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20 Clever student engagement strategies to increase creativity

Creativity and Intelligence. We treat them as separate cognitive processes, and although a correlation between the two has yet to be proven, student engagement strategies to increase creativity can significantly benefit a student’s education. 

When the masses are both educated and creative, mass tragedy based on false fundamental beliefs systems is less likely to take hold.  Classrooms that insist on total conformity without asking for independent ideas are likely to produce citizens who are best suited to cooperation with those who seek to control in order to subjugate them. When only a few are creative, they are able to impose too much control on those with learned helplessness.

However, this has been difficult, especially since funding for the arts and after school programs has been in decline for decades; with inner cities suffering the worst, and Chicago and Philadelphia are just two major cities that have decreased funding for creativity programs in public education. 

These budget cuts are unfortunate, but teachers can work around them. We’ve come up with a few ways that teachers can foster student creativity and enhance the classroom experience.

Fostering creativity in the classroom with student engagement strategiesSource: Teach Thought

20 student engagement strategies for the Classroom

1. Open-Ended Projects: Teachers can encourage students to research a topic or question of their choosing. The students will be responsible for coming up with the topics, researching them and ultimately drawing their own educated conclusions. 

2. Passion Projects: Allotting a certain amount of class time for students to work on projects unrelated to the curriculum is important. Commonly called genius hour, passion projects are implemented in the same manner as open-ended projects, only less frequently.

3. Classroom Collaboration/Team Building: Classroom collaboration can spur creative thinking and encourage the exchange of ideas. Putting students in groups for certain in-class assignments enables them to experience different perspectives while working towards a common goal. Teachers can even add a digital element to these groups by integrating social media.

4. Implementing Creative Arts: Teachers can have students create graphs in order to solve math problems or summarize historical events in poetic verse. Introducing the arts into the classroom can breathe new life into banal subjects.

5. Journaling: To spark creativity, students can write down their thoughts in journals. They can use their journals to jot down ideas during the school day or short stories during Genius Hour. Teachers can even assign free writing exercises in the beginning of class.

6. Brainstorming Sessions: As the flipped classroom model gains popularity, education is becoming less about dictation and more about guided instruction. Teachers can encourage in-class brainstorming sessions so that their students feel free to voice their opinions and ideas.

7. Unconventional Learning Materials: TED Talks videos and podcasts are a great way to bring outside voices into the classroom. Students can watch or listen to engaging 15 minute talks for homework and then have a provocative discussion about them in class the next day. These talks are bound to spark interesting insights from students, and they may be inspired to pursue a particular subject as a result.

8. Gamification: A study by Michigan State University recently found a correlation between students who play video games and higher levels of creativity. Implementing gamification in the classroom engages students in goal-oriented activities. There is no shortage of education-related video games from which teachers can choose.

9. Make Creativity a Grading Criteria: When grading student assignments, teachers should consider creativity. How original is the assignment? Did students express themselves, or were they just going through the motions? Teachers can take these questions into account to encourage more creativity from their students.

20 student engagement strategies for the classroomSource: Iste.Org

10. Encourage Risk-Taking: Students need to familiarize themselves with failure. They need to know not only that it is okay, but that failure is inevitable. Creativity takes courage and tenacity. Not every idea will work out or be a good one. But that’s all part of the creative process. To teach this important lesson, teachers can have students act out their own plays, or make short films about an important concept.

11. Use More Colors: Colors are often limited to elementary schools, but encouraging students to think about about new ways to use color breeds creativity in all walks of life, not just education. Implementing conversations about colors and how they’re used generates talk about moods and cultures as well as sciences and fine arts.

12. Hands-On Field Work: When the opportunity presents itself, teachers can get students out of the classroom and show students that the real world is the ultimate classroom. Field trips allow students to better visualize the concepts they learn in the classroom, and can foster creativity as they think about ways to apply course concepts to the world around them.

13. Involve Students in the Teaching: Teachers can have students come up with some of the questions on quizzes or create captivating lesson plans to further involve them in the education process. Pairing up struggling students with students who excel; for the students who do the teaching, the teaching fosters creativity as they develop new ways to present the material.

14. Utilize Visualizations: The use of infographics can help students better understand concepts, while mind mapping can optimize both the creative process and the learning process.

Mindmapping as part of student engagement strategiesSource: Visually

15. Play Music: Music can be invigorating and inspirational. Why not bring it into the classroom? While research concerning the “Mozart Effect” is inconclusive, implementing music in the classroom can be a great way to inspire students, help them visualize using their mind’s eye and encourage multi-sensory learning.

16. Virtual Reality: Virtual Reality is a great way to help students visualize environments and events they won’t realistically be able to access. And while the cost of integrating virtual reality into the classroom can be expensive, Google is now offering its VR system to schools for free.

17. Torrance Tasks: Teachers can gauge student creativity by using Torrance Tasks. A simple one is to present an object, such as a tin can, and have students list all the different ways it can be used. This encourages them to think creatively about the world around them.

18. Go International (while staying local): Odyssey of the Mind is an international education program that stresses long-term problem solving and creative solutions. Throughout the academic year, students compete with peers from around the world until the program culminates in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

19. Allow Freedom of Movement: Do away with the seating charts. Allow students to move freely throughout the classroom space. Provide quiet or sectioned-off areas for deep thinking, as well as spaces for students who want to collaborate. When students are free to flow within the classroom, their creativity will follow suit.

20. Create a Flexible Classroom: Having flexible classroom layout breeds physical and mental wiggle room, when your body can move, so does your mind. Digital classrooms and flipped classrooms provide students access to internet-based learning within an educational environment. Teachers can use solutions like LiveTiles Intranet, to further involve their students and have them play a larger part in the digital classroom.

LiveTiles Everywhere includes options for student interactions and a place for teachers to discuss and share important information. As the screen shot from the Box Hill Institute‘s intranet below illustrates, the options vary in function, from social media sections to calendars to video and image sections. Involving everybody in the creation of the digital classroom encourages creativity as they decide ways to make the learning process more engaging.

Box Hill TAFE intranet screen shot of the digital classroom

When faced with the pressure of standardized tests and college entrance exams, students often feel like their creativity is stifled. When faced with cuts to important creativity programs, teachers often feel like they can’t fully engage their students. It doesn’t have to be this way. Teachers can take advantage of digital technology to teach creativity in the classroom and make learning fun and exciting for their students.

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