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December 1, 2018
Vol. 76
No. 4

Tell Me About

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Tell us one simple way you add creativity to classroom activities or procedures.

EngagementSchool Culture
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Doing Science the Creative Way

I love being creative in the science classroom. I am always impressed at the creativity of my junior high students, who have designed a habitat for Mars and built hands out of cardboard that can actually pick something up. Each summer, I send them a project to do before school starts. One year, they had to take a picture of themselves "doing" science, and I received photos of them checking the chemistry of their pools, fishing, riding the Sky Glider at State Fair, cooking, playing instruments, listening to birds, sailing, and reading the biographies of famous scientists. Other years I asked them to create a science meme or make magazine covers that highlighted themselves doing science. These assignments give students a chance to show themselves in a different light and allow me to get to know them better. The finished projects make great bulletin boards!
Kathy Biernat, teacher, St. Mary's Visitation, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Elm Grove, Milwaukee

Making a Mini Town

When assemblies are scheduled for the gym, my physical education classes are sometimes pushed to a hallway. During those times, my 3rd graders become "architects," with dominoes as our building materials. Some of the students represent construction companies, others are developers who decide where the first buildings will be located. The students use the edges of the floor tiles as their grids for building. After the buildings are completed, they start on roads to connect them. When class is nearly over, we all stand near the walls to see what we have achieved through cooperation and collaboration. The students use math, social studies, geography, communication, and physical activity during this lesson and have much fun as they see their community come to vision.
Mickey Fox, physical education and health teacher, Harrison Township School District, Mullica Hill, New Jersey

And the Ideas Come Tumbling Down

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Lisa Sims, academic enrichment teacher, Circleville Middle School, Circleville, Ohio

Representing Concepts in New Ways

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Genny Lee, senior biology teacher and department chair, The Bishop Strachan School, Toronto, Canada

Engage the Five Senses

I always look for ways to activate as many of our senses as possible in every lesson. The more you can see, touch, hear, smell, and move while you learn, the more likely you are to retain information. When spelling, we do arm tapping, passing a ball, or writing in colored sand. When we memorize information, we dance and sing. When we calculate numbers, we use LEGOs, beads, popsicle sticks, tapping, and stomping. We don't sit still for long in my classroom, and even when we do, we use exercise balls for chairs or we stand at our desks.
Allison Slone, teacher, Rowan County Middle School, Morehead, Kentucky

"Character"-Building Stories

When I introduced the formation of Chinese characters with different stages of evolution to my Mandarin 9 beginner students, instead of asking them to do a factual presentation of how a Chinese character goes through eight stages of change, I encouraged my students to look for a character of their own choosing and write a story about that character. The result was amazing. They were very excited to find their character and did research to find answers, which generated a lot of interesting conversations in connection with their previous knowledge of other ancient civilizations. Some even asked if they could make characters of their own! This is the beauty of creativity.
Ping Li, teacher of Mandarin, Crofton House School, Vancouver, Canada

Build It, Make It

I give kids a chance to show their learning through LEGOs, robotics, art, and tech. By not limiting assessment to paper and pencil, students get to express themselves and share their learning in fun ways.
Nancy Penchev, lab teacher and instructional technology coordinator, Scheck Hillel Community School, North Miami Beach, Florida

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