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The Creative Curriculum

You may see below, in older posts (I can’t believe I haven’t written anything in more than a year), that I enjoyed tremendously the book from Sir Ken Robinson “The Element” which then led me to his other two books.  Thanks to those books, I now deeply believe that creativity takes a major role in a person’s life and that teachers must take responsibility into fostering creativity in children but it has been extremely difficult, for me, to be creative enough in order to develop a small curriculum which would promote creation in students.

So here you are, the general scope of what can be implemented inside any classroom barely designed by me. In later posts I will explain more explicitly each step and how it will be implemented. I hope you may send feedback!

Phase 1: Make Students Think

I love Tim Burton’s work, it is just amazing, and what he has created reflects how incredible his mind produces astounding images that then their host turns into real magic. If you have watched any of Tim Burton’s movies you cannot question he is truly a creative mind. Some years ago he turned Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” into a great movie and he showed us that you may have your own vision and understanding of things.

There are two great things that this movie can teach teachers and students alike, and both of them are at the beginning of the movie. One of those is that all the best people are completely mad, bunkers and off their heads. What a great lifesaver. The second one is that you can think impossible things, and if they are six before breakfast then that is even better.

Can you imagine 20-ish kids running to your class eager to share their six unique ideas?

Phase 2: Motivation

I am an English teacher and for a person to learn a new language, which is not easily accessible outside the classroom, he must be motivated. I always make emphasis wherever I am as an English teacher that English class does not mean to embrace new knowledge but to change the knowledge in your mind to see the world in a different way. Therefore, learning a new language is a cognitive process and to accept a change inside of your mind takes a lot of motivation.

Most of you would agree that students taking decisions and making choices in their learning process is the best way to increase motivation levels but how would this be without having 20-ish different syllabus for each student’s personal interest? Or without increasing the teacher’s amount of work in designing and grading?

The best solution to these problems is quite simple: challenge your students instead of giving homework.

Phase 3: Creation into Practice

I hope students are already highly motivated and may brainstorm with ease at this phase because this will require so much from them in a short time span.

Through the correct guidance and leadership students must analyze their school, their class, their everyday little school moments and find the one which may be improved, the one that needs to be more fun, the one that is going to be… gamify.

 

This small project based “curriculum” will be put into practice this school year under my supervision in secondary school. This means teenagers will be quite busy and the teacher a just a bit more. As I already mentioned, each step will be covered in depth in following posts and if everything turns fine (fingers crossed) I will be posting reflection as each phase finishes.

Let me know what you think, have you done something similar? How did it go? Have you thought of the same?

GAME Epic Season of Gaming PreRoll – THE DROP from Finger Industries on Vimeo.

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Reasons for Not Maturing 1

 

It’s been two weeks since I got these thoughts about what the reasons might be for a person to not get mature, which is not the same as growing older. And so they have moved me into writing a post about it.

I’m 27 years old and I’m a teacher, an English teacher, and of course part of my job has always been to teach students to behave properly in certain situations. But to have tolerance towards other people’s ideas and respect to the people expressing them does not have to be the opposite to having fun and learning. I’m not getting married in any time soon and I’m not having children of my own in the near future. I also like to tell jokes with my friends, to make fun at ridiculous things, to laugh at my own disagrace and stupidities and certainly, to have a blast whenever I can. My Facebook page is full of irrational thoughts and jokes which some people may find extremely funny and others not at all, but they understand to whom this “special” page belongs to. All of these situations have made people, at least half of them, think of me as a childish inmature man. Maybe, it is because the society I live in is quite traditional and reserved -if you don’t know where I live, I live in a small city called Pachuca in Mexico.

Then one day wandering the streets of Twitter,I ran into this particular tweet which made me laugh and to rethink the way I carry on with my life, and I realized that even though my life is not as perfect as it could be it is certainly a good one and that I am not as wrong as several people might think. The tweet, in Spanish, was “Un adulto creativo es un niño que ha sobrevivido.” In English, “A creative adult is a child that has survived”. Beautiful, isn’t it?

I am not what you might call an artist, I don’t paint or draw, I don’t play an instrument and obviously I have never compose a piece of music. Although I have a blog, I write when I have the right inspiration to do so; despite all of this I absolutely consider myself a creative person. I like to invent jokes in different and so diverse moments, I try to make new activities for my classes, sometimes, I invent stories to explain something. And on my Facebook page I try to put funny thoughts that had occurred to me a few moments before. Finally, and for me the best of all, after I have finished reading a book about techniques or methods that might be helpful to my classes I immediately try to imagine ways to implement them.

Part of my obligation in the school is to plan events for Christmas, Spelling Bee, and this year for the first time ever, Saint Patrick’s Day. It is my responsability to search and print drawings that will be the decoration used for that day. In three different occasions I have had a discussion with a collegue also in charge of chosing the best theme. The first time the problem was that the elves -Santa’s little helpers- had pointy ears and therefore, they weren’t cute enough. The second time almost the same thing happened; we were chosing a TV family for Family Day and I had chosen the families of Rugrats -a Nickelodeon cartoon- but again, for my coworker they weren’t cute enough. And finally, just last week, we had a problem because she wanted something for the stage and I wanted something slightly different for the gate at the entrance, and my question was that if it was strictly mandatory to have absolutely the same figures in both places. The first time I won, the other two she did. For this paragraph I have no conclusion instead I do have a question: Why?… Can you answer my question?

Yesterday, I watched Tim Brown’s video about creativity and play and I loved a statement he said during his presentation and it was something like this: “A child asks what it is but he also asks what he can do with it”. And if the child is smart he will ask the question to himself and he will try various uses for that object. So the imagination of a child is endless and it will provide him opportunities to discover and to invent but it will come the day when an adult will teach the child the “correct” use and tell him to do so. This is reason number two to not become mature.

In following posts I will try to go deeper into what I think the word “mature” involves and why I think being childish is best. Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for more reasons to stay as I am: immature.

This is the video I mentioned before, totally worth watching. Enjoy!

 

 

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WoW!

Right now, I’m living something so surreal that I never thought it would be possible in junior high school.

I must say that I never thought my students would be like they are when I accepted to work there. And as any teacher would like, it is almost a dream come true. Have you ever wanted to work with teenagers aged 13-15? Being, most of the times, responsible? quiet? participative? respectful? and hard-working? Isn’t that exciting?

It is a great and different experience I want to seize to the maximum, and after getting to know each other I think the time has come to do so. The past week I started to introduce my students to the world of blogging, I was glad to see that most of them were very enthusiastic about this and are trying hard. Our class blog is designed to share the written works we do in class: essays, letters, timelines, biographies, personal experiences and so on. By the way, have I mentioned that they are EFL students? Therefore, it is very invigorating to read such coherent texts like theirs.  Obviously some texts need improvement, hence their works are edited and proofread before they are published.

Another important aspect I want to achieve is sharing among them, as any teacher knows, when students write a text they think it’s for the teacher’s eyes only; and maybe they do care for grammar and spelling because it is part of the grading process. However, they still make some basic sintaxis mistakes, or sometimes the topics they choose are trivial and well, not worthy for a good text. And now I expect they care more about their writing and about the topics they choose; they will keep in mind that their work will be checked by the teacher, and by other teachers, by their classmates, and by students of other classes and grades.

To be this an encouragement instead of the opposite, I’m thinking about giving extra credits or rewards to the most commented post, or perhaps, to the most active writer, to the most read, or to the best rated. Parameters must be done.

Finally, I really hope we can all get through this satisfactorily carrying with us great experiences.

Good writing my padawans!

Class Blogs:  Publishing Corner for first graders, On the Wall for third graders.