Monday, November 5, 2012

21st Century Skills: Creativity in my Geometry class!

Creativity is an essential component that has to be included in daily lessons. I believe students are creative by nature and it is the teacher’s obligation to make sure that they don’t grow out of originality and imagination. To encourage creativity in my classroom I always provide my students with options; it can be options on assignments or options on tool use…. etc. Problems are posed in a way that allows various types of solutions; students choose the tools to use and also a way to solve the problem. I encourage different answers and urge students to collaborate in groups to share their ideas to reach solutions. In addition, I often solve problems incorrectly and show students the answer; this urges the students to use their judgment and think critically to suggest changes to be made to my answer. In that way they show their creative approaches to reach correct answers and become the experts on the topic. Collaboration and classroom discussions are components that are found in my classroom on daily basis. I am the mediator and the guide however the students are the ones discussing, sharing, and reinventing mathematics to teach one another.

Integration is my approach to support literacy in and beyond mathematics. I always provide graphic organizers where students can add new vocabulary words; next we use this work in a descriptive paragraph that students write at the end of each lesson. In that paragraph students write what they know about the problem, how they approached it, what conclusions they found, how they are planning to continue explore it. Furthermore, students are asked to draw a visual representation of their understanding of the topic. In this teaching approach I am integrating Mathematics, English, and Art in daily lessons to offer maximum opportunities for creativity and innovation.  In various lessons I encourage students to further research the history of the concept using media tools such as computers, smart phones, and iPads when available. As an example on this strategy, students were asked to work with country flag components and illustrate their understanding of multiple geometric topics on the flag design. I instructed students to gather data on the history of the flag and the changes that happened to it overtime. Students worked in groups to gather data, demonstrate their understanding of geometry, and write a brief summary on the flag’s history. Students are further encouraged to present their work and share with their peers various interesting facts. In this lesson, History, English, Mathematics, and Art were integrated to allow and promote creativity.

Group activities and team work is crucial for students’ life long learning and success. Nonetheless, I acknowledge the importance of independent practice and it’s effect on students who prefer self-learning. To ensure all students have the opportunity to show independent work, I plan time for independent practice in all of my lesson plans. Students have the opportunity to read problems independently and start approaching it at the beginning of each class and also have time at the end of class to complete assignment after collaboration. In my opinion, this gives the students the opportunity to understand the prompt and think of ideas, additionally at the end of class they can incorporate different ideas or choose to continue working on their own idea after exploring different perspectives. Students turn in independent work for assessment; this gives me a deep understanding of their content comprehension to inform my instruction in following lessons.

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