After our Creativity and Innovation professional development (Next Gen Teacher Academy) training, the tech team pushed into Next Generation classrooms before Winter Break to tackle some creativity projects.
In designing this creativity project learning experience, I used TPACK to create the most effective learning experience.
Pedagogy: First, I considered the pedagogy that would help stimulate and develop creativity. In project or problem based learning, students are solving a complex question or problem that does not necessarily have one correct answer so it really lends itself to thinking creatively to solve problems. It was important to consider other best practices such as Backwards Design, UDL, differentiation, scaffolding and inquiry based learning and they seemed to complement a project based learning approach to the creativity project.
Content: Next, I considered the content that would frame the creativity project. We pushed into Kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade classes for our creativity project so we needed content that could be adapted to be applicable to all grade levels. Making interdisciplinary connections, I settled on a STEM and literature project. I worked backwards to design essential questions for a fourth grade creativity project.
Big Questions: What is the Engineering Design Process?
How can you design a solution to a problem?
What strategies does a write use to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes?
How do folktales provide insight into other cultures and teach us lessons for our daily lives?
Objective: Students will engage in the steps of the creative process including defining the creative challenge, identify sources of information, idea generation and refinement, openness and courage to explore, working creatively with others, creative production and innovation and self-reflection.
Context: Next, I considered the context. We are pushing into Next Generation classrooms which have one to one iPads and flexible learning spaces. We also wanted to design a lesson that would adaptable to several grade levels.
Technology: Finally, after considering all of the above did I start to think about the ways in which technology could enhance the creativity lesson. The technology used for this lesson needed to provide a tool for collaboration, for publishing and sharing and also for engagement and creation.
The Three Little Pigs Engineering Creativity Project
Hook: To quickly engage students, we told them a little about how they would be using some engineering skills combined with a story they would be familiar with but that they would have to use some creativity as well. We showed The Three Little Pigs advertisement from The Guardian & discussed the different points of view within the video.
Retelling: We then moved into a retelling of the traditional Three Little Pigs story through a Think, Pair, Share. We found that there was some confusion so decided to just read the original folk tale aloud to clear up any misconceptions.
Then, we read aloud The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, the version of the story told from the point of view of the wolf.
Compare and Contrast: We asked students to think about the different points of view found in the three different versions of the same story and had them discuss with partners. We then had them create Venn Diagrams on their iPads.
On Day 2 of the creativity project, we began to shift our thinking towards engineering and how that played a role in this story.
Ask (Define the Creative Challenge): Students were shared a Google Doc to begin to explore engineering and what an engineer does. They were provided with this What is Engineering? ThingLink to help them start to define their creative challenge.
Here is what the Google Doc looked like with the red text being the student feedback summarized:
We had a fantastic discussion while sharing out what we had learned during our exploration time.
Driving Question: We wrapped up this discussion on engineering by asking the students “If we were engineers designing a house, what is the potential real world problem we would be trying to solve in our design?”.
Students determined that they were trying to design a structure that could withstand strong winds from hurricanes or tornadoes and thus designed their driving question for this project.
Imagine & Plan (Identify Sources of Information/ Idea Generation & Refinement):
Now we introduced the groups and materials to the students. Each group had a bag of materials that they were able to use to create their structure. They were also provided with a ThingLink with resources on wind power, architecture & engineering that they could explore if they chose.
Groups had to brainstorm and create a general design either on paper or iPad and be able to explain it to one of the teachers in the room. If the design was approved, the group received their building materials and could begin building their structure. If their design was not approved, they had to make changes using the teacher’s suggestions before the group could begin.
Create (Creative Production & Innovation, Working Creatively with Others, Openness & Courage to Explore):
Students worked very hard creating their house the first day.
However, on day two of building we introduced some constraints in order to really stimulate some creativity and create some roadblocks that had to be overcome. First, we introduced the Pig Depot. Each group now had a budget and had to purchase the supplies that it was using to create their house from the Pig Depot adding some layers of math that had to be considered.
When the groups were reading, they could test their structure using the Big Bad Hairdryer. If their structure did not stand up to the Big Bad hairdryer, they needed to make improvements.
Finally, we introduced the bigger badder fan that students had two chances to try and get their structure to stand up to.
Self-Reflection: After all groups had tested twice on the bigger badder fan, they had to reflect as a group and individually using the Saline Area Schools creativity rubric that incorporates the Buck Institute for Education Project Based Learning Creativity Rubrics and the EdLeader21 Creativity Rubrics. Each group presented their house design, whether or not it stood up to the bigger badder fan, their successes and failures throughout the process, what they would do differently and how they worked as a team.
The feedback that I got from the fourth grade teachers was that they were really excited about how the project engaged and hooked some of their normally disengaged students and how the students seemed to gain a recognition of how valuable collaboration was for solving a complex problem. The students made tons of cross-curricular connections and all developed unique structures with supporting rationale. We then took this activity and adapted it for our Kindergarten and first grade classrooms.