833 Critical & Creative Thinking

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When I think of creativity I am immediately brought back to this quilt that I made last winter. My Oma (grandmother) has a tradition of making one of these for each of her grandchildren when they got married, but as she is aging she was not sure she would be able to complete the last two (for myself and a cousin). She then asked us if we would like to learn how to quilt, and do it with her. This was a weekly project, a project of love, and a project of growth. I chose a pattern that was structured, orderly, and had a clear plan. I sewed it together and assembled it using a plan, a method, a routine. The swirly top-stitches were done in an attempt to soften the quilt up. When I was done my cousin looked at it and said “that’s really just Janine: structured waves.”

I do not consider myself to be creative in an artsy way. Drawing and painting and coloring do not relax me, and I prefer things to be orderly and planned. I like working on ‘projects’ that have a clear method. I like planning units that have a clear end goal. I like working hard to accomplish my goals.

But, I think I still am creative. I’m creative in that I love to lay out in the forest, stare at the formation of leaves, and imagine things. I’m creative in the way that I plan lessons, incorporating different learning styles. I’m creative in the way that I pick up my camera and take pictures of the things I love: my family, nature, my surroundings.

I’m still not sure about the balance between these. I’m not sure if my lack of creativity in some areas means that I should try to strengthen them. But I think that’s the beauty in creativity: there are no correct answers, no easy formulas, no nice plans to follow. And that’s the beauty that I’m working to embrace, day by day.

Critical thinking, however, is one area that I think is a strength. I love thinking deeply about everything (and sometimes about the minute details), thinking of other possibilities, better ways of doing it, and challenging my own thought patterns.

I look forward to learning more about myself as a creative and critical thinker, and discovering the growth that will take place as we move through this course together.

 

Critique of Bloom’s Taxonomy

When I started university and was first exposed to Blooms taxonomy, my first critique or question was how to really ‘move up the ladder.’ I wondered how to know when it was possible to say that the knowledge component was ‘done’, and when to start moving up into comprehension and application. However, from my earliest exposure to Bloom, I did appreciate the focus on thinking, and deepening that thinking. When watching the video by Mark Hofman, I again was reminded of the fact that we do our best when we take in information, digest it, and then do something with it. Thinking needs to be taught, especially the skills around discernment and discrimination. Both of these things are not lower-level thinking, but involve higher-order skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

My first questions about Bloom were answered in the readings of Module 1. Case (2013) pointed out the flaws related to ‘moving up the ladder’, and instead gave three principles to keep in mind when using Bloom:

Adjust the difficulty so that every student engages in higher order learning activities.
Appreciate that understanding of subject matter is not a ‘lower order’ task that can be transmitted, it requires that students think critically with and about the ideas
Understand that inviting students to offer reasoned judgment is a more fruitful way of framing learning tasks.
Krathwohl, however, gave some answers that were practical and useful for how to overcome these flaws. He suggested a 2-dimensional taxonomy, rather than a one-way pyramid: with the knowledge aspect along one axis, and the cognitive process along the other axis. This now provides a more meaningful way to represent a particular course. This can be used to decide how to improve the planning of curriculum and the delivery of instruction.

Some benefits of using Blooms Taxonomy:

  • Provides a clear framework as a teacher when planning units to make sure that different types and levels of thinking are addressed.
  • This fits closely together with the changes coming in the Ontario curriculum, and the focus on 21st Century Learning.
  • It can be used for different age levels.
  • Leads to a deeper understanding of the curriculum that we have to be teaching, because it can be used in partnership with curriculum.

Some possible negative consequences:

  • Too much focus on the ‘top of the ladder’, without helping students develop the skills that they need in the knowledge and comprehension aspect.
    Teachers saying they are ‘synthesizing’, but instead are simply just changing the activity somewhat, and not actually teaching students HOW to synthesize and think deeply about a topic.
    Although there are pros and cons to using Blooms, I think the realistic approach is one that is more balanced. As a teacher I am still bound by the curriculum, and within each lesson or unit it may not be possible to hit each of the cognitive processes. It is good to know about the different levels of thinking, and I think this knowledge automatically will improve the quality of planning of lessons, the delivery and actual teaching, and the thinking that then results from that. I look forward to learning more specifics about how to use Bloom in a balanced way to improve my own teaching.

Resources:

  • Case, R. (2005). Moving critical thinking to the main stage. Education Canada, 45(2), 45-49.
  • Case, R. (2013). The Unfortunate Consequences of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Social Education, 77(4), 196-200.
  • Krathwohl, D.R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: an overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-218.

