If you spend time in my classroom, you will see opportunities for students to express their creativity every day in a variety of ways. In my classroom, we utilize processing activities to compliment input of content. These activities incorporate student’s creativity in ways that allow them to color and draw as well as create and design their own experiments. These creative exercises provide the students with a different medium by which to learn the same material. By allowing students to add their creativeness to a lesson, the teacher is thus allowing their students to form a direct connection with the material. When students can become personally vested in an assignment or a topic, they become more successful in their ability to retain that information for the long-term.
In these same activities, you may see children challenged to creatively think as well as solve problems. For example, I posed a scientific question to students and asked them to design an experiment that would answer that question using the scientific method. Processing activities may be used as a means to not only allow students to be creative, but allow them to tap into their creativity in a manner that allows them to gain further insight into the content at hand. No activity performed in the classroom should be done so without ensuring that students will somehow be able to apply that knowledge toward something they’ve learned. Each activity should have a purpose that allows students to gain more insight into the material.
Communication, discussion and collaboration most often occurs within group activities or labs within the classroom. Students are often asked to collaborate in activities or labs designed to provide students the opportunity to learn the material in a new manner. Within these activities or labs, students may discuss with their classmates the methods of the experiment or the results themselves. They may also have the opportunity to make clarifications with their classmates on the content or the purpose of the exercise.
As a teacher, I could probably do more to teach information literacy as well as media literacy to my students. Being able to think critically about the information we receive is a critical tool that will be continually utilized throughout adulthood. I could provide my students papers on a certain biologically issue in society and ask them to analyze the varying points of view on that particular issue. They can do this through a variety of sources, newspaper articles, interviews online, etc. Regardless of how this is executed, it is imperative that students be able to be critical thinkers and develop the tools for them to be come to conclusions on their own. I could also allow my students more room to utilize technology to research or communicate information. I haven’t implemented any classroom projects or research assignments where students would be required to use technology to complete the assignment. Any technology the students use to access information on a topic, they do so at their own leisure or desire.
I try to give my students autonomy whenever possible. I believe that when students feel they can direct themselves or chose how they would like to complete an assignment, they have a greater desire to complete that assignment to the best of their ability. On some level, I always strive to provide this opportunity to my students. Some ways I may do this is to allow students to create their own analogies for how the cell works, to illustrate however they wish a given topic, etc. In this manner and many others, students become leaders of their own learning. Students also take power over their learning in group settings where they can communicate and work with their classmates in order to achieve a specific result. Interacting with their classmates not only provides the students the ability to develop community within the classroom, but they are able to experience what it is like to communicate effectively, work efficiently and interact with others in a team manner. These are all skills that students will continually utilize throughout the rest of their lives regardless of which field they enter.