Historically, creativity has been given a bad rap in schools. There are some pretty good reasons for this. One compelling reason is that divergent thinking is difficult to measure. How can one ‘objectively’ measure an original idea which has no basis for comparison? Narrowly defined criteria which serve as the basis for evaluation have difficulty accommodating wild and crazy ideas that challenge conventional thinking. As a result, this critical area of intellectual development has often been marginalized.
But things are changing.
Like many jurisdictions across North America, British Columbia’s Ministry of Education is placing a greater emphasis upon the importance of creativity. But just how do you teach creativity?
At Alieo Games, with COW (Creative Online Writing) we engage students by throwing down the creativity gauntlet and challenging students to get original with words.
Seven Ways in Which COW Supports the Development of Creativity
Students write in a gamified learning environment which continually keeps the young writer off balance, forcing them to invent, change direction, reverse course, and nimbly maneuver through the creative challenges thrown their way.
Writers can choose their own topics, writing about things that interest them. Pursuing personal interests is a key in the development of creativity.
As students write with COW, Bonus Words appear on their screen. The challenge is to incorporate these words into their story. Conversely, sometimes, the Bonus Words will help them veer off in a whole new direction. Think of Bonus Words as tiny fire crackers for the imagination.
By writing multi-part stories, students can get as ambitious as they choose, whether they want to write a short micro-fiction story or a full blown novel.
By using the editing function of COW, students can further develop their ideas, creatively reshaping them into more refined forms.
By writing under the pen name of their avatar, students are liberated from self-consciousness they may initially feel about expressing their novel ideas and sharing them.
By sharing their stories in a positive, supportive environment, students gain confidence in their creative abilities. Their novel ideas are validated and valued by others. And we think that’s pretty neat!
You’ve probably been visited by Writer’s Block. Most of us have. Writer’s Block causes us to act in one of two ways:
You stare at a blank page, frozen with inaction.
You actually write a few sentences or a even paragraph, then you stop and scrunch up your paper and toss it at the garbage can, or you lean on the delete key for a prolonged period of time.
At Alieo Games, we have made it our mission to rid the world of the tyranny of that nefarious, dastardly villain known to one and all as Writer’s Block. This Force of Frustration occasionally goes by other names: Creative Paralysis, Perfectionist Petrification, or I-Can’t-Think-of-Anything-To-Write-itis.
And how do we aim to give freedom to fluency? Let us first assure you, our plan does not require:
or the periodic changing of wardrobe in phone booths.
Instead, we are employing our newest secret weapon known as COW (Creative Online Writing).
COW, a gamified writing app, will rid the world of writer’s block by transforming the act of writing in the following ways:
Provide intriguing writing prompts that ignite the dormant powers of creativity.
Bombastic Bonus Words that appear during the writing process to create cognitive dissonance and give a jolt to the imagination.
Direct (in a diplomatic way) the writer to come up with a title for their piece after they’ve finished writing.
Provide a waiting room for creativity’s wet blanket– perfectionism. Following the first draft of a story, the perfectionist (and non-perfectionist) can use COW’s editing function to correct and alter to their heart’s content.
At Alieo Games, we appreciate the challenges of this monumental task facing us. Writer’s Block has run rampant through school classrooms and across kitchen tables and homeworks desks of the world for generations. Yet, imaging a world where students see themselves as fluent writers withvaluable ideas to share makes our mission all the worthwhile.
Critics of education have claimed that schools are preparing students for life in the 21st Century by clinging to 19th Century methods. The response by educators has been to take a long, contemplative look at the ways schools prepare students for a post-industrial, knowledge-based economy. Emerging from this re-evaluation of the educational practices is the move towards Differentiated Instruction.
Simply put, Differentiated Instruction is the tailoring of instruction to meet the needs of individual learners. The primary goals of Differentiated Instruction include:
inspiring a love of learning
improving learning outcomes
having students learn more efficiently and with deeper understanding
In the design of COW (Creative Online Writing), students and teachers immerse themselves in an online learning environment that facilitates the accomplishment of these five goals.
Moving from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.
COW’s gamification of writing engages students, motivating them to write initially for the game’s extrinsic rewards. Through engagement with the creative process of writing their own stories, students can develop an intrinsic appreciation for the power of the written word.
Self-awareness and self-evaluation of writing.
The text analysis tools provided by COW enable students to examine their own writing, reflecting upon areas where they, themselves can find improvement.
Engagement through gamification and authentic audiences.
In addition to engagement through the gamification of writing, COW also inspires young writers though opportunities to share their writing with classmates. Writing for an authentic audience is vital for the development of a writer.
Practice makes perfect.
By writing more words more often, students will apply and further build the skills and knowledge learned from instruction, thus improving learning outcomes.
Flexibility and efficiency in targeting specific curriculum goals.
Teachers can target specific elements of writing and provide their own vocabulary words for students to incorporate when writing with COW. Students can write with COW at school, at home, and at any time of any day. COW provides students, teachers and parents with an incredibly flexible tool to enable young writers to develop their potential in this fundamental literacy skill.
With the demands placed upon teachers in the contemporary school setting, the thought of implementing Differentiated Instruction may seem overwhelming. To achieve this new direction in education, teachers must adopt new tools, enabling them to succeed in this daunting task. COW provides such a tool, meeting the needs of students and teachers in the pursuit of excellence in written communication.