Engaging Students & Families in Creativity--The Creativity Project
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Each year my school district awards grants to teachers for the implementation of #creative projects in their classrooms. These are projects that reach outside of the box and go beyond the prescribed curricular demands. I’ve written and been awarded grants in the past, however, this year's project has me doing metaphoric cartwheels (because in real life, a cartwheel attempt could be the end of me)! This project is an amazing mix of some of my favorite "teacherly things": reading, writing, illustrating, and creating. I was able to incorporate partnerships with Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK), Mr. Colby Sharp (Author/Teacher/Vlogger/Blogger/Co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club and Nerd Camp MI/Awesometastic Human), and Emmy Kastner (Author/Illustrator/Co-founder of Read and Write Kalamazoo).
The Creativity Project will reach eighty-seven fourth-grade students and their families. I teach ELA to these eighty-seven students each day emphasizing the reciprocal nature of #reading and #writing while fostering a love for books, stories, and creativity. In talking with parents this year, they are looking for opportunities to engage in reading and writing activities with their children at home that reinforce and build skills that aren’t the typical worksheet format. Participating in shared reading and writing experiences while reading The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection, edited by Colby Sharp, families will provide those opportunities they seek. Each family will be provided a copy of the book and composition notebook to complete writing and art activities. I have created a suggested list of activities to complete, however, families aren't limited to these ideas.
As a way to support the at-home family component of the project, while students are at school, our classes will be visited by author Emmy Kastner. She will lead all three sections of 4th grade in a writing workshop experience, detailing what it means to be a writer. Author and 5th-grade teacher Colby Sharp will conduct a SKYPE author visit with the classes to talk about how he compiled the Creativity Project with all of the contributing authors. Finally, the students will take part in a bookmaking and storytelling workshop field trip with Read and Write Kalamazoo-RAWK (a local non-profit organization).
Research says that “independent reading leads to an increased volume of reading. The more one reads, the better one reads. The more one reads, the more knowledge of words and language one acquires. The more one reads the more fluent one becomes as a reader. The more one reads, the easier it becomes to sustain the mental effort necessary to comprehend complex texts. The more one reads, the more one learns about the people and happenings of our world. This increased volume of reading is essential (Allington, 2014).
The advancement of reading comprehension skills and the development of vocabulary are directly tied to the work readers do during independent reading. In fact, “reading is a powerful means of developing reading comprehension ability, writing style, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling” (Krashen, 2004, p. 37). In the book From Striving to Thriving, Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward (2017) emphasize this fact on the very first page. They note that “four decades of research have established that voluminous, pleasurable reading is key to literacy development” (p. 9).
It is my sincere hope that this project not only supports this research on independent reading for students, but will also engage families in committing to more literacy-based activities at home that focus on creativity and sharing their reading/writing lives together. I am so very thankful for my district's support in this creative venture. Stay Tuned. More details to come as the creativity begins.