Writing blog posts is one of my most favourite things to do. I (Yiola) do not think I’m an entirely seasoned blogger but with time, practice, and learning I hope to become good at it one day. Why? Well, as an academic one of my goals is to share what I study and what I know with others. One way I do this is through my teaching. I am a teacher educator. My goals as a teacher educator are to prepare pre-service teachers to become excellent teachers by thinking about what they teach, how they teach and most importantly who they teach. I am also a writer — but a very particular kind of writer. I have been taught to write in academic prose for journal articles and book chapters. Sometimes our articles and books are read by others in the field. But… blogging… this is an entirely different genre and such a wonderful way to network and meet amazing people – some directly in the same field and others in slightly different but related fields – while sharing knowledge and information. Since writing on the academic / teaching blog I have met wonderful people and learned many things and taken away wonderful ideas. Let me share an example based on something that happened recently.
Some time ago I posted a blog about creativity in teacher education. Here is the link below:
Last week I received an email from a person who is in the field of creativity who has also done some good work in the area. This person shared their insights on what I had written and provided supportive feedback and then also shared their work with me. What a delightful process! I am now sharing their work with you. The following link leads to a list of ways to infuse creativity into the classroom. I reviewed the link and like it for several reasons: 1. It’s foundations and theoretical underpinnings are closely linked to the work I shared with my student teachers in our classes on creativity 2. The list is very easy to view and accessible 3. I found the list inspiring and doable — so yes! I will now proceed to share this link with my student teachers and friends.
This is but one example of how blogging in academia and in teacher education serves such good purpose. Yet another example of how digital technology and literacy work hand in hand to foster communication and learning. I am delighted when I receive messages with feedback, interest, and sharing. Looking forward to more connections and learning through this medium.
It has been nearly a decade since Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk, How Schools Kills Creativity. (If you haven’t seen it, click here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en). Robinson along with Lou Aronica have recently published a book titled Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education. The text has received glowing reviews. I look forward to reading it in the very near future. Some of the reviews of the book (as listed on Amazon.com) include:
- “This book is a wake-up call to the emerging global human resources crisis. Increasing boredom, disengagement and dropouts among students have become chronic aspects of many school systems around the world. Creative Schools is a must-read for anyone who is interested in critique, vision, and theory of change for the new course of schooling.” —PASI SAHLBERG, author of Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland
- “Creative Schools is one of those rare books that not only inspires and brings a new sense of possibility to the goal of transforming education, but also lays out an actionable strategy. Ken Robinson is leading a daring revolution to change how we understand schools, learning, and most importantly, the passion and talent of our students. This is a global game-changer and I’m in.”—BRENÉ BROWN, PH.D., author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly
- “This is the book we have been waiting for from Sir Ken Robinson —laying out what is fundamentally wrong with our education systems, and correspondingly showing what and how it should and could be different. He makes creativity, and much more, come alive. Don’t start reading this book unless you have three hours before you, as you will have difficulty putting it down. Then, think about what you might do and re-read the book with others to start making the changes. Creative schools indeed! The timing is perfect.”—MICHAEL FULLAN, OC. Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto and author of The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact
A while ago, my (Cathy’s) niece asked me why I only gave her (and her brother) books and crafts as gifts. I had suspected that she was sometimes disappointed her gift wasn’t a toy. I thought carefully before I answered. “Well honey”, I said, ” I want you and your brother to grow up knowing you are smart and creative. And I think books and arts and crafts help you to know that about yourself” She pondered that for few seconds and then said, “Ok, thanks”. We have never looked back.
Lately, my niece has taken to the magnetic poetry on my fridge (words on little magnets that you can move around to create meaningful messages). When she first noticed it, we only used it to find a word she knew. Then she moved on to constructing a sentence. When she came last weekend, she wanted to create a story. It was challenging, because she could only words she could find on the refrigerator. I was amazed at how long she stayed with the task. I was also intrigued by the fact she knew two words were synonyms. She didn’t call them that, she just knew they were the right word but spelled the wrong way. I was delighted how long we spent together looking for the right words to move our story forward. It ended up being a ‘scary’ story because the there was storm and the puppy screamed, “which can only happen in a not real, scary story” I was told. My niece was so thrilled with the results she invited several people at the family party to come and read it.
When we felt our little project was complete, I said to her “Brook, you are so creative and so smart” and she said, “I know”. That was my reward. She did know it. I also know what her next gift will be… a box of magnetic poetry for her own refridgerator at home. I don’t know if her parents will appreciate it, but she will. And that’s all that matters.
Amidst the growing concern that students of this era are loosing their ability to personally communicate due to too much texting and gaming, here is proof they are at least, not loosing their sense of humor. In this school talent show, eight grade five boys surprised and delighted their peers, teachers and parents with a well choreographed, synchronized swimming routine- without the water.
I love social media for moments just like this!
It seems my (yiola’s) blog posts run parallel to the foci in my life. This makes good sense as it seems the blog genre, whether an MAB or personal, pulls from the writer their interests, latest happenings and experiences. This past month I have had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with my two young children; hence the sharing of teaching and learning and literacy in the early years in many of my posts.
My four year old has been busy communicating, sharing and representing. Through her drawings she expresses her feelings and is able to share stories and ideas.
In March she drew and spoke about our family:
Her most recent self portrait:
Note the addition of the ears and arms that are now present in every drawing she creates.
For me, these developments are huge; for ECE researchers and educators these drawings are nothing new:
And yet, I still marvel at my child’s ability to communicate and represent in such meaningful ways. My daughter expressed the other day “momma, my feet are sparkling”… I did not bother to explain that wasn’t the case, that instead, her “feet fell asleep” because really, is one expression more accurate than the other?
An interesting and short description of stages of art development: http://www.artjunction.org/young_in_art.pdf
What caught my attention from the article was the statement below:
Of course, what children seem to do naturally and what they are capable of doing are entirely different matters. It is likely that teachers will find that students within their classrooms are at varied points in their graphic development since some have had abundant prior experiences with art, whereas others, may have had limited creative opportunities. Thus, teachers should avoid the temptation to place children at a particular stage simply because of their age or grade level.
… and how true this is of exposure to all subject/school related matter.
As I read about child development and literacy I appreciate the stages of development. As a teacher (and now parent) I have seen the stages unfold; however, as I read and observe the effects of providing opportunities for creative development and the use of multi literacies with young children I am more excited about the possibilities for language and literacy development in areas such as: creative thinking, communication, problem solving and representation.
In keeping with ‘you teach who you are’, I cannot help but think about these areas of interest for my work. As I prepare my courses for the coming year I am searching for readings and experiences for student teachers that will encourage discussion about creative thinking/problem solving and the implementation of various kinds of opportunities for pupil’s acquiring literacy both in and out of classrooms.
I (Yiola) have shared a number of posts that consider the changes and loss of all that 21st century literacies bring. I have shared media clips and links to spoken word poetry on the demise of social media.
It’s funny because I myself am an avid user of new literacies; most digital, critical, social… you name it, I engage with it. Yet, I strongly feel a sense of loss in communication, social consideration, and a certain kind of creativity and thinking. Then, I came across this article:
An interesting article that reports handwriting — traditional handwriting – has benefits far surpassing penmanship. I am interested in the art of handwriting… its skill building potential… its power to foster literacy, communication and creative thinking. I am inspired. For developing my children’s language and literacy I will use iPad Apps for building phonemic awareness but I will also continue to encourage and be excited about handwriting well into their young adult years and I will encourage my student teachers to do the same. What do you think?