LCL

[Week 6 Reflection] I used to think.. but now I think


#1

We are curious to know how your ideas have evolved, based on the activities and discussions in Learning Creative Learning.

One way to reflect on your LCL journey is to fill in this sentence:

  • I used to think … , but now I think …

In addition to filliing the blanks, share your reflection:

  • What in your journey contributed to the shift in your thinking?
  • How might it influence your work?

This post is also available in Italiano, Português, Español, 日本語 (Japanese)


[Reflection 6] I used to think.. but now I think
Last Reflection
Week 6 - Reflection
#4

I used to think that play, creativity, and leaving learners alone was important; now I think that some types of play are more important than others and that facilitation is a necessary component of playful learning. My thinking shifted because I have seen so many examples of playpens recently. Adults who are doing what they believe to be their best for young children, but are really focused on control. I see how this perpetuates other systems based on control and differentialy effects some children: children whose families have low incomes, children of color, etc. This will certainly influence my work. I strive to teach my early childhood educators they way that I want them to teach young children. This means minimizing playpens in my classrooms as well.


#5

My takeaway from LCL is Scratch as habitus.


This vision, implicit if not explicit in LCL’s materials, struck me one recent morning while I was “teaching” “Scratch” – a siloed understanding – in a 4th grade classroom. Everyone was distracted by one student who was walking around with a clipboard and talking to others. I paused to signal that the noise was a problem. The student said “I’m the homework checker”; the homeroom teacher nodded to confirm this. As I tried to resume, I started to wonder why homework was done on paper, why we were presenting Scratch merely as a coding language, and why the homeroom teachers who host my lessons never involve themselves with Scratch (e.g., learning how to set up studios for submissions of projects, learning to give feedback by remixing a project, learning to learn from students by having their own projects remixed). It seemed absurd that we weren’t focused on somehow moving the students, and the teachers, and indeed the school environment, into a Scratch environment. I wondered, What would a Scratch-based elementary classroom look like?

These are questions I hope to pursue through pilot projects with new partners and schools in the upcoming year(s).


#6

I used to think that play was for younger learners but now I think that structured play/tinkering can also be great for older children. Therefore, I will try to incorporate the idea of tinkering using stratch, robotics and during art and project lessons with my year 6s. I will encourage them to use the process of tinkering before they start a project in order to start thinking creatively. The process of plan, tinkering and replan will also be a useful approach to starting some projects.


#7

Hi dalsdorf,

You posed some great questions. Why is it that we educators want to hold students to structure? I do think that we need to be mentoring and that can mean letting out the towline bit by bit. But if we are careful to lay a solid foundation, model the basics, and make sure that student frustration isn’t caused by our lack of preparation and presentation, then it seems right to value and delight in our students’ explorations and to count that as measureable learning.

Some of us educators receive highly structured guidelines for our own work, adherence to standards, rigid assessments, etc., that perhaps we act like the hen who pecks the chickens because the rooster pecked her first. I’m not implying that this is my situation - I am blessed to work within a system that values creativity and innovation, even though there’s a tinge of pressure to meet and document standards met. I’m just wondering if that may have something to do with our reticence to consider the 4Ps as our core educational values.


#8

Before participating in LCL I used to think that developing a class curriculum for teaching Scratch to children should follow a somewhat strict outline that should be adhered to rigidly and that the idea of “success” depended on how closely a student project mirrored what was being shown as a guideline. But now I think that the curriculum outline can be much more fluid in nature, and the emphasis more on on sparking and fostering creativity in a playground learning environment (not a playpen), and that the measure of “success” should be more about if the child is embracing, trying and having fun learning vs. did they copy the project. Going forward I will actively try and provide more of a playground learning environment, and am super excited to continue helping spark creativity in young learners around technology.


#9

I used to think all coding activities were the same, but now I think that they aren’t all the same and the better ones allow for creative thinking. I keep coming back to the analogy of the playpen and the playground. There are a lot of good online activities that teach young children about block-based coding. However, the child follows the directions provided to create the final project - a nice, neat package… I like that Scratch gives the child an opportunity to make choices and to create a project about something he is passionate about. Scratch also gives the child an opportunity to tinker and tinker and tinker … Messy learning.


