Strategy #8: Make Space for Real Creativity

When students have to complete formulaic work with one right answer, teachers are as bored doing the grading as students are doing the work.  When students are encouraged to incorporate their own creativity into assignments, they care more about what they are doing and thus learn the material on a deeper level.

  • Standard:  Describe the harsh conditions of the Middle Passage and slave life, and the responses of slaves to their condition. Describe the life of free African Americans in the colonies. (SS 5.12 –  H, G, E, C). On a map of North America, identify the first 13 colonies and describe how regional differences in climate, types of farming, populations, and sources of labor shaped their economies and societies through the 18th century. (5.10 – H, G, E)
  • How to Globalize: Students in 5th grade learn about the lives of colonists and slaves in early America. Rather than learn about them from the abstract, students take on the perspective of colonists and slaves, and write in their voices. The ability to empathize and put oneself in another person’s shoes is a global competency, but students also use their creativity to create the details of their character’s life.
  • Sample ProjectSlave and Colonist Poem and Music ~ Students wrote narrative poems in the voice of either a colonist or slave character that they created. Pairs of students composed songs together using GarageBand, a music composition program and recorded excerpts of their poetry into the songs. They learned about mood and tried to create musical pieces that fit the emotions in their narratives.
  • Learn MoreLesson Plan (Triangle Trade)RubricPoem OrganizerSample Student Work (Audio of an original song and poetry)

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