Creativity in the Classroom

When educators, parents, and students think of creativity, they usually think of Art class.  That may have been true 20 years ago, but times certainly have changed. Most students doing work in classrooms today will be entering a job force their predecessors could hardly imagine. Learning a specific skill set doesn’t necessarily have the same value it once did. Students today have to be more adaptable – creative – than ever before.

According to Kristin Hicks (Why Creativity in the Classroom Matters More than Ever), “Creativity is no longer seen as just being for artists and musicians. It’s a crucial skill for everybody to master. Creativity these days equates to thinking outside pre-made parameters. It means coming up with alternative ideas to solutions.”

How do you infuse creativity into your everyday classes? Here are a number of ideas to ponder:

Don’t limit assignments to one format. You can provide students the assignment, but encourage them to add a drawing, video, photograph, or physical example to make their point.

Work a “genius hour” into the school day or week. It is to the student’s advantage to be allowed to “create” anything from a story to a mechanical model to a drawing. Students can also use this time to do research about a particular artist, musician, or subject that ties into their project.

• Creative team building. Sometimes it’s just fun to get kids together and do some team building. A classroom should be a collaborative environment where students work together to further everyone’s education. Select a simple task that would only take one class period. Building materials, student-to-student continuing story lines, and “What If?” scenarios, all are ideas that students can use their creativity to make the assignment their own.

• Active learning.  Active learning includes use of creative goods such as games, concepts, maps, and study materials. Create interactions that provide students with problem-solving opportunities. Give them opportunities for hands-on fieldwork. Books are important to learn the basic rules, but curriculums such as STEM and STEAM offer opportunities to actually build or experiment with what is assigned.

• Integrate other subjects into your main topic. Introduce art, music, and history into your assignments. Let students approach the assignment from a different point of view. Instead of a first-person solution, encourage students to give a historical, musical, mathematical, or artistic point of view.

• Make creative rules for the teacher first. There is a great article promoting creativity in your classroom every day. The link: Creativity; a few of the highlights:

— Ban clip art – make students create their own art

— Ask for information to be shared in at least two media formats or writing types

— Give points for “design” on all assignments

— Teach the proper use of quoted materials

— Seek out creative ideas from other educators

— Add creativity places for display of student work in your classroom.


Creativity is a way of thinking, a way of being. It should be encouraged as much as physical education, science, mathematics, or technology. It is a much-needed force in the classroom, and will reward the educator with brighter students that have an advantage on the future.

Posted in creativity, Latest News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

Friday, September 22, 2017, is the Autumnal Equinox.

What is an equinox?

The equinox is the moment in which the plane of the Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk. The word “equinox” comes from Latin and means “equal night,” referring to the roughly 12-hour day and night that occurs only on the two equinox days of the year.

As reported by (, twice a year the sun’s rays shine directly over the Earth’s equator. The sun rises and sets exactly due east and due west on the equinoxes. Instead of the Earth tilting away from or toward the sun, its axis of rotation becomes perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun.

From Autumnal Equinox to Winter Solstice (December 22) the nights get longer and the temperatures colder. The seasons’ evolutions continue after the Winter Solstice with days getting longer and nights shorter, until the Summer Solstice (June 22), which is the longest daylight of the year. The cycle slides back toward Autumnal Equinox, which again is equal day and night, and everything begins again.

Well, then, what is the solstice?

Summer solstice is the longest day of the year for each hemisphere. For northern hemisphere observers, the June solstice marks the beginning of summer. In the southern hemisphere, that’s the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of winter. Six months later in December, winter begins with the shortest day of the year for northern hemisphere people and the start of summer and the longest day of the year for people south of the equator.

Now that you know the difference between solstice and equinox, how can one celebrate the Autumnal Equinox?

  • Because night and day are nearly in balance, the equinox is a great time to work on personal balance. This is the perfect time of year to re-evaluate where you are and take the steps necessary to get your personal and spiritual lives in order.

  • September feasting is a custom that dates back to at least the 1500s in England (where it was known as Harvest Home) and most likely long before that. Harvest Home was a time for games, celebration, and feasting due to the gathering of the grain crop. Include fall foods such as apples, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins at your food tables.
  • Go for a walk. The nights are becoming crisp and cool, and there’s a chill in the air. Take your family on a nature walk, and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors.
  • The nights will be getting longer, so take advantage of the darkness by turning off the TV and doing something creative. Reading is an excellent equinox pastime, as is writing, scrapbooking, or anything that takes advantage of the season’s cool weather and the warm feeling of home.

As John Muir said:

Posted in Autumnal Equinox, Fall, Latest News, The Seasons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Be Afraid To Apply for a Grant

Grants may seem like a lot of work, but they are great ways to get extra funding for your classrooms.  Schools cover the basics of education, but what about extras you could really use but can’t afford?

Grants provide visibility and credibility of your program to administration, community, parents, and students. They provide funding so that you can teach at a more proficient level. Grants meet the need for materials, tools, career preparation, and more.

What would you want a grant for? The possibilities are endless. Perhaps you want to develop a STEM program. Or you are short on technological resources such as projectors, document cameras, iPads®, whiteboards, tablets, and the like. Perhaps there is a need to develop a curriculum for personal health care such as pregnancy or obesity, a hands-on garden that serves both science and nutrition, or a class project on the environment.

