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Teacher Creativity Fellowship Grant Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2020

Audience and Rationale

The target audience of the proposed program will be a cohort of school students (K-10). The class is situated in a low-income neighborhood, which is one of the reasons for its diversity. It consists of 17 students and comprises 6 Asians (2 boys, 4 girls), 5 Hispanic Whites (1 boy, 4 girls), 2 non-Hispanic Whites (2 boys), 3 Blacks (2 boys, 1 girl), and 1 child (boy) of mixed race (Black and Hispanic White). Notably, these groups are not homogeneous culturally, for students to practice different religions and have different cultural backgrounds. It has been acknowledged that United States schools are becoming more diverse, but still ethnic and cultural minorities face various challenges associated with their socioeconomic status, their distinctive cultural characteristics, etc. (Thompson & Wheeler, 2009).

Clearly, educators have to take these characteristics into account when developing their teaching methods as well as particular tasks. The educator has to understand the way students think and perceive the world. Moreover, the teacher has to encourage students to explore their inner worlds and understand who they are and what their place in the United States society is and/or should be (Gay, 2013). The educator also has to speak the language his/her diverse classroom will understand; otherwise, students are unlikely to meet their educational goals. In our case, this language will be English, which most of the students have been learning as their second language since primary school, and, therefore, are able to understand it almost without problems (as the class is diverse, students are used to understanding different accents), speak with minor restrictions and some grammar mistakes, and write with certain limitations connected to vocabulary.

Creativity has become an important component of education and has attracted a lot of attention in recent years (McCaslin, 2006). Teaching arts has expanded beyond art classes, and all disciplines may include elements of art teaching. At present, educators believe that creativity is not a feature people are born with but that it can be taught, and that creativity makes students more prepared to adulthood as they explore different (creative) ways to address various issues and challenges (Robinson, 2011). Jessica Wachter stresses that the development of creativity in students enables them to understand that even their weaknesses or challenges can be seen as opportunities (Everyone is an artist, 2013).

Outcomes

The program will be aimed at the development of the three types of skills of the 21st century. These are learning, literacy and life skills. The program will involve the creative development of students with a focus on cultural aspects.

In order to do this, the students will be required to work in groups to write a scenario in which a number of cultural differences that might potentially cause intercultural disagreements will be addressed. The skill of learning and creative thinking will be developed by encouraging the students to think of possible solutions to the issue, model a situation where these solutions will be implemented, and to find information that will be helpful in that. The literacy skills will be improved by giving the students the task to formulate their thoughts on paper; students will be required to do group work and help each other with linguistic issues. The life skills will be advanced due to the fact that the students will have to overcome cultural differences, embrace diversity and learn to live and work together as mature members of American society.

Assessment

Observation will be one of the assessment measures when evaluating the progress and achievements of students. The teacher will observe (guide and assist when necessary) the way the students work on their scenarios as well as an overall project including all the stages of the scenario production. Observation will help the educator to identify some challenges the learners face during their work and help the young people find ways to address them. The students’ working process will be evaluated according to their ability to invent ways to deal with culturally sensitive situations and creatively overcome issues that might become the cause of conflict.

Students’ scenarios will be assessed in terms of language, creativity, and cultural sensitivity. The major focus will be made on the issues touched upon and the way the student will address them. Therefore, the lists of cultural biases made by students will be assessed (based on the listed biases’ correspondence to the really existing biases), the lifelikeness of the situation depicted in the scenario will be taken into account, and the way of addressing this situation and its efficiency will be evaluated.

Context Description

This project is aimed at the development of creative problem solving; a simulated experience will be utilized. Jessica Wachter notes that creativity means courage (Everyone is an artist, 2013). Hence, the educator will encourage the students to explore their own inner assumptions and prejudices and get rid of them in order not to be afraid to deal with and embrace diversity.

Students will be encouraged to write a scenario on a culturally related issue. Every learner will be involved in the writing and production of the play. Students will try to analyze some biases existing in society and work with them.

Importantly, they will not simply analyze the problem and provide a report on their research; they will have to present their findings in a creative form. Students will find a cultural or ethnic bias and try to find a solution. This will improve their life skills by showing them how to overcome prejudice and helping them live and work with people having different backgrounds. It will also teach them to find relevant information and hence to be able to learn better. Writing a scenario will enhance their writing skills and develop their creativity.

