imagination-mindmap“How can we foster imagination in the classroom? Why is it important for kids to be able to use their imagination in school?”

These are the questions posed by Amanda Brace for Week #2 of the blogging challenge I’ve taken on to help me get to regular writing.

The  questions immediately made me reflect on a grad class that I took a few years occur facilitated by Dr. Marc Spooner at the University of Regina. The course was focused on creativity in the classroom: how to embrace and foster it within ourselves and our students. To me imagination and creativity are intrinsically tied together.Thinking outside the box, problem solving and being a creative deviant are all strengths of leaders. These leaders can be leaders in their fields, the new thinkers who strike out on their own or the student who asks thoughtful questions.

Teachers who encourage imagination and creativity in their classroom will be rewarded with students who feel their are ideas are welcome and that there isn’t a one size fit all answer to questions posed by their teachers.


This slide gives some good ideas for fostering creativity in your classroom. Primary teachers can use the PWIM method for brainstorming writing, Makerspace creative spaces allow students to creatively problem solve, inquiry and project based give students opportunities to be creative. In Miriam Clifford’s January, 2013 post (  she discusses how the traditional classroom doesn’t invite creativity or imagination and offers 30 ways to promote creativity in your classroom. Here are a few suggestions from her post:

1. Embrace creativity as part of learning. Create a classroom that recognizes creativity.  You may want to design awards or bulletin boards to showcase different ways of solving a problem, or creative solutions to a real world scenario.

2. Use the most effective strategies. Torrance performed an extensive meta-analysis that considered the most effective ways to teach creativity. He found that the most successful approaches used creative arts, media-oriented programs, or relied on the Osborn-Parnes training program. Programs that incorporated cognitive and emotional functioning were the most successful.

3. Think of creativity as a skill. Much like resourcefulness and inventiveness it is less a trait and more a proficiency that can be taught. If we see it this way, our job as educators becomes to find ways to encourage its use and break it down into smaller skill sets. Psychologists tend to think of creativity as Big-C and Little C. Big C drives big societal ideas, like the Civil Rights movement or a new literary style. Little C is more of a working model of creativity that solves everyday problems. Both concepts can be included in our classrooms.

4. Participate in or create a program to develop creative skills. Programs like Odyssey of the Mind and Thinkquest bring together students from around the world to design creative solutions and bring them to competition.

– See more at:

Sir Kenneth Robinson’s Ted Talk on creativity discusses whether schools kills creativity or not. Sir Robinson states “You can be creative in math, science, music, dance, cuisine, teaching, running a family, or engineering. Because creativity is a process of having original ideas that have value. A big part of being creative is looking for new ways of doing things within whatever activity you’re involved in.” My understanding is that this is the goal of education… to teach students how to think. For more from Sir Robinson read a coversation with Sir Ken Robinson:

So back to the original questions posed for week #2 “How can we foster imagination in the classroom? Why is it important for kids to be able to use their imagination in school?”

We foster imagination and creativity by inviting are students to question, wonder and think through a variety of activities that engage them in their learning. The reason that using imagination and creativity is important because we will develop community leaders, creative leaders and creative problem solvers who will contribute to their class, school or environment

Image from:

Kelly Christopherson, who I follow on Twitter, posted a blogging challenge. I thought this was a good way to start writing again. My blogging has been sporadic the last few years for an assortment of reasons. I’m not in a classroom situation any more which means that I’m not working with students to use technology. Last year I worked with a grade six class to begin blogging but the class only worked on their blogs once a week when I was with them. My hope was that the classroom teacher would embrace the blog as a way for her class to complete assignments and connect with peers. This school year meant another change and I’m slowly starting to feel comfortable in my new school. If I’m there next year I would love to work with teachers and students in using technology in their classrooms.

The topic for this week is Organization/Productivity – tools you use. Share how you stay organized and the tools you use to manage your time and focus on being productive.

I have to admit that I’m still a paper agenda person. I like putting my pencil to paper and being to able to flip through the pages of my agenda. I occasionally use my iPhone’s calendar to record appointments but when I get home I put the appointment on the calendar on the fridge then once I’m at work it goes into my agenda. The calendar on the fridge allows family to see when we have appointments.

searchOnce in a while I have used the sticky note feature on my desktop but I prefer little yellow sticky notes that I can write reminders on. I sometimes carry the sticky notes with me when I’m completing a task so I don’t forget what I wanted to do.


I also write my to-do list in a book. There is something incredibly satisfying about crossing off an item on my list that I have completed.

Obviously I have not embraced technology to manage my time and paper makes me happy for notes and reminders. Maybe I’ll use my phone a bit more this year. Who knows….. it’s only February so anything could happen!

It has been a long time since I last blogged and when I checked my blog I realized that that last time I wrote on this page was in 2010! Where did the time go and what happened???? At the time I was busy in my classroom of grade fives and sixes, had many collaborative projects running and was actively using technology in my classroom. I think I got wrapped up in my little world and started to forget about the world around me.

