Monday, February 23, 2015

Creativity & Innovation in the Classroom

In the visioning work conducted by Bismarck Public Schools, the number one theme for the BPS ideal graduate was the ability participate in creative problem solving.  This includes utilizing knowledge gained to generate and test new ideas, think independently, and engage in curiosity-driven research.  How, then, do we develop this skill within our students?

If we look at the definition of “Creativity” in the context of a 21st Century Learner, we will find the following six domains:

  • Idea Generation

  • Idea Design & Refinement

  • Openness & Courage to Explore

  • Work Creatively with Others

  • Creative Production & Innovation

  • Self-Regulation & Reflection

You will notice that only one of the domains includes the creation of a product.  Often we limit the evidence of “Creativity” to the ability to produce a product that includes the use of color, design, and technology.  Limiting it in this way removes the problem solving element of the 21st Century Learner.  To engage students in all of the creative domains, the task given to students cannot be so contrived that it automatically limits the students’ ability to engage in creative problem solving.
In the article “How Inquiry Can Enable Students to Become Modern Day de Tocquevilles,” Joshua Block, a teacher at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, reflects on creating learning opportunities:  “This is not an assignment where there’s one right answer and where I have a specific vision of what the final product will look like,” Block said. “I give them the framework and students fill in the gaps. They do it through their own curiosity and creation.” That is a key takeaway for teachers interested in teaching with inquiry. If students are really allowed to bring themselves to their work, their final products won't all come out in the same form, but that doesn't mean those products can’t all be evaluated using the same rubric and set of standards.

Many discussions regarding the 4Cs reveal intertwining of collaboration and creativity. In his new book, “Show Your Work,” Austin Kleon has coined a new term: “scenius”.  It combines the power of collaboration, particularly through social media, and creativity.  It is the idea that creative genius doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  “Creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds” (Kleon, 2014).

I invite your comments on how you have encourage creativity and creative problem solving in your classroom.  What tasks have you assigned your students?  How have they responded to those tasks?  What classroom behaviors did you see in response to those tasks?
If you would like to continue the conversation, please consider joining our Twitter Tuesday Chat by following #learnbps on Tuesday, February 24 at 8:30 PM CT.  The topic is  “Creativity & Innovation as a Game Changer.”

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