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Helping CLASS Trainees Understand How the CLASS Defines Creating

10 Dec 2015 by Pamela Jenkins

I have noticed that many of my participants have a difficult time understanding the indicator of creating in Concept Development. Recently, one of my participants shared the following coding scenario with me to ask how I thought this activity should be considered in the coding process:

During small group time, the teacher provided the children with crayons and paper and tells them to draw a picture of their families. The children draw the pictures and when they are done, the teacher asks the children to tell her about their pictures-- whom did they draw? The children tell her that they have included their moms, dads, siblings, cousins, pets, and one student even put the teacher in her picture.

It’s easy to see why the participant asked about that scenario. On the one hand, the children were producing something – in this case, a picture. On the other hand, it was a very teacher-directed activity.

So how should you answer a question like this? First, take your participants to the manual to review the definition for Concept Development. Remind them that this dimension, “Measures the teacher’s use of instructional discussions and activities to promote students’ higher-order thinking skills and cognition and the teacher’s focus on understanding rather than on rote instruction.” Then, have the participants read through the footnote for Concept Development that tells us that Concept Development focuses on the strategies that teachers use to encourage understand and thinking skills.

Then, invite the participants to consider the following:

  • Did the activity provide opportunities for the children to be creative and generate their own ideas and products? Did the teacher provide interesting materials that children could use to make their pictures or did everyone have to make their picture look like the completed model? If all of the pictures looked very similar, it suggests that the teacher was stifling, rather than encouraging creativity.
  • What strategies did you see the teacher use to encourage children to brainstorm, plan, and produce? Did the teacher stimulate any discussions from the children about their ideas of the different pictures, family types?  What is a family? Who’s in a family?
  • What did the children learn about the pictures and families? 

Asking these types of questions can help an observer determine how to code creative activities. To score creating in the high range, the observer needs to see consistent evidence that the teacher is not just asking the children to do something “creative,” such as make a drawing or painting a picture. Instead, the observer needs to look at how the teacher facilitates the activity to see if the teacher is stimulating children’s creativity and ability to generate new ideas. That is the hallmark of creating.

How the CLASS Dimensions and Domains Work Together - webinar recording