A review of promoting creativity through differentiated instruction

How to consider and implement creativity in education? This consideration is what Daniel Fasko, Jr., of Bowling Green State University investigates and reviews in the article for the Creativity Research Journal. Fasko (2000-2001) discovered that as far back as 1950 the question of why there is minimal focus on connecting creativity to education was posed by J.P. Guilford, President of the American Psychological Association (APA).
A study by (Runco & Nemiro, 1995), revealed, and it is strongly agreed, that motivation is an essential part of creative thinking and the problem finding may result in intrinsic motivation for students (as cited by Fasko 2000-2001). Fasko (2000-2001) further asserts that teachers would do well to consider placing emphasis lesson activities that require problem solving skills.
As Fakso (2000-2001) discussed a review of learning theories, it is personally believed that the theories discussed may be considered a spring board for developing differentiated plans for instruction. Fasko (2000-2001) specifically writes about techniques that may promote complex and cognitive factors. Thinking techniques include brainstorming, checklists, attributes, listening, values clarification, role playing and creative problem solving.
Ten strategies are explained from a review of a study by (Feldhusen & Trefffinger (1980). For implementing a classroom environment that promotes creative thinking. Recommended strategies to promote a creative learning environment include, but are not limited to, supporting unusual ideas, use failure as a positive, promote student interest throughout the classroom, allow time for students to think, promote diverse learning activities and provide choices, (as cited in Fasko 2000-2001). It is believed these formerly mentioned strategies may serve as tools to be used in the development of a DI plan.
Research by (Feldhusen & Treffinger,1980) has shown that individualized assignments with a focus on problem-solving and problem finding show merit for stimulating creativity, as well as inquiry discovery,(as cited in Fasko 2000-2001). In further discussion, Fasko (2000-2001) reveals examples that that may stimulate creativity include, but are not limited to the provision of information sources, materials, and equipment manipulatives and time for students to experiment and reward and encourage.
Fasko (2000-2001) discusses a four step model created by (Davis,1980), to develop creativity awareness understanding, techniques and self actualization or (AUTA) as it is otherwise known, (as cited in Fasko 2000-2001). The personal opinion is held that the former are developmental skills for creativity that may be realized and enhanced through DI.
According to Renzulli (1992), curriculum should be flexible in accordance with students’ individual abilities, interests and learning styles, (as cited in Fasko 2000-2001). As a special education teacher, personally it could not be agreed with more.
A study by (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991) reveals that there are six components associated with creativity, intelligence, knowledge, intellectual style, personality, motivation, and environment, (as cited in Fasko 200-2001). In expanded discussion, Fasko (2000-2001) reveals that when a teacher exhibits value for creativity, there exists an increased probability for students to place value on and demonstrate creativity themselves.
Fasko (2000-2001) discussed that according to review conducted, creativity does not appear to be emphasized enough at the college level. It is personally that creativity from developing to using and enhancing creativity is a life-long process and it may do the education field will to consider it all levels of one’s educational career. We, as educators spend time ensuring our students learn and it is therefore believed that it’s important that we keep evolving too.
What is it that may motivate students to demonstrate learning and generate interest and creativity? Heacox (2006) asserts that the strategy of giving choices to the students about “what and how they’ll learn” (pg.10), may be the answer. “Pathways Plans”, “Project Menus”, “Challenge Centers”, and “Spin-offs”, are the four strategies suggested by Heacox (2006) to offer students choices within a tiered assignment. It is believed these four strategies offer support to the discussion by Fasko(2000-2001) of techniques that may promote creativity specifically, promoting student interest throughout the classroom, and the promotion diverse learning activities and provide choices.
Heacox (2006) discusses, and it agreed that “instructional looping”, is effective ways to ensure that students who need direct skill instruction receive it, and those who do not may participate in and complete alternative activities. It is believed that following an instructional looping strategy may also promote motivation as students who need more won’t feel overwhelmed, and those students who have mastered skill may not become board. The personal opinion is held that this may be an effective strategy for students in current teaching assignment, as the variation in cognitive functioning level is great, students of higher cognitive and physical ability should be challenged at a higher level, while the instructional needs peers at a lower cognitive level are addressed.
