Jan 01

On Being a Creator: Starting at the Top

It seems as though time spent being a creator lessens as students move through the system. By the time they reach high school, the predominate mode of learning is sit and get, learn these facts and then regurgitate them on Friday’s test. How sad. I’m not necessarily blaming anyone; it is a system created primarily to “ensure” accountability…once again, a post for another time. What does the “Creator” in the 8 C’s; really mean? What should it look like in the classroom?




Beginning with Bloom’s Taxonomy seems to be a good place to start. Here is the revised Bloom’s:


Hmmm…look what’s at the top of that chart. My AHA moment with Bloom’s occurred about a year ago when someone reconnoitered my thinking about Bloom’s. He said we generally plan from the bottom up; the thought being, I’m sure, that you cannot create something until you have some basic foundational knowledge. But what if we started at the top? What if we ask students to become creators of an artifact demonstrating the knowledge they’ve gained through their research? To get to that level, they would HAVE to understand the content on a much deeper level in order to create something, Now it starts getting more interesting; we’re asking students to become more engaged in the content. Now the teacher’s role becomes the scaffolder for students, teaching them how to research, collect, analyze, organize and synthesize information for the sole purpose of creation.

Students as creators. There are several thoughts floating around my head about students as creators…in 2014. First of all, there needs to be choice…and I mean real choice…as in, the student deciding (being a controller) what artifact they will create to demonstrate their understanding of the content and the tools they’ll use to get there. This is critical to the students owning the learning. If I ask all students to create a poster on paper, how is that allowing for individual strengths, interests and style?

Secondly, the product should reflect the real world…outside of the classroom. So much of the work we ask students to do is “school-y”. We have our students create a poster of their favorite character of a book and then hang it up in the hallway. How does that reflect what we might do in the “real world”? What if we reframe the poster by asking students to create content, not only to demonstrate their learning but with the added purpose being to teach others from around the world?  Which brings me to my final thought about being a creator…

Who is the audience? In today’s world, the audience should be more than just the classroom teacher…more than just the students sitting in our physical space. Plenty has been written about what happens when the audience is broader; there is a heightened sense of purpose for the work which tends to more fully engage the learner. Now we’re potentially impacting people from around the world. Our work gains significance. Again, a topic for future blog posts on being a connector and a communicator.

So to sum up the idea of students as creators:

1. Begin at the top of Bloom’s as often as possible

2. Give students choice

3. Encourage real-world, authentic products

4. Provide a worldwide audience for student work

When would you have time to do this? I would suggest combining several standards because if done correctly, this type of project will hit a multitude of standards across the disciplines. I’ll end with this quote from Tom Markham:

“Education’s core task is to prepare young people to generate new ideas, filter them through a net of critical analysis and reflection, and move the ideas through a design process to create a quality product, either as an idea or a material object. Students need information, facts, and specific knowledge for a successful outcome. But that information must be gathered during the process of creation, in a usable, just-in-time format not found in ‘subjects'”.



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