10 Tips to Promote Creativity in your Classroom (Ep 1)

April 16, 2019 / By

Creativity is not only essential to school, but essential to a fulfilling life. Creativity is the ability to connect previously disconnected thoughts and ideas together in new more powerful ways. It allows us to fully express the joy, awe, and wonder in the world around us. Sir Ken Robinson, a leading education expert, shares that schools should be focusing on creativity as much as they focus on literacy. So how can we promote creativity in the classroom?

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Transcript

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Deeper Learning with WeVideo podcast. I am Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad, and this is episode number one. In this episode, I want to talk with you about 10 tips to promote creativity in your classroom. Let’s get started.

Creativity is not only essential to school, but essential to a fulfilling life. Creativity is the ability to connect previously disconnected thoughts and ideas together in new, more powerful ways, and allows us to fully express the joy, awe, and wonder the world around us. Sir Ken Robinson, a leading education expert, shares that school should be focusing on creativity as much as they focus on literacy. So how can we promote creativity in the classroom? I’m going to talk about 10 tips that can help.

First, do what you love. You might have heard love what you do, but I turned this statement around because students will make a more meaningful and thoughtful connection to the creative endeavor if you provide opportunities for them to create what they think is interesting.

Second, don’t give up. Encourage students to never stop when they want to give up. Remind them that they can work on another aspect of the project and then go back to the sticking point. Once they’ve had some space from it, once they go back to it, they have a renewed sense of motivation and also carry a fresh perspective from working on a complimentary project task.

Third, never critique student creativity. Only affirm. Aspirational statements like “Your perseverance strengthens your creativity. Way to go” are much more empowering than statements like “You need to put more effort into this.”

Fourth, build in time for leisure. Not every minute of a lesson or learning block should be spent on task. The most creative ideas sometimes come from letting the mind wander and letting students discover without an expectation of having to fill out a worksheet when they’re finished.

Fifth, instead of integrating projects into standards, do the opposite. Many times we look at our standards and try to force a creative project into a very busy scope and sequence, making for an awkward and ineffective integration. Instead, we should allow students to create what interests them while designing learning opportunities, instruction, or on learning standards.

Six, tell stories. Stories have power. Stories create action, and stories deepen learning. One of the most fun and compelling ways to tell stories is through digital storytelling via video creation. Storytelling resonates with all learners because it provides mental pictures and visual representations for abstract concepts. The words paired with the speaker’s voice creates meaning and elicits an emotional response in the listener. Those emotional connections and feelings create lasting impressions and support knowledge retention.

Seven, share embarrassing stories and letting your students do the same. Recent studies show that embarrassing stories lead people to lower inhibitions and get more creative.

Eight, pick a hobby that’s hard. Duckworth, in 2016, calls this the One Hard Thing game. A hard thing is something that requires daily deliberate practice, such as playing the piano or playing a sport. Deliberate practice is a specific type of focused practice in which you deliberately stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. You focus on the areas that you are weakest and develops new strategies for improving them. This helps build grit and which in turns builds perseverance in the creative process.

Nine, don’t give a grade or a reward for the project. The work itself, and the pride in creating something compelling provides the fuel students need to keep problem solving and create new solution. Praise, affirm, provide feedback are all positive supports we need to give students.

10, create a structure for creativity. It won’t happen well unless you create time in the most collaborative and positive environment for it to happen. We often hear about, and many of us openly attest to, the value of two essential skills today’s students will need to succeed beyond high school: creativity and critical thinking. Additionally, there are movements afoot that encourage teachers to provide students with opportunities to amplify their voice and make choices in the context of schoolwork. But between those developmental goals and well-intentioned directors are teachers and students who need techniques to turn the concept of creativity into practical educational experiences and meaningful projects. It’s not enough only to provide direction, but tools and tips to help students get there.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the benefits of constraints on creativity. Simply put, absolute creative freedom can be quite limiting. This is why it’s important to provide students a scaffold on which they can mount their ideas and insights. When engaged in video creation, students may struggle with multitude of options available to them. The sequence of their video story, the variety of media available to incorporate, and identifying concepts that are most effective for sharing their stories.

Educators must be equipped to provide guidance without guiding students’ hand. Structure without obstruction. With that in mind, I’ve developed a creativity protocol. Teachers can use the questions, prompts, and inspiration to help their students more effectively design, plan, and storyboard options as they engage in video creation projects: the Four Cs of planning for creativity.
The first C is, Why do I and others care? Imagine the finished video project in your mind or draw it out. Does it elicit emotion? Is it meaningful to you personally? Is it exciting? A guiding question for this could be, Why must I create this video? What problem am I solving? What do I ultimately want to express?

The next C is, What are your criteria? Identify the criteria that you will use to align, measure, and critically assess your video creation project. A guiding question could be, How will I know when I’m successful?

The next C is, What critical content is required? Identify the crucial elements that, when brought together, will create the optimal video to best visibly express the ideals of the project. A guiding question could be how well do these elements connect to the successful criteria?

And the last C is, What constraints bound this project? Identify constraints that are part of this project. Evaluate the materials, resources, and time you have. A guiding question can be, How will I leverage constraints to create the best video project possible?

There are few things as daunting as a blank page or an empty timeline. In this sense, the Four Cs of planning for creativity provides a rubric for enabling inspiration to flourish and be assessed in project based learning. These concepts offered by the Four Cs are as applicable to other ed tech based and creative endeavors as they are in a video creation.