Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let the Creativity Flow

Gale Cengage Learning defines creativity as “The ability to create inventions, produce works of art, or solve problems using an original, novel, or unconventional approach.” Let’s take a moment to bring that exact concept into the classroom. How would creativity look in a 21st Century Classroom? It depends upon the individual teacher’s creativity, of course.

Incorporating technology is an easy and invigorating way to allow creativity to flow in the classroom. Content and curriculum can remain the same – just focus on the outcome. Two main points to remember… engagement levels are sure to change and the delivery method is sure to excite the students. The end result of incorporating technology into regular classroom work gives way to student pride and ownership over their tangible, completed projects.

Where do you find creativity? Lots of places. To begin… look within – incorporate your personal likes, interests, experiences, current trends, imagination, etc. into the curriculum. Or, find out what interests your students and go from there. Next, seek out a technological solution to bridge the gap between your curriculum and the finished assignments.

Not sure how deep your creativity flows? Start here…

Start with the company known for being top of the line creative-types: Adobe. Find and watch ways to incorporate creativity using software applications.

Be inspired by this awesome article… “Six Essentials to Foster Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom: Technology Lives Up to its Potential When We Approach it Creatively”

Performance Learning Systems offers an online newsletter with one issue focusing on incorporating Creativity in the Classroom:

Open your mind and allow creativity to come in. Your students will learn from it, and appreciate it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You want me to write about what? want it written where?

Today, class, I want to encourage writing skills

… Easier said than done, right? Not really. Give your students a direction and then let their imagination, creativity and life experiences lead their writing oasis.

How exactly do you encourage your students to open up and let the words flow? Easy! With writing prompts. Writing prompts are loosely guided topics, with minimal directions, that allow the individual student perspective to shine through. The best part about writing prompts? They can be written on paper, typed on a computer or even spoken (example: Podcasts, etc.)

Why are writing prompts needed and useful? Writing skills are one of the most basic and fundamental foundations to effective communication. Regardless of the grade level, writing skills are key. Sure, there are always students who say, writing is not my thing – not my strength. Nonsense! Everyone has ideas, opinions and life experiences that form a knowledge base. We just need to help those students tap into those areas and learn how to express them clearly for others to see.

As a teacher, your first question may be “Where do I start?” There are tons of resources that provide random and/or topic-focused writing prompts. Check out these sources to get started…

-DE Streaming “Writing Prompt Builder” within the “Teacher Center”

-The Teacher’s Corner

-Education World

So... let’s take it one step further. Let’s make the writing prompts interactive.

Classroom Idea:
-Set up a wiki page for your students
-Once a week, post a new writing prompt
-Make sure all of your students have access to your wiki
-Once they log in, they can respond to your writing prompt

Benefit to the Teacher:
You are successfully incorporating a collaborative 21st Century tool into your class that encourages dialogue and (over time) improved writing skills.

Benefit to the Student:
Each student learns how to use a 21st Century resource and, at the same time, they can read (and learn from) the perspectives of their peers. Not to mention, they gain an appreciation for contributing their important thoughts!

Get Started! Here is a 9th-12th grade writing prompt

(courtesy of DE Streaming)
-Many teens formed study groups in the fifties. Write a short essay defining what a study group looks like today. Be sure to consider technology and transportation, among your considerations for the definition.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Swap Knowledge

Love to read? Have a personal library of books you’ll never read/refer to again? Want to learn more about instructional technology or increase your computer skills? Try visiting for books on the subject of your choice. Costs? Minimal!

How does work?

1. Set-up a free account
2. You post the titles of books you are willing to swap (post as often & as many as you like)
3. Browse the millions of free books offered on the site
4. Mail out any books requested from your personal library (using library rate postage)
5. Request a book(s)
6. Wait for the book to arrive in your mailbox!

You may post as many books as you are willing to swap. You may request free books according to the credits you earned (based on the number of books you posted and on the number you have mailed out). The more you post/swap, the more free books you can request.

Happy Reading. Gain knowledge.