The title is a famous quote from Walt Disney, the world-renowned author, film producer, and entrepreneur. Even after his death, The Walt Disney Company continues to specialize in creative and unparalleled storytelling, wherein their employees are diligently mentored and are given the freedom to be imaginative and innovative. As a result, they remain to be one of the most successful entertainment industries of all time.
When it comes to studying—be it literature, social studies, even science or math—students must always be motivated to be creative. Creativity has been described by Stephanie Clemons as both a communication tool and a technique for problem-solving. The realm of online learning introduces different challenges from a face-to-face setup. Students may not be regularly supervised or given the proper platforms for certain activities to be conducted compared to face-to-face classes. As a result, the chance to enhance students' creative ability—one that they may apply not just in academics but also in the workplace and in their relationships—may be missed. But it's never too late to turn the tide!
As a literature student, my studies always call for a need in creativity. I dig deep and discover the underlying meaning of poems, analyze classic works, and concoct new and unique story elements when writing my own stories. Through personal anecdotes from high school and my own experiences in mentoring, I'll be sharing some online teaching techniques educators can use to spark their students' creativity in online learning:
1. Hook your students into an interesting learning session.
Back in Grade 9, my English teacher asked each of us to share our favorite love stories or romance pieces to start our lesson on Romeo and Juliet. As teenagers, this led to very fun and intriguing conversations. A full-length play might become too boring to read when one is not engaged with the flow of the story or invested in the characters, but my teacher hooked us well enough so that we are immersed with the story and that we do not miss its essence.
In literature, a hook means a sentence or a short paragraph in the beginning of an essay or story which immediately grasps the attention of readers. When teaching, it's equally important to introduce a topic in a way that tickles the curiosity of students and prepares them for the lesson on a high note.
Once I became a mentor and began reviewing with my student the different landforms and bodies of water in Filipino, I gave this technique a go. My student had difficulty understanding Filipino terms and I had to find a way to keep him interested in the lesson. I learned early on that he's an animal lover. So, at the beginning of our session, I asked him what his favorite animals were, and I connected their different habitats to our topic. Crocodiles live in the ilog. Bears live in the bundok. Huzzah! A great way for him to remember the details of his lesson.
2. Bring life to a boring lesson through the magic of storytelling.
Film producer and media proprietor Jeffrey Katzenberg described Disney films as “great stories with unforgettable characters.” This is what made them so popular and successful with audiences, and I think this also applies to and is an effective formula for any kind of topic we want to remember.
In Senior High School, everyone in my class dreaded Politics class because our teacher was a lawyer with an intimidating teaching method. He required us to read countless case studies and be able to recite their important aspects. Everyone was white in fear when he began calling out our names during recitations. To overcome this dilemma, my classmates and I reviewed the case studies together and talked about them as if they were chismis we heard, unlike repeating them like formal case documents.
Back then, we might have sounded more like eavesdroppers than students, but we translated the lesson into a language we understood better. I repeated this tactic to my student later on when we studied World Wars, for instance. I referred to the countries as if they were people, and explained the events in a way that he would not get dizzy memorizing everything all at once. A 5th grade kid remembering World War treaties and agreements? Pretty cool!
3. Bring lessons beyond the classroom through simulation exercises.
Finally, students must be given the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to real-life problems. I think this is the ultimate test to see if they have truly understood their lessons and if these will be beneficial for them in the long run. Clemons claims that teachers must be ready to present their students with problems which will give them the chance to explore their own ideas regarding the lessons, experiment with these ideas, and produce their own answers.
One of the most meaningful conversations I had with my student was during the simulation exercises we did as the final parts of our sessions. Not only do I have the chance to get to know him—his interests and dreams—but I also do my part to make sure that he takes steps towards his goals. One time, at the end of our Math lesson, he introduced me to his love for gaming. I enjoyed listening to him go on and on about his hobby, and I found a way to incorporate his Math lesson (percent and ratio) to simple statistics of the game. When he responded with the correct answers, along with his piqued interest and enthusiasm with the exercise, I found the experience truly rewarding.
Short as they may come, I hope these online teaching techniques can help educators in stimulating the minds and interests of their students. By initiating thought-provoking discussions, and open conversations relating to real-world situations, mentors can help manifest students’ dreams and goals and choose the role they want to play in the future. Quality education can absolutely be delivered even from a distance. So good luck, and just keep swimming, Teach!
About the Author
Alex Palacio is a student at the University of the Philippines Diliman pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing. She has taught as a part-time tutor at Aralin Online. Besides writing and mentoring, Alex has also participated in Model United Nations debates. In her spare time, she enjoys reading fiction and romance, watching Formula 1, and engaging in sports.
Are you creative enough to beat learning barriers?