Since my last blog post I have changed schools and changed roles within the school. Last year I moved to George Lee School and started working as a Learning Resource Teacher. My school environment is quite different. My previous school had about 100 students and was a community school with a high First Nations population. My current school has just under 400 students and has a high EAL population. I am fortunate to hear a multitude of languages and accents along with learning about many cultures. This year I have taken on the role as acting vice-principal  along with continuing to work as a Learning Resource Teacher.

I have also traveled to Kenya and Tanzania the last three summers to work with Education Beyond Borders.   

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

I was fortunate to work with many wonderful teachers as we shared ideas about project based and inquiry learning, differentiation, collaboration and working with professional learning clusters. During my first summer I worked in the GIlgil area about 100 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, the second year I worked in the Mount Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania along with the GIlgil area while the third year I concentrated my work with EBB in Tanzania. All of my experiences were extremely rewarding and taught me so many things about myself as a teacher, person and world citizen.

I am starting to feel the need to re-connect to my professional colleagues that I have worked with around the world through blogging and twitter. As well, I am considering planning some collaborative learning projects for students this year. With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi it might be time to start planning on project for that.

It’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to reading blog posts, tweets and articles from my many colleagues around the world.

The Ten Worst Practices in Educational Technology
Dean Shareski
May, 3rd, 2010
How do we make changes from what we’re doing now? Why are we spending all of this money on technology? How does technology improve student learning?
Curse of the default settings. We don’t ask what we can do with something or what can we do differently?
1. Interactive Whiteboards: Should easy always be the goal of technology? How would the use of this technology be transfo
2. PowerPoint: Why are there so many bad PowerPoints and why do we use them? What strategies have been successful in eliminating bad PowerPoints? Use the PowerPoint as a tool. Use different tools for presentations. “Slideument”If it’s a presentation you need to be there to present it. It should be a storytelling tool and not a document on slides.
3. Digital Cameras: What are your favourite uses of cameras? What ways have teachers used cameras to transform teaching? Voicethreads, documentation, reflection.
4. Walled Gardens: Password Protected sites where only you and your students are allowed in. Are there times when they are appropriate or should learning be open?
5. Computer Class: Do we still need to have computer class or should computers be in the classroom?
6. Cellphones: Are we using them in the classroom or should they be used in the classroom?
7. Keyboarding: Should be teaching this in school?
8. Drill Exercises: Do they have a place in teaching? What is the place of games in teaching?
9. Searching: How to do a proper search.
10. Viewers’ Choice: Word Processing

Bernajean Porter

iTSummit 2010

May 3rd, 2010

What are we pretending not to know? Even knowing that the future aches for a new kind of learner, thinker, and problem-solver, all the dollars and time spent on techno gadgets still have changed little more than pockets of classrooms for kids. We need to seek higher ground for our visions and our results.

“Turning UP the H.E.A.T.” (Higher Order Thinking – Engaged Students – Authentic Tasks and added-value Technology Uses) can bcome a robust catalyst in accelerating new cultures of learning that will serve the highest interest of our students’ capacity to step successfully into a global economy. Going from knowing facts to enduring understandings is not something that can be memorized – it needs to be rehearsed regularly with rigorous inquiry tasks, driving questions, authentic audiences, collaborative problem-solving tools, inventive thinking, and effective 21 Century communication skills. What if rather than trying to teach students problem solving, we actually encouraged them to take on problems that needed solving? Consider a whole-school challenge of playing a modern  day.”


  • Higher Order Thinking
  • Engaged Learning
  • Authenticity
  • Technology

Transform learning by making meaning by what we or the students know. Have students own their learning and be pushed beyond what they know. Ask the next questions, challenge the students and challenge your self. Its an open question if I don’t know the question yet.

Our goal is more transformative learning. For higher order thinking we need to require students to make meaning requiring reasoning/thinking using facts. Students are required to demonstrate being knowledge producers-focused on creating evidenced or logic based thinking beyond existing information. This goes beyond Summary reports into persuasive, original work.

Engaged students respond to open ended questions with no right or wrong answers – complex issues calling for their own developed perspective or solution. Students are guided to take responsibility or own their questions, tasks, managing processes, and defining assessments. Students guided to incorporate their interests and affinities.

In authentic learning  the task has relevant, real-world challenges. Tasks are designed for collaborative groups modeling real-world work. Student work developed as evidence of genuine learning.

In technology modes and tools are used to enhance the experience. The learning task or experience would be experience or impaired without technology. Technology uses create “new stories” for learning and teaching with new tools. Technology accelerates thinking, learning and communicating tasks.

Tasks could have rigor, purpose and produce knowledge makers. Digital Media Scoring Guides.

“One of the signs of a good question is that Google doesn’t have the answer.”

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it.” Albert Einstein