Creativity + Students + Blogging= Happy Learners
Have you ever asked your class to draw a picture, or to close their eyes and imagine a scene, only to have hands fly into the air with questions? Students start seeking clarification as to what it should look like, drilling down for specifics. I run into this situation every year. One of the many gifts of childhood is that of creativity. Kidblog is one of the avenues I use to support, nurture, and develop creativity. There are three specific ways I utilize Kidblog when we are focused on creativity. I will 1) design writing prompts as story starters, 2) provide a picture (concrete or abstract) and ask students to tell a story or write an expository essay, or 3) direct students to create their own posts as writing prompts for their peers.
Creating writing prompts as story starters allows for students to illustrate their ability to think and write. A prompt might look something like this: “On a sunny Saturday Ms. Stevenson grabbed her rain jacket and headed out the door…..” Providing this prompt will allow students to demonstrate their creative thinking as they create what happens next. Using story starter prompts can also be linked to specific language arts skills such as inference, sequencing, and concept development. I have also given added instruction to use specific vocabulary we have been focusing on or connecting the prompt to social studies/science content. I have found most students enjoy the freedom of crafting a story using this format, while some students have struggled a little bit more with “where to go from here”. Usually, with those students, if I ask a few guiding questions and we discuss it verbally they are able to complete the assignment.
Posting a Picture
One of my favorite uses for Kidblog is posting a picture (this might be a picture related to science or social studies for cross-curricular use, something just kind of fun, or abstract). There are many ways I can connect their writing to curriculum based on what I ask them to write about this image. I may instruct them to write step by step instructions on how they think the abstract picture was created, or maybe explain the picture with detail to someone who has never seen it before. If I’ve posted a picture of the water cycle (science connection for example) I might ask the students to create a narrative of a water droplet as it goes through the various stages in the cycle. Providing students with ways to express their knowledge in creative and less conventional ways will frequently indicate their level of understanding and will often help synthesis various aspects of their learning.
Posts with Prompts
Finally, one of my students’ favorite things to do with Kidblog is to create a unique blog post. I require any post that is created to be a prompt in which written dialogue can be supported. Working with 4th graders this year, I’ve required their prompts to include a question which requires more than a one word answer. Many of my students will find a picture from the Kidblog media library, post it and create a question from that picture. For example, recently one of my students posted a picture of a bubble and then asked: “What would you do if it was raining bubbles?” Another student posted a “scary” picture and asked, “Do you like scary movies? Tell me why.” Students get to explore their own creativity uninhibited in this way, while still creating dialogue through writing. The students then enjoy responding to each other’s posts. As a teacher I learn valuable information from this casual writing amongst peers both academically as well as personally. From time to time I will respond to student created posts as well, which can be fun for me and the students.
Opportunities for the expression of creative thought are all around us. I am grateful to have Kidblog as a tool easily adaptable for this purpose, while still being able to address educational standards. I have discovered creativity + students + blogging supports happy learners.