Contagious Creative Concentration: A Week in Reflection

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Creative concentration is most definitely contagious!

This summer at the University of New Hampshire’s Literacy Institute while Shana, Amy, and Jackie were studying with Tom Newkirk in their plight to dig deep into the lives of males and their literacy (needs), I was across the hall studying with Penny Kittle (and other fabulous educators nationwide) in a course titled Contagious Creative Concentration.

The ledges were lined with pieces exposing the truth about doodling, coloring, sketching and zendangling.  The truth is that while reading and writing is foundational to all literacy

The Art of Zendangles: Unique repetitive patterns infused with creativity and focus.

The Art of Zendangles: Unique repetitive patterns infused with creativity and focus.

movement, there is also much need for the art of creativity to be infused into the Readers Writers Workshop – regardless of grade level.  And while we had the opportunity to “play” alongside the rigorous workload we were collectively engaging in, there was a calm that permeated throughout the entire week.  There was color.  There was focus.  There was deep level of inquiry.  Yet, there was rarely a moment that colored pencils or adult coloring books were not being utilized during the process.

An article published in The Atlantic: The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling explores the benefits that enhance one’s performance.  The studies and stats are real – exposing educators everywhere to understand the importance of this type of creative play.

Two women writers who, not only holistically believe in the ideas outlined in the above article, but shared their knowledge and creative process with us during our time at #UNHLIT15 were Lee Ann Spillane @spillarke and Linda Urban @lindaurbanbooks.  Both published authors who embrace the creative process as a means (and a journey) to authentically design and originate their work.

Work in progress

Work in progress: My own thinking

While we were exposed to those who have been finding success throughout their personal creative journeys, we were also asked to think about utilizing collage work to demonstrate our own creative process.  (For educators who employ the format of the Writer’s Notebook suggested by Penny Kittle, it is dedicated to this element of creativity.)

Last March I posted Today We Draw chronicling the day students and I needed a break from the constant push and rigor of our daily work together.  At that time, I recognized the importance of breaking for us to explore a creative outlet, yet what I’ve learned this summer is that it is downright unfair to carve out days for creativity and exploration.  It needs to be a daily constant in all of our classrooms.  Students need to have the freedom to doodle on the corners of pages, zendangle on a post-it, or engage in some good old fashion fun equipped with a coloring book.

So, as I start to plan for the upcoming school year, I find it imperative to ensure that pencils (of all colors) are sharpened, coloring books are displayed, and doodling is not only encouraged but a constant in our community.

What are your thoughts wrapped around the idea of creativity (in all its forms) being invited into your classroom community?  What success have you had in doing so?  



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2 thoughts on “Contagious Creative Concentration: A Week in Reflection

  1. shanakarnes August 14, 2015 at 6:55 am Reply

    I’m so glad we get to have this insight into PK’s class! I will take away the “constant coloring on the edge” idea as you did–can’t wait to incorporate it into notebooks this year.


  2. Amy August 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm Reply

    I imagine I am guilty like many others of thinking: “If I only had the time.” Seems time is the enemy of creativity, or at least it is if we let her rule our lives. Thank you for this reminder about inviting creativity into the classroom. Coloring on the edges. I like that.


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