Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stifling Creativity

Today all the elementary students in the school (only around 40) had a chance to have a Skype session with the author Mem Fox. It was a great experience not only to hear the students' great questions for her, not only to see the book she has yet to release, but to hear her thoughts on writing.

One student asked her what kind of a graphic organizer she uses. She replied that she did not even know the word. The student rephrased the question to ask how she organizes her thoughts. What Mem Fox said had my mind racing all day.

I think that outlines stiffel creativity.


I see where she is coming from. In fact, I have been wrestling with this for the past few weeks. We are required to make unit plans that outline the activities we are going to do. My current unit is about the Earth, and the students are really into it. They have so many questions and have started their own inquiries and activities.

The picture above shows one of my students during recess. I saw her carrying a concrete block (officially referred to as a concrete masonry unit I just found out). I walked over to see what she was doing and she was using it to crush rocks to see what was on the inside.

I talked to the students about rocks when I was leading them on a tour throought the center of the Earth. How was I supposed to know that the students would get into rocks? In addition to the girls crushing rocks, one of my boys brought in a book about rocks in Japanese along with a box of rock samples. That is a great resource not only for my class in general, but also for two of my students who are in the early stages of learning English and are still learning to read.

I could fill in the unit planner with ideas knowing that they will change, but it does not feel right this time. This unit is different. This time I feel like the students are truly leading the unit and I am helping them get to where they are going.

The main idea of this unit is that the Earth is made of landforms and is always changing. I will not steer away from that point, but if the students really want to learn about rocks, isn't it my job to tie rocks in to the central idea?

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