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Must-Have Creativity Tools for Students

September 3, 2018

I grew up in a family where the Beatles were on constant rotation. It was the default soundtrack for many family car rides. Even today The Beatles Channel on Sirius XM is definitely in my Top 10 stations. It’s Channel 18, in case you’d like to add it to your list too!

A few years ago I met Sean Gaillard at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). He is a passionate educator, and I’m very excited to share his new book The Pepper Effect: Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation. In addition to the interview below, I gathered a handful of favorite creativity tools you can use to put his work into action.

Must-Have Creativity Tools for Students

Regular readers of know how much I love open-ended creation tools. When it comes to creativity in the classroom, students can “choose their own adventure” when tools give them many ways to capture the story of their learning. On this list, I spotlight a few of my favorite open-ended creation tools for students. If you have a favorite I missed, add it to the comments section below!

Spark Video

Must-Have Creativity Tools for Students

Students can capture the story of their learning through a variety of media. Spark Video is a movie-making tool I’ve shared in the past. It is a go-to creation tool because it gives students many ways to tell a story. They can combine icons, images, and their voice to create a book trailer, lab report, and so much more!


If you’re a fan of podcasts, you’ll want to check out Soundtrap. Students can record their own podcasts using this collaborative tool. In addition to podcasts, students can layer tracks of music too. This open-ended creation tool is perfect for students working together side-by-side or remotely.


I love sharing Seesaw with students and teachers. The student journalling options from Seesaw gives students many ways to creatively share their learning. You might have a few students record their voice to respond to a prompt and others film a video response. It is perfect for differentiation!

Book Creator

Ready to create ebooks with your students? Well, you’ll definitely want to check out Book Creator. It lets students collaborate in real-time to create products in any subject area.

The Pepper Effect

Sean Gaillard is a middle school principal in North Carolina with a passion for creativity in the classroom. His new book The Pepper Effect: Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation was published this summer. Sean is a fellow Participate course author and the founder #CelebrateMonday, a school culture movement that celebrates positivity in the schoolhouse. I had a few questions for Sean about his new book, and I’m excited to share his responses with you!

What motivated you to write a book on this topic?

Must-Have Creativity Tools for Students

First of all, it has always been a dream to write a book. I love to share and tell stories. Taking my passion for Music and Education and then being able to compose a mash-up sorts, is a dream come true. The Beatles have always been a go-to of mine for building engagement when I was a classroom teacher and now in my current role as a school principal.

Also, I wanted to provide one entry point for any educator to begin building a vision for school culture. I am very grateful for Dave and Shelley Burgess of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. for believing in my book dream. Their encouragement was very instrumental in making this book happen. Motivational forces who have become friends were also instrumental in #ThePepperEffect. These include Jennifer Williams, who wrote the beautiful forward for the book and encouraging words from #EduHeroes like Todd Whitaker, Laura Fleming, and Brad Spirrison.

Why is this topic important to you?

Two things changed my life: The Beatles and the Schoolhouse. I wanted to write a love letter to those two passions of mine and share with the world. Also, I believe that we need to add more positivity and sincerity to our dialogue as educators. Our kids and families need to see educators commit to what I call #TrendthePositive. In other words, we need to highlight, spotlight and resonate with “…the better angels of our nature…” as educators called to the noble profession.

You’re a huge fan of The Beatles. How does their work influence your feelings about education?

As a band, The Beatles were a tight unit who built a collaborative mindset based upon years of playing together. They were unified in a shared vision to be the best band and connect in a sincere way with their fans. There are many lessons that educators can take from The Beatles and apply to taking collective steps to be more creative, collaborative and innovative.

The Beatles also took creative risks as a band. Whether it was deciding to add forty-piece orchestra playing different notes in the middle of a song like “A Day in the Life” or using the studio as an instrument for a song like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the band pushed boundaries. As Educators, we are called to inspire students to do the same thing when it comes to creativity and innovation. Also, The Beatles relied on each other as a band to build upon individual musical strengths to create new forms of expression. I have seen collaboration at this level transform schools, classrooms and individual students and educators alike.

How can educators make creativity a priority in their work?

If there is always a belief in doing what is best for kids and a shared vision supports that, then creativity will always resonate as a priority. I believe if faculty teams set aside time to develop non-traditional professional development that allows time for creativity. What would a faculty meeting look like if it went #EdCamp in style? What would a classroom look like if students had time to pursue dreams in a Makerspace or take time for a Passion Project? Educators must collaborate and lock arms in a loving and positive way to prioritize creativity in the schoolhouse.

What are your “must-have” tech tools for promoting creativity in the classroom?

I am a huge fan of creative tools like Flipgrid, Kahoot!, Voxer, Do Ink, Seesaw, and Screencast-O-Matic. Of course, nothing beats a teacher who believes in all kids and inspires them to dream, create, collaborate and share.

Do you have advice for an educator who is new to promoting collaboration in the classroom?

Do not despair at first. There is always a willing bandmate in the schoolhouse who is looking for someone to jam with and do great things. Look for where the magic is happening and tune in to the source. If you walk by a classroom and you feel that synergy from student voice, then chances are there is a teacher who is willing to share and collaborate. As I write in #ThePepperEffect, tune into the synergy of others in the schoolhouse. It takes courage to take those first steps towards seeking collaborators, but it will pay off in the long run.

Also, I strongly suggest reaching out to a PLN via Twitter. Many willing virtual collaborators can provide support. Follow supportive hashtags like #JoyfulLeaders, #EduGladiators, #tlap, #LeadLAP for starters. Another move to find collaborators isto attend an #EdCamp or #CoffeeEDU. Those events are beautiful foundations for educators to forge amazing collaborations in service and support of kids.

Learn more about Sean Gaillard’s new book by heading over to Amazon (paperback and Kindle) or connect with Sean on Twitter!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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