" The creator's goal is to extend knowledge, to ruffle the contours of genre, to guide a set of practices along new and hitherto unanticipated directions." (p. 98, Gardner)I feel that creativity can definitely be nurtured in the classroom even through structured curricula required in daily teaching. We can encourage students throughout the day to think outside the box when they try to think of strategies for gathering infomation to solve problems or answer questions. The way that we ask questions can encourage creative thoughts. There is always more than one way to solve a problem or answer a question or write about a topic. As teachers, we should allow creative expression of ideas. The student with an answer that sounds abstract may be the person using creativity the most, even if the teacher feels that the answer is incorrect. Instead of stating that the answer is incorrect, the teacher can acknowledge how the student arrived at that answer and state to the student that the thought was creative. Students with creative abilities are often receiving negative feedback from teachers for not writing on the topic, for being incorrect, for not thinking like the teacher. If teachers want to endorse creativity, then they should think outside the box on ideas in which this can be done and show appreciation for students who demonstrate the same.
Children create in many ways if we provide the opportunity and if they trust that they will not be criticized on their ideas. I'm presenting a simple tool that will allow students to express some nonjudgmental creative writing and art. The activity also incorporates the use of background knowledge. The tool is Postcard Creator http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/postcard/. These activities could be used with 2nd-5th graders.
Skills that should have been practiced prior to engaging in this activity are: knowing the parts to a friendly letter, writing addresses, capitalization of proper nouns, in particular places such as streets, cities, and states. Students could be exposed to postcards in several ways: the teacher sharing postcards that were received, teacher modeling how to write a postcard, teacher or student reading of any of the Postcard books, such as these:
Postcards from Pluto: A Tour of the Solar System by Loreen Leedy
Postcards from Mr. Pish (Volume 1) by K. S. Brooks
China (Postcards from) by Zoë Dawson
Postcards from Buster: Buster and the Giant Pumpkin (L1) by Marc Brown
Postcards from Paul (Newsbox) by Hazel Scrimshire and James P. Smith
Postcards from the United States by Denise Allard
Postcards from Kitty by Margaret Wang and Pattie Silver
At the Beach: Postcards from Crabby Spit by Roland Harvey
and there are many more for many grade levels.
"The Postcard Creator helps students learn to identify all the typical parts of a postcard, and then generate their own postcard messages by typing information into templates. Students fill in the address, details on the postcard's artwork, and the postcard message. The finished postcard can then be previewed, edited, and printed. After printing their texts, students can illustrate the front of their postcards in a variety of ways, including drawing a picture, creating a collage of images, or printing and pasting clipart in place.
The tool is easy to use, made even easier with the Postcard Planning Sheet, a printable PDF students can use to draft and revise their work before creating and printing their final postcards on the computer. See a completed sample Postcard based on Where the Wild Things Are for details on what a student's work might look like." (http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/postcard-creator-30061.html )
Here are some ideas that could be used to inspire creativity for the writing of the postcard, although the possibilities are endless, and stiffling creative ideas should be discouraged:
1)Write a short letter to any fictional character from any book. If students need starters, suggestions could be given:
Write to the character about something that you wish that they would have done.
If I were you (the character)...
Ask the character questions that you want answered.
2)Pretend you are a character from a fictional book and are writing to another character.
3)Write to an author, president, artist.
4)Pretend that you are a famous person and are writing a postcard.
One other aspect of creativity that this tool allows is for the creator to design a front, name it, and briefly describe it.By using Postcard Creator, students are engaging in a creative activity. The brevity of the writing should be encouraging for students who do not like to write in length.
"The challenge to the educator is to keep alive the mind and sensibility of the young child." (p. 84, Gardner) "It is vital to keep open alternative possibilities to foreground the option of unfettered exploration." (p. 86, Gardner)
Gardner, Howard. Five Minds for the Future. Boston, Massachusetts. Harvard Business School Press. 2007. Print.