TT: The Creative Classroom

I spent a wonderful day yesterday visiting a teacher friend of mine – and helping out with her adorable 5 month old daughter! – and helping to set up her first grade classroom.  She teaches a delightful first grade class, and I was excited and honored to be a part of getting things ready for them to come back to school in a little while.  One of my charges was to make the welcome bulletin board; she said she wanted to make use of my creativity!  What a kind thing to say!

For my part this school year, I’m going to be a part time guest teacher in Denver and a full time graduate student, so I’m going back to school on a lot of levels.  Creativity has always been an influence on my education; with my background in music and visual arts, I find myself often considering ways to inject art into learning.  As a teacher, it seems like a natural solution to offering students choices in projects, problem solving, and integrating subjects.  There’s math in music!  Art in science!  Not to even begin to mention the possibilities of technology: video, audio, graphic design, photography…

Why is that important?  Because creativity can support ownership and meaning of a student’s learning, which is what makes that learning stick!  We know that when a concept becomes personal and meaningful for a student, they remember it (Piaget calls this assimilation, making something a part of your personal universe by linking it to other important concepts).  Can you remember the formula for finding the circumference of a circle when given the radius?  I remember that it’s twice the radius times pi because it’s something I use to make circle skirts.  That particular formula has meaning and importance to my life, so I remember it!  So, if we can use crafts, technology, anything we can get to give concepts meaning and application for their real lives, students will remember – and even better, be able to use! – these important ideas.  What better way to do it than to let them build, paint, cook, sew, sing, play, and create?

What have you learned due to your creative hobbies?