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Developing Creativity

A week of creativity has enveloped me. This has been not so much about me creating some sort of unique product per se, but about thinking through and presenting about creativity as an essential 21st century skill. As I referred to in my last blog, a couple of other colleagues and I facilitate a series of PD workshops at my school called 7 Steps toward 21st Century Education. Step 5 of the 7 Steps focuses on creativity. In prepping for this we were a little stumped in how to approach it. We had seen Ken Robinson’s great video Do School’s Kill Creativity a few times each; we read Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind and Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future, both of which heavily reference creativity as an essential part of the mind; we read other blogs and resources here and there. What we had difficulty with was how to approach and organize our 90 minutes for such a big important topic.

We thought about doing some activities that would produce some “creative” processes with the group, but we weren’t too thrilled about those ideas. We then came across another set of videos by Ken Robinson called “Creatively Speaking” Part 1 and Part 2 from a presentation he did at an Apple Leadership summit in 2008. After viewing these videos, we thought- why not let the guru himself speak to the group. So that became the beginning of our 90 minutes. We decided to precede the videos with an “into” thinking/brainstorm question- Think of a time you found your students being especially creative. What were the conditions that allowed that to happen? The conditions created for learning are so important to allow for creative processes. We thought it would be important for the group to think about their previous experiences before hearing what Sir Ken had to say.

In “Creatively Speaking,” Robinson refers to effectively designed curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy as the essential entities needed to promote more creative learning environments and conditions. With that idea, the rest of our session was framed. We elicited the assistance of our curriculum director (CD) to facilitate parts of these elements. Our school will be implementing a “Learning 21” framework that will incorporate Creativity and Innovation as one of the essential component to our learning environments. Our CD has a lot of knowledge about implementing a creativity environment and is in the process to putting together the vision and documentation for this at our school, so we thought it would be important for him to delineate where our school is heading with this component of learning.

My colleague also came across an excellent document online called Assessing Creativity: A Guide for Educators from the The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. This is a super long read (121 pages; don’t let the end of the executive summary think you are finished!), but has some great research and ideas regarding assessment of creativity. Assessment tends to be the most challenging part of facilitating an environment of creativity. This a great go-to document to help understand that process. We also referenced Apple Classroom of Tomorrow – Today (ACOT2) Culture of Innovation and Creativity site and the Route 21 site on Creativity and Innovation to help us flesh out the rest of our ideas.

Our 7 Steps PD usually has a technology integration slant to it, but technology wasn’t really referenced in this session. Why? The software and the Web 2.0 tools we’ve referenced throughout the previous Steps make it obvious how they can promote creativity. The group understood this without question. What’s important in this case of creativity is not so much the tool, but the environment in which creativity, as both an intellectual and artistic process, can thrive. Technology would just a means in the creative process.

The session went very well, and some very good discussions occured. I look forward to continuing the discussions on this issue. If you have thoughts, ideas, and/or experiences in facilitating more creative learning environments, I would love to hear your responses.

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