Heacox (2006) explains that a project menu is a list of tiered assignments from which students can choose to complete. According to Heacox (2006) project menus may be used for a variety of reasons such as; a choice of required projects, a warm-up or cool down activity, an alternative to a pathways plan, or as a list of activities from which all students can choose. The personal opinion is held that project menus may offer students an opportunity to enjoy a feeling empowerment over their learning. It is further believed that project menus offer support to making differentiated instruction invisible.
Challenge centers, as discussed by Heacox (2006), offer a differentiated approach to learning center or stations. A personally viewed highlight of challenge centers is that the projects in challenge centers focus on novel concepts, content, or skill application, and that they may be implemented at any grade level for any subject.
Heacox (2006) explains that spin-offs are developed out of student interests, and that spin-offs can be teacher directed, have a required product, or are student directed. It is personally believed that student directed spin-offs promote creativity, offer strong support for effective differentiation, and encourage students to take ownership of how they demonstrate their learning.
In the discussion about grading, Heacox (2006) succinctly points out that criteria for grading should be clear, concise, and specific, in language that is easy for student’s to understand, set high-level expectations, written positively, and “phased to describe the floor, not the ceiling” (pg.119). It has been personally discovered in reviewing the above recommended criteria for grading, setting high-level expectations may be a key component to challenging students, and should be considered when planning for each lesson and its included activities. Heacox (2006) offers grading options based on “rigor” or “totally 10”. It is believed that both grading options afford the teacher the opportunity to institute the best grading option in accordance with the needs of the students and the expectations of the assignment.
Heacox (2006) offers specific strategies for managing differentiation. Of specific interest from the discussion regarding preparing the students and classroom, was that of setting up patterns of movement around the room. In current teaching assignment, a plan for movement has not been established, however, it is believed that setting up a pattern for movement around the classroom would benefit both students and paraprofessionals. It is strongly agreed that being organized and clear about directions, instruction, instructional materials, and student artifacts, are critical components for the day to day management of differentiated instruction, as suggested by Heacox (2006).
As a special education teacher, the discussion by Heacox (2006) regarding differentiating for special populations was of particular interest. Heacox (2006) appropriately points out that it is not necessary for special education teachers to develop completely different tiered lessons, just that lessons should be modified for appropriateness and accessibility in order to access curriculum content.
Heacox (2006) succinctly reviews a spectrum of students with special needs, specifically learning disabilities, behavior disorders, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and dual differences. Heacox (2006) asserts that general education teachers and special education teachers would do well to collaborate when planning for differentiated instruction for students with disabilities. Heacox (2006) further recommends that careful consideration should be given to the sensory and environmental needs of students with special needs for both instruction and classroom arrangement.
Finally, Heacox (2006) explains and discusses the characteristics and needs of gifted and talented students. It was learned from the discussion by Heacox (2006) that there is a difference between “high achievers” and “gifted learners”. Heacox (2006) identifies a strategy for planning for gifted student as the Differentiation “Scamper”. The scamper plan means: substituting, combining, adapting, modifying, putting to other use, eliminating, or reversing/rearranging the curriculum content to raise the challenge level and meet the needs of gifted and talented learners. Heacox (2006) suggests individual planning and mentors to further differentiate instruction for gifted and talented learners. It is strongly agreed that a mentor may allow for the student to learn beyond the curriculum and content already mastered and build on strengths and talent for success in adult life.
Enlightenment has been realized from the writings of Fasko (2000-2001) and Heacox (2006) that promoting creativity through differentiated instruction affords each student the opportunity and motivation to truly demonstrate their learning, skills, and abilities.


Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction on the regular classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing Inc.

Fasko, Jr., D. (2000-2001). Education and creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 13, Nos. 3 &4 317-327. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


About twolanin1

Special Education Teacher in a Level V school. Teach students with a wide variety of developmental and cognitive disabilities. Married and we have one son.
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