Sunday, March 16, 2014

Expressing Creativity in the Vaguest Way Possible

So I teach 6th and 7th grade world studies; mostly 7th grade if you want to be specific.  I've barely seen my 6th graders for a variety of reasons that we won't get into, so this post focuses on my 7th graders.  Right now, my 7th graders are learning about Latin America.  We just wrapped up learning about the Mayans.  I wanted them to show me what they learned in a unique way, and I also wanted to give them as much freedom as possible.  In order to meet these needs, I came up with what can probably be called the vaguest processing assignment ever.

I introduced the lesson by explaining my thinking to my students.  I told them that I wanted to give them the chance to express themselves in the way they know they can be the most successful.  The assignment is as follows: students had to make some sort of visual representing the Mayan Empire.  The visual had to include at least four facts about the Mayans.  I reminded students that we had taken plenty of notes about the Mayans that provided them with more than enough information.

I really handed over control to my students.  I put the following list of visuals up on the board and told them to pick one.  If they had another idea, they just had to run it by me, and I ended up adding a few to the list throughout the day.

  • Comic Strip
  • Picture Book
  • Brochure
  • Advertisement
  • Magazine
  • Newsletter
  • Poster
  • Cartoon
  • Postcard
  • Board Game
  • Instagram Posts
  • Facebook Page
  • Tumblr Page
  • Snapchats
  • Movie Poster
  • Twitter Page
I put out all my art supplies, told students they could work with one other person if they wanted, but groups couldn't be any larger than two.

Over the two days I gave my students to work on this assignment, I was blown away by the output that they gave me.  I had two girls cut up their fashion magazines at home, compile them together into a Mayan themed magazine, complete with captions (that's where they worked in the required facts).  I had students make Instagrams, a few made brochures, one made a Tumblr.  I was blown away by the quality of the products.  This has shown me that if you give students the freedom to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable with, the sky is the limit.

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