There are many reasons to make applying for a grant part of your teaching efforts.

Here are a number of points to keep in mind about the entire process:

  • Be clear about your reasons for applying for a grant. What are your long-term goals? Is a grant the only way to do what you want to do? Are you clear on your realistic chances of success? You must convince the prospective donor of two things: A significant need exists, and you have the means to solve the problem or need.
  •  Be specific in your plans. Develop a realistic budget that provides funding to meet program goals for student success.  Budget items need specifics, not vagueness.  Form a measurable plan for student/program success including supplies and equipment, outcomes, and evaluation methods.
  • Search the field. There are three main sources for grant funding:  the government, private businesses and corporations, and foundations. Do your research. Some outlets are more conducive to what you need than others.
  • Narrow the field. Your research might turn up dozens of foundations that could potentially support your cause. Make sure the grant is offered in the field you need. Check the purpose and the size of the grants offered.  Make sure their guidelines fit in with your guidelines.
  • Investigate your leading prospects. Before you consider applying to a foundation or granting agency, learn as much as you can about it. Doing your homework can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. In researching a foundation, start with its website.  Most foundations post information about what they fund, guidelines, and how to apply.
  • Know and follow the guidelines. Each foundation and granting agency does business in a slightly different way. Read the guidelines. Adhere to the guidelines. Don’t make up the guidelines. Have a question? Call the granting agency and ask. Just make sure the answer isn’t somewhere in the guidelines.

  • Form a working group. Form a working group of other teachers and administrators to talk about what should go into the application and how it should be presented. When you do have a proposal draft, show it to an expert in the field who might be willing to review your draft and give advice. Sometimes the expertise lies within your working group; otherwise, ask the advice of someone who has touched on this field before.
  • Build community support. Most organizations that make grants will want to know that your ideas have community support, because a usual part of the funder’s mission is to serve the community.  Brainstorming options include local service clubs, community foundations, county/state foundations, national opportunities, and the government. Circulate the outlines of your ideas as a rough draft and ask for feedback.
  • Use a successful model. If you can get ahold of a winning application, particularly one that was funded by your chosen foundation, you can learn from it. If you have a list of grants previously made by the foundation, you can contact one of the awardees and politely ask for a proposal copy. There are also plenty of sources that have at least partial examples of successful grant applications.
  • Learn from rejection. Although most grant applications are not funded, you need to go ahead and process your request anyway. The reasons of rejection may have little to do with your proposal; there are a multitude of reasons for rejection. But you have the right to find out why you did not receive your grant. Instead of asking, “Why didn’t you fund my proposal?” take the line of “What could I have done to make our proposal better?” Keep the door open to later applications, and build a positive rapport with your future contributor.

Here are several resource tools to get you started:



Posted in Grants, Latest News, Teaching Aids | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World Dairy Expo 2017 Is Coming!

The World Dairy Expo 2017, held at the Alliant Energy Center in the heart of Dairy County, Madison, Wisconsin, October 3-7, 2017, is the pinnacle of dairy shows.

What exactly is the World Dairy Expo?

The World Dairy Expo is a five-day event showcasing dairy cattle and the newest technologies available to the dairy industry. Considered the largest and most important dairy cattle show in North America, it has been held in the first week of October since 1967. The Expo serves as a forum for dairy producers, companies, organizations and other dairy enthusiasts to come together to compete, and to exchange ideas, knowledge, technology, and commerce.

Five Things To Do at the Dairy Expo:

Check Out the Seminars. World Dairy Expo features the best and the brightest during its world-class seminars. This year’s Expo Seminars include topics on robotic milking systems, A2 milk, transition cow health, Mycotoxins in feedstuffs, consumer perceptions, future farm labor, and more.

Follow the Cattle Judging. Dairy cattle from all over the United States and Canada are exhibited at the show. All seven nationally recognized breeds (Brown Swiss, Holstein, Red & White, Guernsey, Jersey, Milking Shorthorn, and Ayrshire) have competitions, both at heifer and cow levels.

Stick Around for the Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion Judging. World Dairy Expo is home to one of the best-known dairy cattle shows in the world. And that means showing off the best of the best in cattle breeds and their owners in a ceremony showcasing the champions.

Wander Through the Trade Show. More and more companies are offering products and services aimed at helping dairy producers. The Trade Show is a great way to make connections with those who talk your talk. And be sure to check out Nasco’s booth while you’re there — always something new and exciting for your Agriculture needs!

Food Food Food! From the Wisconsin Dairy Association’s Rib Eye Sandwich to the Dane County Pork Producers Pork Chop on a stick to Big G’s Mobile Kitchen’s Bourbon Chicken to The Tanbark’s Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup, there’s great food for great times. And don’t forget Wisconsin’s pride and joy – cheese! Nuggets, nachos, curds and sandwiches – cheese is everywhere!

Take a day or two and see what the dairy business is all about! Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the World Dairy Expo 2017 on their website

See you there!

Posted in Dairy, Latest News, World Dairy Expo | Tagged , , | Leave a comment