Creativity is important to me. Personally, I need an outlet for my ideas, thoughts, and inspirations. I need music to work properly, always carry way too many bright colored markers with me and my desk is scattered with ideas. I have noticed that all my students feel the need to add a personal touch to their learning as well. Not always creative but they need to feel like they have influence in the stuff I teach. So that is what I’m giving them.
A creative classroom
Giving them what they need isn’t necessarily ditching the textbook, bailing on the curriculum and letting your students run wild. It is tweaking your lessons in a way that students have a choice. Whether that choice is too read a different book than that is on the list or to process their vocabulary differently doesn’t really matter. If there is a choice and if they feel like being able to contribute to their own learning. But how do you change things without giving yourself a ton of extra work? Simply, let students get creative.
Last year I held a poll in the classroom. Which themes appealed to my students and why? After a big old brainstorm on the whiteboard, students got to vote which themes we would do that year. In the 5th year, the class chose Romeo and Juliet, the future, careers and the world. Year 2, however, chose animals, games, candy, and drawing. To me as a teacher, the themes didn’t really matter, I just needed to adjust my texts to the theme. A little effort for a lot of ownership for my students.
Students getting creative
Because my students “owned” their theme, they got creative themselves. They came up with a cool research project about countries once belonging to the Commonwealth. We watched Gnome and Juliet to which they made a comparison to the real Shakespeare. They helped me build a curriculum because they cared. They made vocab lists from the chapter lists in the textbook, trained words using all kinds of apps and websites. They made grammar films in which they explained a grammar concept to each other and practiced their speech. In short, they owned their learning.
The result of a year of pioneering? All my students passed the year. All exam students graduated in my subject. They didn’t just learn the subject, they learned how to stand up for themselves. How to cooperate. How to choose and why choice is important. They learned a lot about what they like and what they need to be productive. And me? I had a ton of fun.
© 2017, Wendy Kers, Kers & Kers Loopbaancoaching.