Although I am teaching in a pretty straight forward world history class, there is some creativity involved. For each unit we try and do some simulation type games where kids re encouraged to act in a role as if they were someone from the specified time period. We also try and have some writing assignment where the kids can take a creative stance on a historical stance. Now when I say we try and do this, it means that if we are running out of time, these are usually the first assignments to get cut. Our class will also have many classroom discussions where kids are asked to interpret pictures and pieces of art from the past, and this often inspires critical thinking.
To be honest at this point in our class we do to teach as much information and media literacy as I would like. We have very little access to computers and technology in the classroom, ans as my CT put it at a meeting recently "How are we supposed to teach 21st century skills with 20th century technology?" Last week as part of my lesson I showed the kids Gapminder.org to show how the medical advances in the 19th century doubled are life expectancy. I wasn't sure if the kids would understand, but they really dug it. They started asking me to see the statistics for the different countries, and they probably got more out of that then anything else in the lesson. I am thinking of trying to have them do an assignment based on the information from that website, but I haven't figured it out quite yet.
A big challenge in our class right now is to teach the kids to work independently. We rarely give them homework, and most in class assignment they can work with a partner. Even the notes now during lecture we pretty much tell them what to write. I feel that this is a problem with kids in general today that they have trouble deciphering what is important and what is not. This is in part due to the CST's, as teachers will tell kids now, THIS IS IMPORTANT, ITS ON THE TEST. On the flip side. I think kids today are very good at working in groups and they get along pretty well. We always assign roles in order to give everyone a taskso that they feel engaged.