Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Creativity - A measure of SAMR #NowWhatEdu

Makerspaces, computer coding, game design, minecraft, student-centered learning, project based learning, problem based learning, competency based learning... 

All of these are considered innovative teaching methods and curricular focuses.  They all have 1 thing in common, students are charged with creating to learn throughout the curriculum.

There are 4C's, I feel that 1 is a measure of the innovation in the curriculum.

Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity are the 4C's.  If you think about it, creativity is the only one that requires all the Cs to complete.  Truly creating requires collaborating with people and resources in and out of the class, thinking critically to identify and solve a problem, and communicate the creation to the class and beyond (nothing is a creation until it is communicated to the world).

Creativity requires the application of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

So What Does This Have to do with SAMR?

SAMR is a measure of technology integration and how much technology has transformed the classroom.  Are students doing things that could have been done without technology, or is teh technology a substitution for some non-tech method of learning.  Technology allows students to change from consumers to producers, aka creators.  If we look in our classes and the products that our students are making, are their products new and innovative, or are they reproductions of projects past?  Do you, as a teacher, receive 40 of the same product or 1 of each innovative product.  Are students regurgitating, reformatting, or creating something new?  Which is a measure of a transformed classroom.

Use Student Creativity as a Judge of SAMR and tech integration

The problem with this is the mindset required to achieve a redefined classroom as judged by the level of creativity afforded to the students.  True creativity and innovation goes beyond following directions, going to suggested websites, finding answers that are in the back of the book, and completing step-by-step projects.

If the teacher has seen the answer before, then did the student create it or regenerate it?

Creativity and innovation requires finding something new, applying a new solution to a given problem, or looking at a problem in a new way and applying a known solution in a different manner.  If it is innovative, then the teacher should not know the answer.  That is scary, that requires a growth mindset.

If your students are creating a bunch and using technology in the process to collaborate, communicate, and think critically then that is a transformed and redefined classroom.  You can figure out the rest of the SAMR continuum from there.  I always advocate for balance, but I like the idea of students being engaged and students are engaged when they are the ones leading the research and solving the problems that they identify, and creating new solutions to problems that matter to them.

How to get students creating?

Moving from a class of consumers to producers and creators starts with a single question...

Now What?

Students may present solutions, come up with answers, solve problems, and come to understand complex theories.  That is amazing and they should be congratulated, but, Now what?  What can you do with that, what can that information help to solve, what can it be applied to, how can it make the world or their neighborhood a better place, how can it solve a different problem.  Now What?  Technology may allow students to get to the information faster, or get to more information, Now What are they required to do with it? Simple question.

Now What?

So you have read this, hopefully you have thought of something in a different way, maybe you have realized something.  I hope that you have gained something.  Now What?  Like the cliche:

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound, If you learn something and never use it, did you ever learn it?

So you read something, Now What are you going to do with it?  Nothing more than what I ask my students.  I never know what they are going to come up with, but have yet to be disappointed.

Challenge:  What did you try?  Tweet about it.


If you search for the hashtag, you won't find much, but lets change that.  This is just a practice that I have used in my class for years to get students to think critically and create in chemistry.  Now What am I going to do about that?  I told you about it.

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