Blog » Summer PD Asks: What Does Creativity Look Like?
7 July 2016

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"We want you think of the next three days as 'playtime for grownups,'" Carol Brown, (C3)2 project director, said in her welcoming remarks to (C3)2 teachers at the 2016 Summer Institute held at the end of June. "Over the next few days, we will be asking ourselves: 'What does creativity look like?'" The three-day Institute's structured 'playtime' was led by Laura Reeder, (C3)2 curriculum coordinator, with help from the grant's teaching artists. The Institute's participants were also treated two performances, one by a high school student and the other by a professional performance artist, as well as a trip to the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.

 

Day 1 of the Institute began with Ms. Brown (below, standing) summarizing the achievements of the grant's first year and generating excitement about the Institute, and the residency and performance opportunities that would be available in Year 2. Participants were asked to begin planning and reserving arts performances for Year 2, which will kick off in October.

 

Creative Classroom Collaboratives

 

Next, Ms. Reeder (below, standing) discussed what success looks like during the (C3)2 grant (chart below). For students, the successful experience incorporates the 4 Cs--Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Communications. Success for professionals looks slightly different and includes Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Growth and Ownership of Assessment. Attaining both the 4Cs (C2)for students and Creativity: Competence and Confidence (C3) for professionals are the (C3)2 grant's goals as designed by Ms. Brown.

 

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"Arts integration can sometimes feel like an interruption," Ms. Reed acknowledged. "Our goal is make sure something is sustained for future practices, after the grant experience has ended. We want you to feel confident in your creativity as well as competent," she told the group. "We also want you to discover new ways to communicate with administration, colleagues, and parents."

 

Ms. Reeder then engaged participants in the day's first arts activity. The teachers, working in small groups, were given crayons and a banner-size piece of paper. They were instructed to place a crayon in each hand and draw while listening to music. "Listen to the music with your whole body, drawing and collaborating." 

 

Creative Classroom Collaboratives

 

"The creativity comes from deeply attending to someone else's music, noticing the differences in the music, drawing, and interpreting," Ms. Reeder noted. "The teachers also had to take into account their fellow collaborators. Should they follow or improvise? It was not about making a picture or singing a song; it was safe, playful creativity."

 

After listening and drawing to the same composition performed by two different artists, the participants were asked to give their creation a title and to explain their title choice to the whole group. "The word assessment comes from the Latin word meaning to 'sit beside,'" said Ms. Reeder. "Ownership in assessment means "sitting beside" someone and explaining what is going on."

 

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Later in the morning, the teachers experienced music in another way. Bellport High School student Lili Salcedo-Watson (below) performed selections by Bach and Haydn on her cello. "Using music and movement, Lili created a program of music by artists long ago," noted Ms. Reeder. "Instead of creating art through play, Lili's art was created by building on the musical structures developed before her."

 

 

In the afternoon, teaching artist Patrick Polit (below, center) engaged participants in a series of music exercises. "Melody is a story without words," he noted. "You, the listener, fill in the blanks. With art in general, people are often filling in the blanks. As a result, it can be hard for artist to predict the effect the art will have."

 

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Working in pairs, the participants were told to think of a word, give the word a sound, and share it with their partner.

 

Creative Classroom Collaboratives 

 

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Working in groups of four, the teachers then had a conversation without words, using just sound. Afterwards, the team turned their sounds into a musical performance. The musical performances were shared with the entire group (below).

 

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Ms. Reeder asked the group to brainstorm about the power of the human voice. "Why do we use music in our teaching?" she asked. The teachers noted that music "helps students remember things," "makes teachers more accessible to students," "is a nicer way to persuade them," exercises the brain in unique ways," and "reinforces a time period in history."

 

The day wrapped up with a discussion about the classroom teachers collaborating with other teachers in their school. "Think of students as units of information to share with other teachers--classroom and special area teachers," said Ms. Reeder.