I have to admit that I love buzzwords. And leveraging digital is one of the buzzwords that I enjoy the most. In my mind, when I hear the words leveraging digital, I have a very powerful visual. I see a lever being used effectively to move a very large object. To me, digital allows us to do really great things. And often it makes work easier.
My goal over the next few posts is to share how I am using digital to promote those 21st-century skills. Now before I go any further, I do realize that we are 18 years into the 21st-century. But the skills are still important. They are also called Global Competencies, and they include: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity & innovation (from Edugains) and citizenship and character.
Today I want to talk about how I’m using digital to get my students to create and innovate in my class.
I admit that I have a pretty heavy bias towards students that can create and innovate. I tend to favour their thinking more and value their contributions. I have had some students who aren’t traditionally very successful in school but become wildly successful because I value what they can create. I do have to keep in my mind certain ideas. I have to remind myself that just because I didn’t think of it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s brilliant. I always try to look into the thinking behind what is created.
In my language and specifically my writing I actively promote creation and innovation. I ask the students create products that demonstrate their writing skills. I don’t limit them by forcing everyone to produce the same form. This is tricky at first because students traditionally travel through a form of the month approach. This is where the whole class focusses on a certain writing form. I value choice. I believe that students will be more successful if they choose how they show their learning.
So I have students actively create a wide range of products. I specially enjoy it when a new idea is introduced that spreads around the room with other students willing to try. Right now I have a student who is wants to create a spam email as a writing piece. He wants to publish it so it looks like a Jetta meant email. This idea has taken hold in my room. I have two other students wildly interested in that and wish to create their own. Of course they aren’t copying the student but are taking that idea and changing and/or improving it. This is innovation.
But I need to be careful about defining innovation. Innovation isn’t necessarily creating a never-before seen product. It could also include taking an existing product and changing it for the better. This ties in nicely with the design thinking that’s happening in my science class.
So how am I using technology to foster creativity and innovation?
Students are better able to create different writing products using technology. They can publish them with better and more dramatic ways than traditional paper and pen. They also have access to a wider range of products to inspire them. Technology also allows for better revision and creative thinking: Iteration. Students can change remix and revise the work much more easily using technology. It could be as simple as cut and paste. It could be much more complex than that. It is these processes that are important when working towards strengthening innovation skills.
I do believe that creativity can be taught. It is a mindset that some students have leaned into more than others. I applied this concept from the growth mindset work that I have done in math. I believe every student can be creative. They need experiences and time and practice to develop this skill. Unfortunately a lot of students believe that they lack creativity and innovation. I believe they have lacked the experiences that have allowed them to strengthen these skills. It is my job to provide more experiences and practice so they can further develop it.
Creativity and innovation is important. Using technology allows us to foster the skills. It is important.
How are you fostering creativity and innovation in your classroom?