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Creative Learning and Fun

Sometimes, our students need opportunities to be creative and do something different in class. Yes, we all know this and work tirelessly to differentiate instruction to engage our students, but I am hoping some of the examples below will spark an idea or motivate you to try something new and creative in your class. During my classroom observations this week, I witnessed a few different activities that asked the students to apply what they were learning or going to learn to some sort of creative activity. Each class had the same result: student energy and engagement. Here is a snapshot of this fun in the classroom:

It was first period on Monday, but the students in Mr. Farrar's MATH class were still up to the challenge of trying something new. Mr. Farrar asked the students to use Adobe Spark to create a poster connected to their current unit while starting the class with a good 'ol fashioned carousel activity. Students worked in groups and moved around the room to complete various steps of various math problems. They were only supposed to do one step in their colored marker and then move to the next station, see what the group before them did, and add the next step. Before observing this class, I learned from Mr. Farrar that this is a tough unit for the students, and he was looking for a way to keep them engaged but also help them understand the content. Well, they were all in the zone and working together to solve the problems. All students participated - as was evidenced by the chatter of each group. When the carousel was complete, Mr. Farrar quickly made his way around the classroom and took pictures with his phone of the problems completed by the students and uploaded them to a Google Photos album. From there, he shared a link to the album in Google Classroom (this whole process took about 2-3 minutes) and asked the students to pick one image, add it to Adobe Spark, and create a poster that highlighted one step of the process. They then had to explain what they learned or what was challenging about this part of the process. This was an awesome instructional strategy to get the students creating and critically thinking about what they are learning in class. Check out the process and a few of the Adobe Spark posters from his class:

Later in the week, specifically on 3/14, or Pi Day, I visited Ms. Many and Mr. Kos's math class and enjoyed watching them have fun with Pi by creating a skyscraper drawing using Pi, a graph, and various colors. It was obvious that students enjoyed the time to do something different in math class and creating something connected to this coveted math holiday. Check out some examples from this class ------->

Down at the other end of the building, students in Ms. Kagan's American History class had the chance to create an illustrating based on everything they already know about the Cold War, as that is their next topic of study. Similar to Mr. Farrar's class, students worked in groups to create this drawing, and it was so fun to watch them try to create what they knew and, at times, argue over Cold War facts and how to artistically portray them. I mean it when I say that students were genuinely enjoying themselves, and this led to some awesome conversations about their understanding of this significant historical event. Students were even excited (yes, I said excited) to present their drawings to the rest of the class. And guess what....all students were engaged and listened and laughed with their peers as they presented their creations. Now, that's what I call a creative and fun learning environment!

In another wing, students in Ms. Sack's Spanish 3 class worked in groups to create a Google slides presentation that they would later present to the rest of the class. They had to pick an issue from a different country, connect some Spanish vocabulary, and provide some information about this issue to their peers. They had choice and creative freedom with their presentations, and it was fun to watch students work with the groups to decide how they wanted to share what they learned. Asking students to be the teacher is a great way to see what they think is needed to engage an audience and gives them ownership of the content. Just like all the classes included above, the class energy was great, and students worked diligently but still had fun and seemed to enjoy the creative process.

Our teachers are empowering students to be creative with the content covered in their classes and also providing opportunities for students to relax and have fun with the content. Activities that call for student creativity just tend to provide this sort of fun, yet calming energy in a classroom. Don't believe me? Find a colleague who is planning to have his or her students do something creative next week and go see it in action. I will gain a sense of this energy I describe above. #whatsup