Monday, May 4, 2009

Imagination at Work

Imagination. Webster defines it as The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

Personally, I define imagination as the ability to incorporate personal perspectives, ideas, and visuals to change or impact a goal, topic or thing CREATIVELY. Overall, using the imagination causes impact to output – whether idealistically-speaking or methodologically-speaking.

So, the million-dollar question? How can teachers allow imagination to make a difference right in the classroom? Lots of ways…. And it is easier than you may initially think.

From the Unified Schedule Workshop last Friday, Professor J. Allen Queen from UNCC made some interesting comments that tie in nicely with this post

  • Every lesson should never be taught the same way twice
  • With your lessons, make sure the students are interacting and experimenting
  • Teachers should focus on student learning over teaching!
  • There should be an acceptance for change and desire for future refinement

How does imagination go hand-in-hand with these?

Never teaching a lesson the same way means tailoring the lesson to the personality of each class! Making the lessons more interactive/experimental, by default can be geared towards success with the integration of 21st century skills. Also, with the incorporation of technology-based projects, learning-based activities, etc. the lessons given by teachers will automatically be/become interactive. When students are allowed to use their imagination, their finished products/projects will be focused on and produced from different types of student learning!

How does all of this even come into play? The teacher must, I repeat, MUST be willing to have an open mind-set for change in the classroom. This is the crucial first step. An open mind will allow teachers to see the individual personalities of each of their classes, each period of each day. An open mind will allow teachers to reconstruct their lessons in a way that allows for more interaction and less lecture. Open-minded teachers will look less at themselves as presenters and “head” of the classroom and more at student perception, intake and learning style. Imagination is the catalyst to incorporating change and opening the mind.

Need a place to start? Don’t change your curriculum – you don’t even have to write completely new lesson plans… Simply choose one lesson you already have in place, and tweak it so the output and objectives can be met differently. Want an example? Instead of having the students write the same ole’ research paper… Have them write the paper and then use Photo Story to capture the story with photos while using their voice to narrate it. Or… Have the students use VoiceThread and get feedback on their paper from other peers. Or… have them use a Wiki and use classroom collaboration to write the paper along with another classmate. Or… have them design a “movie poster” using graphics and some text to advertise the plot/storyline – this goes right along with summarization skills.

Same research paper… different output. Student engagement achieved.

Imagination is not just for use with crayolas.

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