Early Childhood

How does creativity and State Exams mix?

Hello, I am currently a University student who is studying Early Childhood Education. I am learning so many ways to foster a classroom full of creativity and hands-on activities. I would like to teach my future students that they have the freedom to learn in their own ways. My question is, how do I encourage creativity and uniqueness and still get my future students to pass State Standardized Exams that have narrow traditional (non-creative) views on what science is.

Kristy Guerra
Kristy Guerra
290 Activity Points

I think the key is really in using these hands-on experiments to address the topics standardized tests are concerned with, while trying to foster the types of reasoning and scientific thinking that help a student remember familiar topics and navigate those that are unfamiliar. This should assist them in answering those "non-creative" questions.

Rebecca Daniel
Rebecca Daniel
55 Activity Points

[size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif] [/font][/size][size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif]Hey![/font][/size] [size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif] I[/font][/size][size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif] know exactly what you mean, because I also often wonder how to make my students actually enjoy subjects like science when teachers are held accountable for testing on state standardized exams. Although my state does not have a specific standardized test for science, the focus on standardized testing still impacts science instruction because teachers must dedicate the majority of time preparing students for their Reading, Writing and Math exams, and so science often gets pushed into a corner. It is common for science lessons to be cut down drastically or even skipped altogether because teachers feel the pressure of state testing and because they are held accountable for student progress on those tests.[/font][/size] [size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif] [/font][/size] [size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif] [/font][/size][size=3][font="Times New Roman", serif]All the same, as a preservice teacher, I am a devout believer in encouraging creativity and hands-on activities not only in science but in all subjects. I believe STEM activities are way one of incorporating such creativity across the curriculum while also building student interest in the applications of different math and science fields. I think that teachers, even while teaching to prepare students for state tests, can incorporate more hands-on activities and projects such as those found through resources like [/font][/size][font=Times New Roman, serif][size=3]https://www.playdoughtoplato.com/stem-activities-for-kids/ to make sure students are mastering the concepts they need to, but also doing so in innovative, creative ways. As teachers, we are responsible for making sure the concept sticks with students and it seems reasonable to assume that if students enjoy learning through multiple avenues, they will have a firmer grasp on content and be able to apply it on their exams. Of course, they must also be prepared to take the exam and practice exemplar questions and the like but the actual teaching and extension of lessons can often cover standards in a way that is creative and encouraging for students. I have been observing a lot of 5E lessons in science lately which feature more of an inquiry approach to instruction and am amazed with how quickly students respond to new concepts when the activities are more student-directed and let them take a more active role in their learning. I was taught density in a very traditional, rather non-creative manner but students that were taught by being allowed to rotate between centers and actually experiment with the masses and volumes of different objects had a completely different understanding and were better prepared for the conceptual portion that will aid them on state tests.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman, serif][size=3]I hope this makes sense in some way![/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman, serif][size=3]-Rida[/size][/font]

Rida Rangoonwala
Rida Rangoonwala
450 Activity Points

I personally think that the best way of helping students with concept retainment is through making personal real-world applications. If a student truly understands the scientific concept, then they can apply it to anything (including the non-creative questions). They will always remember a meaningful hands-on activity way more than drilling any memorization will ever do. Kids are explorers and creatives by nature, they enjoy wrestling with the tough questions that will lead them to reaching their desired attainment of the concept, or finding. I will encourage you to find activities that promote critical reasoning, and also going over a few examples of standardized questions so that they can make the proper connections. It's sad that we have to train our students for these squared questions, but at the same time it's crucial that we don't take away from their learning experience by removing enrichment activities. They will learn and grow if given the freedom, space, and tools to do so. True understanding of the concept will produce the results that the district is looking for. Run with your creative ideas, the rest will take care of itself! I say this for myself too.. All I currently see in the classroom are worksheets, worksheets, worksheets.... but I won't replicate that method of teaching. I know there are plenty of resources out there to engage the students and plenty of hands-on activities that will help them reach their fullest potential and be successful innovators and researchers.

Melina Gaggero
Melina Gaggero
180 Activity Points

I, too, agree that you can use hands-on activities to foster scientific reasoning and thinking. While I don't like that teachers often have to "teach to the test", I still believe that you can help your students develop a love for science AND passing test scores by helping them understand science topics in fun, hands-on ways and by being enthusiastic about science. Your passion will inspire your students and help them to further understand science in general. If students enjoy science, they will more easily learn types of reasoning and scientific thinking; figuring out the answers to science related test questions should come naturally. I also believe that students will succeed and find a passion in any subject when a personal connection is made. Allowing students to do creative, hands-on activities in science will deepen their understanding because they will be making that personal connection.

Kelsey Nason
Kelsey Nason
430 Activity Points

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