Grab A Moment

I’ve been thinking a lot about finding time in the day to “give” to my learners — time for them to make and invent, time to think creatively and critically, time to think about possibility, to experience joy, energy, challenge, freedom, and agency. It’s not so easy to find, but I just kept thinking and wondering.

I noticed I sometimes have small pockets of time in morning meeting. Not a lot of time for sure — maybe 5 minutes — but I thought I’d see what we could do in that time.

I searched around for LEGO bricks in the classroom, and found quite a few. I took out most of the pieces that suggested any thing in particular (trees, people, wheels). I hoped by doing that to have the creation be more open to possibility, and the imagination of each maker, and less led by the ideas of the LEGO makers. I found a basket that made it easy to send the bricks around our morning meeting circle, and eagerly anticipated our work together!

lego basket

By the way, we hadn’t used our LEGO bricks in some time, so they were in a need of a wash. I loaded them in a mesh bag, and washed them on the top shelf of my dishwasher on a cool setting. Worked great! Thanks to all the people who posted things online about ways to wash them.

The first two times we gave it a try, we worked together to create one structure. We each picked a lego, and added it to the structure as we passed it around our morning meeting circle. Here’s our first creation.

inventing 2

Sometimes the girls were quiet, watching each other add their brick. Other times they kibitzed about where to put the brick, or shared with a neighbor what it might be.

When we finished creating the structure I placed it — with a pencil — next to a clipboard reading “Our morning meeting invention might be … ”

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Over the next few days, the girls continued to think about what the structure might be — not what it is, but what it might be — and when they had a moment, they added their ideas to our lists.

The girls loved creating together, and writing their ideas one the lists. In the process we all got to practice and grow in many ways. We

  • used our imagination.
  • thought creatively and critically.
  • were open to possibilities.
  • collaborated.
  • were flexible when our friends accidentally knocked a piece off, and replaced it in a different spot.
  • acted as individuals, and as a team.
  • practiced handwriting, and encoding our thoughts into words so others could read them.
  • were resourceful — figuring out how to create something with a small set of bricks.
  • worked on our communication skills — as we created, as we talked about the creations later on, and as we shared our ideas.
  • enjoyed each other and the process.

It may seem like there is no time in your day to allow your students to invent, create, make, think, dream, imagine, wonder, and enjoy. Don’t believe that. Be open and observant. When you notice a moment or two in your day, give it to your students, and yourself, as moments of possibility.

Often times this is my mantra: “Small moments. Small creations. Big impact.”

Give it a go. Grab the moment! Your students, and you, deserve it.

 

By the way … 

If you find a moment and do something, leave me a comment, I’d love to hear what you did, and how it went.

If you find a moment and have no idea what to do, ask a colleague, or leave me a comment. I’d be happy to brainstorm some ideas.

if you look at your schedule and say “Molly does NOT know what she is talking about. My day is packed, and there is NO WAY I can do one more thing!” leave me a comment. Maybe we can look at your day together and find some time.

 

 

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Are You a Possibilitarian?

 

My friend Jojo gifted me with, among other things, a lovely pair of socks. The artist, Kelly Rae Roberts, whose work is on the socks has a tag line that reads artist – author – possibilitarian.

When I read that, I thought, “POSSIBILITARIAN?!?!?! Is there actually a word — possibilitarian — and I don’t know about it?!?! Oh my gosh!”

I laughed out loud, and grabbed my laptop to do a bit of searching.

Yup, possibilitarian is a word. It hasn’t yet made it to dictionary.com, but it can be found on UrbanDictionary.com, and google returned about 77,400 results to my search.

As far as I can tell, the word originated with Norman Vincent Peale.

“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.” 

Raising our sights, seeing possibility — being a possibilitarian — has the potential to increase our ideas, exploration, discoveries, inventions, innovation, collaboration, creativity, life, and joy.

Really, how fantabulous is that? Super duper wicked amazing fantabulous?  Yes, I think so, too.

Now, how super duper wicked amazing fantabulous would it be to help our students become possibilitarians?! Even better, right?! Right!

Let’s get on it!

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As an added note: I wanted a photo to add to the post. I remembered this cool little piece of art my mom bought me for my classroom. PERFECT! After I took the photo I turned it over and guess what I saw. The artist is Kelly Rae Roberts. Rock on with your possibility loving self, Kelly! 

Encouraging Young Inventors

Recently, in our Kindergarten Maker Space …

Me: “Hey, may I take a picture of what you’re working on?”

Student: “Sure. It’s a bug playground.”

