For the third year, our district has invited grade 6-9 teachers to participate in a Core Competencies project. This year, Rosalind Poon and myself hosted the project, focusing on the Creative Thinking core competency in the BC curriculum. A blog post about our first session together can be found here.
Our second session was held in January and teachers shared what they had been trying in their classrooms, nurturing students’ creative thinking focusing on the three facets of novelty & value, generating ideas and developing ideas. Leah, a grades 5&6 teacher shared a force and motion invention fair she co-coordinated at her school with students applying creative thinking to their invention design and purpose. Irene shared the creatures her grade 8 Home Ec students created, considering the facets of creative thinking.
During the session we looked at the book, Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum by Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Julia Figliotti, that we have been using in this series and in our school teams, used one of the ideas from the book to think about a concept we were studying with our students. Teachers were asked to use materials to create a soundscape to represent an idea or concept. Challenging! One teacher commented on how a student really has to understand the idea/concept and synthesize thinking in order to do this task.
Our third and final session of the year was held at the end of April. Teachers shared ho they were weaving opportunities for creative thinking throughout their classroom programs. We asked teachers to write-up a lesson idea that was successful for them and their students and we will be compiling these ideas to share with teachers in our district.
During the session, we introduced teachers to the electronic components littleBits which were piloted in the district two years ago for the purposes of nurturing creative thinking through STEAM experiences. Different ways teachers and students have been using littleBits in the district were shared and then the teachers in the project were asked to create something that does something – being mindful of the three facets of the creative thinking core competency: novelty & value, generating ideas and developing ideas.
As teachers engaged with the materials, they could see the possibilities for using the littleBits beyond the electricity component of the science curriculum in grades 7 and 9. More information about littleBits can be found on the website here.
We also asked teachers to record a short professional narrative about their involvement in this project. The following is one teacher’s response:
- I strongly believe that the focus on the creative thinking competency in my classroom this year had the most impact on my teaching and the students’ learning. They are called the “core competencies” for a reason! Personal responsibility, communication, and critical thinking developed side by side with creative thinking. The willingness to take risks and persevere with difficult or ambiguous learning tasks has increased tremendously. I am also constantly amazed by the depth of thinking the students show in many circumstances. We had 2 students reflect on how learning happens in our classroom. See their thoughts below.
“Creative Thinking is the process of having original ideas of value. The Creative Thinking Challenges we do each Wednesday encourages us to think creatively when faced with a problem. Itís very important to have unique and innovative ideas, and to have different ways of overcoming challenges, especially with our rapidly changing society. We also do something called Monday Morning Provocations. Every Monday, we use a variety of materials to reflect on a question. We have more ways to show what we know, and explain our thinking visually. Not just with pencil and paper.We do a lot of activities helping us learn in different ways, not just reading a textbook, copying facts, and memorizing it. We do discussion circles where everyone shares an opinion and we discuss it. We use iPads and take pictures of our work to communicate and show our learning to parents and teachers. We use an app called FreshGrade. After every activity, we have a self-assessment/feedback frame to let us reflect on our work. Instead of the teacher giving us marks, we actually think about what we did well on, what we need to improve on etc. Overall, we think the new BC curriculum develops a creative and positive mind, which will help us in the near future.” ~ L&L
How valuable to have students reflect and comment on their learning experiences!
Roz and I look forward to continuing our work with the core competencies project next year!