It’s a rainy afternoon and I’m watching my students struggle to put together a paper fossil animal skeleton and identify the extinct animal’s species. I ask why they put a certain bone in a certain place, talking over the voice in my head, that’s questioning me.
“You should be teaching something!”
“You’re a horrible teacher, just watching your kids do all the work!”
I interrupt myself to tell her, very kindly, “Shut up. They’re growing their brains.”
Students need to learn to think creatively and problem solve just as much as they need to learn to multiply fractions. If we don’t teach them to problem solve, what will happen if they can’t work around a problem or a challenge? Imagine a student who can identify the main idea and the roadblock, but they have never worked their way out of a paper bag.
We teachers, straddling common core curriculum and standardized testing, don’t think we have enough time for students to practice creative problem solving. But we do, really. You just need to be creative. ☺
I use a few standard strategies and resources to challenge my kids. One of the things I love to do is to engage students in creating their own math tasks. After having students solve similar tasks, I bump it up to have them create their own tasks to solve, within certain parameters. It’s an excellent way to grow dendrites (the stuff that makes them smarter).
After a close read of a poem or a primary document in reading small group, I challenge through with center extensions to create a poem, write a newspaper article, or draw a comic strip.
Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” I completely agree. Let’s bring the fun into our classrooms!