#10

I used to think that I was the only teacher who felt the need to foster creativity in this testing frenzied, standards based environment but now I think there are many of us out there trying to find ways to incorporate creativity, real problem solving, love of learning and fun into our classroom based settings.

I have learned to let go of the fear of having to control every bit of learning and set my class up as a sandbox for learning. Students can learn from me, peers, mistakes, tinkering, etc.

My middle child, Will, is a creator. He has always been driven to make new things from whatever he has. When he went to kindergarten he told me that the difference in kindergarten and pre-k was…
“In pre-k you can make anything you want anytime you want and the teachers help you make your idea. In kindergarten the teachers tell you what to make, what to make it with, and whether you did it right or not.”

Once his formal education began and his weeks were full of school, organized activities, and homework, he became less joyful and more and more inhibited. Friday afternoon became his favorite time of the week. He could drag out all art supplies, recyclables, clay, toys, trinkets, etc and start making something. He was absolutely driven to do so. I have an attic full of figurines, paintings, pop-up art, shoe box scenes, and other original ideas that he was compelled to create. As hd got older he made stop animation video, commercials, comic books… creating his own hard copy copics and animating them in google drawing…

I always wondered about the children who had the same school experience and creative drive, but lacked the wealth of resources and materials Will had. A dream deferred?

Thank you to all of you dedicated teachers who are making it possible for students like Will to simultaneously learn and enjoy school


#11

I used to think that I was doing it right, when I let my kids to play with specific material in a specific area. But now I think they need so much more space, TIME and a variaty of materials even if some of these materials are used with a different purpose.
I used to think when all my kids were still and quiet They were concentrated and learning something. Now I think they could be bored! No more passivity in my classroom.
I used to think all the changes depend on me, But now I think everybody is involved, students, parents, administrators, researchers, we all need to find the way of working together.
"The transition to a creative learning society is a big challenge."
I feel so ready and motivated to start making the difference :slight_smile:


#12

I used to think that learing follows strict rules and it has nothing in common with play and joy , especially after primary school.
But now i think that no matter how difficult is something to learn, it might become a piece of cake if you approach it via creativity and entertainment!
I thnk that after LCL project i would try to see things and difficulties in a much more playfull way! If i could influence other to see things by this prespective, i would definately give it a shot! I hope to succeed it especially with chidren in order to make them happier and feel less sressful.


#13

I will start with a quotation from chapter 2, about computational thinking:

Once you learn these computational-thinking strategies, they can be useful in all types of
problem-solving and design activities, not just in coding and computer science. By learning to
debug computer programs, you’ll be better prepared to figure out what went wrong when a
recipe doesn’t work out in the kitchen or when you get lost following someone’s directions.

This is my starting point in education, and I fell pleased to have found it here.
In my past year experience with 10-11yo children, I started asking them how they would describe a simple activity like opening a door to a friend of mine just come to visit from space, living in a planet with no doors (Whitman would have liked it for sure…). I performed the actions they were saying, and it took a while (letting them to refine the steps to the result) before they understood the right way (to say to someone who knows nothing about door how ho deal with). Obviously the first answer was: 1) press the handle, and 2) push the door, which I did: press the handle, [release the handle], push the door. They were very amused that I did not understand, and when I replied “But YOU said so!” they answered together “You have to keep the handle pressed while pushing”, and I said “But you had to tell!”
This is the way for me to let them understand how to divide a complex problem into simpler steps, and that the complexity of steps depends on who’s going to perform these steps (i.e. they must be understandable to the performer); this is computational thinking.
When we moved to Scratch, I emphasized the fact that instructions to perform must be correct and understandable. The simplest action is to draw a square, and before doing, I divided them into small groups told them to design an algorithm to draw a square by moving. I let them experiment for a while with their bodies moving, and watching it was one of the most gratifying experiences of the whole year. The first result was much like as in the door algorithm: they performed the steps themselves, but when I did, it didn’t work (they told me to move and then turn 4 times, without specifying how much to move and how much to turn, so obviously I moved a little step, turned right say 15 degrees, then moved a greater step, turned left say 100°, and so on).
When we agreed on moving 4 times the same amount of space, turn 4 times the same angle (amplitude and direction), I told them to look among the commands Scratch can understand trying to find some suitable for the task, and put them together and watch the result.
At this point some noticed there were repeating commands, and so I told them to look for a command suitable for repetition. At last we came out to the result: repeat 4 [move 100, turn left 90] (LOGO style).
Now for me comes in the other part in the process of problem solving; I mediated this from George Polya, which suggests, when dealing with a new problem, to subdivide it into smaller parts (algorithmic approach), and then look if some of these subproblems could be similar to something previously dealt with (I would like to stress the word: similar, not equal). So I said to the children. “Hey, have you noticed that Scratch cat has turned for 4 times 90 degrees, and now he is back in the starting position? How can we use this observation to draw a triangle, a pentagon?” I drove them to discover that in going back to the starting position, Scratch cat made a complete turn which is 360° which is 4 times 90°, and so if I wanted a triangle (3 times) what should I do?
They learned (apart from some useful cases for the use of multiplying and dividing tecniques), how to use a similar already solved problem (the square) in the solution of a new problem (the triangle).
This approach for me fits better in the school system than the playground approach. This does not mean that we have to have a fixed goal and drive the students to it, but that we must have some kind of goal, decided together, that interests the group (at least most of them), and then work to its attainment, using computational thinking tecniques and analogy. And analogy is the part in which comes into play creativity. Leonardo, Newton, Einstein all have had a highest degree of creativity, but anyone deserves his own degree.
I don’t know what result this could have in children, but this is what I feel now to be task of teaching: teach them to learn to solve, not to solve, much in the tradition of what Papert calls Mathetics, much in the tradition of the old saying: if you meet someone hungry, don’t give him a fish, but teach him to fish.
Sorry for having been so prolix.
Let me end with a quotation from chapter 5:

