Month: February 2013

What Exactly is Creativity?

Pinned Image

Creativity has been deemed as a 21st Century Skill, because creative ideas can lead us to success in society and in our jobs. Have you ever thought about what creativity actually is and what it means? When I think of this word-I think about something unique, inspiring and eye-opening. In its most basic sense, creative means “original and of high quality.” (Perkins, 1981).

According to Wikipedia, creativity is “The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.” Encarta dictionary agrees.

So, basically, to be deemed “creative” one must produce an original idea. Are you creative? I am not. I can easily copy someone’s painting, but producing one from my own imagination is more tricky and near impossible!

According to a recent article in Educational Leadership magazine, creativity can and should be taught. The most important key is to give our children constructive feedback. This article asserts that we teachers must first set clear goals for our students. We can’t just say “Write a creative story!” First, it is important to emphasize that the story should be original, inspiring, and imaginative. However, I like how Perkins included that creative products should be of high quality. Perhaps teachers could even facilitate a thinking session where students discover and list what creativity means. If I create a new BMW model, and it looks great yet it breaks down continually, then I was simply not creative. However, if I create a new BMW car with features unlike any other car and superb quality…well then, I was creative. In the same respect, we can teach our children the differences of “original” products and replica’s. We don’t want our students to just copy and mimic everything that is taught to them. Yes, we want them to have knowledge, but it is how they use that knowledge to create new things that is of vital importance.


1. Set goals for students products and creative works.

2. Help students see the difference between originality and replica’s.

3. Have a creativity lesson! Brainstorm what is means.

4. Emphasize the importance of original and high quality works.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What is creativity to you? How do you help your students or children be creative?


Encarta Dictionary via Microsoft Word

(Brookhart, S., 2013).”Assessing Creativity” Educational Leadership. ASCD.

Image from:

Related articles

The Magic of “Interactive” WhiteBoards


This video below displays the true magic and capabilities of the Interactive White Board. I have been so blessed to have one in my classroom and the children just love it. However, what they love most is when it is their turn to “touch” or interact with the board.

When I first integrated the Interactive Whiteboard into my classroom, I was unsure of how to involve each and every child. I must admit that I used it to show short videos and read-aloud animated story books. However, as I became more comfortable with its capabilities, I learned how to manage my students so that each child truly interacted and had a turn at some point in the day. This took practice and patience (from my students). I finally came to the point that each time we sat down for a lesson or activity at the IWB, not each child would have a turn. I helped them understand that if they did not have a turn at that moment, that they would later. Since tracking who had a turn was a challenge for me, I gave each child a number. They learned their numbers so quickly. Whenever it was time for a child’s turn, I simply called out the next number. And believe me-no one forgot when it was their turn, who had a turn already or who was absent and couldn’t have a turn!

I must emphasize that the most important feature is its capability to interact. The worst thing that it can be used for is a tv or movie player. Let’s face it, our students go home and watch tv-and most likely – alot. Their brains need interactive stimulation. They need to stand up and move their bodies and fingers. They need to think about the appropriate action. They do not need to just sit and listen. The IWB should not be used as another “teacher” who just talks and provides knowledge.

So, I encourage you to allow the students to interact with the board. Remember-its not just a whiteboard. It’s an Interactive White Board!




The ABC’s of Teaching Letters


by: Andrea Howell Chouhan

The ABC’s of Teaching Letters

What is the first step in teaching a child to read? Letters and sounds instruction is the key! In simple terms, for a child to learn to read independently and construct meaning from text – he needs to be able to identify words automatically. He can do this after he decodes unknown words. In order to reach this point, children have to first learn the 44 speech sounds of letters and more than 100 spellings that are made.  Therefore, a child must first be able to identify letter names and then be able to produce letter sounds. Then, he will be ready to read! The next step is to implement a carefully planned and systematic presentation of explicit letter/sound teaching.

Which Letters Should Be Taught First?

