Today’s post comes from respected conference presenter, Elizabeth Peterson from as a preview to her session on studio days.  Want to hear more?  Join us for the Connectivity Conference!

The pressures of testing, the implementation of the Common Core, the confines of time and space: we all feel these!  

And yet, when asked what type of learning is the most productive and meaningful to students, so many of us agree that students learn best when the learning is organic, integrated and self motivating.  Welcome, creative process!

When you allow students to flow naturally through the creative process, they learn a lot about themselves as learners.  This is what I have discovered over the past four years as I started to develop and implement Studio Days into my classroom.  These days are fun, engaging and very powerful!

The basic concept of a Studio Day is that students are given a long amount of time to start and complete a project. 

This time (1-3 hours) is more time than normally given so that students are forced to work their way through the creative process.  (Instead of starting something only to put it into their “To Do” folder to work on when they can.)  Also, it allows students to work on a project that can be quite involved and include some real, artistic creation in the visual arts, music, dance, theater, and/or poetry making, etc.

Now you may be thinking, “How can I possibly do this with my students.  I don’t have that kind of time and I don’t have the resources.”  I can understand your thinking.  I am a general classroom teacher who has the same pressures and constraints that all others do, but I make the time.  That’s how important I think this is! 

This type of self-discovery through the creative process can be so powerful for students and adults alike, but it’s during our scheduled reflection time that students start to make the connections between what they’ve accomplished and what they have learned about themselves.   I ask students questions about what they did, the materials they chose, how they worked, and ultimately what they learned about themselves as learners. Students start to discover how they make decisions. For example, I had one girl discover very concretely how much she relies on her peers when she started to realize all her ideas came from those she sat with. Another student one year discovered how much he can get sucked into one aspect of a project as he spend over 45 minutes mixing paint to get just the right color.

The creative process shouldn’t be a mystery to students.

They should live it and be cognitive of it so that they can work towards becoming better learners.  Studio Days certainly help make that happen.  I look forward to starting my school year with a Studio Day and continuing with one every four to six weeks.

My students love these days working through the creative process because they think it’s a break from regular work (and it is!)  They also love the fact that they can work so purposefully on a project and see it through from start to finish.  I love these days because they allow students to go through the creative process and then reflect about it. They learn about their learning.

I am excited to be conducting a webinar on Studio Days during this summer’s Connectivity virtual conference.  Join us for a wonderful day of inspiring ideas and great networking with like-minded educators. 

Look for more about Studio Days in Elizabeth’s upcoming book – Studio Days due out the summer of 2012. To be kept up to date on the publication of this book and ebook, email[email protected]