Positive Change: Building Creativity and Collaboration

As a reading specialist, my job includes providing supplementary reading instruction to students who are not meeting the specified grade level expectations in reading.  Overtime, with the changes that I have seen in the needs and learning styles of these students, this has become a more complex endeavor.  I have evidenced a decrease in the desire and enjoyment to read.  But let’s be honest with ourselves, as children, we all would have found video games and social media more exciting than reading a book.  As an adult, I also find that at times my cell phone, and other devices are a distraction for me and leave less time for other things I enjoy, such as reading.  These changes have lead me to change my thinking about the way I teach.  I no longer feel that just teaching students fundamental reading skills and how to learn information from a text is enough.  This role has expanded to also include how to use that information in a creative way and to find passion in learning.  “In fact, scientists have shown that passionate interests can even allow people to overcome academic difficulties or perceptual disabilities.” (Annie Murphy Paul, 2013)

The nature of my position as a reading specialist, leaves me with some limitations for teaching.  I have specific reading materials and standards that I have to use for my lessons. However, the freedom to choose how I use these materials and teach those standards is completely up to me.   Therefore, a change that I am making in my lesson planning is to add the use of technology to enrich my lessons.  One of my objectives is to focus on the ISTE Standard for Students 6 (ISTE Standards FOR STUDENTS, 2018).  This standard focuses on students becoming “creative communicators”, by using a variety of “platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.”  I chose this goal, because it is the one that most fits the structure of my classroom.  Another modification I am making is to provide a classroom environment in which students feel their opinions and ideas are valued. I want to foster a “climate of student voice and choice.” (10 Key Components of Customized Learning, 2012)

Now that I have identified the general ways in which I want to foster creativity and a passion for learning in my classroom, it is time to look at the specific ways in which to do that.  My 5th grade students and I are learning  and creating ways together to provide “voice and choice” in my classroom.  We are starting small in the attempt to build a solid foundation that will lead to bigger and better ideas and strategies.  In talking with my students this week, I expressed that we were going to look for creative ways of changing our comprehension discussion practices. I also talked with them that I was currently planning a larger lesson (ours usually take two days per text) and I wanted their help in the planning process.  First, they were given the option of choosing the text (out of 5) to use for this lesson. Coincidentally, it was one of two texts I had targeted earlier before deciding to give the students the choice.   Then the students were given 4 options for how to share out their learning and descriptions of each.  They were given the option that they could each choose their own or they could choose one option and work collaboratively in the creation of their work.  They chose to work collaboratively, which seems to be the preference most times for this group of 5 students.  The students were excited to try out a podcast and that was the option they chose.  So my lesson planning is going to include having the students read a text with a literature circle format using Kidblog to help them process the ideas presented in the text while reading and then the students will create a script using our higher level comprehension questions that do not have a specific right answer to guide the content of the script.  The students will also be required to use one to two additional resources to either support, contradict or update the information that was presented in the text.  They will also use this information in their podcast.  After the script has been created and practiced.  The students will then record their podcast using, Audacity.   We want to expand our classroom to include sharing our ideas and learning with other classrooms in the school.  This part is still a work in progress.  

After this lesson has been planned and implemented, it is my goal to evaluate and change according to viewed outcomes and discussion with my students.  My ultimate goal is to provide my students with an experience that not only excites them and increases reading proficiency, but also makes them want to be lifelong learners.  My view of teaching has changed in the last several months through research and one very interesting Tedtalk by Ken Robinson (Ken Robinson, 2006), has stuck in my mind.  At the 2 minute and 45 second part of the video, he states, “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”  This has really resonated with me and this is my personal goal to provide this opportunity to my students.  Not only do I feel it could be the key to strengthening the reading skills of my students, but to also provide them experiences that will make them curious, problem-solvers, and passionate about learning for the sake of wanting to learn new things.  


Works Cited:

10 Key Components of Customized Learning. (2012, May 23). Retrieved February 10,        2018, from https://multiplepathways.info/2012/05/23/10-key-components-of-customized-learning/

ISTE Standards FOR STUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Paul, A. M. (n.d.). How the Power of Interest Drives Learning. Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/04/how-the-power-of-interest-drives-learning/

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity


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