I love drawing and sketch-noting.
I love photography.
I love creating.

If I could do it for a living, I think it’s one of the few things I would give up teaching for because it brings me such happiness and just an overwhelming sense of calm and purpose.

Until the time I become the next Ansel Adams or Andy Warhol, I have the unique opportunity of bringing my love of all things “creative” into the classroom with me. (When I was in my own classroom) I was THAT teacher. The one doing weekly art projects. The one sending kids home with paint all over their clothes. The one teaching students how to create things out of junk – literally. The one shoving an old camera into my students’ hands and sending them forth to document their “day in the life of.”

It was magical. It was glorious. And I miss every second of it.

As a Technology TOSA now, I still get to bring bits of my creativity into the classrooms of other teachers. As art seems to be a dying breed in the educational system, I have no qualms with integrating it with my technology lessons.

I recently got it into my head that I wanted my students to try their hand at creating their own Google Doodle. (For those of you new to Google Doodles – they are special – albeit, temporary – alterations of the logo on Google’s homepage. They’re used to celebrate special days in history, important figures, or annual celebrations.)

Now, if you’ve ever used Google CS before, you’d know that they have an activity like that. But I didn’t just want to push my kiddos off the deep-end into world of CS. The Google CS activity requires them to have knowledge of block coding and sequencing and ultimately produces an animated product.

Unfortunately, most of my students don’t have the opportunity to do much with coding outside of the activities we plan for Hour of Code Week. So, this particular Google CS activity wouldn’t be something I could teach my newbie students in a 40-minute lesson frame. We would need so much more time than that.

Instead, I chose to go the “analog” way – my students would create doodles in Google Slides.

I introduced the lesson and students were about to riot.

I haven’t seen them this excited about something since…our last technology lesson! Seriously, though – they couldn’t believe that they were going to be able to create their own Google Doodle.

I gave some parameters – the students could use the shape and line tools in Slides to create images. I also let them use our favorite add-on – Flaticon for Google Slides. Doodles were requested to be “school-appropriate.” Students couldn’t use photographs or images from Google Image Search. And finally, students had to create a “fall-inspired” doodle.

Then, I let them loose.

Forty-five minutes later, the results were in…

These students had gone and created original doodles, using shapes, lines, icons that had spoken to them. They got creative and some produced entire scenes for their doodles. And then they were collaborating with each other – without being told to! They’d consult with their neighbor on which icon best looked like an “E” – or what was the best way to get multiple shapes on their doodle (hint: keyboard shortcuts that Mrs. O. had taught them!)

They were creating, talking about their creations, modifying their creations based on peer feedback, and then disseminating their creations among their classmates.

Did I mention this activity addresses ISTE Standards for Students for being a “Creative Communicator”?

Lessons that encourage student agency and choice – while allowing our kiddos to be creative and original – should be a staple in every classroom.

All I had to do was take a risk and let go.

If you’d like to a copy of the document I shared with students, click here.

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