Applying Creatively

What? One of the eight Knowledge Processes of Learning by Design. Applying Creatively involves students applying what they have learned in creative ways. This means students may be involved in synthesising disparate ideas or applying what they have learned in different contexts or in non-traditional ways. The teacher designs-in opportunities for students to apply what they have been learning and to express themselves in multiple modes (Multimodalities) – visual, aural, kinaesthetic, gestural, spatial as well as through the more traditional modes of oral and written expression. It is through this process that students and teacher will have evidence of students breadth of understanding.

Why? This Knowledge Process encourages teachers to design or use activities where students can express their learning in multiple modes increasing the possibility of engagement with their diverse lifeworlds and developing their other ‘literacies’ (Multiliteracies). Valuing and validating these different modes thereby values and validates differences in learners and equips them to engage with, inquire into, and express themselves in multiple ways increasing the likelihood that they will connect with and be understood by others.

How? Applying creatively activities engender and promote opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in creative ways. For this reason they call up a wide range of tools which allow students to express themselves creatively such as: a Role-play, a PowerPoint, Flash or Multimedia presentation, a Website, a Claymation video, a Soundscape, a Film, a Play, a Song or Poem, an Oral Presentation, an Advertisement or Poster. Again drawing on the Learning Element explored in the previous two entries, Problematising zoos through Zoo by Anthony Browne, the teacher-designer of that unit Rita van Haren uses a number of Applying activities beginning with an activity which prompts students to design their own poster. ‘Create your own poster/image of a zoo using framing, colours, demands and offers to make the viewer think positively or negatively about zoos.’ This provides an opportunity for students to synthesise ideas drawn form earlier activities and to represent these ideas visually. ‘Write about your poster/image. What have you changed? How has the meaning changed form the original? Is it effective?’ Van Haren uses this activity to deepen students’ understanding of using visual modes and techniques to communicate ideas. She follows this up by prompting: ‘Provide feedback on other students’ posters’ thereby encouraging their oral articulation of the concepts learned.

In the Teacher section of her Learning Element van Haren notes that: ‘Students may create an original design or innovate one of Anthony Browne’s images by changing some or all of the visual features.’ This opens up the opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in creative ways. She further leverages the activity by prompting students to reflect on their learning: ‘Display the posters and during a gallery walk encourage students to provide feedback on the use of the visual design. Sticky notes could be used to record comments which are placed on the appropriate posters. Ensure students are respectful and considerate in the feedback they provide.’ Van Haren uses the creative products of the activity to deepen understanding of the concepts learned and applied via the students’ posters.

The final Applying creatively activity ‘The Great Debates’ – Zoos should be banned! pairs-up students who then plan, present and refute points made by each other, drawing on and demonstrating their understanding and analysis of the issues developed throughout the unit of work. This provides students with an opportunity to be creative and have fun with the ideas and to engage with each other in a dynamic setting.

See the Lanyon Tool-kit for additional tools, tactics and references for Applying creatively.

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