Let Creativity Shine

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In our study of life in Europe during the Middle Ages, we explored the power of the Catholic Church. Students were given the task to choose a generalization from the Universal Theme of Power. From there, they were expected to sketchnote their understanding of the power the Catholic Church exerted over people living in feudal society.

I’m highlighting two of the exceptional sketchnotes from my talented GATE/PreAP World History class. Giving students the option to demonstrate their learning in a creative fashion allows students to showcase their talents. Not all students can draw, but some can…and these two students are among them. I am not only impressed with their work, but I can see that they are able to demonstrate their learning about the influence the Catholic Church exerted during that era.

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I am firm believer in student choice in the areas of content, process, and product. Differentiation is the means to support the individual needs of my middle schoolers. Not all of my students take me up on my offer of free choice, but I think that’s the by-product of the focus on test scores to measure learning. Would a quiz on the power of the Catholic Church show how much these students could recall? Would it have been faster to administer a quiz instead of allot multiple days to complete the sketchnotes? Of course, but would a quiz have allowed students the opportunity to engage in a bit of creativity? Rhetorical I know.

As this semester comes to a close and I get ready to say goodbye to these kiddoes, I’m glad that I have their work to remember them by. They not only inspire me, but they remind me of why I chose this profession in the first place.

I am truly blessed.

 

“You Should Probably Write This Down”

These were the words from one of my 7th graders as we worked through the steps for how to use Aurasma…

I was hoping that at least one of my students would have experience with Aurasma since they use VR at home but no…we’re all collectively newbies. Noobs. I muddled my way through explaining how to use Aurasma to my morning classes…but it wasn’t until after school when I got the chance to work one on one with a student that it clicked…for the two us. And that’s when she told me, “You should probably write this down…”

She knows me so well.

That was two days ago…and today as I write this blog, I’m watching my students create their first Aurasma project. Students were given the option to use Tellagami, iMovie, or Snapchat for the overlay. They were also given the option to work with a partner. I’m a firm believer in student choice…and in this project there is an abundance of it. But what there’s another abundance of is student engagement. I mean every student has their nose to the grindstone. They are communicating, collaborating, troubleshooting…all on their own. It’s a proud moment for me because when it comes down to it…it’s really all about them. Not me. Not teacher-directed, but student-centered…student-created.

I can’t wait to see their final projects! #soexcited

Make it Work Moment #30daysofblogging

I am not sure where the time went…but it flew by this week. My students have been crazy busy working towards finishing our unit before the end of the semester. Currently, my students are working on creating an Instagram post from the perspective of a historical figure who lived on a manor during the Middle Ages in Europe. But because our district firewall is like Fort Knox, I have to constantly find workarounds…

But because our district firewall is like Fort Knox, I have to constantly find workarounds…

To get students to practice analysis and writing skills, I created a Life on a Manor Big Idea assignment. This series of tasks has students analyzing documents, using the CER writing formula to put together evidence, and then creating an Instagram post from the historical figure’s perspective. Students used a variety of technology tools: Padlet, GoogleDocs, GoogleSlides, and Flipboard. I created an Instagram template in Google Slides for students to use. Then when they are finished with choosing the perfect picture, developing two hashtags about the thoughts and feelings of that historical figure, and writing their post, they will take a screenshot and upload it our class Flipboard magazine.

The Flipboard magazine will act as our collective “Instagram” feed about life on the manor for the lords, ladies, knights, peasants, and serfs. I’ll share the links to the magazines tomorrow after students have commented on their peers’ work.

The district firewall is not a means to give up on finding creative ways to engage students. I know my students are on Instagram…they know how this site works…so why not figure out a workaround that will give them the sense of using a tool they already know?

I can’t wait to see their final projects tomorrow…