Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Students Out of the Box

I know it's a cliched saying but I speak to my kids often about thinking outside the box. I thought about that a lot this past week with the passing of Steve Jobs and how many people must have thought he was crazy to even suggest a new way to manage music (among other things). I saw this political cartoon and thought how amazing that technology is considered today:

Anyway, I know that these kids are our future visionaries and with all the bubble-filling standardized education they will have to endure throughout their academic careers; one of my many goals for them is to have that foundation in creative thinking. I told my class last year about a billboard I just LOVED for the station fx--their tagline was "There is no box."  So far outside the box that there isn't even a box anymore. That class just ate it up. My kids used to quote it all the time. When I reminded them to "think outside the box"-they'd repeat back "there is no box".

Let's just say it's always a work in progress. Today I felt like I should be featured on the show "When Good Lessons Go Bad". I tried an exercise in creative thinking where they use a leaf to create something. Now we've done divergent art before with squiggly lines-so this shouldn't have been much of a stretch. And it's been successful with previous classes, i.e.  :

This group is still safe inside their box. Many of the kids turned their leaf into.....a leaf! Some made it a tree, which at least was a little more creative. At one point I had a very Homer Simpson d'oh moment when one of the kids came up with a picture they had drawn in one hand and the leaf in the other asking what she was supposed to do with the leaf. *sigh* There were a few that I really liked:

In any case, we'll keep working on it. Creativity can be tough nut sometimes.
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  1. Thanks for sharing

  2. I really like the idea of taking common objects and making art with them in a kindergarten class, but I can certainly see where the challenge lies. Just keep on pushing boldly forward!

  3. First thing that comes to mind is that the shape of the leaf might have had some influence. The lesson that 'worked' used a leaf that was completely different from this lesson that didn't work. Leaf #2 was really very, well, 'leafy' looking, lol!

    The other thought I had about divergent and/or creative thinking was that the littles are still working within their sum life experience which isn't very much at 5yo. I'm also thinking that they're all fairly verbal, too? I wonder if this lesson with the 'leafy' looking leaf coupled with a less visual learning style might have been at play here.

    Still a great idea though! Maybe, instead of filling out the 'right' answers on all those tests, they'll end up filling in the bubbles to make a nice visual pattern! ;-)

  4. Thank you very much for your suggestions. Sometimes I do think I expect too much from them and every class is different (that's what I keep telling myself anyway). I appreciate the comments!

  5. How do you present this to the class? Do you keep your directions very open-ended? Would I err if I shared this but said "create something new out of the leaf"?

  6. That really is how I presented it. I turned the leaf around different ways and asked them what they saw in their minds that it could be part of. You could have them do it with a simple line or shape first. Give them a circle for example and maybe take answers whole group for what it could be part of.

    I usually do keep my directions pretty open-ended (I actually just got in trouble for that because I don't model it enough). But otherwise they will just do your example and not think of something on their own. Thanks for your interest in this!