I hosted a Mindful Creativity Workshop for St. Francis DeSales High School staff a few weeks ago. Here are some photos and a responses to questions teachers asked in the workshop.
How do we make those spaces in our brain happen more often?
Brains are never going to be completely silent. Their jobs are to think, so those thoughts will just keep coming. I do find that my brain tells me fewer stories since I have been practicing for awhile, but what is more important than this is to “get distance” from thoughts. To know thoughts are not you. You don’t have to believe them. This will naturally create more “space” in our brains, because we won’t be feeding our thoughts as often. We will see that they are simply passing through.
Last week I attended the Pages teacher orientation and professional development at the Wexner Center with Mandy Fetty, a teacher-partner this year, and the teaching artists we worked with had some ideas for sparking students’ creativity and interest in writing. I will try to post some of these throughout the year.
This first learning activity would be helpful in acclimating students to narrative, which I think is the first unit in each grade level’s current curriculum plan.
Here is the activity:
We were asked to bring in landscapes, living creatures and inanimate objects from magazines.
Then, we put them all in the middle of a table and randomly picked from the larger pile, making sure to choose pictures from each category. In discussion afterward, we all agreed that choosing one’s own images created an expectation that limited creativity- so this might be a situation to avoid with students.
We used these to create a scene by placing the pictures on top of one another- no glue required.
The artist then asked us to create a story from the picture and write it out in ten minutes. Before this part of the activity, it might make sense to review the narrative vocabulary and ask students to focus on a specific aspect (for example narrative arch, imagery etc.). Melissa Larisch created this useful Academic Vocabulary for Narrative resource that follows along with the ACT Common Core rubric North is planning on using for the quarterly assessment.
To further collaborate and expand on ideas for writing, we discussed having students rotate around the collages first and discuss possible ideas or themes in the pictures. We also discussed having students write a line for each one and then rotate to the next one. After the activity, one could also have the students underline the protagonist, imagery, point of highest conflict etc. and turn it in as a formative assessment. In addition, it might be helpful to discuss the process and see how students came up with ideas before they wrote to give a chance for reflection.
If you try this one, let me know how it goes in your classroom or send me pictures of your collages or pieces of writing so that I can post them on the blog. Also here is a link to the Pages blog where you will find numerous resources for language arts educators.