16 August 2012

Fables, Writing and Creativity

Summer still stretches across the skies,  the heat pounding the dry desert sands, while my mind quietly turns to cooler days and busy classrooms. One thing I often debate with myself, is how much one can stray away from a set curriculum and introduce more creative and stimulating activities for learners. Not all curriculum items are necessarily dull and some may even help students. Nevertheless, it is by making a curriculum personal, meaningful to the learner that a curriculum comes alive. 

I cannot help but be constantly amazed by students' imagination and motivation when a task is personalized and appropriate for their context. I don't need to remind them that texting friends is for the break nor that the assignment is for evaluation. Evaluating, commenting and feedback on these types of tasks becomes an urgency, as students are eager to know the results of their efforts. 

Because sometimes the nature of the task is so focused on the building of skills (digital literacy in this case) and not just a particular type of writing,  I find that shared feedback from the whole class is also important. After all, they have completed the same assignment and being individuals (whether working on their own or in small groups) will lead to different products. Sometimes students are wary of this approach, but when a teacher calmly explains the why, they settle down and are more comfortable in giving feedback - which is, in fact, a form of evaluation. Evaluation in in this sense also becomes more personalized and tailored to the students. On the other hand, they gradually may perceive evaluation not as a threat, but as a learning experience as well. 

Having fun with Fantastic Fables  is a great site for both teachers and learners. There are 
clear steps guiding the teacher, as well as a chart for guiding  evaluation. Although originally created for young learners, it is an activity which may be suited to foreign language classes or even adapted for slightly older students.

 When it comes to writing, the focus is always on spelling, grammar and mechanics. What if students looked up what kind of writer they were? Tpyealyzer is simple and fun to use - simply paste a blog address in the box, and within seconds you will be told what kind of writer you are! As blogging becomes increasingly a mainstream activity in education, this will always spurn that extra spark of interest among learners who blog. 

Writing is a hazardous and hard process, especially when learning all about writing mechanics, norms and particularly when writing in a foreign language. 750 Words  may be a stimulating exercise for university students who take part in a Writing Centre, for instance. By  writing daily with a challenge and the promise of points,  students can also see how others are achieving their writing goals as well. 

When it comes to writing, I regularly think of publishing next. Zeen is still in beta so if you are interested in having students publish their fables, stories or any kind of writing and creative work, why not sign up for an account?

Digital technology is part of a daily motions and innovations surround us. Stimulating our learners imagination and creativity, seems to me, an integral part of education today. 

How will you be stimulating creativity this coming academic year?

Further suggestion:


  1. Olá Cristina,

    O teu blogue e as tuas restantes produções online são excelentes trabalhos, já de referência para pessoas ligadas ao ensino e à formação como eu. :-)
    Tenho reparado que as imagens que colocas são fora do vulgar pela criatividade e valor artístico que apresentam.
    Vinha sugerir que, se colocasses a fonte das imagens, seria mais fácil outros utilizadores poderem usá-las e até conhecerem outras imagens lindíssimas dos criadores. O autor das imagens iria certamente gostar muito de ver o seu trabalho referenciado e reconhecido, não achas?
    Dou-me ao trabalho de escrever esta mensagem porque as imagens para mim são um documento tão poderoso como a escrita, merecendo o mesmo tratamento. Digamos que atualmente é fácil chegar à fonte, mas são necessários alguns cliques para pesquisa e nem todos os utilizadores estão predispostos a isso. Penso que é um aspeto de mais valia para todos.

    E continua a brindar-nos com esta profusão de ideias, criatividade e alegria em aprender! :-)


  2. Hi Paula,

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Regarding images used in this blog: I often use my own photographs, sometimes edit them; other times I use tools such as ImageChef, for example, to create visuals. I also use images from other sources, which as you say, I do acknowledge. I don't want to add extra clutter so I link the images to their sources.

    When I don't know the source or am unsure of CC permissions, I will add a note at the end of the blog entry, thanking the photographer.

    E agora em Portugues! :-) Obrigada mais uma vez pela sua visita e feedback - coisa que qualquer blogger sempre aprecia. Fiquei mesmo feliz em saber que ha alguem em Portugal que de facto visita este blog! Espero que continue a achar as minhas suggestoes de interesse para si e alunos.

    Meus melhores comprimentos,

    Ana Cristina