Monthly Archives: April 2016

When does creativity become a chore?

When does creativity become a chore?

It’s an appropriate question to ask if you poke your head into the EDTC 3123 Applications of Educational Technology class this week and observe students who are pre-service teachers reacting to the premise of project-based learning. After describing this week’s activity of collaborating with a group to design a catapult with materials such as rubber bands and popsicle sticks, the peer teaching team asks whether anyone has questions before they move further in the lesson. One student raises her hand and asks, “Can I leave?”

After various forms of grumbling, the students coalesce into groups and begin the activity intended to give them hands on experience with the project-based learning method. Ambling about the room and observing the goings on, a first grader who had accompanied her mother to college that day huffs enviously at these grown ups getting to do something so fun as making catapults that would launch marshmallows across the room. Finally, she approaches the instructor and asks whether she may please make a catapult too? The instructor quickly agrees, happy to see at least one person enthusiastic about the project. After being shown the box of provided materials, the first grader eagerly digs in and collects various paraphernalia which she assembles through trial and error into the beginning of a catapult. When she runs into a hiccup – her spoon won’t snap forward – she scoots over to the nearest table of college students and deposits her catapult into grown up hands while asking for assistance. Within minutes, she has a working catapult.

Meanwhile, a nearby group of college students are still listlessly researching catapult designs on Google accompanied by occasionally mumblings of, “What are we supposed to do?”

I would imagine that at some point in their childhoods, each of those students in that class would have been just as eager as that little first grade girl to play and experiment and create. But when did that creative courage and initiative go away? When did it become work? A chore to be completed out of obligation to an assignment? And where did it go? Will there come a time sooner or later when even that little first grade catapult engineer will leave her instinct for curiosity and play behind as well?
I really hope not. Not the least because that little girl is my daughter.


Brainstorm: Innovative Solutions to Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage

The OSU Professional Education Council spent some time brainstorming innovative solutions to Oklahoma’s teacher shortage and generated the following ideas for others to expand on, comment, question, etc.:

Develop a teacher hotline so our grads always have a line back to us for help. Whoever answered the hotline would be prepared to direct the inservice teacher to research-based assistance. Would retired teachers be interested in helping to man the hotline?

Extend the mentor teacher program by providing ongoing training in leadership and advocacy.

Design innovative paths to educator preparation — for example a “Grow Your Own” system to serve distance preparation. Could we involve Cooperative Extension?

Help “sweeten the pot” for teachers to stay in Oklahoma – work with communities to help provide fringe benefits, housing stipends, free tuition for masters degree, career ladders

High School to college to career pathway (incentives for students in HS future teacher programs)

Pair each legislator in a formal partnership with one teacher and his/her students to bring them into schools regularly

Develop our own legislative agenda to advocate for things like changing funding priorities (remove some benefits given by state to petroleum industry to divert to education or suspend testing program for two years and use those funds for teacher salaries)

Do a better job recruiting from underrepresented teacher groups

Sell our profession better — what is it about being an educator that is so great? (get beyond the salary issue to address the true WHY). Celebrate the profession!

Create a repository of “research-to-practice” presentations by having professional education faculty do a quick web-based presentation of anything they have presented at a conference (ex: study of students and grit just presented at AERA)

What do you think? Could we make any of these happen? Which would be the first priorities?



Need a Creative Brainstorming Activity? Try 3-12-3

At the Professional Education Council meeting yesterday, we tried the 3-12-3 Brainstorming activity and generated all kinds of great innovative ideas! Here’s what we did:

Organize into groups of two or three. You will need a stack of index cards. Complete the 3-12-3 Brainstorm activity as directed below:

Topic: Innovative Solutions to Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage

3 Minutes: Generate a pool of aspects, or characteristics about Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage. Write each characteristic on a separate index card. It may help to think in terms of nouns and verbs that come to mind when thinking about the subject or just to free-associate. No filtering at this point – just brainstorm! Bring all index cards to the front of the room, where they will be mixed together and randomly given to groups.

12 Minutes: Develop concepts from the set of cards your team is given. Brainstorm innovative solution ideas related to the cards you have been given. Questions like “Why is this a characteristic?” or “What do we already do that could address this?” may be helpful at this stage.

3 Minutes: Present to the full group the most innovative idea your team came up with.

Wrap-Up: Entire group reflection on any innovative ideas we should follow up on

This NYC School Integrates Games in ALL Subjects, and Kids Love it

Image Source Quest to Learn (a.k.a. Institute of Play) is an Inspiring Example of the Potential for Schools to Succeed With new Models That Make Learning Truly Engaging If you think that digital games have no place at school, or that

Source: This NYC School Integrates Games in ALL Subjects, and Kids Love it