Summer still stretches across the skies, the heat pounding the dry desert sands, while my mind quietly turns to cooler days and busy classrooms. One thing I often debate with myself, is how much one can stray away from a set curriculum and introduce more creative and stimulating activities for learners. Not all curriculum items are necessarily dull and some may even help students. Nevertheless, it is by making a curriculum personal, meaningful to the learner that a curriculum comes alive.
I cannot help but be constantly amazed by students' imagination and motivation when a task is personalized and appropriate for their context. I don't need to remind them that texting friends is for the break nor that the assignment is for evaluation. Evaluating, commenting and feedback on these types of tasks becomes an urgency, as students are eager to know the results of their efforts.
Because sometimes the nature of the task is so focused on the building of skills (digital literacy in this case) and not just a particular type of writing, I find that shared feedback from the whole class is also important. After all, they have completed the same assignment and being individuals (whether working on their own or in small groups) will lead to different products. Sometimes students are wary of this approach, but when a teacher calmly explains the why, they settle down and are more comfortable in giving feedback - which is, in fact, a form of evaluation. Evaluation in in this sense also becomes more personalized and tailored to the students. On the other hand, they gradually may perceive evaluation not as a threat, but as a learning experience as well.
Having fun with Fantastic Fables is a great site for both teachers and learners. There are
clear steps guiding the teacher, as well as a chart for guiding evaluation. Although originally created for young learners, it is an activity which may be suited to foreign language classes or even adapted for slightly older students.
When it comes to writing, the focus is always on spelling, grammar and mechanics. What if students looked up what kind of writer they were? Tpyealyzer is simple and fun to use - simply paste a blog address in the box, and within seconds you will be told what kind of writer you are! As blogging becomes increasingly a mainstream activity in education, this will always spurn that extra spark of interest among learners who blog.
Writing is a hazardous and hard process, especially when learning all about writing mechanics, norms and particularly when writing in a foreign language. 750 Words may be a stimulating exercise for university students who take part in a Writing Centre, for instance. By writing daily with a challenge and the promise of points, students can also see how others are achieving their writing goals as well.
When it comes to writing, I regularly think of publishing next. Zeen is still in beta so if you are interested in having students publish their fables, stories or any kind of writing and creative work, why not sign up for an account?
Digital technology is part of a daily motions and innovations surround us. Stimulating our learners imagination and creativity, seems to me, an integral part of education today.
How will you be stimulating creativity this coming academic year?