I was lucky. As a young child in elementary school, I had the privilege of being accepted into the gifted program with phenomenal teachers. Their passion for learning and love for children were evident everywhere you looked. But more importantly, these teachers infused creativity into everything they did.
For example, in 3rd grade, my teacher used sentence phrases to help us write short stories. It was a hodgepodge of phrases that we put together as the inspiration for our stories. From those stories, she had us hand-draw pictures to go along with the storyline. Afterwards, she took those stories and had them published into two hardback books. One that went into the school’s library, and the other one went home with us. So, basically, I wrote and illustrated my first book in the 3rd grade.
Another example was in the 4th grade. To help us learn how to write letters but also to understand how the U.S. Postal System worked, my teacher set up a post office in our classroom. Yes, we had the post office window and mailbox! We got to write letters to our friends, address them, put a stamp on it, submit them to the post office, and have the postmaster deliver the letters to us within the same day. We all took turns being the postmaster so we could experience sorting, stamping, and delivering the letters. Who knew that the U.S. Postal Service could be run by a bunch of giggly 4th graders?
My last example occurred in my 6th grade class. When learning about California state history, my teacher planned a trip for us to fly to Sacramento so we could see with our own eyes our State Capitol. We toured the Capitol building and went by the governor’s mansion. She made history come alive for us while also giving us real-world experience with traveling on a plane and being away from home for a few days.
These three examples show how creativity in the classroom not only can leave lasting impressions on a child, but they also exemplify how teaching should be in the classroom for everyone – not just gifted students and certainly not just for elementary-aged children.
When I became a teacher, my goal was to make learning fun and creative for my middle school kiddoes. Luckily for me, I started back in 1995 before standardized testing became the barometer of learning that it is today. And, I had quite a bit of autonomy as California did not have history standards at the time, but rather teachers used a framework that allowed for more voice and choice for teachers and students.
My point is that creativity should be a priority in the classroom. And, I don’t mean at the expense of important literacy skills either. Students can learn in creative ways, and they can acquire and practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in the process. I know this because that’s exactly how I structured my classes…after all, I learned from the best.
If you’re interested in how I infused creativity into my instructional practices, please join me for my session “Let’s Get Appy – Creativity in the Social Science Classroom” on June 27, 28, 30 or August 1, 2, 4. This virtual workshop is part of the summer series hosted by EdTechTeacher, and if you’re not interested in this particular session (no hard feelings, I promise!), there are 30+ other sessions offered by a phenomenal team of educators. Please check out the EdTechTeacher website for more information.