16 June 2013

CREATIVITY IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM



In line with this week’s MEd discussion, I have chosen to discuss creativity as outlined in The National Curriculum 2007 (Department for Education, 2012). This document outlines the standards required for Key Stage 3 English, which equates to Middle School or Grades 6-8. It lists standards for reading, writing, and speaking and listening but also states four over-arching key concepts of competence, creativity, cultural understanding, and critical understanding “that underpin the study of English” (Department for Education, 2012, p. 62). The document states that learners “need to understand these concepts in order to deepen and broaden their knowledge, skills and understanding” and that “these essential concepts promote pupils’ progress in speaking and listening, reading and writing” (p. 62).

I chose to look at the key concept of creativity, as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy places creativity at the top of the higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and is something that in English, and in 21st century literacies, is really important to me (Anderson, et al., 2001). To understand ‘English’ as a subject, learners have to appreciate that language is used to create and that with skill, knowledge and understanding, they can create anything they want using language.

These National Curriculum standards suggest that learners show creativity when they make unexpected:

connections, use striking and original phrases or images, approach tasks from a variety of starting points, or change forms to surprise and engage the reader. Creativity can be encouraged by providing purposeful opportunities for pupils to experiment, build on ideas or follow their own interests. Creativity in English extends beyond narrative and poetry to other forms and uses of language. It is essential in allowing pupils to progress to higher levels of understanding and become independent. (Department for Education, 2012, p. 62).

As an educator, allowing learners the opportunity to “become independent” is very important as this is what we all want for all – the ability to take the skills they learn and use them outside of the classroom or school environment and become autonomous creators. Technology allows teachers and learners to use and learn about how different tools can assist in the creation of independent products within in English.

The key concept of creativity defines that leaners make “fresh connections between ideas, experiences, texts and words, drawing on a rich experience of language and literature” (p. 62) and it is the idea of “fresh connections” that brings in technology. Learners have experience of language and literature from primary school and the majority will get the basics. Technology allows them to explore this further and make “fresh connections” though interactive ebooks or online sources such as the digital novel, Inanimate Alice, “a reading-from-the-screen experience for the “always on” generation” (Pullinger, et al., 2005). Tools such as iBooks Author (Apple Inc., 2013) or inklewriter (inkle Ltd., n.d.) allow learners to create interactive stories and therefore use “inventive approaches to making meaning, taking risks, playing with language and using it to create new effects” (Department for Education, 2012, p. 62). Watching films, researching and using online mapping or graphic organizer tools such as readwritething.org’s (International Reading Association & National Council of Teacher of English, 2013) ‘Story Map’ or ‘Essay Map’ lets learners use technology and learn about how it can help them to use their “imagination to convey themes, ideas and arguments, solve problems, and create settings, moods and characters” (p. 62). Technology also allows learner to adopt “creative approaches to answering questions, solving problems and developing ideas” (p. 62) where used in conjunction with sound pedagogical approaches.

As an educator in an all-inclusive school, I have witnessed how using technology and learning about how it works has helped engage and motivate learners who baulk at actual writing. Learners who are dyslexic or suffer from dysgraphia are often reluctant to put their ideas down on paper for fear of failure – technology means this is not a problem. Learners with ADHD are more engaged by the quick pace that tools allow them to create and the higher-ability learners can craft and polish their writing to create beautifully original creations. Technology allows personalisation AND creation to happen organically in the English Middle School classroom.

Bibliography

Anderson, L., Krathwohl, D., Airasian, P., Cruikshank, K., Mayer, R., Pintrich, P., et al. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Longman.

Apple Inc. (2013). iBooks Author. (5.0) . Mac App Store.

Department for Education. (2012, May 22). Schools: English: Key Stage 3. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from Department for Education: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/secondary/b00199101/english

inkle Ltd. (n.d.). inklewriter. Retrieved June 03, 2013, from inklestudios: http://www.inklestudios.com/about-us

International Reading Association & National Council of Teacher of English. (2013). Retrieved June 16, 2013, from readwritethink.org: http://www.readwritethink.org/

Pullinger, K., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Boyd, B., Fleming, L., Roland, C., et al. (2005). (The BradField Company Ltd ) Retrieved June 16, 2013, from Inanimate Alice: A digital novel: http://www.inanimatealice.com/