What do you first think of when you hear the word English Language Arts? What is that even supposed to mean? Is language a type of art? Well, Wikipedia says it is the study and improvement of the arts of language. It is the combination of these four skills we always hear of: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Literature can also be included. OK, great, now that we know about the art of English Language, how can we actually make it a creative experience for learners? One of my teaching philosophies is that the children should feel comfortable and have fun while learning- and with that creativity can exist.
Let’s start with the vital time of preschool. Everybody knows that a toddler enjoys and needs visuals to learn. However, not all students learn solely in that way. It’s important to get to know your class and each individual’s emotional and social needs. By observing each student you can then implement the four different types of learning in your lessons based on what aids the kids for learning. There are visual learners, auditory Learners, reading/ writing learners, and kinesthetic learners. Of course having a variety of activities will always keep things interesting.
The method I mentioned above can apply to middle school, or any grade level, really. Middle school is a bit of a different story, though. Especially 6th grade and up, is such an emotionally and physically developmental time for the kids. They are tweens and teens. They don’t want to just write an essay, they want to have an opinion. They want to stand for something. That is why project-based learning is such an essential method for this age group.
As I mentioned earlier, about how middle school students love having their own opinions, well that’s what ownership stands for. Students will want to win a debate, they will OWN their beliefs and love to impress everyone with them. This can also boost self-confidence as the student will feel valued and heard.
Creativity- Any kind of project involves creativity! Whether it be a debate or a courthouse activity where students play characters as a judge, lawyer, or jury- there is bound to be some creative aspect there!
Collaboration- Helps student get involved with their peers. I’ve noticed lots of students tend to group up and sometimes might exclude someone, or they plain just want to be with their friends! But group activities invite different personalities and bring different ideas together, which encourages cooperation.
Along with collaboration comes critical thinking, when I have the students playing the court game for example, they are pushed to think of what to say as a lawyer to defend somebody that is guilty. Or they are forced to think of how to get the victim sentenced to jail.
Overall, whether you use the 4 types of learning in class while teaching a kindergartener the seasons or if you’re teaching a 7th grader the different types of conflict using the project-based learning method, just make sure you somehow make it fun. ☺