Saturday, January 7, 2012

Creative Juices

Take A Moment
It is hard to ignore the countless articles, blogs, tweets, etc. about creativity being lost in our school system these days. To some extent I don't disagree we are putting certain practices in place that can be stifling to the creativity that our students possess. But take a moment and reflect on what we have accomplished as a nation and where we are at. Yes we have many issues that can seem depressing at times, but in my opinion, we still have incredible schools, many opportunities, and creative citizens sharing and working with people around the globe!
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I am currently participating in a book study with the ISTE SIGAdmin group, reading the book, "The Flat World and Education." There is mention in the book about Singapore's educational reform and their focus on creativity and innovation, what grabbed my attention was a response by one of the SIGAdmin members about this program.

What is even more interesting is that the "training" the teachers are receiving is being done by, (you'll never believe it), teachers from the United States. True! A very dear friend of mine "commutes" to Singapore monthly to work with 240 teachers for 10 days a month in one of their training programs. my friend says that "the teachers are marvelous and "she returns quite inspired each month." -Becky

As a nation, we should be proud that many countries still turn to the United States for training, observation, and ideas, on how to educate their students to become creative and innovative thinkers. But how do we keep creativity and innovation in the classrooms, many think it is already gone others on the way out?

Keep Them Flowing
So where does technology fit into the puzzle with developing creators and how do we keep the creative juices flowing? As I always like to point out, we must keep the focus on "good teaching" and not the shiny object, and I recently read a grant proposal that stood out as an example of this. Robert Jones, a English teacher in Tempe, AZ, is having his students create Android apps that they will use to review and synthesize literature. The students will then make the apps available to download on their Android tablets or other compatible devices. The project has what I feel are all the right pieces that support innovation and creation in the classroom and the English content standards were the foundation when the project based activity was designed.

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Another technology device that I am amazed with is the 3D printer. Maybe it is just a shiny object that is distracting to me personally, but it seems like the device has a tremendous amount of potential to be used in schools. What better way to incorporate essential standards into a project based activity and actually be able to build a product, literally have it appear right in front of you. I learned about the Makerbot, an affordable 3D printer, from John Miller, Tech Director at Litchfield Elementary, last year. After showing a video of the device to my son, he immediately wanted one so he could make armies of Lego characters and blocks for stopmotion movies. Can only imagine how I could have used this in the classroom many years ago.

Looking Ahead
Developing creative and innovative students is important for any society to be successful and should be a priority around the world. Great things come from new, success, personal satisfaction, and the understanding that if something isn't working, innovate and make it better. I hope that as a nation we do not lose sight of what has worked in the past, continue to evolve so we are relevant in the present, and develop creators to lead us into the future.