Beginning a Creative Venture- 3/8/2020

After attending the Adobe Creative Educator Day last weekend, this week was framed for me by the idea of using "creative workflow." I really took the lessons of this day to heart as I looked into my lessons and how I might infuse "creative literacy" into them.

As I began to plan my next sequence of activities for my third graders, this seemed to be the perfect time to have my students "flex" their creative muscles. How could I develop these students' creative literacy: "the ability to create with purpose, use methods, and processes to generate new ideas, create with a variety of media, and reflect and understand creative work?"

I decided to take a leap and try something new. Last week, the Smithsonian announced Smithsonian Open Access, 3 million public domain images that were being released and widely available from the Smithsonian to use, remix and reuse. Since learning about the Smithsonian Learning Lab this past summer at WISSIT, I have been astounded by the amazing resources available to all of our students with these digital resources. As part of this new project, Smithsonian also shared a starter project called "Make a Collagasaurus."

A "collagasaurus" according to the companion book on the website by Jon Sciezska and Steven Weinberg, is a collection of public domain images put together to create something new. I loved this idea- what a great project to get my students' creative juices flowing.

With an idea in mind, I began to work on the parameters of the activity. Employing my own "creative workflow," I wanted to define this opportunity for my learners, while still giving my students agency to some agency over their own "creative workflow." Knowing that the third grade was currently learning about ancient China, I began to explore ancient China open resource images. I found there were about 200 images. This would give my students choice while not overwhelm them with over 3 million images.

Next, I needed to determine what media my students would use to create their collagasaurus. I consider a variety of media that my students had already used- Google Draw, Wixie, Google Slides, but after my experience last weekend, Adobe Spark kept popping back into my mind. Taking another leap, I decided to use Adobe Spark Post. This would give my students the flexibility while creating and still give them ease of use.

With my plan defined and in place, it was now time to lead my students through the "creative process." I began by reading my students the companion book on the website to spark their curiosity and imagination. Afterwards, we defined their parameters.

  • How many images should they use?

  • How could they refine searches to find what they wanted?

  • How would they curate the resources they selected?

My students were engaged as we defined these parameters, while being very eager to begin the creation experience. We determined 10 images was a good place to start and that we would store these images in their download folder in an Ancient China folder.

Students then began to download their resources. They were so excited as they explored these resources and added them to their Ancient China folder.

With their own collections of public domain images downloaded, students began to explore how they could create their "collagasauruses" using the tools in Adobe Spark Post. I loved watching as they clicked and changed these public domain images into something entirely new. It was truly magical.

This past week, I did this lesson three times with three different classes and each time, I experienced the same sense of wonder. But it was during my last lesson this week where something transformative happened.

As the students worked, one student called me over with about 15 minutes left in the period and announced he was done. I tried probing him with questions to see if there was something else he could add, nope, he said. I knew he was only hitting the tip of the iceberg when it came to his creativity, so then I asked him to remix his images in a new way to find the best possible project. We had explored this idea during the Adobe Creative Educator Day, trying to create multiple ideas before deciding on a final product. This student went back to the drawing board to create another collagasaurus, pushing past his predefined creative limits.

My creative venture has just begun, but I couldn't resist taking an opportunity to reflect on this experience so far. As a tech coach, I have an unique opportunity to infuse creativity into my students' lives. I am not bound by grades, but empowered by standards. In my master schedule classes, there is no set curriculum which opens up windows to creativity.

What if my third grade students made multiple collagasauruses and then selected one as their final product and reflected on their creative journey?

We have only just begun, but I am excited about the possibilities. I can't wait to see where this journey leads us and how this helps develop my students' creativity.

After all, look what we have already created...