GCC Students Reach Out to Community

Creative Problem Solving Class Works with Blind School Students

Batavia, NY- A class assignment turned into a community partnership for a group of students at Genesee Community College. The students in Michaelene Dawson’s Creative Problem Solving Class were assigned to design and implement a way to celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week. They decided to do this by reaching out to students at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia.

World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW) starts each year on Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday, April 15th. According to the WCIW website the week is “one week in the year for everyone, at the same time, to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions that make the world a better place and make their place in the world better too.”

Dawson used the week to create a final project assignment for her Creative Problem Solving students. “The project is designed to have the students apply what they have been learning about the Creative Problem Solving process and creative thinking tools and skills,” she said.

Her students decided to connect with students from the New York State School for the Blind (NYSSB) in Batavia. The school serves legally blind students between the ages of 5 and 21 who may have other disabilities as well. The school works to help each child reach his/her full potential, promoting independence and preparation for a successful transition to adulthood.

The class visited NYSSB twice, finding many ways to put creative problem solving skills to use. “It was challenging figuring out how to communicate and work with my student,” said class member Kathy Manne. “However, I think there was a connection by the end. I was constantly challenged to figure out how to get a response from her, and to make sure she was enjoying the experience.”

The class developed creative and fun activities to share with two groups of NYSSB students. One group helped students create art projects using different materials. The second project involved leading the students in developing a “threaded story,” a creative storytelling exercise.

Manne said her classmates experienced similar challenges with communication and interaction. “Many were saddened to realize the extent of disabilities, and I believe it only made them work harder to make this project a success,” she said. Overall the class found the project to be rewarding and their teacher felt it achieved its goal. “The project allows students to use Creative Problem Solving in a real world situation, which helps to create authentic and meaningful learning experiences,” Dawson said.

For more information, contact Michaelene Dawson via email: mrdawson@genesee.edu.

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Editor’s Note:
A photo of the Creative Problem Solving class outside the NYSSB is available here:

Caption: Pictured (l to r) are GCC students Amber Pizzo, Cody Arnold, Joe Cayea, Michael Witkop and Michael Cicero