Instructional Plan Summary

The students will be divided into four separate groups according to their sex and ethnicity as follows:

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
  • Asian boy
  • Asian girl
  • Hispanic White girl
  • Black boy
  • Asian girl
  • Hispanic White boy
  • Hispanic White girl
  • Black girl
  • Non- Hispanic White boy
  • Asian girl
  • Non- Hispanic White boy
  • Hispanic White girl
  • Black boy
  • Asian boy
  • Asian girl
  • Hispanic White girl
  • Mixed (Hispanic White/Black) boy

Note that each group includes representatives of at least three different ethnic groups and an equal quantity of boys and girls (except for Group 2, which consists of an odd number of students).

The students will then be asked to discuss both positive and negative ethical and cultural (including religious) biases that they might have towards each other. The word “bias” will be defined as “any opinion about a person derived from the fact of their belonging to a particular group of people, and not from personal acquaintance with this person”. In each group, students will divide into subgroups by temporarily excluding one of the members of their group and identifying their biases towards the culture of the excluded member; then the excluded member will join the group again and take part in discussing these biases, assessing and acknowledging or refuting them. Each member of the group will have to undergo this temporary exclusion. Students will also be encouraged to ask their family, friends, and community in order to identify more potential biases that might exist, and then also discuss them in their groups. After that, the students will be asked to list at least five biases (at least three negatives and two positives) towards each ethnic division present in the group that they deem to be important.

Having listed the biases, the students will be asked to identify their origin and the extent to which they are true. The learners will have to consider whether or not the fact of belonging to an ethnical or cultural group guarantees that the person possesses these characteristics, and, therefore, to decide if the negative prejudices are really worth being taken into account while dealing with concrete people. After that, the learners will have to find the origins of these biases. This phase includes not only in-group discussions but also searching for additional information on the Internet and/or in libraries or other sources.

Students will also need to think of a situation in which negative biases, instead of being disregarded or properly addressed, were taken to heart and resulted in bad outcomes for the people involved in the conflict. After that, the learners will have to think carefully about whether the characteristics in question are negative indeed, and develop a way to resolve the conflict and the ways to turn these peculiarities to the advantage of (or at least a neutral outcome for) the representatives of all the ethnic groups involved. The students will then be required to write a scenario of a situation when prejudices were used against a person and resulted in a bad outcome, but then were properly addressed, which resulted in a common advantage. The best scenario will be chosen and staged; the performance should take a minimum of ten minutes.

This plan is culturally relevant, for it explores the attitudes and opinions of students towards various ethnic and cultural groups. The need to write a scenario will enhance the learners’ creativity and encourage them to innovate while looking for solutions to the issues that will arise in the process.

Evidence of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Tapping Home and Community Resources

While working on their project, the students will need to tap into the resources of their home and community by asking their family, friends, and people they often communicate with to identify biases that exist in these groups towards other cultural groups.

Understanding Students’ Cultural Knowledge

The program will include certain introductory sessions concerning culture and cultural biases. The educator should understand the students’ perceptions, for which purpose a number of surveys on prejudice might be used. It is important to discuss overt and covert culture with learners, for they have to be able to distinguish between these two (Thompson & Wheeler, 2009). Young people should also be able to identify how cultures affect their identities and attitudes. This will help students be more attentive to prejudice. In order to develop these skills, classes on ethnic and cultural prejudice will be given, where the crux and the origin of the biases will be exposed, and the importance of being unbiased will be explained

Addressing Cultural Competence through Reinforcing Students’ Cultural Integrity

As has been stated above, the students will implement detailed research on the issue of cultural biases. This research will involve reflection and analysis of cultural peculiarities of the group a student pertains to and cultural peculiarities of their peers. The analysis will be conducted in groups. Students will provide a brief summary of prejudices they were able to identify.

The project will encourage students to explore a variety of culturally related issues while looking for information on biases. Young people will understand the way they can address certain sensitive issues related to intercultural and ethnic interaction that arise in their life. Importantly, life in the community and peculiarities of particular ethnic and cultural groups will be discussed in class.