In contrast, a playground provides children with more room to move, explore, experiment,
and collaborate. Watch children on a playground, and you’ll inevitably see them making up their
own activities and games. In the process, children develop as creative thinkers.

This seems to me as a huge Skinner box, where the difference between playground and playpen is only quantitative, but not qualitative.
If you see children use the swing, the slide, the bike, is because they have learned how to before, not because they are simply exposed to them. If for something the technique is straightforward, for other activities is more difficult. If some child is fearful to try, couldn’t it be useful to force him (within certain limits, of course) to try? When a child can ride a bike and wants to learn to skate, wouldn’t it be useful to (drive him to) find an analogy with bike riding (a balance issue).
I had an exchange of views with @JoshThompson on the concept of scaffolding, in which I expressed the idea that scaffolding is necessary, but it has to be removed when the building is done, and that the main challenge is to teach people to build (and then destroy) their own scaffolding. To build is to teach them to find their own way of thinking, seeking help from others by themselves, and to destroy is to teach them to use critically what they have learnt, and not to pick the learning verbatim: this also is creative thinking.


LCL e le indicazioni nazionali per il curriculo
#14

@mres Do you know David Rock’s work with the Neuroleadership Institute? They really have some fantastic insights about individual and institutional change.


#15

I used to think that people with access to technology and funding devalued low-tech, recycled Makerspaces, but now I think that people interested in creative learning are open to all types of creative learning.

I have had to come up against some people who only see the Maker movement as a new process that is steeped in all the newest technologies. I’ve even come across some quotes from people in respected positions that claim the Maker movement and Making is a field dominated by men and technology. A wonderful response that I read was, “only if you discount the thousands of years of women making clothing, quilting, cooking, etc. But I guess that is only ‘crafting’ not making.” This is something that I encounter within my district as well. Some teachers are only interested in Makerspaces if they are full of computers, 3-D printers, laser cutters, and the newest programmable robots (ozobots, spheros). I find this shifts the focus of Makerspaces and creative thinking on the technology available, and not on the processes involved in the creative spiral.

However, through this journey and through the readings and videos, I have learned that there are people out there who see this process as much more than the newest technologies. I was happy to read that in the early days of the Computer Clubhouses there were all sorts of materials available to the children. I love hearing that the push forward is breaking down the walls of curricular subjects and joining art and science. I imagine a world where there are no subjects in schools, just learning.

I have also loved connecting with people from around the world who value creative learning, it fills me with hope that we will be able to change the Industrial Model of learning into and Creative Model for a Creative Society. It makes me think that more people are heeding the call of Prince EA in his video “I just sued the school system.” And of course, what Sir Ken Robinson has been speaking to for so many years. Most importantly, that this change that needs to happen can happen for all students, not just those lucky enough to be born into wealthy areas that have access to technology and funding.


