Classy: What we mean when we talk about creativity and collaboration (get in on this)

I didn’t plan any of the below. All I was doing was looking for some creativity-inspiring journal prompts. What resulted has no lesson or unit plans. I’m not sure where it’s going or what it will become. I am certain, however, that something beautiful started in my classroom Wednesday.

January 31: Jabiz Raisdana posts the results of his first month participating in The Daily Shoot.

February 2: I see the post and comment on how impressed I am with the act of creation Jabiz is embarking on each day. I ask if it’s ok to use some of the photos as journal prompts in my class. Later, he comments back welcoming the use of the photos as inspiration. I create an assignment on moodle that says:

The students file in and log in.

The result of a 2-hour delay due to weather, our abbreviated class is spent mostly trawling the photos and creating.

I enjoy answering the question of “What are we supposed to write?” with “Whatever you want.”

February 3: Jabiz posts a letter to my students, explaining the process up to this point and what their comments mean to him. He poses some important questions about collaboration, creation and connection. Most importantly, he challenges them:

So what of it now? What happens next? Well that is up to you. I hope that this introduction can be a way that we continue to explore the power of art and words and connections. I was a born teacher and student, I would love to continue to teach and learn from you. Are you up for it?

Before sharing the post, I pull up Google Earth to add perspective to the distance between Philadelphia, PA and Jakarta, Indonesia (half the world).

Additionally, Jabiz comments he’s culling their creations to create a song, and promises to share it soon.

I share the link to the post on moodle and invite the students to share their answers to Jabiz’s questions.

Students begin to comment.

February 4: Students continue to comment in answer to Jabiz’s creative challenge. The comments build off of the thinking of the other students. Later, Jabiz responds to each idea, asking questions and offering commentary. At the end, he posts the lyrics of the song composed of my students’ lines of poetry.

I start a google doc and share it with Jabiz, trying to give form to the students’ suggestions.

Jabiz posts an initial recording of the song to his blog, raising the ante:

Here you go SLA, my song to you. What will you do with it? Download it. Remix it. Add your voice to it. Set it to images. Create a video. Rap it. This version is only a draft and is not even close to being “done.” Tear it up!

SoundCloud is blocked within the school’s filter wall. All I’m able to do is show the students what Jabiz has written.

It is enough.

We begin a new brainstorming session in both sections of the participating classes as to where we can take this from here. The students build off of their original ideas. My writers want to write more, my documentarians want to document the creative, collaborative process, my musicians want to rework the song or create something new. My linguists want to ask Jabiz’s ESL students to post comments to photos we take in their first languages so that my students can learn these other languages. The ideas are bubbling over.

Later, Canadian teacher Bryan Jackson records his own version of the song, which Jabiz posts to his blog.

By the end of class, one of my students, Luna, has taken it upon herself to copy the lyrics of the song and create a wordle. She then visits each picture and copies all of the students’ comments to create a collective wordle of the initial words Jabiz’s photos inspired.

Today: You jump in and create something.