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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Inspiring Creativity in the Elementary Classroom: 3 Quick Tips to Get Started

I often hear keynote speakers deliver outstanding presentations that all reverberate "Our schools need more creativity." But, they don't actually give a call-to-action, or ideas to help teachers get started. We all know our classrooms need to be spaces where kids are allowed to get messy, inspired, and be creative. But, how do we do exactly that?

Here are just a few ideas that work specifically in our second grade classroom.

1. Hand over the power to your students and let them learn about what they are passionate about. In my classroom, students spent one hour a week studying what makes them tick, think, and question. This hour each week, Genius Hour, was probably our most productive, motivating, and engaging hour week after week. To read more about our Genius Hour projects, check out this fun interview with Emerging Prairie, Tech-Savvy Teaching: How a Fargo 2nd Grade Teacher Teaches a Techie Generation. Consider taking Genius Hour to another level, and incorporating the same concept over the course of 5 school days to implement Innovation Week.

2. Redesign your classroom from a sterile learning environment to one where kids actually enjoy the space they are learning in, and consider it a "destination". It's hard to inspire creativity when kids are sitting in rows of desks that isolate them, and in classrooms that look the same as they did 100 years ago. Release the power, ditch the seating chart, and incorporate flexible seating. Here are some resources I have written to get you thinking and redesigning over the summer: Flexible Seating and Student-Centered Classroom Redesign (a guest post for Edutopia), and Why the 21st Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks (my column on EdSurge). You can also view tons of pictures of my classroom by clicking the Classroom Design Inspiration tab above.

3. Incorporate tools and apps that are going to transform your classroom and truly inspire creativity. If something is boring on paper (i.e. math worksheets), it's going to be boring on an iPad. iPads don't guarantee student engagement, motivation, and creativity. There are millions of tools at our fingertips today, but they certainly are not all best for our kids. Some apps are skill-based and and repetitive (turning your devices into expensive flashcards), while others are project based. Let's set kids loose to go create something and not just play games.

Here is a list of just some of our favorite tools, websites, and apps for creativity:
Google Slides
Pic Collage
Explain Everything
Crayola Color Alive!
Book Creator
Doodle Buddy
Adobe Spark
Word Clouds
Class Kick

Why do some classrooms look the same now as they did 70 years ago? In this passionate talk, second grade teacher Kayla Delzer speaks about her mission to revitalize learning and the classroom environment. Kayla explains how to release the power in the classroom by giving students ownership of their learning and making it relevant to them. 
Breaking down the four walls of the classroom allows her students to become globally connected - and you won’t believe the endeavors her students conquer by embracing purposeful technology.

Connect with Kayla on Twitter and Instagram, or meet her at #ISTE2016.

Kayla Dornfeld
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[name=Kayla Dornfeld] [img=https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TrfC8pHIkt8/Xdl4ZITd7yI/AAAAAAAAADk/7asaSLMP9Csu-qyUj7JIp64SlO_VXX08ACLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/authorbox.png] [description=2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Mrs. West Fargo International. Internationally Awarded 3rd Grade Teacher. CEO. Global Keynote Speaker. Author. Flexible Seating Pioneer. TEDx Talk Speaker. 2018 Sioux Award Winner. Innovative Education Task Force Leader.]

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