20 Ideas to Promote More Creativity in Your Classroom

creative classrooms - blog banner

Between the pressure of keeping up with the school curriculum, meeting with parents and running daily classes, it can be hard to make time for creativity in the classroom. With such little time to spare, it can be easy to think – does it really make a difference?

The short answer is: absolutely. Creative classrooms don’t just look different, they feel different. They provide an environment where students are more likely to express their ideas, think outside the box, challenge problems with innovative solutions and most importantly – learn faster and more effectively.

Here at Fusion Yearbooks we speak to hundreds of schools every day and are constantly amazed by the ways they incorporate creative thinking and learning into their classrooms. To help share some of these lessons, we put together this list of 20 unique ways to add more color, creativity and passion to your classroom.

01. Make room for visual reflection

Reflective activities provide students with an opportunity to absorb information more deeply – enhancing their creative and contextual understanding of the content. When reflective learning exercises are displayed visually in the classroom, they become of benefit not only to those who share them, but to every student in your class.

creative classrooms - mindset moments

This board of mindset moments is one example of this principle in action. By encouraging students to pin their learnings or “shifted mindsets” to the board, this provides a great opportunity for guided reflection.

creative classrooms - TEDxSummit

Even outside of the classroom this technique is well as a creative learning technique. Pictured above is the bulletin board from a TEDxSummit.

02. Integrate more hands-on learning

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Hands-on learning is a great way to apply a creative twist to traditional course content and engage students on a deeper level.

creative classrooms - Benjamin Franklin

Here are three ideas for inspiration:

English: Rather than asking students to read class texts at home, incorporate a group reading session into each class. Ensure that every student is selected as the daily reader at least once.

Media/ design: If students are learning about a “real world application” wherever possible skip the theory and get them to dive into the real thing. For example, rather than teaching students about the basics of web design in a media class, make use of websites such as Squarespace and Wix to encourage students to create a site for something they’re passionate about.

Maths: Taken from this list of excellent practical maths ideas, one way to teach velocity is to ask students to build paper airplanes and use calculations to predict their speed. What better way to iterate on their calculations by testing them out in real life?

03. Keep your classroom layout flexible

Within your school term, your students will be working between group projects, completing solo assessments, listening to presentations as well as many other activities. In order to keep the creativity flowing between these learning set ups, the key is to keep your classroom layout adaptable and allow it to be easily reorganized.

creative classrooms - Teach Thought

Teach Thought provide an interesting solution to support this flexibility while still maintaining an area for focus. All four layouts are designing for either group or independent work, but they all have an interesting common element: a group table. This table would allow students to meet on a need basis without disruptions other students in the class.

Feel free to experiment with different arrangements, but always make sure that your classroom is setup to accommodate for a range of learning activities and work styles.

04. Introduce unconventional learning materials

Text books and timeless lesson plans are a great staple in your teacher tool kit, but introducing more unconventional learning materials can help your students think outside the box and engage more deeply with the lesson.

Get inspiration from the ideas below, or check out this list of interesting ideas you can start using today.

> Ted talks: Leaders and role models play an important role in the creative development of your students. What better way to bring some of the world’s most inspiring leaders right into your classroom than by incorporating TED talks into your curriculum. On the TED website you’ll find thousands of videos on a range of topics – making them suitable for all classes.

creative classrooms - ted talks

> Design software: In the world of the Internet and social media, teaching visual communication is as important as any other type of literacy. Graphic design platform Canva has created lesson plans on various topics which enhance students understanding of a topic through visual communication on their platform.

creative classrooms - canva

> Podcasts: Think of just about any subject or topic and chances are there’ll be a podcast covering it. As a starting point, browse through this list of 50 educational podcasts filled with ideas and inspiration for lesson plans.

05. Encourage discussion

Avoiding chatter and meaningless conversation can be a difficult task as a teacher. But on the other hand, channeling meaningful discussions can provide students with an arena to express new ideas and voice their opinions.

Some other reasons why discussion can be productive include:

> It gets students thinking more critically about the material.
> It challenges them to listen to other students’ opinions and think critically about their contributions and ideas.
> It gives them the opportunity to challenge each other intelligently and build off of each other’s ideas.

This could take the shape of a reflective session 10 minutes before the end of a session, or by asking one member of a group to present their ideas to the class. Download the useful list below and place it in your classroom to help guide meaningful conversation:

creative classrooms - variquest

06. Replace hierarchy with collaborative learning spaces

Collaborative working spaces help students see themselves as co-constructors of knowledge, rather than “subjects” of teachers. Without hierarchical front to back row seating, every seat is the best seat in the class, and students are always at the center of learning.

Maintain structure in less traditional ways by creating “zones” for different parts of the learning process, such as reflection and brainstorming. For ideas and inspiration for your classroom, watch the video below as several teachers who have tried this mode of learning share their challenges and triumphs.

07. Encourage more color

Color in the classroom doesn’t only need to be for early primary school. Challenge yourself to use color in creative and unconventional ways, such as displaying inspiration posters or creating themed “mood” corners.

creative classrooms - color in the classroom

Color can also be an incredibly powerful tool to aid students with absorbing information and learning new content. Encourage your students to use more color as a staple when taking notes. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they start absorbing new information.

creative classrooms - taking notes

08. Don’t limit assignments to one format

Allowing students to choose the format of their own assignments allows them to explore the task using a format they enjoy the most, making them more naturally inclined to draw on their creativity.

For example, imagine students were required to read the book “No Sugar” as part of a social studies curriculum. Rather than taking the typical approach of writing an essay, provide students with a range of formats they can use to explore the concept of racism and social acceptance, such as a presentation, documentary or speech.

