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For Educators By Educators: Being Creative in Amplifying Student Potential

Riverside Insights
Written By Riverside Insights
On Sep 12, 2022
4 minute read
Who said class had to be boring?
Students can learn unique skills through classroom creativity. 

With so much focus on meeting academic standards in the classroom, engaging students in creative lessons and projects can be a bit of a lost art. However, opening the door for creativity to mesh with learning unlocks student potential and provides value that serves students long after they leave school.

 

To reinfuse creativity in the classroom, we pulled together a panel of Riverside Insights’ own Anna Houseman, Alison Boivin, Christina Jordan, Paulette Black, and Rita Linnemann, all of whom bring decades of teaching experience to the table.

FEBE Speaker Bubble - BoivinBoivin starts with a good reminder of a distinction in teaching: “My whole goal was to make learning fun for both students and teachers. Standards give us the ‘what’ to teach, but the ‘how’ to teach comes from the teachers.”

FEBE Speaker Bubble - HousemanThat said, yielding some control to student creativity can be tough. Houseman says, “As a teacher, I was scared of losing control and giving students too much autonomy to be creative and have fun in the classroom. I learned the hard way that the reverse is true: providing opportunities to be creative engaged my students more."

FEBE Speaker Bubble - Jordan

Jordan adds, “You do have to give into it a little bit because in that chaos comes learning.”

 

Teachers can provide a degree of order to that chaos, though. Boivin says, “Create and discuss rubrics with students at the start of their projects. Doing so makes sure the students understand the standards but gives them a lot of flexibility in how they want to show what they know.”

FEBE Speaker Bubble - Black

Once the standards of the rubric are clarified, Black says, “Have students create a plan for how they will execute their creative projects.”

 

With a plan in place, the beauty of creative projects unfolds. As Boivin says, “Students have to learn to work together towards a project or a goal, but it brings in those soft skills of leadership, decision making, planning, and organization that are needed out in the working world.”

 

Black notes, “People complement each other. It also teaches them the art of conversation, and they really need to learn how to talk about their feelings and communicate.”

FEBE Speaker Bubble - LinnemannThe effects are notable. As Linnemann says, “You have to be willing to take a risk to show off that creativity even though it might not always be comfortable. It was awe-inspiring for myself and for the other students to see what they were able to do and perform.”

As for practical steps, our panel offers twelve best practices or ideas for bringing creativity into the classroom:

1.	Have students cook a recipe for the whole class for fraction practice 2.	Provide book suggestions that align with student interest 3.	Create choice boards a.	“They allow students to display their learning in a way that is meaningful to them.” – Houseman b.	“Give students options but also be open to their own suggestions.” – Linnemann 4.	Rewrite published stories to infuse individual students’ own cultures and backgrounds into the narrative 5.	Plan team building activities with no standards attached a.	Promotes collaboration practice and builds peer relationships  b.	Classroom fish tanks i.	Students take responsibility in school but outside of academics 6.	Take a multiple intelligences survey at the start of the year a.	Supports teachers as they plan collaborative activities throughout the year b.	“Help students understand their strengths and take control of their own learning.” - Houseman 7.	Show students your own creative weaknesses a.	“It lets them know it’s okay not to be the best at everything and that they can still deliver something creative outside their comfort zone.” – Jordan 8.	Let students present to different classrooms a.	Develops schoolwide community 9.	Go on field trips (both virtual and in-person) 10.	Bring in guest speakers  11.	Participate in community service 12.	Host special event days a.	College Day i.	An afternoon where students sign up for electives taught by parents or community members

Download the Handout

 

Stay tuned for future blogs as we recap our summer webinar series, For Educators, By Educators (FEBE), and highlight the best practices and tactical tips our educators have found successful. To continue the conversation, follow our LinkedIn group, "From Insights to Action: A Riverside Insights Network," to connect with the Riverside Insights educators featured in this blog.

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