Promoting creativity with educational technology in elementary school is a fantastic way to foster the 4Cs of 21st-century learning—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—while providing students with future-ready experiences.
Encouraging students to create products helps them synthesize information and use critical thinking and processing skills to bring their thinking to life. And using edtech to power creativity doesn’t have to feel daunting. Below, I share some insights from my experiences.
To begin, explore your edtech tools. When I first started using Seesaw, I explored the tool on my own before using it with students. Once I became familiar, I put it in students’ hands—and found that letting them explore tools in a low-risk environment, such as morning warm-up, was productive.
I gave students one rule: Don’t ask, just show. They couldn’t ask me for help in exploring the tool, but they could show me and their classmates anything they learned about it. I ended the day by asking for suggestions: What subject did they think we could use it with? What could we do with it? This approach not only helped me gradually integrate the tool into my classroom but allowed students to take ownership of their learning.
How Edtech Tools Can Promote Creativity
Here are some innovative ways in which my students and I have used Seesaw in the classroom:
- Word problems and feedback: Students generate a word problem, and their classmates solve it and put the answer in the comments. The author of the problem then gives feedback on the answers.
- Grammar talks: We type our mentor sentence in, and students leave their noticings in the comments.
- Collaboration: Students brainstorm writing topics with classes down the hallway via the blog feature.
- Book reviews: Students leave book reviews for their classmates to learn about the books in our class library.
- ePortfolio: Students upload all their projects, even if created on another platform, so we can leave comments and feedback for each other.
- Math work: Students leave a video or caption when doing their math work, explaining how they solved each problem and how they know they’re correct. This gives me insight into their conceptual understanding.
- Accountability tool: In math or reading stations, I have students take a picture of the day’s work, explain it, and articulate how it helped them learn the concept.
Seesaw is a versatile tool that can be used in many different ways, supporting the development of skills that can help students thrive in their futures.
After becoming familiar with Seesaw, our class was ready for a new challenge. That was when I discovered Flip. As with Seesaw, I asked students to explore its features and potential uses. Flip is another versatile tool that can empower students and give them a voice.
For instance, I had a very shy student who was uncomfortable presenting to the class; in front of the Flip camera, he came alive, and his nerves left him. This experience highlighted another benefit of integrating creativity through tech tools: It allows students who struggle with presenting to do so on their own terms.
These are some products that students can create with Flip:
- Podcasts: My students create a podcast about a history topic they learn about in class.
- Commercials: Students develop commercials to showcase their persuasive skills.
- How-tos: They produce how-to videos on topics they’re knowledgeable about, to share with families and classmates.
- Connection: Our second graders learn about theater from high school students. They ask questions and communicate with each other through videos.
- Pen pals: We engage in video pen pal exchanges with a school in a different state.
- Weather reports: Students create weather reports using the green screen feature.
While Flip shares similarities with Seesaw, each has unique aspects and features that set it apart. This provides students with a variety of choices when deciding what tool to use to showcase their learning. One common feature between the tools is comments, which I consistently utilize to have students give feedback to each other. This equips them with essential skills for responding and communicating in a safe online environment.
In this digital age, the array of available edtech tools is vast and continually expanding. I encourage educators to explore these tools and deepen their understanding of each one. The more familiar you are with each tool, the more effectively you can brainstorm innovative ideas to bring creation into your classroom.
Fortunately, most of these tools have a help center and a strong social media presence, which can be valuable resources for learning more about their features and best practices. Remember: The key is to proceed with a slow, steady approach, allowing yourself to gradually become an edtech expert in your classroom alongside your students. This journey of exploration and discovery will not only enhance your teaching practice but also provide students with skills that will help them succeed for years to come.