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How to Encourage Creativity in the Classroom: A Guide to Teaching Innovation

In his to-do list, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote descriptions of a woodpecker’s tongue, as well as sketching cadavers, drafting elaborate machine parts, or making costume designs. Da Vinci wrote over 7000 notes containing questions, sketches and calculations. He encouraged creativity in his everyday life—which paid off in his favor. His work redefined several fields of research from science to art to engineering. My client, Maria, was intrigued when my coworker suggested using a “Da Vinci” notebook for her classroom. The idea was simple: Students had a notebook in which to practice their creativity in their own way. Maria tried this strategy in her Math and English classes, and the response from students was fantastic. After a few weeks, she saw an increase in student engagement and creativity.

So how can we encourage creativity in the classroom?

There are several techniques that you can try with your students to help them tap into their creative side. One popular activity is called “brainwriting” or brainstorming with your hands. This involves students writing down their ideas on sticky notes and then grouping them based on common themes or topics.

Another strategy is to create unstructured time in your classroom. This could involve giving students a free-writing exercise where they write for a set amount of time without stopping. Similarly, you could ask students to try different creative exercises like sketching or making a short video to share their ideas.

The key is to give students the space and time they need to explore their creative impulses. By encouraging creativity in the classroom, you can help your students become innovative thinkers who are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced world.

Use higher-order thinking

Learning experiences should engage students in higher-order thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. By providing opportunities for students to think critically and creatively, we prepare them to be successful in school and in their future careers. Unfortunately, many classrooms focus primarily on lower-order thinking skills such as rote memorization and basic comprehension.

To encourage higher-order thinking, we need to design learning experiences that are engaging and challenging. One way to do this is to incorporate open-ended questions into your lesson plans. These types of questions require students to think critically and come up with original solutions.

Another way to encourage higher-order thinking is to give students opportunities to work on project-based learning tasks. These types of tasks allow students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. By working on these types of tasks, students develop a deeper understanding of the material as well as learn how to think creatively.

Encourage a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be developed. This belief is based on the idea that the brain is like a muscle, and it can grow stronger with practice. Students who have a growth mindset understand that they can improve their intelligence and abilities through hard work and dedication.

Research has shown that students with a growth mindset are more likely to persist in the face of challenges, and they are more likely to be successful in school and in their careers.

There are several ways that you can encourage a growth mindset in your students. One way is to praise effort instead of intelligence. For example, you could say “You worked really hard on that project, great job!” instead of “That’s a really smart project, well done!"

More ideas:

  • Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for each day

  • Write down 3 things you want to achieve each day and cross them off as you accomplish them

  • Take time to practice mindfulness and relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation

  • Involve your students in classroom activities that encourage teamwork and collaboration

  • Focus on creating a positive learning environment where students feel safe to take risks and explore their ideas

All these ideas will develop growth mindset skills all of which are essential for success in school and beyond.

Why do schools need to prioritize creativity?

The term "creative" refers to the creation of new items that are innovative in their application and may be useful in a specific situation. A project might include a concept, some artwork, a creation, or a homework assignment for your class. While having your own distinct personality, being creative is not straightforward. Although most experts regard creativity as a collection of abilities and processes that one can learn and improve, some schools have been known to prioritize creativity over other important aspects of education.

There are several reasons why creativity should be a priority in schools. First, creativity is essential for students to develop their own unique voice and perspective. In a world where everyone is connected, it's more important than ever for students to be able to express themselves in a way that is authentic to who they are. Secondly, creativity is essential for problem-solving and critical thinking. When students are encouraged to think outside the box, they can tackle challenging problems in new and innovative ways.

Overall, schools need to prioritize creativity because it is a critical component of success in today's fast-paced world. By encouraging creative thinking and expression, schools can help students develop the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.