Sparking the Creative Side of Teachers

For the past few summers, a group of teachers at our school have gone off to a professional development seminar at the University of Connecticut entitled “Confratute” — which is a mix of conference, fraternity and institute. The whole concept of the Confratute is built around creative thinking and gifted learners, and it is an institute I have mulled over but have not yet gone to.

Yesterday, during a half-day professional development, the principal turned the afternoon for upper elementary teachers over to our colleagues who have gone to Confratute, and they, in turn, gave us a bit of a taste of the activities that can push the classroom in creative directions.  It’s interesting to note that in these times of high-stakes testing, Massachusetts has new legislation that will require evidence of creativity going on in classrooms, too.  The state is now forming a “creativity index” for schools.

Yesterday, our large gathering was broken down into several smaller groups, which were then broken down further for activities. My own group was one of three that was given a Scavenger Hunt.

Using a digital camera, our task was to document, as creatively as possible, such things as “something that has not changed in 100 years” (we photographed a flute, whose design has remained constant), “something important people would not consider beautiful” (a compost pile), and more. The pictures here are answers to the questions of “something that is larger than life” (the big pencil) and “something that would inspire a rap song ( Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? book).”

We then came back together and all of the groups on the hunt shared their own visual interpretations of the questions. That was fascinating to see what others saw through their lens as we saw it through our slightly distorted lens, too. (By the way, one other larger group had to use recycled products to create an “invention to help a teacher or principal” while another had to build a paper Yeti based only on the dimensions of its footprint).

It was fun and informative professional development, and I stored away some of those ideas for my classroom. Plus, I won a lottery drawing from the session and came away with a book of interesting picture puzzles from Tin Man Press. (It’s hard to explain, so check it out.)

It’s a reminder that the best professional development sessions:

  • are active experiences;
  • engage the teachers creativity;
  • allow for collaboration;
  • and provide time for reflection.

Peace (in the creative sparks),

  1. Now that is the type of PD I like! I love the scavenger hunt. I am going to use that idea for my 6th grade English students’ next digital storytelling project.

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