Tools for Creativity in the Classroom

Written on April 6, 2010 – 6:41 pm | by astever

In my mathematics classroom, I find that I struggle with providing students opportunities to be creative.  Much of the content in math is very sequential and standard in terms of procedure-based skills.  Concepts build onto each other in specific orders to help students reach the application portion of a skill.  Other than allowing for multiple methods to solve open ended problems, it is sometimes difficult to be creative in the main areas of my content. 

However, I am trying to find ways to integrate creativity into culminating projects and application projects.  Much of this creativity is through the use of student choice.  One way I have started to integrate creativity is through the use of Movie Maker.  While my students still need to understand the material, they can use multiple ways to show me their understanding.  As one example, students can use Movie Maker as a tool to teach their classmates about specific material.  Using Movie Maker, students are responsible for decisions about design, layout, order of material and connections made between the material and other sources.  This tool gives students a lot of freedom to make choices which suit them best to portray their knowledge. As discussed in previous posts, I also allow students to utilize Movie Maker to show their learning during our Math Fair.  I have found that this is a very engaging tool for students which helps to increase the quality of the product that is submitted to me.

As middle school students, I don’t know that they truly embody Gardner’s idea of the creative mind yet.  They can be creative in our terms of our traditional views of creativity.  However, Gardner presents a slightly different idea of creativity- one of a true creator of something new and fresh, an innovator.  In order to excel at this, one needs to have a disciplined mind that is an expert at the given material as well as the ability to synthesize materials.  Only after one is adept at these two skills, can they truly create their own new item.  At their age, my students are only beginning to learn these skills and are definitely not a master at anything.  While I don’t think that my examples using Movie Maker totally fit Gardner’s ideas of creativity, I think they are a good start for middle school students.  In order for students to gain these skills, they need opportunities to practice and try their hand at creating.

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