers share their thoughts and ideas about the value of a creative classroom ( as you listen to their ideas, connect them to the ideas that you have listed – try to imagine yourself as a student in these classrooms ) THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 27
  28. 28. Questions for discussion :Values of the ‘creative classroom’ Content : What makes you believe that students are learning? Added value : What is the added value for the students of being in this creative classroom? How are the students benefiting beyond the acquisition of skills and knowledge? What patterns of thinking or mental habits do you see the students engaging in? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 28
  29. 29.  What attitudes towards learning do you see being developed? Long term benefits : Do these benefits have long term payoffs? What might they be? Is students understanding of basic, required content being enhanced by being in a creative classroom? If so, how? THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 29
  30. 30. Closure List your points under the headings – content / added value and long term benefits Is there any similarities /differences in the two lists complied? Can you now articulate the benefits that students and teachers gain out of being in a ‘creative classroom’ THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 30
  31. 31. Perspectives In thinking what students get out of being in a creative classroom, one needs to look beyond the written curriculum and explicit content that teachers are covering to examine what is sometimes called the ‘hidden or subversive’ curriculum. The hidden curriculum is shaped by what teachers ‘value’. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 31
  32. 32.  It is possible to identify at least 4 different kinds of benefits for students : Motivational benefits in terms of engagement with the curriculum and inspiration for learning Social benefits with regard to the sense of community within and individual connectedness to the classroom and school Efficacy benefits related to the development of self confidence in learning and a sense of ownership and Performance benefits in terms of increased understanding, retention, and transfer of skills and knowledge as students are challenged to learn more THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 32
  33. 33. Motivational benefits A visitor to a creative classroom is often struck by the level of excitement and student engagement in the room. To be sure, these classrooms are often places where students are engaged in meaningful projects that capture their attention and keep their attention. Creative classrooms also foster joy of learning that provides high motivation and higher expectations. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 33
  34. 34. Social benefits Creative classrooms tend to have a sense of purpose. They function as learning communities in which the contributions and special talents of all individuals are respected and valued. The physical manifestation of this is that students are often seen working in groups – towards overarching goals. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 34
  35. 35. Efficacy benefits Efficacy relates to one’s sense of effectiveness or capability within a particular situation or domain. In creative classrooms, students gain a sense of efficacy with regard to their ability to navigate school and the world of ideas. Students learn how to learn and develop the habits of mind that support good and productive thinking. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 35
  36. 36. Performance benefits Students in creative classrooms do not just enjoy learning more, they also tend to ‘learn’ more. Of course, motivation and engagement contribute greatly, but there is more at work here. Creative classrooms often explicitly focus on real world applications and connections. This means that students are often demonstrating their understanding in a multitude of ways. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 36
  37. 37. Finally - What can I do to develop amore creative classroom? At the outset, it is important to know that having a creative classroom is not the province of the gifted few. It is the product of focused effort over time. This work involves practicing, trying new techniques, getting feedback from others, watching and analysing models, taking risks, persevering in the face of failure and so on… THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 37
  38. 38. The creative spirit – the foundation ofthe creative classroom Teachers who strive to have creative classrooms often work to develop some or all of the following characteristics : Passion – a passion for teaching, students and subject matter. This quality is demonstrated by an enthusiasm for ideas and engagement in ongoing learning opportunities. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 38
  39. 39.  Celebration of ambiguity – a personal openness to new ideas, practices, and ways of thinking as well as to the original ideas and thinking of students. Individuals with such traits may have an entire unit planned out, but they are also comfortable departing from that plan to capitalise on special events, student questions. Risk taking – a willingness to innovate and move outside one’s comfort zone. Playfulness – a teacher’s excitement, curiosity, humor, and spontaneity in the classroom. Learning doesn’t have to be made fun - good learning opportunities naturally are fun, exciting and engaging. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 39
  40. 40.  Personalised expression – the stamp of individuality teachers put on their classrooms that makes those classrooms unique. This often shows up in teachers revealing aspects of themselves in the classroom. The teacher becomes a person with real interests, joys, and feelings. These teachers do not hide themselves in the curriculum but find themselves in it and encourage their students to do the same. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 40
  41. 41.  The same dispositions that support teachers in being creative in the classroom ( or anywhere else ) are also important to students. By modeling the characteristics of a ‘creative spirit’ in their day to day practice, teachers help their students to develop the same. Teachers therefore, teach creatively to teach for creativity. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 41
  42. 42. In conclusion…. New information, ideas, key principles, teaching techniques – these are all valuable things. They add to one’s understanding and can inform one’s practice. However, informing practice is not the same as ‘influencing’ practice. THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 42
  43. 43.  Just as it is easier to talk about teaching than actually teach, it is easier to talk about creative classrooms than to actually go about the hard business of developing a more creative classroom. As David Perkins states ,”It’s not good ideas that we lack, but translation of ideas into robust and enduring practice.” THE RIVERSIDE SCHOOL 43