Comprehensive Approach to Creative Learning

Creative System

The Creative Learning Initiative uses a collective impact approach to organize all Austin stakeholders in creative learning around common goals and aligned efforts. By combining our resources and leveraging our expertise, we can expand our efforts sufficiently to serve all our students at a high level of quality. In addition to including all stakeholder groups, our approach addresses interventions and supports at all levels of the system including teachers, principals, district administrators, teaching artists, arts organizations, parks and recreation centers, cultural centers, and families. This systems-change approach amplifies the positive gains for each level.

Creative Campus Design

The Creative Learning Initiative uses a comprehensive Creative Campus design model developed by MINDPOP. Creative Campuses in the Creative Learning Initiative create individualized arts plans that address 9 factors:

  • Equitable access to sequential fine arts learning
  • Creative teaching across the curriculum
  • Arts Partnerships at every grade level
  • After school arts opportunities
  • Ongoing professional development in creative teaching
  • Community-building activities using the arts
  • Regular and frequent communication
  • Leadership and planning
  • Appropriate Facilities 

Creative Teaching

Creative Teaching is one of three pillars of the Creative Learning Initiative (CLI). We define Creative Teaching as an instructional approach using specific techniques from drama, visual arts, music, movement, and digital media to promote student understanding. Rather than a set of curriculum designs, these strategies serve as an instructional framework to engage students, drive inquiry, promote rigor, and create personal connections to the material in any content area. 

The specific strategies have been selected by MINDPOP and experts in the field because of their versatility across the lesson cycle and across the curriculum, they have a research base for effectiveness, they are easy to learn to do well and they are drawn from artistic practice. Because the strategies are instructional approaches rather than curricular approaches, they do not require a restructuring of the managed district curriculum or require teachers to make additional time. Teachers incorporate strategies into their existing lesson plans and school year in an infinite number of ways. They can be used across the lesson cycle to introduce, teach content, review, and assess any curriculum. These are not “one size fits all” strategies. Rather, they are designed to be used strategically to meet teacher, student, and instructional goals. Some strategies are appropriate for all grade levels and subject areas; others are better suited for particular age groups; others naturally support one subject more than another, and each strategy reinforces a unique set of the following cognitive behaviors:

  1. Generate multiple ideas individually and collectively
  2. Make creative choices to process and express learning
  3. Construct mental or physical models of their understanding
  4. Analyze and synthesize content 
  5. Translate symbol systems (e.g. text to image, image to spoken word, etc.)
  6. Transfer understanding into new contexts
  7. Contribute personal points of view

By design, Creative Teaching Strategies require students to actively blend their prior knowledge with creative judgment to develop physical and mental models that represent their understanding. Creative Teaching is often collaborative and relies on discussion and reflection to produce rigorous thinking and work products.