This chapter discussed the importance of production and creativity in language learning and presented examples of ways that computers can assist learners to produce and create. Production of this kind takes time, but it is time well spent when even learners with beginning proficiency in the target language are involved in thinking creatively about language and content and also working on the language skills that make their products presentable to an authentic audience.
► Teachers’ Voices
Filamentality is a program that helps educators learn how to create their own websites. http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil
The only thing I want to add about making a WebQuest is the server space. Yahoo and other services provide free server space. If you want to put your WebQuest online, those two can be your option, too.
We did an “All about me” activity where the students created a presentation about themselves. My global languages class created presentations on Jamaica when we researched the country. A third activity that my students have done was create an informative presentation on volcanoes. The students enjoy this because they are able to create colorful backgrounds, interesting transitions, sounds, and animations with their project.
I ran across a site that recommends sites for your students to evaluate. One of them was the AFDB or the “Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, An effective, Low-Cost Solution to Combating Mind Control.” Great site! Anyway, after discussing it with my principal, I managed to “con” another teacher into going along with my plans and during my 7/8th Leadership class and her 7th Language Arts class, we told the students that we were going to play a joke on the principal and all wear Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanies to lunch. My students really got into the game and created outstanding aluminum beanies, and as a group we went to lunch to surprise the principal. One of the students told me it was the “funnest” class ever, not knowing that the prank was really on them. The principal requested that I do it again next year as part of my curriculum! I have found so many things to do with my students, it’s hard to pick!
My wife is a dancer and a person who values the creative process. She has vast experience in unlocking people’s creative potential. She has a quote, from an unknown source in her office: Creativity is the balance between the expected and the unexpected. I agree with the two techniques addressed in this chapter, but I would like to add a third. We forget that it is difficult to be creative without some mastery within the field. Our creative geniuses have all been leaders within their field. It was from their mastery that they were able to go beyond mere correctness and into the realm of the unexpected and unknown. So I propose a third instructional technique to support creativity, a focus on mastery.
It is really hard to get a classroom full of elementary kids to complete some of these activities with some of the productivity software. In the past, I have really had a hard time with that and felt I just couldn’t take the time from the school day to do it. I got a grant about 4 years ago to purchase little battery-powered word processors for each student. They are called AlphaSmarts. With those, everybody does their 1st draft on the AlphaSmart and then the revisions are really quick. After editing, they then go to the computer for formatting. It works really well.