5 Tips for Encouraging Student Creativity

Teachers have many opportunities to help students develop and use creativity.  In the article Unlocking Creativity author Alessandro Antonietti (Antonietti, A. (1997). Unlocking Creativity. Educational Leadership, 56(6), 73-75.) suggests that teachers do the following to help encourage student creativity:

  1. Help children realize when creativity is needed and when it is not.  Creativity is a thinking tool, and there are times when it is the best tool for the task.  Conversely, there are times when it is not the best tool for the task.  Teachers can help students examine the tasks assigned and determine if a creative approach is in order.  Tasks that are open-ended, maybe a little ambiguous, and lend themselves to a variety of possible solutions are most suitable for creative thinking.  
  2. Describe strategies for reaching solutions and have students apply them.  Application of strategies across a variety of novel situations strengthens creative thinking.  Teachers can share a strategy and give a number of scenarios for which students can apply the strategy. 
  3. Employ metacognition during creative activity.  Metacognition (thinking about thinking while thinking and doing) is a vital part of the learning process.  Thinking about creative thinking is also vital to the learning process.  Teachers can ask students questions while problem solving and have students respond aloud to clarify their approaches to problem solving. 
  4. Employ reflection.  Reflection (thinking about what I thought and did after the task is complete) is also a vital part of the learning process.  Teachers can ask students to connect what they thought, what they did, what they learned, and how they will apply it to future situations.  
  5. Identify attitudes and emotions that precede or follow the application of creative strategies.  Creativity often involves confusion, frustration, ambiguity, and a myriad of other attitudes and feelings.  Teachers can ask students to articulate their feelings throughout the process in an effort to build resilience for future creative work. 

As you prepare for next week, think about how you can use each of these five items in your own classroom lessons.  Your students will benefit greatly from your efforts!

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