Monday, March 21, 2011
Encouraging Creativity (part 2)
I first started wondering about whether I was doing too much thinking for the students after watching Priya Ganesan's TED talk. I then tried a different approach to teaching the Pre-Kindergarten students and was encouraged to explore this further after reading a poem called The Little Boy, sent to me by one of our Kindergarten teachers.
Today I had my 3rd class of Pre-Kindergarteners. I decided today I would approach the whole lesson as a series of questions. Rather than explain to the students what they would be doing (my first approach) or model what they would be doing (my second approach), I tried to encourage them to explore the tools and when I noticed students who were not using different colours I asked them: "Do you know how to change the colour of the lines?" If the answer was yes, I let them get on with it assuming they would change colour if they wanted to. If the answer was no I asked, "Do you want to know how to change the colour of the lines?", if the answer was no I let them continue in their own way, if the answer was yes I showed them how to do it. In the same way if I noticed students who were drawing lots of similar shapes I simply asked, "Do you know any other shapes?"
So here is a slideshow from our PK students today. Some students drew fairly conventional shapes (squares, triangles, circles etc) others drew lots of different looking shapes, some drew lots of shapes and some drew a few, some used lots of colours and some used a two or three colours. Some used the whole screen to draw their shapes, some used a small area and some drew shapes within shapes. I thought all their drawings looked unique and I hope they are all proud of what they created.
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I always loved to see what my students came up with when I just let them explore this way. The best is when one student learns how to do something and the students sitting around them asked the first student to show them how. In 2 min flat the "new" find would spread to every student in the room...viral learning at its best!ReplyDelete
Priya Ganesan's TED talk cites examples of projects like fill-in-the-blank poems, or drawings done with certain colors. She says students have been subconsciously pushed to do things one way. In elementary school, kids are starting to learn and we should encourage new ways of thinking. At my school, holiday decorations are created by template and each one is the same. I know teachers who say the skill is “following directions.” I think of technology projects I have done with kindergarten. I have given a template to color in. So where do we draw the line between structure and non-structure? Why do we insist on templates and step-by-step directions? Control? Lack of time? Fear? In my next lesson I am going to ask “Why are we doing this in this way?” Are teachers doing too much of their work for students thus causing them to lose creativity?ReplyDelete