A kindergarten student was sitting in the back seat of the classroom completely immersed into her drawing. Using different colours and shades, she drew what she believed the portrait of the devine. Her teacher soon approached her, looked at the drawing and asked," what are you drawing ? "The child, without even looking up at him, answered " God " The teacher responded " But no one knows what God looks like " The child answered, " They will in a minute ". This is in fact one of the witty quips I learned from Sir Ken Robinson in hiw book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Regardless of whether this scene has really happened, the point it emphasizes is quite clear: Children have the potential for wonderous, revolutionary creativity. According to findings in neuroscience , all kids are born with innate creative powers and what really happens is that as kids grow up some of them active their creative powers but others unconsciously keep them dormant.
Pablo Picasso once said that. " all children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist once he grows up." Most of young kids, particularly up to 05, are totally confident that they can draw, sing, and dance. Tragically enough, within three to four years these same kids will experience a crisis of confidence mainly school induced. They no longer feel competent or creative. The struggle to keep their creativity alive starts from the first day they join the school.
The overall school system, including teachers, is to blame for the deterioration of creativity in places where it should nourish and blossom. Our students become victims of national education agenda that prioritize ceratin subjects and skills over others. It seems like we prepare students for agrarian or monotonous careers that require mechanical, monotonous and systemic procedures for completion compared to critical thinking and intelectual creativity. Even inside our classrooms, some teachers still wrongly chastise failure and curse mistakes as if we all were born to always say and do it right.
There is , in fact, a growing body of evidence on how we ,as teachers, kill this creativity in our students but it would be beyond the scope of this post to list all of them and will probably get back to them in a future post. For now, let us explore some of the ways we can redress the situation and give back life to the dbilitating body of creativity in our classrooms using Technology. Yes Technology, which is the thing that our students love and use the most, can be of great help to us in this endeavour and here is how :
1- Use of blogs and wikis in creative thinking
Blogs, regardless of the platform you are using in your classroom, can be a great venue for the development of creative thinking and writing. Give some open space to your students to post what they want and comment on each others material. Let them write on topics they like. and give vent to their ideas without having to worry about grading or grammatical mistakes. If you have some tech savvy students in your class then entrust them with the organization and maintenance of the classroom blog. Students love to feel responsible for their learning. Post contest and competitions on, for instance, the best contribution of the week or month...ect. Check out this guide on how teachers can use blogs in your classroom for backup.
2- Use of Comic Strips tools
Students love cartoons and comic strips, you can tell right from the glow in their eyes how much they get engaged when you include these elements on your teaching. So why not introduce them to a set of free and student friendly tools to empower them to create their own comic strips. This will give them a chance to unchain their imaginative powers and navigate unfettered into the world of creativity. Let them create their own cartoons to conceptualize about a topic or a famous figure, let them express what they think about a school event in a comic way and most important of all, show them you care about their production no matter how it looks. There are many tools that you can start with and all these tools are great and easy to use. Check out this list of Comic Stip making tools for teachers.
3- The use of mind mapping and brainstorming tools
It becomes now a tradiditonal teaching practice to brainstorm on the board every new topic you want to introduce to your students. Why not use digital technology to do the same task but way better and much more easily and engaging than you would ever think. Why not ask your students to do it themselves. They can use a set of free and easy tools to makes awesome mindmaps and visual graphs to illustrate a topic, a concept or anything they want. These tools will defintely boost their creativity and provide them with different ways to interconnect their thoughts. Check out these free mind mapping tools I have compiled for teachers. You can use them with your students , they are great.
4- The Use of Infographics
We all love infographics for they represent data and information in a colourful and catchy way. Using free tools again, you can enable your students to create these awesome graphs. Let them use their creativity and imagination to create an infographic about a topic or anything they want. Show them how to share them with each other and how to embed them in the classroom blog or just print them out and hang them on your classroom wall. You wont believe how proud those students whose works have been publicly featured would feel. This is a great incentive for others to try to do the same and in their endeavours to create these graphs, creativy thrives and grows. Check out these free Infographic creation tools to start with.
6- The use of video and audio tools
There are several easy to use and simple video and tutorial creation tools that students can use in their learning. Showing a student how to use a video web tool and giving him the chance to create his own video to share with the class or even the whole school can be a great opportunity for him/her to develop their creative skills. Give them the freedom to select the topics of their videos and here is a list of some of the best tutorial making tools to start with.
Audio tools are of equal importance. These are some down to earth tools that enable students to create short embedable audio clips. They can simulate a conversation with a popular figure or a face to face discussion or anything else they want. They can record it and share with their mates on the classroom blog or school website. Here is a list of some of the best audio recording tools for you to start with.
7- Use digital storytelling tools
Telling a story is a powerful way to communicate with others. Storytelling improves students creative skills and helps them explore the meaning of their own experience. There are many free tools that you can introduce your students to to help them create their own digital stories. Check out this list which featuures some of the best tools available online.
8- Use games that promote cooperation and creativity
A great example is Big Snake. In this game, pairs of children stretch put on their tummies. One child in each pair holds the ankles of the other to form a snake. Then, the pairs slither around the room and connect to each other to make bigger and bigger snakes. Here are some other Educational Games to try out to promte creative thinking.
9-Tools to develop creative writing
Next to the use of blogs I mentioned above, there are also some awesome free tools to get students creatively engaged in their writings. These are mainly creativity triggers or prompts that can help students impprove their creative writing by providing them with challenging story starters. Here is a list of some of the best free tools to start with.
At the end I invite you to watch this great video: Garden of your Mind by Mister Rogers