Content Content Every Where

Posted on November 18, 2010


I was just talking to my students today about creating content. They have road blocks with creating content when it comes to school, and I think it is, as Sir Robinson eludes to, we stopped letting them be creative when we enrolled them in school. It is true and I seem to battle it everyday. The kids that are afraid to be wrong, or the kids who ask “how much is it worth” about every assignment they are given. It is not a game, it is an education. What an assignment is worth is the amount of learning, understanding, and knowledge that comes out of the assignment. The true worth is what the student does with their knowledge after they are out of the social and creative confines of the schoolhouse. We as teachers are all guilty of stifling creativity in the classroom, but who is to blame us? We have a conveyor belt system of schooling where they are passed along a regular intervals. They better have the right parts during that interval, because the next teacher on the assembly line will find those missing parts and then accuse you of being a bad teacher. We don’t want that to happen, so we make sure that all of the parts are on, and the assembly line moves along each June without a thought of what the students got to create or express in our room.

Luckily, our assembly line does not stretch fully into their home lives, and they are able to be creative there when they are freed from their school work. With this freedom, our students play in bands, design clothes, work on their cars, make videos, skateboard, and hopefully do all of the safe things that teenagers do while they are growing up. How do I take those experiences of outside creativity and bring it into the classroom? How could we keep the conveyor belt going while still allowing their outside creativity in the room?

I have figured out a few ways over my time teaching. One way that I fund valuable and entertaining is allowing students to perform their instruments in front of my classes when we are studying waves. I have had students play guitar, piccolo, violin, drums, etc for my class, but the catch was, they had to explain how their instrument made the music, what kid of frequency ad wavelength their instrument produced and how it was used in the band.

I also use the acting, directing, and producing skills that our students often ply on YouTube, but I bring them to the classroom. Student produced screen casts have been one of the most well received assignments that I give. The students and the staff love to see the kids working on their weekly physics podcasts and the students love creating them. These assignments come later in the year when it is hard to keep their attention, but allowing their natural creativity to shine in the spring sun often leads to academic and cinematic gold. Student engagement is increased, learning is more authentic, and student expression is off the charts. Dont you wish everyday were like that?

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