Building on Students’ Interests and Linguistic Resources

As the students will be asked to find the origins of certain biases, as well as the origins of corresponding characteristics (which a representative of the group the bias is concerned with might possess or not possess), they will have to explore both the history of the ethnic group the origins of the biases towards which they are looking for and the social context this group existed in during the times in which the bias was formed. The necessity to provide a summary of biases, as well as the need to write a lifelike scenario, will positively affect the linguistic skills of the learners.

Using Interactive and Constructivist Teaching Strategies

It is necessary to note that this program is based on the principles of interactive and constructivist teaching. Thus, the educator does not simply tell students about cultural issues, but students explore those issues through analysis of various resources as well as the life in their community and their interaction with peers.

The final project involves the staging of the scenario chosen by the class. All the students will participate in the production (including acting, work on the final scenario, development of costumes and stage scenery, and so on). The constructivism of this whole project comes from the fact that the students will have to work together (first – in groups, and then – with the entire class) in order to produce a lifelike scenario where they need to address the real-life issues in a way that will allow them to overcome biases and build good relationships with people from other cultural or ethnic groups.

Creativity/Innovation Strategies in the Instructional Plan

Promoting experiment and inquiry and a willingness to make mistakes

The very nature of the assignment promotes inquiry and self-analysis, showing the students that it is often extremely useful to analyze and clearly formulate your own feelings and ideas and to find out whether or not they correspond to the reality. The requirement according to which the scenario has to include a conflict situation and a way to solve it will result in a demonstration of the fact that mistakes are acceptable as long as one is willing not to persist but to find a way to solve the problem.

Encouraging the expression of personal ideas and feelings

As the students will be required to explore their own biases towards other ethnic and cultural groups present in their grades, they will need to express their own personal ideas about what these groups are like and how they feel towards these groups in general. They will also have to consider the issue of whether these ideas and feelings truly correspond to reality. After that, the students will be required to write the scenario, which means that they will also advance their skills of formulating and presenting their thoughts and opinions on paper.

Nurturing the Confidence to Try

It is important to remember that teenagers are often reluctant to work on projects, especially those involving creativity, as students are afraid of being misunderstood or mocked. The educator has to inspire students to start and complete their projects. Jessica Wachter stresses that everyone has the creative potential and it is enough to take courage to try (Everyone is an artist, 2013). Students should watch the video with Wachter’s talk, which can inspire young people.

The discussion of the influence of culture on people will involve contemplating various literary works by different authors. Students will be encouraged to analyze each other’s biases and provide a friendly, reasonable evaluation of their thoughts.

Helping Learners Find Their Creative Strengths

Apart from encouraging students to try, the teacher should also help them find their creative strengths. Many young people lack confidence and tend to think that creativity cannot be taught or trained; they are reluctant to explore their creativity. Hence, the teacher has to identify the strength of each student and help them use it.

During discussions, the teacher has to pay attention to each student’s ideas and interests. The learners will be asked to write a scenario. They will be free to choose from a wide range of topics. More importantly, they will also choose any type of situation they like. Their creativity will be further developed by finding a way to properly address the problem coming from real experience in their scenario. The teacher should explain the importance of taking the stand and communicate ideas to make sure that all voices are heard. Furthermore, the final project presupposes a wide range of tasks including writing, acting, putting makeup, creating costumes and scenery, and so on. All students will be able to participate and explore their creativity when completing these tasks.

Conveying an Understanding of Phases in Creative Work and the Need for Time

Finally, the students should understand that any creative work as well as any task at all requires specific time and often consists of phases. At the beginning of the program, the educator will show a chart where the stages of the program will be provided. The educator will explain that each stage is important and cannot be omitted. The educator has to make sure that students understand that planning is necessary even when working on creative tasks.

While working on their plays and especially while working on the final project (the scenario), students will also develop a plan where they highlight major stages of their work. The educator and students will have a discussion on the benefits of making plans and following them. This will help students to manage their time properly when working on creative tasks.

Reference List

(2013). Web.

Gay, G. (2009). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), 48-70.

McCaslin, N. (2006). Creative drama in the classroom. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. Westford, MA: Capstone.

Thompson, N.E., & Wheeler, J.P. (2009). Diversity in the family and consumer sciences classroom: Teaching and learning strategies. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences Education, 27(2), 56-62.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Teacher Creativity Fellowship Grant." July 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/teacher-creativity-fellowship-grant/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Teacher Creativity Fellowship Grant'. 11 July.

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