Create > Consume

For most teachers starting out in the profession, the desire for control is strong. Management is a primary concern – and understandably so. As the gate-keepers of knowledge, we feel the need to disseminate content as outlined in our scope and sequences. Our students become consumers of knowledge.

But what do we lose when we make all the decisions for kids? What can we gain when we let them take ownership of their own learning?

One way to give students agency over their learning – and in turn, allow students to think more deeply and critically about content, while also increasing engagement – is to allow for students to create.

Here are a few tech tools to help you bring a little creativity back into your classroom – the way you always imagined you would as a teacher.

1. ThingLink

A ThingLink is an interactive image, where students put ‘hotspots’ (buttons) on top of a large background image. Text, video, pictures, and links can all be placed as hotspots.The variety of hotspots allows for students to include additional information about a topic, or for them to input their own thoughts and opinions.

Analyzing a photograph? Try asking students to add their “see, think, wonder” statements on top of the image.

Researching important historical figures? Include links to biographies, videos, and famous photographs on top of their mug shot.

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2. Scratch

Coding is not just about writing <things in brackets> and staring at computer screens all day. The real genius of coding is how it reinforces problem-solving through a creative outlet.

Scratch is an excellent program for students of any age. Use it with any subject to push students to construct new knowledge from their classes. In English, have students create stories with dialogue. In Math, ask students to create concentric circles. In Social Studies, ask students to recreate major historical events. In Science, ask students to demonstrate physical laws. Whatever your task, ask students to share and remix one another’s work.


3. VoiceThread

VoiceThread is an incredible tool that can be used with as much – or as little – complexity as desired. This collaborative platform allows students to create multi-media projects with video, audio, and text, and to share it with the rest of the class. It even allows students to interact with one another through multi-media commenting.

Education-related resources, rubrics, and examples can be found across the web.


4. Pixton

Storytelling is an innately creative activity, and Pixton allows students to create and share their stories as comics. The design studio is easy and intuitive for students to navigate, allowing students to combine text and images into a fluid story.

Arts-integration can be difficult for some subjects. If you’ve wanted to include more creativity in your social studies or science classes, Pixton can be a fantastic way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of any topic.


What other tools are teachers using to bring creativity into the classroom?


inspires logoINSPIRES Initiative

The INSPIRES initiative promotes and supports personalized learning, blended learning, and innovation in ReNEW Schools, in pursuit of the organization’s goal to provide a rigorous, college preparatory education to historically underserved PK-12 students. Specifically, the program focuses on the four cornerstones of personalized learning: learner profiles, personal learning paths, competency-based progression, and flexible learning environments.

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INSPIRES Fellowship

The INSPIRES Fellowship is an innovation and teacher-leader incubator at ReNEW Schools that seeks to leverage excellent teachers throughout the network to support these goals. The Fellowship strives to:

  • personalize professional development for teachers
  • empower teacher-leaders to support technology integration, blended learning, and personalized learning within schools
  • spread innovation and best practices through collaboration

Fellows commit to sharing their ideas and lessons learned, spreading innovation within their school, providing training and support to teachers in their building, and engaging in a community of learners focused on innovation and instructional technology. Fellows commit to attending 4 training days over the course of the year, in addition to posting monthly to the INSPIRES blog and participating in periodic virtual cohort meetings. Fellows will be expected to grow themselves professionally as teacher-leaders within their building through a variety of means, including attending school visits or conferences during their Fellowship.

The INSPIRES blog is a place for INSPIRES Fellows to share their experiences in the classroom, empowering other educators to leverage technology and personalize learning in their own classrooms.