We all have heard of the 4 Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and that last one is the one that captures my heart: CREATIVITY. It is one thing to tell teachers that creativity should be included in our lessons, but no one really gives us ideas of how to do it. Here are four strategies that I learned from other creative educators.
FIRST CREATIVE STRATEGY: DROODLES
If you haven’t read Brian Housand’s blog, I highly recommend it. At a recent training he gave to the teachers of gifted and talented kids in my district, Brian introduced me to DROODLES. These are simple sketches that used to be drawn on napkins.
I turned “droodles” into a competition for one of my warm-ups. I put an image on the screen and gave the students one minute to write down as many things as they saw in this image. Is it a bear hugging a tree? Is it four heads looking down a well? Is it an arm with chicken pox? Wait until you see what the students come up with for you. Caution: They aren’t very good at this the very first time. Now, I don’t share my ideas with them until they are done, but once I do, they realize they should look at it from all sides, and your answers don’t have to be serious; they just have to make sense.
Teaching Tip: You could see who has the most answers in the class and have them read them aloud to make sure they make sense, or you could have them see who has the most at their table. Always do this more than once in order to give kids a chance to try it with a different picture. If you google, “droodles,” there will be many examples.
SECOND CREATIVE STRATEGY: MAKE A MEME
Are your students as crazy about memes as mine are in middle school? Showing a lesson on Google Slides? Include a meme. Need some funny posters on your wall? Include a meme. Doing gamification and need a new challenge for your students? Have them create a meme for your subject area. There are many websites out there to create meme, but my favorite one to share with students in BIGHUGELABS.COM. I learned about this website from Lisa Van Gemert, the Gifted Guru. Not only is the website free for students to download their meme, but there are many other choices of how they can show their learning visually and creatively.
THIRD CREATIVE STRATEGY: PLAY “QUESTION THAT” WITH THEM
The memes can take a little preparation, so I like this one because it can also be a great way to sum up a lesson at the end of class. I learned this one from the great Dr. Bertie Kingore. I like this one because it doesn’t take any prep time, unless you want to take it a step forward. It’s as simple as this: the teacher gives a one-word answer, and the students must come up with the questions.
Teacher: The answer is 3.
Student: How many little pigs were there? How many steps should you take when speaking in front of a classroom? What is 6-3?
Teaching Tip: Once again, you could turn this into a competition to see who can come up with the most questions in three minutes. Or you could have two people face off and each one has to come up with a question in less than five seconds until the other person can’t come up with any more questions. You could also have them write them on sticky notes and post for others to see on the wall. You could even have them post them to padlet so others could see the questions right away.
FOURTH CREATIVE STRATEGY: CREATE A SLIDE COMPARISON
This is another strategy that I learned from Brian Housand. Brian made me realize how important it is to give students time to EXPLORE a topic on their own, before you started teaching about it through direct instruction.
Brian shared with us a graphic that showed the US had 1.39 billion pounds of surplus cheese last year. Now, I didn’t know I even cared about this surplus cheese until he gave us ten minutes to just research everything we wondered about it for ten minutes. What the heck? I started slowly on my research because really, who cared? I read through some articles on Google that I found and soon found myself becoming more interested.
It wasn’t until Brian told our group that we needed to create a slide for our class “slide show.” It needed to show a comparison to the number 1.39 billion pounds. Now, he had my full attention. Yes, peer pressure set in. Of course, I AM A MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER, so I wanted to compare it to…POOP. Yes, I said poop. My group, also made up of middle school teachers, gave in my request to find out how much this number equaled in the amount of poop excreted in the world. Here is what we found and the slide we created:
We added our slide to the link shared to the whole class, and we presented it with a lot of pride. This also worked in the other three Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
Teaching Tip: Assign each group a slide number if you are using Google Slides. This helps so that one group doesn’t start writing on another’s group’s slide.
If you’re looking for a way to engage students, that also gives them a chance to be creative, I highly recommend one of these four strategies. You will reach every type of learner, and the students will ask for more. Who doesn’t want THAT to happen in their classroom? It is like you invited them to a creativity party.