#16

What a great journey! I did not think of these 4 p’s under an umbrella of a creative learning spiral but now I do. As a former PE teacher, a person who straddled both sciences and arts, and a dendritic thinker, I’ve always seen connections between play and learning, between ‘subjects’. Where I want to focus now, is hands-on learning with articulation. I want to build the bridges between the hands-on problem solving and the language acquisition and usage.
I do hope the forum stays open, as this is a great way to return to these conversations, reflections and insights. I need repetition before I integrate new elements into my existing paradigms.
My principal asks that the lesson objective be posted for all to see, and kids should know what they are learning, when they have learned it. I get it, but this feels wrong. It feels limited and undifferentiated. I think I need to have a more in depth conversation with her on this and would love to hear how people have worked with requests like this to frame objectives in ways that have broad implications and multiple ways of expressing the learning.
I’d really like to hear also how people facilitate students’ expression of learning.


#17

Hi @Diana-Triana I would like to propose there is value in specific material in a specific area as well as mixing it up.
When my kids buzz from one thing to another, they are just frenzied consumers, they are not really interacting with materials nor observing potential learning in a connecting fashion. I have actually gotten in the habit of taking a minute or two with my in-coming class to have a few deep breathes, take a moment to be together in silence and it makes a difference. I work hard to keep my classes engaging and interesting so kids are generally pretty excited to come in.
Sometimes a little bit of boredom, a bit of empty space and time are really helpful. I easily get over-stimulated and need spaces to collect my thoughts, to notice my surroundings and my body to be in a receptive and creative mind-set. That said, I work hard too, not to give my wild creative boys too much ‘boredom’ because they will counter with too much excitement. Grin.


#18

Hello!
I liked these last 6 weeks very much.

I canged my work in these 6 weeks. My classroom became more playfull, strategies of learning more creative planned and I am thankfull that I became a part of this creative learning. In my classroom is now more creative place and children love it, me too.

My english is not so good, that I could describe all my thoughts :unamused:


#19

I used to think that before introducing students to any sort of activity, I first needed to learn it myself, find a suitable curriculum or lesson sequence, study it, apply it, and then give it to the students if I felt they could be successful and it attached to the program of studies. Now I think the best kind of learning for both myself and my students is through exploration, peer collaboration and debugging as needed, with prepared lessons and curriculum available as a support, not the single direction. I’ve already seen this in the last week as I’ve introduced Scratch Jr. to my students, and they are helping each other with Sprites, sounds, colours, backgrounds, directions, etc. and coming up with little scenes and stories that amaze me.

Recently, during parent-teacher conferences, some students were sharing their robotics and Scratch projects with their families, and I got the question…what’s the point? Technologies are going to change before my child gets into the work force. My child is not going to be a computer programmer. My child isn’t a technology kid. But then, I was able to explain to them about the benefits of tinkering and developing computational thinking strategies that can “be useful in all types of problem-solving and design activities, not just coding and computer science”. It felt really good to be able to succinctly and passionately communicate this to parents, as I see more and more children coming to me without any risk taking abilities or executive functioning skills.


#20

I used to think I had to know all the answers in my classroom but now I think that is a very constricting view of teaching. Not to mention a huge burden on myself and very unrealistic. My classroom is a much more joyful and fun place now due to the ideas that have been shared in this learning community. I am teaching Scratch in a much less structured way and have a new appreciation for the idea of tinkering and exploration. I am definitely less committed to prioritizing the “right answer” and much more committed to the process. I want my students to become creative thinkers and in the process, I think I am becoming a creative learner myself.


#21

As a computer teacher for 3rd-5th, before reading Life Long Kindergarten, Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play, it has always been my goal to inspire my students to be creators of technology and not just passive consumers of technology. But after reading the book I see now I have not gone far enough. I thought I was creating a learning environment for students to be creative and develop their digital projects using their passion but by using “centers” in my room it is like playpens. I need to turn it in to a playground of learning. I am very excited to rearrange the physical space of my classroom, as well as my digital learning space that I use for instruction.
Thank you, Skye Donzelli (Teacher & Author of Selfie Sam’s Coder Club Adventures in Scratch)


#22

Great! You’ve taken a real initiative to make your classroom a place for creative learning. Good luck!!