And I absolutely adore the snow shovel art done by Cindy Chinn. You can see more images in this article, and you can visit her Etsy store here. Thanks to Cindy for giving me permission to include this picture/ (If you like her snow shovel art, you should also check out her pencil carvings!)
I showed them the Creativity video from Apple, and I asked what I thought was kind of a rhetorical question, “Is creativity important?”
One child squinted at me nervously, one nodded somewhat hesitantly, and the other two vigorously shook their heads. (I normally have 5 in this first grade gifted class, but one was absent.)
I tried not to show my astonishment, my absolute disbelief that they could have responded in any way but, “YES!!!”
After I picked my jaw off the floor, I asked the two certain-that-creativity-is-not-important students, “Why isn’t creativity important?”
One didn’t really have an answer, and the other said with great conviction, “Because it’s just fun!”
How had this happened? (Maybe because I need the above poster plastered on my wall.) How had I spent this long with these students without communicating that I feel, very very strongly, that creativity is so important?
Yesterday, I decided to get a wider sample from my class of 18 second-graders. Some of these kids have been with me since Kindergarten, so I was hoping more cumulative exposure to my teaching would give me different results.
It was slightly better. Only 5 students shook their heads. But the yeses did not seem very confident. When I asked the “no” students to explain, one student said, “Because it’s destructive. The more humans create, the more of our planet and animals we destroy.”
Wow. That certainly made sense.
Other students were quick to respond with how human creativity can solve problems, sometimes even improving things, and that it makes life worth living.
When I asked, “Which would you rather have more of – creativity or knowledge?” most of the class said, “Creativity!” But I suspect they may have figured out by then that I was not very happy about creativity getting a bum rap.
Obviously, creativity needs a new ad campaign in my classroom. Instead of saying, “Now, let’s do something fun!”, I need to say, “Now, let’s do another kind of important thinking,” or, “Now, let’s work on solving problems a different way.” I thought I was good at praising unique answers and unusual methods, but now I see that I don’t do it often enough.
Of course, I want creativity to be “fun,” but does that mean it can’t also be important? Does that mean the perceived “important” types of work can’t be fun?
This tweet that I saw the other day explains one reason that many of our students probably feel this way.
Do we have to measure creativity for it to be considered a valuable asset? If not, then what can we do to help our students understand its significance.
Or, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe creativity really isn’t that big of a deal.
Apple made some announcements yesterday regarding additional support for educators with new products and management tools. You can read about it here. As part of its “Everyone Can Create” campaign, the company released a new video, “One Person Can Change the World.” Of course, its ultimate purpose is to sell Apple products, but listening to the children narrating may make you ready to go out and do something incredible. A couple of great quotes from the short video are:
As I watched the video on YouTube, I noticed another Apple video from 2014 that I don’t remember seeing before today. This second video is called, “Perspective,” and I can’t wait to show it to my students. As Apple states in the video description, “Here’s to those who have always seen things differently.”
If you have ever seen a music video by “OK Go,” then you cannot fail to be in awe of the band’s incredible creativity. In every production, you can tell that they spent a lot of time on brainstorming, working hard, and having fun. Even more notable, though, is how much math and science must be used to create these complex feats of artistic expression.
In cooperation with the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas (seriously wish this had been a thing at my university!), OK Go has designed a new website, the OK Go Sandbox, that provides resources for educators to use with students for STEAM activities based on a few of their music videos.
Each of the music videos currently featured on the site has a link to educational materials that include free downloads, challenges for the students, additional videos, and suggested activities. From making flipbooks to experimenting with sounds made by different “found” instruments, this resource explores the astonishing potential of merging science with art. Some of the challenges can be used with the Google Science Journal (a free app available for both Android and iOS).
It looks like this is a dynamic project that is encouraging advice from educators, so be sure to visit this page for more information on how to get involved.
My 2nd graders worked on using “Combine” and “Put to Another Use” this week. For “Combine,” they invented something new with a clock and a four-leaf-clover. (I love how the clock hands will pinch you if you aren’t wearing green!) The “Put to Another Use” assignment asked the students to think of another way to use a Leprechaun hat.
You may recognize Brad Montague (@thebradmontague) as the creator of the outstanding Kid President videos. But his creativity and compassionate work with kids does not stop there. He and his wife have begun a “Joyful Rebellion” with the Montague Workshop. What began as a series of videos has evolved into 8 resources for teachers that include the Montague Workshop videos, lesson plans, and activities written by teachers. As the website declares, “Our aim is to be the Alfred to your Batman.”
I don’t know about you, but I feel like a Joyful Rebellion is exactly what we need right now!
Disruptus is one of my new favorite games. It’s great for Brain Breaks and to jump start brainstorming sessions. I’ve used it with my younger and older students, and it has been a hit with all of them so far. Like Anaxi, which I reviewed here, it is produced by Funnybone Toys. You can find it at specialty toy stores and periodically on Amazon.
The game consists of heavy-duty cards that each have a picture on them, a cube, and a timer. You can read the instructions on the Funnybone website. There are different versions of gameplay. So far, my students have enjoyed just watching me roll the cube under the document camera and selecting random cards. Then I set the timer (I think it’s about 2 minutes), and they scramble to draw or write ideas on scratch paper. Then we share the ideas. If you want to make it competitive, you can play it similar to Apples to Apples, where one person is the judge and selects what he or she thinks was the most creative idea.
Here are the options on the faces of the cube that you might roll:
My first graders were playing the “Create 2” and we pulled out a picture of a toilet and a picture of a steering wheel. You can imagine the ideas they generated for combining those!
You know those early finishers who don’t have enough time, really, to start something else – but still have enough time to distract the students still working? Put this under the document camera to think about when done, and tell them you will discuss everyone’s answers as an exit ticket, in the line for the bathroom, or any other transition time during the day.
There are lots of grins and laughs when we do this. Most importantly, the students are exercising their divergent thinking skills which, too often, don’t get enough use during the school day.