If you didn’t already know…
I’m definitely *not* naturally creative.
I’m don’t like open-ended tasks.
But they come up often for students (and for me too in my first ever teaching interview!)
So, now I LOVE training non-creative students (like me!) to BECOME creative using the beauty of non-creative, hard and fast, checklists, steps and systems!
I’m not naturally great with open-ended tasks or any writing where you have to be imaginative.
(My husband always says I have zero-imagination! He’s quite into movies and I’m just like – well *that* wouldn’t happen).
So imagine my horror, when in my invitation to interview for my first ever teaching job I was asked to prepare to teach:
– a Geography lesson to a class of Year 9’s (no problem)
– that would be observed by the principle (bit nerve-wracking, but again, no problem – this is what all teaching interviews involve back in the UK).
So. Teach a Y9 Geography lesson on the topic of…
I was like, come-on!
Please, give me something to go on!
Maybe they thought they were being kind, but for me, that was the worst possible type of lesson to plan.
I honestly would’ve preferred them to tell me to teach an interesting lesson about watching paint dry.
That would’ve felt like less of a challenge, because at least I’d have had somewhere to start with that. Some guidelines.
Because I like direction and instructions and steps.
(You’ve got that by now, right?!) 😉
And that’s why, over time, I’ve found ways to make the open >>>> structured.
The fuzzy >>>> clear.
And devised strategies to transform the downright confusing into steps, checklists and templates.
(Ahhhh. Those words are music to my ears)?
For a long time, this was just to help me get to grips with certain tasks or concepts myself.
But over time I’ve realised that it’s actually super-helpful to any teens whose brains work (even a little bit!) similarly to mine.
And here’s what I’ve found:
Often it’s best to start at the end and work backwards.
And for that, students need to start at the marking criteria and break down, in detail, exactly what the marker is going to be looking for in their work BEFORE they pick their topic or decide on their choice of – whatever options they can choose from!
Here’s an example:
If it’s a type of narrative, like a short story perhaps, then when students go through the mark scheme, they’ll realise that their marks and grades are less about the actual story or characters and more about their ability to use a variety of sophisticated literary devices, like imagery and symbolism for example.
So a setting or character that allows them to use plenty of those will be beneficial. Perhaps the story needs to involve some sort of theme or message that comes through and therefore they need to think about making that weave through the plot and/or characters.
And that brings us nicely then to the planning. They don’t want to be planning from the point of “hmmm, I wonder what’s going to happen in my story?”, but from the point of,
“OKAY – what sort of story will easily allow me to incorporate a variety of writing techniques like personification, metaphor, alliteration?”
“What sort of character would allow me to give some really interesting and detailed descriptions?”
“What sort of setting would I be able to adapt my writing to in terms of style and vocab?” – like using tech-y words for sci-fi, or lots of extravagant details for a romance.
And then they can start to consider what their story could be about.
Plus, now they also have a kind of checklist to work with.
Bonus! (Yay! A checklist!)
So really, it’s not about pondering on the main task,
“Ooooh, what country should I investigate for my geography project?”
“Hmmm, what historical leader should I choose for my inquiry?”
“What on EARTH should I write a story about?!”
Students need to figure out what needs to be in the finished product and then, asking themselves ‘What topic will give me the easiest AND most effective way to produce that?’
‘What will give me the most and highest quality opportunities to convey those skills?’.
This is what I call the science behind creativity.
And it’s not *just* for students who aren’t particularly creative.
For those students who ARE the creative types, then it’ll provide them with that trusty checklist to see which of their wonderful and creative ideas is going to serve them best when it comes to the marking of their work.
Let me know – is your teen naturally creative?
Have they ever struggled to come up with great ideas? (And if so, could this help them?).
I’d love your feedback! 🙂
Scroll down leave me a comment, give this post a ‘like’ or, just as useful – tell me what you didn’t like, or what else you’d like to hear about 🙂
Also, I’d really appreciate it (and so would they!) if you share this with anyone else who’d find it useful.
Until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!