The Creativity Commons at Lesley offers a shared space for scholars and students from across the university to explore the role of innovation in 21st-century teaching and learning.
The pursuit of creativity is a Lesley University tradition that’s over 100 years in the making. A tradition that Edith Lesley pioneered when she opened the first school for kindergarten teachers in Cambridge. By providing a collaborative setting where our community can generate new knowledge, we’re not only upholding Edith’s legacy, but we’re also examining what it means to be creative in today’s evolving educational landscape.
What happens here
The Creativity Commons is a space where our community is free to explore collaboratively, offering creative ideas and solutions for problems we share. Together, faculty, doctoral students, and administrators pursue new concepts and initiatives that often lead to interdisciplinary programs, workshops, and publications across the university.
We invite guest speakers and fellows to stimulate creative thought and action. In the past, this has led to new programs, projects, and scholarship for schools, community organizations, and other institutions that support the mission of Lesley University and contribute to solving social problems.
Sidewalk Math is an innovative, movement-based approach to developing mathematics readiness in elementary school students. Created by the Creativity Commons and informed by early childhood learning theory, it is intended to encourage parents to count in a wide variety of ways with their children.
Sidewalk Math Research Highlights
Sidewalk Math (SWM) carpets combine movement, visual and spatial intelligence, play, and imagination into the activities of young children learning math skills and developing number sense in school.
Research in schools across Massachusetts has shown that the Sidewalk Math carpet-based activities created by the young children, mostly kindergarten students, combined with guided facilitation and structured lessons created by their teachers, add a dimension of enthusiastic and imaginative free play to the task of math learning. Students engage in kinesthetic activity spontaneously with the carpet designs, using them as the basis for learning and sharing their newfound math skills and for devising new number-based games leading to enhanced abilities in math.
The students, aged 3-5 years, had both structured and unstructured activity time with each of the three different number pattern designs, Count Things:
and Count Dragons:
Students with special needs, or those without number recognition skills, offer the most noticeable improvement and enhanced engagement with the numbers and patterns on the carpets (Diaz, 2018).
Why we value documentation
Documenting our research on teaching, learning, and creativity at Lesley will provide valuable resources to disseminate within Lesley and beyond. By documenting our work, we support our goals to:
- Share work and provide a feedback loop within Lesley and outside communities.
- Archive the Commons' work for future use and to support grants and interdisciplinary collaboration.
- Support the need to communicate creative research containing multiple languages, such as text, sound, symbolic representation, painterly and scientific images, moving elements, diagrammatic language, and color.
As part of this work, the Commons asks each person or group using the studio to leave traces of their work for the community's use in a binder available in the Commons and online.
- The Creativity Commons
1815 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140
- Martha McKenna, University Professor and Professor Emerita
- Gene Diaz, Distinguished Professor
- Julia Byers, Professor Emerita
- Lella Gandini, Visiting Scholar
- Madeleine Holzer, Visiting Scholar