07 September 2015

Using Creativity for Inspiration in the New Year

Over at National Blogging Collaborative, bloggers are encouraged to consider their "New Year's" resolution for the blog a month.

This fall marks the third year I've taught a course at the local university, and just as I did as a high school teacher, I took time over the summer to reflect on what worked and didn't work the previous time I taught the course, and I thought about how I want to improve. Naturally, I looked at course evaluations, weighed the recommendations from students, and considered what I know these young adults will face when they enter middle school classrooms as English language arts teachers.

On our first day of class last week, I asked the students to write about what English language arts means to them. What is it we teach when we teach students English language arts? While a couple of students focused on the skills they will teach (language, grammar, writing), many of the explanations also included thoughts on critical thinking, creativity, communication, and personal connections to text that create life-long readers. Our syllabus is full of ideas for what we will read, discuss, and learn. I vow to focus on what my students need.

Even as I help students learn what they need to learn, my "New Year's" resolution for the 2015-2016 academic year is to encourage more creativity in myself and my students and to help these future teachers understand the importance of creativity in teaching middle school students.

Inspired by my reading of Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards by Bob Lenz, Justin Wells, and Sally Kingston and a recent phone conversation with Justin, I am resolving to make this year better and more creative than the last. We will focus on creativity and all the non creative acts required for us to be creative. We will focus on deeper learning, more authentic assessment, and engaging learning.

"...for learning to be meaningful and long lasting, it should culminate in the creation of something that never existed before."

"...creativity is what excites and engages us, forging an emotional connection to our learning that is as critical to the process as the content of learning itself."

~~quotes from the book by Lenz, Wells, and Kingston~~

What about you? Do you have plans to be creative this academic year? To encourage creativity in yourself and your students? Do share your ideas, please!