A small school in Northern California is experimenting with a new way of learning.
Nightingale Elementary School are using a different teaching philosophy where the staff collaborate in creating learning plans that broaden students’ education and skills. For example, teachers collectively decide what the school’s academic focus will be for a month or so. Let’s say it is health. Students then read biographical books about cancer survivors in English class; they create an interactive timeline of cancer treatment discoveries in history class; they understand oncology counts in math; and finally there might be a visit to a nearby cancer research center for science class.
The idea is that students remain engaged and are better prepared for life beyond school.
As a company, Learning Performance, has visited numerous schools with different creative teaching methods. David Starbuck, author of ‘Creative Teaching; Learning with Style,’ has a brilliant vision statement for creative schools, which I think sums it up nicely;
“A creative zest for learning and for life – Aim to provide outstanding and motivating opportunites for all our pupils to really enjoy learning, to be part of the learning process, and to establish the skills needed to enjoy and flourish in their life beyond school”
The great thing is, bringing creativity to the classroom and curriculum doesn’t have to be mission impossible. It can be used daily. Take for example, this teacher I met at one of our INSET workshops where we talked about the need to appeal to the pupils’ left and right brains. One of the maths teachers came up to me during the break and told me his brilliant idea;
He got his students to play darts (I assume the Velcro variety, but you never know, it might be the real thing!) They played darts and had to add up the score as quickly as possible and subtract it from the overall score. The pupils got competitive – in a good way – as they all tried to call out the correct score before anyone else. They all had fun, and they were doing mental arithmetic!
Creativity unlocks so much. It develops a pupil’s passion for a subject, pupils’ enjoyment of a lesson, it rejuvenates teachers, inspires confidence and unlocks potential. If you have an idea, try it.
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