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Overlapping Structure and Creativity

by Janet Lee Stinson

How to Use Dynamic Clips in your Classroom

A note before you begin: Although the two clips referenced are meant for an audience of educators, the concepts can help teachers build a learning community of trust in the classroom.

Start your lesson by co-creating an anchor chart with students listing active listening techniques. Remind students that discussions need to be respectful and organized so that everyone gets a turn at expressing ideas. (e.g. leaning in, eye contact with speaker, not interrupting, restating ideas before responding, etc.) Post this list in your classroom as a reminder.

1. Play the Colin Powell video from 0-5:00

NOTE-When using a very long clip, choose shorter segments to zero in on material for discussion.

Ask students to *turn and talk in response to the following prompt:

Do you agree that structure is needed in your life? Why or why not?

Time students (5 min max) as they respond to the video in a class discussion. Jot down the main points on a piece of chart paper or on an interactive whiteboard.


2. Play the Sir Robinson video from 3:00-8:00

Again, ask students to turn and talk with a partner about the different prompt:

How does creativity matter in your life at school?

Circulate around the room during this conversation and jot down some notes about what you are hearing. Next, have students share their thoughts as a group. Use a separate piece of chart paper to record ideas about the role of creativity.


3. When you have the same length of points on both pieces of paper, tape a new sheet between the two on your board. Write across the top “How can structure and creativity work together in school?” Ask students to turn and talk about this prompt:

How can creativity and structure both exist in school?

Have students share their thoughts as as a group while you jot down the answers on the new sheet of chart paper.

4. When this third list is complete, draw giant circles around both outside chart papers including the center paper in the overlap of the two giant circles. Tell students this is a graphic organizer called a>Venn Diagram. Venn Diagrams can be used to organize thoughts about opposing points of views both how they are different and how they can overlap. Incidentally, this graphic organizer is a great tool when planning to write a comparison contrast essay.


5. Finally, to bring closure to the discussion, have students co-create ways the system could improve to add structure while respecting all types of creativity. What needs to change, improve or stay the same?


Tip from a mentor-Before students discuss examples of how to make things better, provide them with some examples to get them started. e.g. Students could be given the same assignment but allowed the choice of reading materials. or The same curriculum expectations could be addressed for students wishing to present their ideas differently.

*  The turn and talk strategy works for all grade levels and age groups. It gives students an opportunity to share their thoughts with a partner before having to share as a group. If students get validation, confidence and clarity before being asked to go public, you will notice more participation when you ask for hands up.


Read Part 1: Structure Matters

Read Part 2: Creativity Matters

Read Part 3: Structure vs. Creativity


Janet Lee has been an English teacher/Department Chair, Nipissing University Reading Part 3 Instructor, Student Success Literacy Consultant, and Nelson Literacy 7-10 instructional writer and media specialist. Janet Lee recently presented literacy resources at The Great Moon Gathering in Fort Albany, Ontario. She enjoys maintaining her blog This Side of the Mirror-A Journey Through Reflection to communicate with teachers and address current issues in education.

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