Me: “A bug playground?”

Student: “Yeah, because otherwise they just get stepped on.”

Me: “Wow, they do get stepped on, don’t they? What a great idea. I bet the bugs will like it!”

How awesome is that?

A 6-year-old,  using all sorts of creative thinking (human/bug design thinking, possibility thinking, positive thinking, lateral thinking, divergent thinking, convergent thinking) to problem-find and problem-solve. I love it!

It’s what happens when students are given recycled materials, duct tape, and, most importantly, the opportunity, space and encouragement, to think, risk and build.

Mini-c creativity in the classroom

Creativity takes many forms in the classroom. You just have to be open to it!

At its core, creativity is the ability to generate unique and original ideas or things. Children are naturally creative. However, since they do not fully understand any particular content area, their creative thoughts and actions are sometimes overlooked, or simply acknowledged with the comment, “Oh, isn’t that cute!”

According to Beghetto and Kaufman’s “4-C model of creativity” there are four levels of creativity: Big-C , pro-c, little-c and mini-c creativity. Big-c creativity is associated with the extraordinarily gifted — celebrated artists or poets who develop a new genre, scientists who discover cures for previously incurable diseases, or musicians who change the world of music. Pro-c creativity is creativity exhibited in a creative profession — a head chef who creates a menu of new recipes. Little-c creativity is day to day creativity — a song created to encourage children to clean their rooms, or an original student-developed project to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding or subject skills. Big-C, pro-c, and little-c creativity rely on external judgements regarding their value.

Mini-c creativity refers to the new and useful awareness and interpretations involved in learning as new information is filtered through pre-existing understanding and experiences. While engaged in mini-c creativity, learners actively and creatively construct their own knowledge set. Unlike other levels of creativity, mini-c creativity is personally meaningful and does not rely on external judgement.

princess heart

“This is for you, Miss James!” ( My student watched with obvious excitement as I opened the folded piece of paper.)

“It is Princess Heart, Miss James. She is pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple!” She paused, looked at me and then said it again, with quiet glee. “She’s pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple.” Another pause. “Get it? She’s pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple.” (Wink, nod, smile.)

I get it, and I love the creativity and learning it expresses.

 

For further reading …

  • Toward a Broader Conception of Creativity: A Case for “mini-c” Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2007)
  • Beyond Big and Little: The Four C Model of Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2009)
  • Fundamentals of Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2013)

 

 

Relentless Creativity

MA cert

Over the last 2 1/2 years I pursued (and attained) an MA in Creative Thinking from the University of Central Lancashire. I focused on the classroom environment that might best support creativity and academic excellence. Occasionally I got a bit off track and wanted to stick a pencil in my eye (not really, lol, but you get my point), but, most of all it was a fascinating journey filled with discoveries, joy and inspiration!

I concentrated on three schools/approaches that endeavor to marry creativity and excellence – El Sistema, Reggio Emilia, and Oklahoma A+ Schools. If you haven’t read anything about them you really should! Or, just follow my blog as I’m sure to talk about them here!

I heard Tricia Tunstall (author of Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema and the transformative power of Music – a great book btw) speak at the NJAIS conference in 2012. She shared her experiences with El Sistema (a remarkable music program started by Jose Antonio Abreu). She said some great things, but the most profound idea – which I wrote in capital letters with numerous underlines – was RELENTLESS POSITIVITY! The El Sistema educators are relentlessly positive.

RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE! Wow. I adopted it as my mantra – relentless positivity.

When I decided to start a creativity blog, I struggled to find a title that adequately described who I am, and what I hope to achieve in my life and on this blog. I thought about relentless positivity and relentless creativity. Either would work for me because I see them as rather intertwined. Wanting to highlight creativity, I included relentless creativity in the title. I’m not sure it captures everything I’m imagining, but it’s a good start.

I am relentlessly creative. I love being creative, thinking about creativity, talking about creativity, encouraging creativity and experiencing creativity. And I mean creativity in all arenas – art, science, math, music, life, you name it – everything! Creativity is a way of thinking, learning and being, that has the potential to impact all academic disciplines and all aspects of life. Joy, knowledge, a great scarf, a new recipe, and life changing discoveries are just some of the treasures creativity offers us.

I may not always produce the most beautiful scarf, or craft the perfect recipe, or have the most profoundly creative thought, or make any life changing discoveries, but I will always be relentless in my pursuit of creativity in my life and in the lives of those around me.

Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy my thoughts, photographs, projects and posts, and I hope you join the conversation.

Have a wonderful day!

Molly