Creative Commons via Flickr

In a one-to-world approach, the critical question is not, “What technology should we buy?” The more important questions revolve around the design of the culture of teaching and learning.–Alan November

One week ago I decided to shift something in my classroom.  I decided to give students (and myself) time to switch gears.  At the start of each lesson, we are taking ‘eight great minutes.’  I’ve designed a 15 class challenge.  For these 15 lessons, students are provided with a ‘doodle prompt.’  I’ve told them they can use the prompt, or they can sketch or doodle about anything they want, the caveat being that they work on their pages for eight minutes.

Where is this shift coming from?

Change is the order of the day in our kids’ 21st-century lives. It ought to be the order of the day in their schools as well. Not only would students welcome it, they will soon demand it. — Marc Prensky

If I want to value creativity, innovation, and change, I need to make space for it.  If I want my students be prosumers, I need to give them head space.  I need them to explore ideas and to challenge themselves to take the time to warm up.  No sports coach would send her team straight into a match.  We give our kids time to warm up on the court, shouldn’t we do the same in our classrooms?

If we want to see a shift towards a creative use of technology, we need to embrace a creative shift with old technology too.

I asked around for extra notebooks, and I was able to get my hands on beautiful sketch pads.

The first day of our 15 day challenge the students were smiling, laughing, sharing their work without being asked to do so.  I even had a student ask if they were going to be able to keep the journal at the end of the challenge.  When the students want to own their work, that’s the beginning of a shift in placing stock in creative work.

Challenging ourselves to see the potential of school differently is hard some days.  But can’t we make that task more reasonable?  What small challenges can we put forward?

I was worried that my students would be weary of yet another thing I was asking of them.  I told my class they each needed to take their books home and personalize them.

The effort some students took in this process was jaw-dropping.

What have been the big take-aways for me so far?

* allow students time to switch gears

* give choice

* come out of left field now and then

If you’d like to set up a similar challenge, here are a few great places to go:

1) Doodles a day

2) Ignant

3) Doodle Everyday

Initially I was worried:  what would my colleagues think?  would the students really engage with this?  can I create engaging prompts?  Is this too wacky for my IBDP students?

Like any weathered educator, I knew the only way I could answer my questions was to experiment.  This is one of the great benefits of being a connected educator, I knew I could come to this space to think-out my concerns.  I also knew I could come here to reflect on feeling proud to say I’m trying out new ideas.  I’m asking my students to try new ideas with me.

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