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We hear a lot these days about creativity. How important it is in the classroom, the community, and the workplace. Creativity, however, is one of those squishy skills, difficult to identify, teach, and assess. For teachers accustomed to delegating “creative” work to the arts, encouraging this kind of thinking in core subjects, like science, math, and history, can be a challenge.


The main roadblock to teaching creativity is the pedagogy of “correct” answers. There’s no point in being creative if there’s only one answer. That’s why project-and problem-based learning can encourage creativity. Creativity only blooms in messy, ill-defined situations where there are multiple options for success.


Creativity also demands a nurturing environment. Creative people are curious, often shy, thoughtful risk-takers. They make lots of mistakes. There is no creativity without failure, usually markedly more failure than success. A classroom focused as much as possible on learning, rather than on extrinsic rewards such as grades and one that provides students with options on content, process, and products can foster student creativity.


Can you teach creativity? Of course. Like any thinking skill, creativity can be modeled and assessed. Some components of creative thinking are:

  • Brainstorm
  • Taking risks
  • Using strategies such as drawing, freewriting, conversation, metaphorical thinking
  • Questioning assumptions
  • Redefining problems
  • Making connections across topics and subject areas
  • Embracing ambiguity
  • Delaying gratification


What does creativity look like in subject areas other than English, art, and music?

  • In science, students can sometimes devise their own experiments instead of following prescribed steps.
  • In mathematics, students can apply mathematical thinking to topics in the real world that, at first glance, seem unmathematical.
  • In history, students can make up stories about the past. No, not really! But, they can think of different perspectives through which to tell about and investigate historical events and people.

Working creatively can be frustrating, fun, and time-consuming. But the end result is ultimately satisfying, and certainly worth promoting in all classrooms.


Blog originally posted at


Dazzled by an old friend

Posted by julesfischy Oct 7, 2009

Typically, when you use and interact with something daily it tends to lose its luster. You take it for granted and using it may even be mundane. My relationship with Adobe® Acrobat® began many moons ago. My basic interaction with the software was to use it to create a PDF from a word document. As the software was improved and upgraded, I still used Acrobat® for turning something into a PDF. Over a year ago a colleague shared with me that you could use Acrobat® to create editable and savable files. This allowed the team to create a certificate that could be used to support multiple trainings. Wow- what a time saver! 

At that moment, I should have realized that I needed to spend some time and look at what Acrobat® had to offer. Of course, there was already so much on my plate that this thought eluded me. I realize now that I should have made the time. This week I needed to find an alternative to using the Form feature of Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I could not find anything that would work- other than a costly solution the only solution that would work would be collecting the data manually. I was sharing my frustration with Steve Burt, when he asked- "Don't you have Adobe® Acrobat® 9 Pro?" Fortunately, for me I did have that software and when I responded that I did Steve began to show me what I could do with the form features that Acrobat® has to offer.

Happy Dance


I had pretty much given up hope and resigned that I was going to have to do a manual registration process when Steve showed me the quick and easy alternative with Acrobat®. I spent the afternoon exploring the form options within Acrobat®. I ended up creating several forms as I found a new use for my old friend.


Does this mean that I have to be an expert on every piece of software that I own and use?  No. However, periodically I need to remember to explore how others are using the same tools that I use or take a closer look at what the software has to offer, especially when there is an updated version. You never know what treasures you may find.


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