Tagged with " creative"

Is This Creativity?

Jul 9, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Classroom

Creativity is one of the aspects of teaching that I enjoy the most. If I thought about the traditional definitions of “creativity” there would be no way I would include myself in that definition but if you look at it through another lens then I can see why I like it so much. I simply love the challenge of thinking of solutions to challenges. Looking at all aspects of a challenge and coming up with what seem like ridiculous (creative) solutions. These are the things that I look forward to.

The other day when I was reflecting on my year 9 “Digital Connections” course that wave of creativity (or ridiculousness) hit me. Why don’t we just try something totally different next time? What we did this year was good but I am sure it always could be better.

Like all ridiculous ideas you need to have a sound board and luckily I work in a great team and I was able to “nut out” the idea with Ivan (who also teaches the other half of the students in the course).

So what was so ridiculous? Well our course is a non-assessed course based around “digital” issues. We have a lot of flexibility with what we cover but at times we haven’t got all our students won over. Don’t get me wrong they enjoy coming along but at times it has felt a bit forced. So the challenge Ivan and I were facing is how can we offer a course which is engaging, relevant and challenging whilst also ensuring our student’s learning needs are met.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Diego Dalmaso

We discussed Cathy Davidson’s graduate program where students basically lead the course and are fully peer assessed, ISB’s Google Ninja training and a range of instructional approaches. We also looked at integration and curriculum models from ISTE and Common Sense Media. They gave us a huge range of ideas and in the end I think we have settled on something of a hybrid of all of these.

Here is how things stand at the moment:

  • ATLs – IB Approaches to Learning (ATLs) will be the framework we use for our learning experiences
  • Strands – We are designing a range of learning experiences for each strand of the ATLs.
  • Grouping – In class students can work alone, in pairs or in small groups
  • Self Directed – students will have choice over which activities they complete
  • Badges – student will work towards earning badges (based loosely around the Mozilla Badge system). They will need to complete a set number of experiences in order to earn a badge – e.g. after completing 4 experiences from the Communication strand they will receive their “Communicator” badge
  • Assessment – learning experiences are peer assessed against a class developed rubric.
  • Requirements – to earn a badge in a strand the student will need to give a presentation or run a tutorial for the class. They will also need to design an original learning experience for each strand.
We are only at the early stages of planning things out but I think we have a solid framework from which we can make this “ridiculous” idea  a reality. Once again I have been reminded why I enjoy teaching so much – the creativity


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by scottwills

The Power of Images

Nov 29, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Classroom, Communicate

We all know the line “A picture is worth a thousand words” but are all pictures created equal? Are all pictures worth a thousand words or are some worth more than others?

I am a very visual learner and I realised early on the importance of being able to “read” pictures (images). I feel it is a skill that students need to be explicitly taught. I am aware we are all able to gain meaning from images but very few of us have the natural ability to interpret the message of an images. It is something we have to learn.

In one of my classes we were learning about various contagious diseases and as part of this we developed an essential vocabulary list. Instead of asking the student to find the definitions of these words I asked them if they could locate an image which represented what the word meant to them. This was a new challenge for the students. Most of them had never been explicitly taught about how to find and reference images.

To kick things off I gave students a couple of minutes to select a word and find an image that represents the meaning. “Too easy” said most of the student and all of them came back with a picture well within the time limit. But when we looked at the collection of images we realised that a number of students had picked exactly the same image. After a short chat the kids realised that the reason for this is because they all used Google Images. We moved the discussion on to if they knew whether they were allowed to use their picture in a presentation. After some humerous responses we realised that none of us knew if we had “permission”. This lead perfectly to a video I had prepared:

After watching the video we chatted about how we could find Creative Commons licensed work. I gave a short demonstration of how Creative Commons Search and Compfight worked, how to reference photos and told them they needed to develop a presentation with 10 definitions.

As I walked around the room I was amazing at how quickly the students picked up how to find and reference “powerful” images. It was almost a logical step for them. They already knew images were a powerful way to convey meaning, all they were missing was a little extra guidance. Hopefully the students will be able to take some of these skills away and apply them in other areas of their life. Fingers crossed.

Follow Me