Children are like little sponges awaiting new discoveries. How we deliver new information to them and allow them to explore it deeply are two huge components in their everyday learning. Creative, hands-on lessons naturally lend itself to powerful connections for a child both academically and socially. They engage all the senses and can even have wiggle room to expand on these ideas and grow daily in the learning process. Teaching them to use curiosity when they face the unknown opens up door creativity and allows them to take risks even if they might make a mistake.
Many children, even my own, often ask me why they have to learn certain concepts in the classroom and they lose sight of the value of what they are learning because they cannot connect to it in any way. One of my favorite thank you notes from a student I had for three years wrote so eloquently “It feels like you have taught me everything I know. Thank you for helping me love learning.” I only worked with her in my position for 60 minutes each week for three years. Imagine if we spent each day learning together. To me, if love comes first knowledge will always follow. Too many students go through the motions of school but never connect to what they are learning or question how it relates to where they are in their learning journey.
In my classroom, we gradually visit learning mantras to grow on (center photo below). They ignite up our superpowers to soar beyond even when the journey gets challenging and we want to put the pencil down! Creatitvity is alive and is woven through each project to allow students to think deeply and expand their thoughts outward to see the “bigger” picture. Creativity and the power to “dream big” is often more challenging than asking a child to do work at a grade level above them. Last year we fell in love with the vision of the GoogleX’s Moonshot Factory and how they realize perseverance and making mistakes bring forth brilliant news ideas. Teamwork and daily “high fives” when mistakes are made keep their dreams and ideas flowing and inspire new ones.
This past year Metacognition man/woman/kitty (more to changes to come to him or her) also arrived in our classroom flying high and asking students to question their understanding and think about what they are learning and how they are growing as a learner. A simple light bulb that came to life and ignited questions and a desire to seek them in others. This small yet very powerful man brought questions to life in a playful way in which the character connected to the student and helped them remember to think about what their learning in a new and FUN way.
The students were asked to create how they imagined their own “metacognition man/woman/animal and then began exploring the questions by writing their very own math problems. In each light bulb had manipulative “cereal pieces” placed inside to assist the problem solver in solving the math problem they created. Each problem was unique and they saw them importance of having all the necessary information in a problem to allow the “problem solver” to be successful. In reflection, students stated that creating their own math problem allowed them to
- feel really good and almost as if they were a teacher for a day teaching others
- create their own characters and setting
- express how they see math in their minds
- being creative during a math time
In a world of technology with every answer at their fingertips, we must inspire children to dive deeper into learning, be curious and never forget the art of being audacious. Creativity is a gift to learning and one that can spread beyond the four walls and into the community and more. Dream big and the ideas will come! Don’t forget to high five your mistakes…it feels wonderful because you know you just have not got it YET!