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Monday Mapping: The Importance of Creativity

Not all students learn in the same way.  We've heard this over and over, yet we seldom here that not all students can present their knowledge in the same way, which is just as true.  Despite this fact, assessments have become more and more "common" and creative students have been pushed into the test-taking box.

In my Social Studies classroom, creativity was not only allowed, it was appreciated.  Every unit concluded with both a culminating project and a written test.  In addition, my tests were a mix of multiple choice, graphic organizers, mapping, and essay writing.  This gave all of my students a fighting chance to show what they actually knew!

More importantly, allowing my students to be creative in their assessments fostered their skills in developing quality products that shared information through their chosen creative outlet.  And that has definitely paid off!  My proof?  Here you go:
  • The young man that worked himself to perfection on my project assignments to produce masterpieces that not only showed the facts of historic topics, but shared the emotion of the events in a way no common assessment every could went on to graduate from Savannah College of Art & Design and now works on producing for MTV.
  • My sculptor that often brought me to tears with his depictions of the faceless in history is now a professional sculptor with his own store and online presense.
  • My quick witted essay writer who insisted on getting his opinion into every topic we addressed now writes for a University and has completed an internship at a news producer in New York City.
  • The young lady that had to share everything she knew through performance went on to work off Broadway in New York City where she has her hands in performances on every possible topic that rocks popular opinion.
  • My creative writer who explained the Middle Passage with great detail from the perspective of a mouse aboard a slave ship is now a professional writer for a reputable media outlet.
  • And the list could go on and on...
Students are not one size fits all in their learning, nor in their ability to show us what they know.  The state and national requirements that claim current testing methods are fair and non-biased are dreadfully wrong! 

So, if you are tenured and safe in your teaching position, do what's actually right for our kids!  Teach with creativity and assess the same.  Allow and encourage difference.  Spark what matters in your students' imagination and step back to watch what happens!

Here are just a few ideas!
And there are so many other options; Just ask your students!

Happy Teaching!