Saturday, December 07, 2013

Nurturing A Creative Class Culture

“We want to encourage a world of creators, of inventors, of contributors. Because this world that we live in, this interactive world, is ours.” Ayah Bdeir

Mostly outside of the four walls of many schools, technology and the Internet are fostering a creative culture beyond our imagination. Fortunately that culture is creeping into schools in dynamic ways. How do we embrace, nurture, and encourage this wonderful creativity in our schools and in our homes?

Yesterday, a young inventor in my class showed me the video game he created on SCRATCH with enthusiasm. He said, "This took me a long time," and further remarked, "When I first started SCRATCH I didn't know anything, and then I learned how to do this." He was thrilled with his complex game, one that he continues to develop, revise, and improve. From my bit of work with SCRATCH, reading, and collegial discussions online and off, I understood the creativity and sophistication of his work. I honored what he did, and also gave him the opportunity to share his work with other like minded, creative, video game designers in our school.  
     "How did they like your game?" I asked.
     "They loved it.  They're still playing it," he answered. Then he went on to say that one of the other boys beat the game, and has created a similar game. That made me think that we need to build in time for these game designers to meet, create, and share regularly so that they nurture and encourage each other's work.

Similarly, a young girl in my class has used SCRATCH to create characters, movies, radio shows, and more. In fact, she has created her own design studio on SCRATCH where she shares her work and the work of others. She synthesizes and interprets many learning experiences through SCRATCH in creative, dynamic ways.

Minecraft, known as Legos X 1,000,000 by some, offers the same creative environment.  As we explored a local farm multiple times this year many of the children likened the farm to their Minecraft creations and used Minecraft vocabulary and connections to describe the farm's many interactions, possibilities, and needs. 

Sketch-up, iMovie, KidPix, Google apps and more foster countless creative compositions related to classroom content and students' own imaginations, interests, and passion. The creativity develops a classroom of thoughtful innovators and designers rather than passive responders in contagious, fulfilling, and enriching ways.

This creativity has common denominators including the following:
  • Share and collaboration.
  • Innovation, novelty, and originality.
  • Story and communication.
  • Problem solving, perseverance, and struggle.
  • A sense of satisfaction, drive.
  • Synthesis.
  • Reaching out to experts online and off for answers.
The children who are most involved in these activities have easy access to technology, invention, and design in their lives. I suspect they have computers, art/building supplies, and creative encouragement in their homes. I also suspect they have the chance to visit art museums, musical performances, and cultural events. I know they, like all children, have the inborn human instinct to learn, create, and solve problems. 

As I move forward in the year, I will continue to work towards building a dynamic program while meeting common core standards. In that regard I will work with colleagues to embed the standards, best tools, and advantageous processes into worthy, dynamic, and differentiated child-centered earning experiences.  

This is the focus of so many of our grade-level team discussions, and soon our whole staff will discuss this at an upcoming faculty meeting. I will continue to think about the challenge of nurturing a creative class culture, and I look forward to any tips, links, or ideas you have in this regard.