09. Incorporate humour into your classroom

Humour is an important part of creating a positive environment in which creativity can flourish. Draw on pop culture references, use puns and find relevant jokes that make light of the learning process.

creative classrooms - humour

In this blog article, Laura Davis also talks about how you can use humour in a team building environment to encourage students to laugh with each other, not at each other, and make light of small failures.

10. Create boards to recognize achievements

Having achievements recognized is an important part of the creative learning process. Rewarding achievement visually in your classroom gives students an incentive to continue doing great work as well as gaining a sense of pride.

creative classrooms - create boards

Incorporating gamification into your achievement board is also a great technique to motivate your students.

11. Film a classroom video diary

A key creativity mindset is that the learning process is never ending. Help students look retrospectively on their own learning processes by filming a video diary throughout the course or year.

Some ideas for questions you could ask your students in the video are:

> What are you most excited about right now?
> What seems like the most challenging thing you need to do right now?
> Who has helped you learn something this week?

This also adds an emotional element to the process – allowing them to become more invested and connected with their learning journey.

12. Visualize goals with timelines

Empowering students to set their own goals is an incredible motivator. Goals can be decided on a project or term basis and should always be achievable. By giving students a clear vision for where they want their learning to take them, they become naturally more inclined to find creative solutions to get them there.

creative classrooms - setting goals

13. Pin up motivational posters

Using inspiration quotes and posters around your classroom is a great way encourage your students to unleash their creative potential. Browse this awesome list of 50 inspirational posters and print them out for your classroom today.

creative classrooms - inspirational posters 1

Design: Laura Gomez

creative classrooms - inspirational posters 2

Design: 1620 studio

Taking this idea one step further – why not get your students to design their own posters? Graphic design platform Canva provides a free, easy-to-use design tool which will allow your students to easily create stunning posters. Click here to start designing.

creative classrooms - using canva

14. Team building exercises

The most important thing about team building exercises is that there aren’t right or wrong answers – just strategies. Cooperative games allow students to work together to make decisions based on creative thinking, communication, and collaboration.

Throughout the process, students build better relationships with other team members as they struggle, deal with failure, and eventually work to master the problem presented. Check out this list of 10 team building games that can be used for students of all ages.

15. Use design thinking

Design thinking is a framework for creativity and innovation taught in schools and universities all around the world. It allows students to break down complex problems based on various stages.

creative classrooms - design thinking

Try incorporating design thinking into any project or exercise. Some useful points of reflection after the exercise might be to ask students where the biggest challenges or difficulties were, and at what point they achieved the most process or success.

Encouraging students to think critically about their work enhances their creative thinking abilities, making them ready to understand and solve complex problems later in life.

16. Use creative tech to enhance your teaching

Make use of technology that expands students creative and critical thinking abilities. Start with this list of apps which can applied to a number of stages in the creative thinking process:

Encourage observation
> Evernote
> GoodNotes
> MomentDiary

Develop Questioning Skills
> Popplet
> Ideament

> Trello
> Spiderscribe
> Edmodo
> iBrainstorm
> padlet

Visualization Skills
> SyncSpace
> Paper by FiftyThree
> Canva
> Whiteboard Pro
> Pic-Collage

17. Explore different cultures.

Developing students’ ability to consider multiple perspectives is an important part of thinking outside the box.

creative classrooms - experiment different cultures

Some ideas to incorporate cultural awareness into your classroom are:

> Label things in your classroom in different language.
> Celebrate different cultural holidays and the original behind them.
> Provide reading materials that explain cultural differences.

If you’re interested in exploring this idea further, this list of resources for teaching cultural diversity should be your first stop.

18. Pair struggling learners with students who excel

Empowering creativity through leadership is an extremely effective learning strategy. For students who have mastered the content, being tasked with teaching a peer encourages them to come up with creative ways to reframe the content.

19. Challenge advanced students with extension projects

Allowing advanced students to participate in more creative extension projects helps them to:
> Learn at faster rates.
> Find, solve and act on problems more readily.
> Manipulate abstract ideas and make connections to an advanced degree.

Extension tasks are more open ended than regular tasks, meaning the project tasksheet will include the goal, but relies of the students’ creative and critical thinking ability to come up with a process.

Consider this example from the New South Wales (Australia) curriculum:

creative classrooms - extension projects

Students know what they need to achieve, but by allowing them the freedom to manage their own timeline, decide on their book genre, and essentially self publish a book, the sense of achievement and creative reward for students who complete the task is immense.

20. Celebrate wins with ceremonies

Allowing students to feel a great pride in their achievements will encourage them to learn faster and more rigorously in the future. Rather than simply use report cards or certificates to celebrate their wins, allow students to plan a victory ceremony when they plan their goals.

Think outside the box – you could snap a crazy photo and put it in your yearbook in a special awards section, try a Greek style smashing of the plates ritual, a dress up or anything in between.

creative classrooms - celebrate wins

=> Make your classroom more creative today.

The classroom is the centre of every student’s learning journey. Ensuring that it is brimming with creativity – both physically and through the activities taught in it – is one of the many privileges of being a teacher.

Did you find this list helpful? Do you have other techniques you find useful to enhance your students’ creativity? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share your comments in the section below!

P.s Don’t forget – as you embark on your creative journey be sure to take photos and videos of your favourite moments for your end of year yearbook! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Make your Yearbook a Creative Project.

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Anna is managing editor of the Canva Design School, a blog dedicated to sharing the latest design news and inspiration from around the web. Visit the Design School for daily tips you can use to you improve your yearbook’s design.

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