Thursday, May 29, 2014

Make Time for Creativity in the Classroom

The message Sir Ken Robinson delivers in his TED Talk, How Schools Kill Creativity
is a call to arms for educators. It is sad, but true, in many cases the emphasis on content and testing has taken up class time that could be used for educational creative pursuits. He challenges us to give creativity the same status as literacy and accuses us of squandering the talents of children. This seems apparent when you compare elementary science students to secondary science students. The younger ones love science and cannot wait for labs. Somewhere between fifth and tenth grade something breaks and many students no longer find joy in science. The courses do become more specific and detailed and less about creating and exploring. The use of technology, including web tools and digital media, can give students the opportunity to find enjoyment in the coursework again. Educators will to take a risk, plan and be patient can save creativity from disappearing.

I have spent last three years working towards a more individual, engaging and yes, creative atmosphere in my physics and scientific research and design (SRD) classes. By flipping both classes, removing lecture from the classroom and making class time work time, I have been given time to add creative activities back into the curriculum. Both classes are science but SRD is an elective and primarily process while physics is required and content heavy.

Even with a great deal of content to cover, physics students have time to create. English Language Learners have been more successful showing me what they have learned in a video or Google presentation than they are on multiple choice tests. Students have used video, instead of pen and paper to submit a lab report. The results have been pleasing, better physics, better learning and real proof of understanding.

Flour Sack by Andrew E.
The most significant changes have happened in SRD. The SRD curriculum is primarily the use of scientific process with the application and extension of prior knowledge.  At the end of a unit on forces of flight, the assessment was to “show me what you learned”. One student who is very creative used the labs and lessons to study how things move when they are in the air. The result was an animated video of a flying flour sack. It perfectly showed what he had learned and how he had created meaning in the learning.  Students are currently completing a unit on conservation of energy and are creating lab reports in the form of movie trailers. They have created comic heroes using Scholastic Comic Maker to show what they understand about physics concepts, build mobiles to explore torque and build roller coasters to examine conservation of energy. I have been impressed with how students go above and beyond to create a wonderful product.
Movie Trailer

This year I have made the biggest leap using techniques and tools I have learned about in my course work. I have also had the luxury of working with students who have embraced the course and always surprise me with their products. Even if the situation was different or more difficult, I would be trying to give students the opportunity to create. As teachers we need to be willing to try and incorporate opportunities for creativity in our classes. We must be take the risk and stretch beyond what we are familiar with in order to better prepare students for a world with jobs that we cannot even imagine.

Robinson, S. K. (2006, February). How Schools Kill Creativity. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from TED Talks:

E, Andrew. (2014) Flour Sack. Retrieved May 28, 2014 from


  1. I love the post. I love the flour sack video. And I love the way you embrace the challenge and take on the responsibility for valuing the creative process and the creating mind.

    1. Thank you! I have found giving students room to create in the course has added enjoyment for everyone. I love being surprised by where they take the projects.