Friday, December 19, 2014

Creativity Summit


Educators share ideas about fostering creativity

Wednesday December 17, 2014 9:04 AM

More than 35 Dublin teachers and administrators attended the district's first-ever Creativity Summit Dec. 11 to discuss ways to foster creativity in one another and students.
Teachers discussed what they think creativity is, why it is important and how creativity can be developed in staff members.

The summit was held at Dublin Coffman High School in the media center.
"Problem-solving and innovation are borne from creativity," said Kimberly Pietsch Miller, Dublin's chief academic officer.

"We want to connect our teachers to one another to discuss big ideas. We want to bring people together across grade levels and content areas to learn from each other."

The concept of the creativity summit is partly based on the work being done at Eli Pinney Elementary School by teachers Jason Blair and Matt DeMatteis.

In June, Blair and DeMatteis spoke about the work they are doing in their classrooms.

They've been engaged in the "Wonder Project," which is designed to expose students to concepts and ideas not normally found on standardized tests.

In the fourth grade, DeMatteis is helping students address philosophical questions about themselves and the world around them through the use of an integrated curriculum approach in partnership with Media Specialist Jamie Riley.

In the fifth grade last year, Blair worked with students on developing "creativity spots" throughout the building intended to be used for small group activities and creative learning.

Their creative, cross-curricular approach intentionally takes students far outside the world of required state tests.

"Creativity is something we prioritize in an educational climate of more and more assessments," said Todd Hoadley, Dublin's superintendent.

"Providing our students with a well-rounded education is part of our core mission and in order to do that effectively, we need to develop the critical-thinking skills essential to creativity."

In order to develop students' creativity at the highest possible level, teachers and administrators must foster the creativity in one another.

"Developing interest-based learners is a must for our students' success and the health of our society," Miller said.

"If we can help develop interest-based lifelong learners, former students can take their curiosity and creativity to the business world, which can lead to innovation," she said.

"Our ability as a society to innovate is one of the backbones of our country and important to the success of our economy."

Miller said creativity is important for students because in today's world, innovation and problem-solving are some of the most important job skills.

"Both of those skills require creativity, so it just make sense that we are trying to foster that," she said.

"Unfortunately, in the age of accountability, sometimes teachers will say, 'I can't be creative,' but they can be creative."

Travis Armstrong, a seventh-grade social studies at Davis Middle School, said he was excited to see the support of creativity from all grades, from everybody.

"You feel more comfortable to be creative when you know there are people in every building, grade and subject willing to do the same thing," he said.

Kristen Bennett, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Sells Middle School, said she "came to learn more about how creativity engages students and teachers to become better thinkers and problem-solvers."

At the end of the meeting, small groups were formed so teachers could better connect with one another. They will continue to meet in January to plan opportunities to visit each other's classrooms.

From the newspaper