I am an educator & instructional designer from Virginia. I began my teaching journey 16 years ago working as an elementary classroom teacher for Wise County Public Schools. During that time, I taught Kindergarten, Title I, 1st, and 2nd grades. After receiving my Master's degree in Instructional Design and Technology, I began teaching online recertification courses to educators at The University of Virginia's College at Wise/Center for Teaching Excellence. Two years ago, I decided to explore new options and accepted a virtual teaching position with Virginia Virtual Academy.
Hi Kim, I think there are several ways we can gradually provide students with more choice-based learning opportunities that foster creativity. For example, last year our elementary school offered monthly club activities that students participated in by grade level. The teachers paired up and offered 3 clubs per grade level that were STEAM based. Students then chose which club they wanted to participate in each month and an hour was set aside for them to enjoy this participate. One of the activities that I provided exposed them to the wonderful world of augmented reality, using the Quiver app. I have to say, it was amazing seeing their little faces light up when their coloring sheet came to life before their very eyes. They were able to see volcanoes come to life, the earth's rotation, cars driving and more. In my own classroom, I would provide hands-on, choice-based activities aligned to the objectives/skills for the week. My students would then choose the activity they wanted to complete, and had the option to work alone or in a small group. We did app smashes, created and designed learning games, designed posters and visual guides in Canva, they completed coding/programming activities and more. These are just a few ways that I have tried to encourage choice and creativity. On the flipside, I was often limited in the amount of time I could spend promoting creativity and choice. I felt like 80% of my time was devoted to test-taking strategies and standardized testing. This saddens me because I feel like testing demands have become unrealistic, and they are draining the creativity and motivation out of these poor children.