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 http://amandabrace.edublogs.org/ 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.

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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 (http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2013/01/10/30-ways-to-promote-creativity-in-your-classroom/)  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: http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2013/01/10/30-ways-to-promote-creativity-in-your-classroom/#sthash.ECRNtUuf.dpuf

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: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/Why-Creativity-Now%C2%A2-A-Conversation-with-Sir-Ken-Robinson.aspx

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: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/whyisitimportanttofosterchildrenscreativity-140511022435-phpapp01/95/why-is-it-important-to-foster-childrens-creativity-5-638.jpg?cb=1399994622

I’m a middle years teacher in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I was told about the Comment Challenge by Kim Cofino on Twitter. As soon as I heard about the challenge I wanted to be part of it and I wanted my class to be involved. My quest this year has been to connect my students and myself to the world. I want all of us to become global citizens and be aware of the world around us. Because I’m connected as an educator I’m able to provide my students with the ability to connect with other students around the globe.

As I checked the list of participants there were many names I recognized. The following names are people that I’ve communicated with through classblogmeister. I’ve exchanged emails with Jane Loweand Kathy Rice. I’ve participated in many on-line discussions with Lisa Parisi. and worked on collaborative projects with Barbara Bashour. I’m also involved in a global collaborative writing project called MS1001 Tales with Ann Oro along with Jo McLeay and Anne Mirtschin.

Sharon Peters was a presenter for my last grad class and Cindy Seibel was another student in the class. Many of the same people are part of my Twitter network.

Through these many connections I’m able to provide opportunities for my students to communicate with other students around the globe. My students are becoming active participants in the student comment challenge which I hope will encourage them to spend as much time writing comments as they write blog posts. I also hope that they, like me, find new blogs to read, enjoy and question in our ongoing challenge to become global citizens.

I’ve been working on a collaborative project that will study and follow the Iditarod Trail Dog Race. I followed the race with my class last year and we really enjoyed it. This year I wanted to expand on the project to include teachers and classes I was working with on my class blog. Fortunately when I looked at the requirements for my EC&I 831 class there was a major technology project required. This was what I needed to stop thinking about the project and get on it. I contacted several teachers requesting them to join me in the project.

February 4th, tomorrow, is the day we start. I’ve prepped my class of grade six and sevens and we’ve had a look through the wikis I’ve set up for the project. I’ve had class lists emailed to me and set up the students in groups. My students have already been chatting to their partners in Seattle and North Battleford. The group in Beiruit has had some political turmoil that has disrupted school but Barbara has put a group of students together that have started to attend school again. It’s a learning experience for all of us and I think we’re as excited as the students to begin.

Wish us luck as we start our learning adventure. Peek into our project wiki and see what we’re up to.

Iditarod

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons Kayak 49

I’ve been thinking about the make up of my professional learning community. Who are the people I talk to, collaborate with and discuss new ideas? My professional learning community is the world wide network of educators who like me, are trying to integrate technology into their classroom. My PLC is outside the walls of my school and possibly the limits of my city. My closest collaborator lives within the same province but we’ve never met. I receive feedback from a teacher in Seattle and I reguarly share ideas with a teacher in Beiruit, Lebanon. I’ve received wonderful emails from teachers in Korea, Australia and throughout the United States. I’ve just been chatting to a teacher/librarian in Rhode Island who shares the same sense of humour as I do. Today when I was looking at novels in the library I started wondering who might want to collaborate on a novel study after Easter. These wonderful people in my PLC encourage me to think beyond my classroom and push the boundaries of my four walls.

Hi,

Tonight there was discussion on the benefits of blogging. Once you start looking through journal articles there many articles about blogging. Some of the articles are a bit old but still relevant.

