Creating with Technology

Five ways to make your classroom more creative with technology.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jessica Sanders 

CREDIT MindMeisterCreativity is no longer relegated to the art room, nor should it be. A 2010 study of 1,500 CEOs, in 60 countries and 33 industries found that creativity is the most important quality for succeeding in the 21st century business world, more so than rigor or management discipline.

This groundbreaking study tells us one thing: educators needs to focus on creativity —teaching students the skills they need to apply a more creative mindset outside of school.

Much of this technology encourages students to explore a more creative side of learning.

Luckily, teachers have access to more technology than ever before, and much of this technology encourages students to explore a more creative side of learning. Here are five ways to use these tools to create a more creative classroom and prepare your students for the future.

Student Blogging

Take the traditional book report or paper into the 21st century with blogging. When students create and submit their work in a blog format, they can use the built-in tools to be more creative. For example:

  • Formatting: Students can add headers, breakout quotes, colored text and links to their sources (rather than putting them in parentheses).
  • Images: Students can use their own images, or ones they find online, to show what they know, rather than just telling you. Encourage students to create their own images and graphs, encouraging them to truly push the creative envelope.
  • Videos: Students can embed YouTube videos into their blog post to further exemplify their point and show their knowledge. The process is as simple as copy and pasting a line of code, and the outcome is a more exciting product.

Mind Mapping

Brainstorming is a fun classroom exercise, but you, as the teacher, do all the work by writing the topics and ideas on the board yourself. When you put this work in the hands of your students they’re able to exercise their creativity and are more likely to remember the topics and ideas: students remember 90 percent of what they do, as opposed to only 30 percent of what they see and 50 percent of what they hear according to Dale’s Cone of Experience.

Use a product like MindMeister, where students can add colors, smiley faces, and icons to their mind map. Not only is this a fun exercise, but personalizing their mind map may help them associate these ideas with things they understand and like.

Comic Strip Creation

Let students tell a story with pictures, rather than words. Image-based assignments force students to think creatively about a topic, in order to find the most appropriate way to display it in this alternative format.

Use a program like BitStrips, with a free 30-day trial, that comes pre-loaded with a variety of layouts, clip art options and text bubbles. It’s also available as an app in Google Play and the Apple app store.

Higher Order Thinking (HOT)

“HOT takes thinking to higher levels than restating the facts and requires students to do something with the facts—understand them, infer from them, connect them to other facts and concepts, categorize them, manipulate them, put them together in new or novel ways, and apply them as we seek new solutions to new problems,” said Alice Thomas and Glenda Thorne, with Reading Rockets.

This way of thinking inspires creativity and imagination. A simple way to encourage HOT and creativity is to assign students open-ended comprehension questions more often.

One program that allows you to do this is Whooo’s Reading, a free, online teacher tool that requires students to answer open-ended, Common Core-aligned comprehension questions.

This forces students to think about the question and come up with their own answer, rather than choosing from a list of multiple choice answers, for example.

Digital Labeling and Image Creation

Instead of having students fill in worksheets, allow them to create their own “worksheets” to label and show what they know. The Stick Around app is an easy way to implement this in your classroom. With it, students use drawing tools and imported photos to create a diagram or image that they label using fun stickers and text.

For example, students could upload an image of the solar system and then label all the planets. They can download the finished product and submit it to you for grading.

Creative thinking is a critical skill in the modern world, and one that’s easy to encourage with a few basic tools. Inspire a culture of creative thinking in your class to better prepare your students for their future.

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, an online fundraising platform that allows students raise money by reading books. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to

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