We want our students to provide some kind of language outcome in the classroom. We give them words to learn and supply them with grammatical structures. We want them to create a piece of writing or a story, to tell an anecdote, or to discuss something with a partner.
To add to that we ask them to think outside the box. However, students might not even understand what this phrase means. How could they do what we ask if they don’t understand how to do that? It is our first and furthermost aim to teach them to be creative.
Let’s look at some strategies and tasks that might seem useful.
Make a psychological “space” for creativity
The first rule for fostering creativity in your students is always to encourage them to think in new ways, to explore every question and problem from a “different” angle. Don’t protect them from making mistakes. We cherish their ideas today, but we don’t rubber stamp their answers saying they are right or wrong.
Make a physical space for creativity
It would be nice if you set spots for creative activities such as a thinking table, drama station, readers’ theatre or group discussion. It’s not always feasible in smaller spaces but if you have a fairly sizeable classroom it might work.
Expand the possibilities
Show your students an object (eg. a drinking straw). Ask them to come up with as many ideas as they can about how to use it in a different way/what could this be turned into. Set time limit. Ask them to do this in pairs/groups, to write down their ideas or to draw them. A drinking straw could become a fishing rod or a bridge for ants.
3D object + doodling
Take a 3D object. Fix it on a board or piece of paper. Ask students to add some doodles to change it into something different.
Writing on something other than paper
Are you going to have a writing task? Alleviate your students’ pain of this excruciating must-be by asking them to write on something different from ordinary paper. Let them choose what they want to use. Toilet paper? Ok. Their friend’s arm? Why not. Let them have fun a bit. Look how this might change the content.
Asking creative questions
Second Conditional seems to be fantastic to work on creativity. Here are some open-ended questions to ask students to inspire their idea-generating:
- What could happen if it always rained on Saturdays?
- What if cars never wore out?
- If you saw a mouse in your backyard chewing your mother’s favourite flowers, what would you do?
- Why don’t we wake up with our hair neat and combed?
- What would happen if a cow, a bee, and a clover got together?
- What could happen if cats could bark?
- What could happen if all the shoes in the world were the same size?
When we analyze something, we look at the question from different angles. That is why discussions based on choosing one alternative out of a number are likely to instigate language outcome together with some creative ideas. For this purpose, you might even use Cambridge English Preliminary and First speaking part tasks.
Mindfulness implies that you focus on ‘now’. It could be what you hear, see, feel or think. It helps students to relax, switch from their routine and concentrate on the moment.
One kind of activity could work well with fast finishers. Instead of letting them drift away or start browsing through their social media ask them to concentrate on the moment and note down what is going on in the classroom or how they are feeling. This might give you an insight into the class or the student from a different angle — unless the student wants to keep what they have written private.
Try focusing your students’ attention on the silence. Ask them to close their eyes and notice all the minor sounds they could hear. Then discuss what they heard.