Friday, August 25, 2017

Teaching Gifted Students Creativity Workshop

Some useful techniques to promote creativity through curriculum design

Image: 李國禎的英語教學/
Mandala thinking method?

Image: Marissa Martinez/StoryboardThat/

Having been teaching gifted students for two years though, for the very first time I attended this two-day workshop that specifically targeted gifted education and creativity. I gained a clear picture of what exactly makes up the curriculum design and some practical techniques to bolster gifted students' creativity. As always, I enjoyed exchanging ideas with teachers from different regions about lesson planning.

Gifted Education and Curriculum Design

Gifted Education covers four main areas, including affective development, leadership, creativity, and independent study. Affective development mainly focuses on students' ability to know themselves, become a life-long learner, communicate effectively and adapt to challenges. Leadership values planning and execution through teamwork and problem-solving skills. Creativity emphasizes thinking outside of box and making a breakthrough collaboratively. Finally, independent study encourages inquiry and higher thinking skills to solve problems.

These four major areas can serve as a good framework and help us design a comprehensive curriculum that meets the needs of national criteria for fully developing students potential. It should incorporate social issues and higher thinking skills based on students' autonomous learning in meaningful contexts. After implementation of collaborative projects, students are encouraged to communicate with partners and reflect on the whole process to make the next one better.

The Importance of Creativity

The lecturer vividly gave us some reasons and examples of why it's crucial to teach creativity. For example, there were already many test items on the Comprehensive Assessment Program that required students' creative thinking. Elon Musk just established the Boring Company that aimed to solve the traffic jam in L.A. with a very creative new design of vehicles and tunnels. As a teacher, we need to inspire students' creativity for problem-solving and a better life. 

Strategies for Action

Through learning activities that help bolster reflection, inquiry and innovation, students acquire the passion and ability to achieve the goals for the four main areas of gifted education. The new national curriculum guidelines, including core competencies, learning content, and learning performance, should be taken into consideration. Creative thinking techniques are used to extend and expand learning experiences, which are supposed to be diverse and challenging based on students' needs and individuality. Online resources like 優質特教網and協力同行走進十二年國教課程綱要have plenty of lesson plans using Six Thinking Hats, Mandala, Phillip 66, and so on to spark creativity in class.

Keynote Speeches and Group Discussion

Three renowned subject teachers, including English, Chinese, and Math, gave speeches about how they adopted one or two creative-thinking techniques in their classes, complete with lesson plans and worksheets. After that, we were working in groups of five to generate a simple lesson plan for teaching creativity, with at least one technique applied, and presented with PPT presentation in the front. My group decided to go for my idea of conducting a Skype exchange session, with students using English to introduce some unique features of the school to their counterparts outside of Taiwan. After my presentation, we were able to just make it to the top 5 to get the small reward. 

Kaohsiung City has invested a lot in creating school-based "Maker Centers" to further develop curriculum, teacher training and even a major expo involving local universities, high schools, and industries, with hands-on experiences like robotics, coding, video editing, 3D printing, and so on.

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