The hardest question for researchers and professionals to answer is – “What order should the letters be taught?” Although there is not one universal answer to this question, there is great data to give professionals guidance in creating and/or implementing the necessary systematic order of instruction. Teachers everywhere successfully teach children to read. Children also learn differently. Quite honestly, there is no wrong order to teach letters. Many teachers follow the curriculum, which determines the letter order.

When deciding the order to teach the letters, please keep in mind what some research says.

What Does Research Say?

  • Some letters are harder to learn than others: U, Q, V
  • The following letters are most well-known by children, even if they have not been taught them: O, A, B
  • Children are most likely to learn the first letter of a their name more easily and quickly
  • Teach the letters in an order that allows a child to form many words with them (for example: C, M, A, T)
  • Begin with letters that make “simple sounds” that are easiest to stretch out and are easier to blend: M, S, F, R, N, L
  • Teach new sounds in small steps
  • Review previously taught letters and sounds
  • Introduce commonly encountered sounds before the infrequent sounds: For example, “A” occurs more commonly than “Q” or “V.”
  • Teach the letters that occur more frequently in most words. The most commonly occurring letters are: E, T, A, I, N, O, S, H, R, D, L, C
  • Introduce vowels early. A child must know the vowel sounds, in order to make and read words.
  • It is suggested to teach graphemes together, like C and H, C and K, T and H
  • Alphabetic order is not ideal because it does not address the needs listed above
  • Do not pair and teach together letters that are auditorily and/or visually similar: E, I and D, B
  • Introduce some continuous sounds early: M, S
  • One study suggests introducing lower case letters first, unless upper case letters are similar in shape: (Similar: S, s, U, u, W, w; Dissimilar: R, r, T, t, F, f) Note: I have always taught capital and lowercase at the same time: Ss, Rr, Tt, so I do not disagree with this study, I myself and just unfamiliar with its effectiveness
  • Do not teach similar looking letters together: b, d, p, q
  • Introducing letters in isolation may confuse some children about the purpose of letters in relation to words and reading
  • Some letters take longer to visually discriminate:  t, a, e, o, s, i

 Suggested Letter Order Instruction

 As a teacher, I always used the “letter order” sequence that was outlined by my school. I wondered what reasonings were behind teaching letters in a certain way. So, I set out and discovered that research proves that there are various effective methods for teaching letters in a systematic sequence. Below are the compilations of my finding. The last column is what I created based on the feedback that I received from other educators who used each of these systems.

Letter Order Suggestions


Public School in Houston

(No More Letter of the Week Method by P. Lusche)


Montessori Method (Montessori Matters by M. Carinato


Montessori Method

(How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by T. Seldin)


Right Track Reading

(by M. Gagen)

Combined Curriculums (Montessori & No More Letter of the Week)

Letters Overview

s, m, t, a, p, f, c

c, m, a, t

c, m, a, t

Letters Overview and 1st letter of childs name

Letters Overview and 1st letter of childs name

r, b, l, I, g, n, d

s, r, i, p

 s, f, r. n

Capital to Lowercase comparisons

Pp, Aa

h, j, k, w, o, u, v

b, f, o, g

n, l, e, b

Mm, Aa, Tt, Ss, Cc

Bb, Ll

y, z, x, q, e

h, j, u, l

i, h, d, g

Rr, Ii, Pp, Ff, Bb

Ss, Hh

d, w, e, n

o, k, p, j

Ll, Oo, Gg, Nn, Dd

Nn, Ww

k, q, v, x, y, z

 q, u, x

Hh, Jj, Uu, Qq, Ee

Ee, Cc

v, w, y, z

Vv, Ww, Yy, Kk, Xx, Zz

Qq, Uu

Rr, Yy

Gg, Zz

Dd, Oo

Ii, Jj

Ff, Xx

Vv, Kk

 Note: The first column shows how my school in Houston taught the letters. “No More Letter of the Week” was one resource, however, the letter order above was created by my school district.

The many resources below provide a plethora of suggestions for the sequence of teaching letters and sounds. So, glean what you will and happy teaching!