5 leading educators on keeping classrooms creative

Innovate My School

Innovate My School empowers educators to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead proactively and, most importantly, feel inspired. It now entertains an audience of 50,000 educators through its weekly content, with 1,300 guest bloggers and over 2,500 articles published to date.

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As Khurshid Khan, managing director of Britannica Digital Learning UK, put it: “Engendering a love of learning through expanded content, personal research and creative approaches will lead learners into an appreciation of education beyond the strive for certification.” If you’re keen to accelerate creativity in your school, the new Innovate My School Guide is a must. Here are five educators working to make ingenuity a part of everyday teaching and learning…

Mark Anderson - Edtech opportunities

“A significant role that technology can play in learning is in that of feedback. In his book Visible Learning for Teachers, Hattie writes that feedback needs to be “just in time, just for me, just for where I am in the learning process and just what I need to move me forward”. If we are going to give our learners great opportunities for learning, then technology can play a huge role in moving how we give feedback on work to our learners.

Whether it’s through low-stakes testing using tools such as Kahoot, Socrative, Quizizz, Plickers or Nearpod, or more advanced resources such as Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, iTunes U or Explain Everything, edtech give us as teachers the opportunity to create that culture of learning in our classroom so that children can try hard, do their best, reach for the stars and beyond.”

Lisa Pegman - Fun with curriculum themes

“Our aim is to develop our curriculum themes with children’s interests placed at the heart. We do not anticipate that the themes will be the same year on year; they will change with each cohort, keeping learning fresh and interesting for the children. We change our themes each term – these need to be ‘meaty’ to allow the children to explore of a range of avenues; they are essentially a never-ending ‘hook’ for the duration of the term (wider themes like ‘magic’, ‘adventures’ and ‘dream destinations’ are good options but the possibilities are endless).

During our summer transition meetings, we share the interests of our current classes with their new teacher to support the planning process. It would be wrong to say this was a quick and easy process - the challenging aspect initially is finding ways to link the objectives to the theme but after a while, it becomes much easier and when the children start making links that you hadn’t even thought of, you know you’re doing it right.”

Mike Watson - Hopscotch pedagogy

Hopscotch is a great gateway into so much Mathematics. Using hopscotch games to learn multiplication tables, chant the table as you play… Creating a regular hopscotch game but substituting Roman numerals instead of the traditional characters / digits makes for an interesting adaptation.

Similarly, change the hopscotch boxes into equivalent fractions. Anything that can be done to create a game to support the in-class learning, that can be done outside, before or after school and at break and lunch times, gives a continuity of learning that can be as tangible as it is powerful. Rest assured; if it is there, children WILL use it.

Claire Bracher - And after all, it’s a Wonder Wall

“West Thornton Primary Academy in Croydon is a unique, and, in my humble opinion, innovative school in its approach to learning. Our approach is dynamic and adaptive to the learners it caters for. It takes account of the real-life scenarios that might be met, and acknowledges that real-life skills are as important as the curriculum.

Envisage an environment where independent thinking and learning is encouraged and nurtured; where the children are able to demonstrate an appreciation of being ‘stuck’, and where there is quite literally a genuine ‘buzz’ for learning. Within our learning space (three teachers team-teach ninety children, who lead their own learning), pupils have a working ‘Wonder Wall’. The wall is home to the children’s ‘wonders’; a place to add their thoughts, feelings and questions from the outset and throughout their learning journey. It is an environment where curiosity is an essential part of the learning.”

Craig Smith - Getting silly in SEN

“There is a side to teaching in special education that very much focuses on being very orderly and sensible, following a model of structured teaching, balanced and moderate with a gentle voice and no sudden movements, keeping the excitement levels down so as to maintain a focused and settled classroom environment. And, as with everything, there is also a flip side, where moderation is flattened out and tossed into the air like a twirling pancake, where classroom structure is deconstructed into some cloudscape of puzzle pieces that were never intended to fit together, and unbridled laughter is the lesson for the day.

I remember one day going into my classroom to set things up for the morning, and realising that electricity was not working in the school. The whole suburb was without power. This worry lasted about thirty seconds before I realised the solution - taken the classroom outside, actually create a classroom as if it had been teleported straight into the yard, and embrace a bit of morning absurdity.”

Have a read of the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18 at www.innovatemyschool.com/guides. Let us know what you think via [email protected]

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