In Instructional Blogging: Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, and Peer Input Stuart Glogoff (2005) explains, “ . . . instructional blogging offers additional opportunities to engage students and extend the virtual classroom.” Glogoff (2005) examines the opportunities that blogging provides
to students including reading, critical thinking, commenting, real-world experiences and meaningful ways to interact with others. Glogoff (2005) also discusses the three instructional techniques that blogging in the classroom use: receptive, directive and guided discovery.Glogoff (2005) also discusses the pedagogy behind the use of blogs in teaching and learning.

In Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom Mollie Crie (2006) explains the basic information about what are blogs, the educational benefits of blogs and ways to use blogs in the classroom. Crie (2006) also discusses some risks to consider when using blogs in a classroom.

In Content Delivery in the “Blogosphere” Richard E. Ferdig and Kaye D. Trammel (2004) examine the potential benefits of blogging for educators. Ferdig and Trammel (2004) also describe the pedagogy of blogs and why blogs should be used as an educational tool. Ferdig and Trammel (2004) list some practical ideas for teachers beginning to use blogs in their classrooms. According to Ferdig and Trammel (2004) there are four benefits of student blogging: The use of blogs helps students become subject-matter experts, the use of blogs increases student interest and ownership in learning, the use of blogs gives students legitimate chances to participate and the use of blogs provides opportunities for diverse perspectives, both within and outside the classroom.

In The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the Classroom David Huffaker (2005) explores how blogs promote literacy in schools. Huffaker (2005) questions how blogs can enhance learning environments and if classroom settings are appropriate settings for their use. The article hypothesizes that blogs are an important addition to any school because they promote literacy through storytelling, allow collaborative learning, provide anytime-anywhere access, develop an on-line community of learners and provide for self-expression. Huffaker’s article focuses on the implications for storytelling because he believes it is the beginning of literacy.

Laurie Armstrong, Dr. Marsha Berry and Reece Lamshed focused their research and article on the use of blogs by students as learning journals. In Blogs as Electronic Learning Journals (2006), the authors developed a blog site for their research and used three different groups of students to participate in the study. The study explored the potential of blogging technology in education and training for student communication. The authors also studied how the use of blogs could be adapted to learning content delivery, student mentoring, professional development, collaboration and knowledge management. The study found that the use of blogs provided an interesting and innovative way to improve communication skills of their students. The authors also found that the use of blogs improved educators’ communications with their students. The research also found that blogs create a group of students that are more eager to interact and commit to writing in their blogs. The authors also found that individual students have a sense of control over their learning when they can document their learning and immediately publish their work in order to have immediate feedback. The disadvantage to this study was that it focused on the use of blogs for university but the goals and findings of the research can be transferred to many groups of students.

Here’s the title of another article in jstor about distance writing and audience. Blog Your World has some interesting thoughts and links on the benefits of blogging. The same author offers a slideshow with blogging information. Here’s some information from a survey of classblogmeister teachers from May, 2007. In Classroom Blogging A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere David Warlick (2005) has created a step-by-step guide for teachers to use blogging in their classroom. Warlick (2005) makes the point that blogging is communication in the new millennium. Warlick (2005) states that:
Literacy = Communication (reading + writing)
Blogging = Communication (reading + writing)
Blogging = Literacy (p. 110).

I’m obviously a fan of blogging in the classroom.

K

Writing Assignment

Last Friday saw the beginning of a Thinwalled Classroom collaboration between myself and a teacher in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. We were inspired by Clarence Fisher’s blog about his Thinwalled Classroom work. I’ve chatted a couple of times with Clarence about his project and was looking forward to starting my own with my partner, Jim. We decided to start small with a weekly shared writing assignment. I began last Friday with a slideshow which I posted on my classroom blog. I told the students a little about myself and asked them to write about themselves. Jim and I agreed that we would read then comment to the each other’s class. It was a great opportunity to meet Jim’s students in North Battleford and Jim met my class. Jim was pleased with how this assignment motivated some of his reluctant writers. Next week is Jim’s turn to give the writing assignment. I’m looking forward to see what the assignment will be about.