Creativity in the Science classroom helped my students articulate their lab results, express their findings, and share what they learned.
When Apple released the Everyone Can Create project guide previews last spring, I was inspired by the innovative lessons that were shared. I have always felt strongly about creativity in the classroom, but coming up with new and exciting ideas year after year is hard. These curriculum guides offer new ways to seamlessly integrate photography, video, drawing, and music in my classroom.
Last year our district started moving towards using Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) in the science classroom. While I love the process and structure of this method, I struggled with what felt like an absence of creativity. Students have choice and freedom when designing an independent lab investigation but the final product reminds me of a lab report. Don’t get me wrong, writing is an incredibly important skill but kids need to have various ways to express their understanding of content.
Using creativity to improve student engagement
Our first ADI of the year, Nutrition and Human Health, had students investigate the negative effects of drinking sugary beverages on their health. The experiment they designed tested a popular drink or soda to determine how it altered tissues. They designed and conducted the experiment and wrote a lab report that explained their conclusions based on lab evidence.
One of the activities in the Everyone Can Create project guides discusses photography and personification of photographs. As an introduction to our Nutrition and Human Health activity, students photographed their selected beverages to share with peers. This was a fun activity to springboard them into the research. To kick this off, we spent a little time talking about photography, framing, focusing, lighting, and angles. Then students had 5 minutes to do their drink photo shoot. They put their finished image in Keynote, removed the background using instant alpha, and added shadows or reflections to create a powerful image. Next, they used drawings and shapes to personify the image. This lesson took us approximately 20 minutes but built skills that my students will use throughout the year. It also increased student engagement and excitement for the lab.
Another activity in the Everyone Can Create project guides explores the use of infographics. I asked students to use Keynote to create an infographic that represents their lab data. With all the shapes and the drawing features of Keynote, they had a blank canvas on which to represent their data. This took a lot more critical thinking on their part than I expected, but they really enjoyed it. They were proud of their work and asked if they could include it in their final report.
The positive impact of creativity
After completing the lab, students still did the lab report write up. I believe the write-ups were better because the students had a better understanding of the content and were more invested in the experience. They were also excited to share their results on FlipGrid and collaborate with classrooms around the world to discuss their findings.
The lesson was fun, engaging, and educational. My students used the skills they learned to demonstrate understanding in various ways. They learned photography skills and how to use imagery to visualize data. As a result, my students were better able to articulate their results, express their findings, and share what they learned.
I am excited to see how the Everyone Can Create project guides change our classrooms. I love the ideas and examples of innovative teaching across all subject areas and I can’t wait to try more in my classroom.
Jodie Deinhammer has taught science in Coppell ISD for over 20 years. She was the Texas Region 10’s Secondary Teacher of the Year for 2015 and was the Texas Medical Association Texas Science Teacher of the Year in 2013. She is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. As an Apple Distinguished Educator, Mrs. Deinhammer works with teachers around the globe to help creatively integrate technology into the classroom. She encourages educators and administrators to create classrooms that allow students to investigate and address real-world issues and create innovative solutions. Mrs. Deinhammer believes that students should have a voice in their education and that schools need to drastically change to meet the needs of our changing world. We should challenge our students with authentic real-world issues and give them a platform to make a difference in society. We shouldn’t focus on preparing our kids for what is next but instead helping them make a contribution each and every day.
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