As promised in an earlier post, I am returning to the idea of creativity in teaching now that I have finished reading Andrew McCallum’s Creativity and Learning in Secondary English. The author of this book shows us how creative tasks can coexist with traditional forms of assessment and how this model may give teachers a better picture of what students are learning. This text has encouraged me to develop an authentic, collaborative, multimodal task for one particular form which I teach. It will be a cross-the-form assessment with marks that will count towards their reports.
McCallum writes “The concept of multimodality … offers exciting opportunities for the subject [English] and creativity, enabling an exploration of how meaning can be brought into being and responded to in multiple, combinatory fashions.” We are fortunate to be studying the fantastic novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This text makes meaning through both pencil drawings and traditional verbal (written) narration. It is just as essential to ‘read’ the visual pages as it is to read the written in order to follow the narrative. Thus, our students will learn about telling stories in both modes, and will compose their own combination of visual and verbal modes to complete their assessment. (I can’t give away all the details in case my students read my blog!)
Since reading New Kinds of Smart last year, I have been more aware of the need for quality collaborative learning. Hence, the task I am designing involves group work where students learn together, construct the product together and are assessed together. New learning spaces at my school make it possible for an entire form to be working in groups at the same time, with doors and walls open between classrooms, enabling teachers and students to share different skills.
I am aware that much rests on the design of the task so that students can respond with creativity. I know there will be setbacks and unforeseeable issues but as I stated in an earlier post entitled Living Learning, is essential for teachers to ‘play’ with learning to ensure students are able to use their diverse skills and talents.