Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Embedding Student Creativity into Assignments

Today, we started working on how to write biographies. Originally, I was going to model how to complete a worksheet which would have them organize details such as when and where someone was born, what they did when they were little, something special they accomplished when they were older, when and where this individual died.

I guessed that the content of the worksheet would not have connected to my students. Recently, my students have taken potshots at me. They didn't do it on purpose, but I took it as an attack on me as a teacher. In another lesson, I was talking about Galileo Learning which is another summer school program. One of the students chimed in, "They don't have to learn anything. All they do is play." Well, that's because this girl assumes that learning and playing are mutually exclusive. Anyway, she felt like all she did was work in my class. And, she wasn't alone. I know that many of the other students felt the same way. So, I tried to change up my lessons a bit.

Today, instead of doing the worksheet, I told my students that I wanted to create a character. We would answer questions such as the ones that I mentioned in the first paragraph. I took an answer to each question from a different student. I was pretty proud of this change in the lesson. I definitely got more participation than I normally get. Students were thinking of characters from TV shows and using this information to make the character. So, in essence, they brought their own content to creating the character.

After creating our character together, I dismissed them to create their own character by answering the same questions. I also let them draw what their character looks like. After they finished, I collected all their work. I said that I would read three of them. They wanted me to read all twelve of them. I was proud of that because usually all of my students are so shy to share anything in front of the class.

Anyway, that's an example of how to utilize student creativity to make a fun in class assignment. If you can make a fun in class assignment, then will get you maximum involvement. It sounds like common sense, but what could happen on the flip side might not be so obvious.

It might not be so obvious what might happen if your lesson is boring. If your lesson is boring, the environment of the classroom could be worse than simply some students not participating. Not every student has the inherent desire to learn. A lot of students just want to have fun. So, if they're not having fun through your lesson, they'll find another way. Those ways could come in the form of making noises, playing with their pencils, erasers, talking to other students, and etc. Sometimes, that's a distraction ranging from just the students who have the inherent desire to learn to all students. That's why its important to utilize student creativity to make fun lessons. 

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