CREATE WITH PURPOSE
Think of this list as the philosophy of media making and media arts. Your goal is to 'create with purpose' and achieve all of these in every media-making project.
- Relevant (to the makers and the audience)
- Intentional (designed to have a clear impact on an intended audience)
- Personal (expressing a clear POV or specific perspective)
- Collaborative (youth and educators working side by side)
- Original (evident in style and content)
- Inquiry-Based (derived and led by youth questions)
- High Quality (effective use of tools and techniques)
CREATIVITY & BLOOM'S TAXONOMY
CREATING ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS THAT CULTIVATE CREATIVITY
DESIGNING COMPELLING ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
When designing Essential Questions consider questions that are high-interest topics to students, NOT teachers; take on real-world roles; solve a problem in your community, and are geared to an authentic and clearly defined end product. In a nutshell, design essential questions that are:
- Interesting to students, not teachers: Personalizing the question is a good way to go and gets you to the same place. For example, rather than asking students to do a short film on "The Effects of Greek Culture on Western Civilization" ask students to do a short film on "How Greek Are You?"
- Don't give students prompts that they can google the answer for. The essential question needs to be open-ended and should not have a value judgment implied. For example, asking students to produce an audio slideshow on "Health and Healthy foods" to "Does it matter what we eat?" will elicit more story and originality.
- Broad Concept: The question cannot be answered simply. It should be complex and provide rich ground for student exploration and paths for student interest and choice. For example, "What are the sources of water in our community?" can be broadened to "How does water affect our lives?" Or if you are studying the condition or state of a local waterway, the prompt could be simply, "Would you jump in?" requiring the students to look more deeply into pollution, etc.
Instead of having students make a film about the desert ecosystem, rather use the essential question Can a dog live in the desert? It is important to create very open-ended questions that can be personal, that have no "right" answer, and crosscuts many disciplines. When do we grow up?
Instead of "what is an epic poem?", rather, "How do I create an epic poem about an important episode in my daily life?"
REAL-WORLD ROLE ORIENTED
Leave the hypothetical and take on the challenge. "How do we, as architects and engineers, design an outdoor classroom for our school? How do we as horticulturalists create a rooftop garden that will most improve our school experience?
To ensure your media project is integrated into your content instruction or area of focus, here are six creative ways to think about designing your essential questions.
Decide between two or more options where there is no clear right option.
If you could live on another planet, which one would you choose and what would that look like? Should wolves be reintroduced in plains states like Kansas and Nebraska? A community is planning a co-op garden for a neighborhood. They have decided on three layouts for the garden. Which of these layouts would be best for the community? In what war would it have been better to have fought in, the Spanish-American War or the Civil War?
Consider an alternate reality- what if a key point, event, decision, or law of nature, etc. was different?
If you were a microbiologist, how would you experience a walk around our school building? Would your life improve if there were no mosquitos? If you had legs like a grasshopper how high could you jump? Or the strength of an ant, how much could you lift?
Predict an unknown reality- working within a set of parameters, students predict an unknown (similar to "what if?" scenarios)
If an asteroid knocked the moon out of Earth's orbit, how would like on Earth be different? How can we design a school of the future? If the American Pika were to go extinct, how would its disappearance and the conditions that caused this affect your life?
Design a solution to a problem, especially one for which there is no adequate solution already.
Why don't I fall off my skateboard? Why is the London Bridge falling down? Why are there so many valleys, mountains, and hills around here? How does our childhood reflect who we are as teenagers? Should Truman have dropped the bomb? Design a plan to increase student vocabulary and reading fluency in a situation where there is an iPad for every student.
Analogy / Metaphor
Create an effective, informative analogy, metaphor, etc. for a concept, process, or skill.
Develop an analogy to illustrate the different types of clouds. Develop an analogy for understanding the difference between squares, rhombuses, parallelograms, and rectangles. Develop an analogy for understanding the important similarities and differences between Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.
Piecing Together / Induction
Learners are given a limited number of raw clues and are asked to develop a theory.
Can DNA be trusted in criminal trials? Explain the relationship between corn plant growth and light. Below is a display of pictures of things that Arturo saw while he walked from his home to a cafe. Develop a narrative in Spanish that makes sense of what sorts of places and people he met along the way.
Questions that are Googleable
"Which trees grow in our community?"
"How can we create a field guide to trees in our community?"
Questions that Fail to Engage Students in What is Relevant to Them
"What did ancient Greeks contribute to the development of Western Civilization?"
"How Greek are we?"
"How is math used when calculating basketball statistics?"
"How can we as managers of an NBA team select the best players to win a championship?"
Questions that are Too General
Or, Questions that Sound Too Much Like a Teacher Trying to Obviously Align with Standards
"How does an ecosystem stay balanced?"
"Should I be a mosquito saver?"
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