“Eighty-seven percent of teachers and 77% of parents agree teaching that inspires creativity has a bigger payoff for students”
This according to Gallup research (To read more of the report, click here). No one is surprised by this. Teachers and parents have long known that if students are engaged, they learn faster and remember more.
Our Ask a Tech Teacher crew has some interesting thoughts on mainstreaming this in your classroom:
How to Encourage Creativity in the Classroom: Best Tips to Inspire Your Students
Kids don’t go to school just to learn classical subjects such as history, math, or geography. They also need to understand how to be social, how to create connections, and how to develop their creativity.
Plus, in the current work environment, creativity is considered the skill of the future and many employers devise training sessions to help their employees think outside the box. So why not start at an early age, when the brain is more eager to learn and creative pathways easier to forge?
Also, in today’s day and age, teachers can use a wide range of tech tools to connect with and inspire their students. Now, if you’ve run out of ideas, here are a few tips (with and without technology) to help your students embrace their creative side.
Use Fun Tools
Have you ever thought about using 3D printing to help students express their creativity?
Up until a few years ago, 3D printing wasn’t an easily accessible technology. However, due to lowered prices for printers, materials, and even pens, nowadays it’s rather easy to get hold of some tools. All you need is a reliable supplier of educational resources, such as Springboard Supplies.
3D printing allows kids to improve spatial visualization and understand better geometric concepts. It’s also a lot of fun and can inspire all sorts of creative projects!
Turn Boring Topics Interesting
More often than not, the topics studied in school tend to be dry and factual (even for the younger students). This is also one of the reasons why some students may have trouble retaining the information.
Still, teachers can take a dry concept and, using creativity, turn it into a fun and easy-to-understand experience. Let’s take polygons as an example – children learn about this geometric concept throughout their primary years.
So, to help them solidify the information and increase creativity, ask them to draw a few polygons on a piece of paper (it doesn’t matter the shape). Once they’re done and you have a chat about their drawings, ask them to turn those polygons into something they love – it can be anything from their cat/dog to flowers, cars, toys, and so on.
Encourage Their Curiosity
Kids and teenagers are some of the most curious people you’ll ever meet. Plus, nowadays they have easy access to resources and educational materials (no more time spent in the library).
So encourage them to explore the topics in which they show interest. Help them find the resources they need by using mediums that are familiar to them (Google, social media, YouTube, and so on).
Let’s take the “water freezes at 0℃” lesson that discusses the concept of freezing. To pique their curiosity, ask “Do you think only water freezes when temperatures drop?”. As kids try to come up with other things that freeze, propose and experiment.
Everyone should name three regular household items (of small sizes) that they think will freeze. Next, when they get home, they should ask their parents to place the three items in the freezer overnight. The next day, discuss what happened to each item, why it didn’t freeze, and their thoughts on their colleagues’ experiments.
Problem-Solving with Multiple Solutions
Unless we’re talking about a mathematical concept, most problems have a multitude of solutions. Now, apply this idea to the classroom and ask your students to come up with solutions to a simple problem.
Avoid giving them the answer and don’t shut down any of the solutions they come up with. If the solution isn’t viable, explain why and help them find a workaround. Also, encourage them to investigate alternatives, do research on the topic using available resources, and debate the issue amongst themselves.
This exercise may seem frustrating at first (especially for the teacher), but it encourages kids to change their point of view and consider different factors when they find themselves at a dead end. It’s also a great way to teach them resilience and the concept of “try until you succeed”.
Creativity is a beautiful skill and once you get the kids going, you’ll be amazed at how their thinking changes and evolves. Plus, as you gear your lessons towards a more creative setting, you’ll end up with a nice toolkit of resources and digital tools that make your job easier and a lot more interesting.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.