April 28, 2011

Divergently Think.

I love Robinson. Not only is his accent enchanting but I really love his arguments for divergent thinking and creativity. If you haven't already you must watch:

Robinson pushes for a reform of creativity. He challenges the current systems and suggests in the link that I posted, that creativity is as important as literacy. It seems shocking. I agree.
My views and Robinson's views are an entirely different post. In this post, I would like to focus on the link between technology and creativity and how through a creative, technological project I witnessed divergent thinkers v. convergent thinkers in a general ed classroom. After using Prezi in my classroom I gained an entirely different view if my students, problem solving and expression.

1. As I gathered from my differentiation data, I have several types of students. I have kinesthetics, I have musical learners, logical, linguistic etc. I have different abilities and interests. There are so many different talents and needs in my classes. However, I never realized how technological abilities need to be differentiated. Furthermore, students who are not keen on pencil and paper really take to computers. It makes sense. Our students are plugged in from birth. While they should know the skills of pencil/paper expression, some are simply more comfortable on machines. I learned how to do Prezi alongside them. Some surpassed my skills while others really struggled. Interestingly enough, some students who were behavior issues took to leader ship/ instructional roles because they excelled with computers. Perhaps their needs were not being addressed. Maybe there wasn't enough technology.

2. There were many glitches/ problems/ bumps and bruises. After all, we were using technology, a new program, a new format and I had over 150 kids to look after. Students would need to be proactive and independent. Some panicked in the face of problems. However, when I backed off and allowed students to solve their problems in their own way they figured thing out I never could. While it may not have been test prep or a standardized unit, I can assure you that students were using higher thinking in order to critically assess their problems and then instruct other students. While I can't say that this project allowed for divergent thinking in its entirety. I can say that this experience was an eye opener. My different learners have the capabilities to solve problems. However, we don't always give them the freedom and resources to solve those problems. I begin to wonder how I can access more of my divergent thinkers and ease my convergent thinkers into the conversation. As I watched their learning process I learned so much as well. There are different thinkers. How can I foster creativity for those who need it and make it less scary for those that don't?

3. Finally, Prezi is a blank canvas and allows for students to present in the way that is logical to them. Yes, I provided guides for organization but it was incredibly telling to note how different students organized/ designed/ laid out their information. Most students expressed things very differently. Some were linear, one slide followed the next. Others buzzed around. It made sense to that child. It was interesting because I may express concepts in a certain way but it doesn't mean the child organizes his thoughts that way. I mean, it made sense but it was just different than how I would put it together. I'm glad I gave them a guideline. It showed one format. I'm even happier that some deviated and created something that wasn't linear but very logical. Had I not had a project to do this I wouldn't have this appreciate. It really makes me value project based learning and what it offers. I am lucky. As a social studies teacher I am not stuck in test prep mode. I use skills/ strategies ALL the time but I can use projects. I can address on the different needs of my students and allow them to express is as they like. I wish we had more project based learning that was test enforcing.

Concluding, I watched this clip amidst Prezi presentations and it was an echo. Yes, there are different thinkers. No, we are not teaching to all of them. We are stifling great minds. How can we reform this? How can we meet those needs? I think we need to go back to September. I think we need to get to know our students. Who are they? What are they skilled at? What needs work? Then, I think we look to project based learning that allows students to get the practical, hands on experience of creating something relevant to content and expression. The solutions to all of our problems lie within our minds; our students minds. We need divergent thinkers. In turn, we need to divergently think and allow for creativity into our classrooms that still has structure and purpose.

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