Teaching Strategies for Critical Thinking

As a teacher who loves a challenge, I was excited to try what I read about in this module in my Grade 8 classroom (and yes, teaching Grade 8 is also a challenge :)) I decided to try to implement as many of them as I could into my classroom, and I am glad I did. The greatest difference I noticed was the rousing discussions/conversations/arguments that my students were having with one another about the content: It really showed me that they were thinking more deeply about the content we were going through. Especially at the beginning of the term I find that there is a lot of ‘content’ basics that need to be taught, not always leaving much time for extra discussions. These critical thinking strategies were implemented and weaved right into my lessons, and allowed for different types of thinking to occur.

In reading the students are learning about different types of connections we can make, and about the difference between strong and weak connections (strong meaning they make you think more about the book, they are relevant and closely connected, and they can be fleshed out fully with specific details). Students had to come up with a list of 10 general connections while reading a story, and then afterwards in group I had them use the criteria listed above to rate their connections in order from strong to weak. This really made them think about what made a connection strong, and the students often had to disagree and clarify before coming to a consensus.

In Science the students are learning about early scientists who discovered the cell theory (magnifying glasses, microscopes, cells, etc.). As a review at the end of this chapter I had the students work with a partner to pick the MOST important scientist (rate with a quantifier), based on 3 criteria. Again the students took this relatively dry piece of the text, and it turned into big discussions about which best fit the criteria, and at the end of it they had extensively discussed each of the scientists, before coming to consensus.

As I am teaching in a Christian school, the religious studies course that I start each day with is prescribed by the school. One of my goals for this year in this course was to open the students eyes more broadly to the world around them and how that connects to our faith. Two times this week I tried to include critical thinking tasks: once while having a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (I had the students research a number of Bible texts, and try to come up with a reasonable response to the question I had posted), and another time when studying the geography of the Promised Land (I asked the students which area they would move to if they had a choice, and then had them write out a justification for why).

Although I tried a number of the strategies, I really feel like I just scratched the surface of the potential for critical thinking strategies. I can’t wait to learn (and try) more!

Topic: Grade 8 Ontario Geography. Chapter 1: Population Patterns & Growth

JUDGE THE BETTER OR BEST: Students have to compare life between rural and urban settings, and come up with “what would be the best way of life”: using the criteria of economy, education, and healthcare. Students peer and self-assess using the “assessing the Reasons” rubric.

CRITIQUE THE PIECE: After reading the case study on population patterns and growth in Nigeria, on a scale ranging from great to horrible, rate how it would be to live in Nigeria. Students need three separate ratings for natural factors, settlement patterns (where people are living), and the economic factors.

REWORK THE PIECE: Read a newspaper article about a group that has settled together, but has some challenges to face. Have students imagine they could ‘fix’ this community, using a list of criteria of sustainable settlements and groupings. Students would rewrite the article as if they were reporting on the same problem one year from now and the problems had been solved.

DECODE THE PUZZLE: After learning about ways to describe population patterns, go through and give clues for a specific settlement (one that students know well). Start by describing it as urban/rural, the growth rates, the distribution (clustered, scattered, linear or peripheral), the density, and then some far-away google map images. Students use evidence to predict which settlement it is, and then justify their answer based on the evidence.

CREATE TO SPEC: Give students a plot of land, and design a settlement based on the natural and human (historical, political, religious, and economic) influence. Give criteria for what a sustainable settlement would need, base your design on this.

PERFORM TO SPEC: After discussing the job of an urban planner, students go out for a walk in the neighborhood of the school and take observational notes about the various topics covered so far in this chapter. After coming back to school students have to identify ONE thing that they would like improved in this community, and then write a letter to the mayor identifying this. This doesn’t fully fit the requirements for ‘perform to spec’, but I’m unsure of how to make this fit.

Critical Thinking Assignment: critical%20thinking

Strengths & Weaknesses in Critical Thinking

As a person who naturally spends too much time thinking, this module made things even worse for me! So many new ideas! So many good ideas! Am I really doing any of them? How can I use them? How can I improve?

I’m really enjoying studying these topics as it allows me to look critically at the practice in my classroom, and find ways to become a better critical thinker myself.

WEAKNESSES…

Assessment of Critical Thinking
In an earlier PME course I came across the quote “we measure what we treasure” which has really stuck with me. A constant goal of mine is to become better at assessment, but when I studied this module I could see how much I have to improve at specifically for critical thinking. The Critical Thinking Community reminded me that the purpose of assessment is improvement. The more particular we can be about what we want students to learn about critical thinking, the better we can devise instruction with that particular end in view. The Critical Thinking Consortium has a link for “Assessing general competence in critical thinking”, which is filled with “coming soon!”: I will certainly be keeping my eye on this page for assessment ideas to use in the future.

Critical thinking Vocabulary
As this was my first year of teaching Grade 8 I made the (incorrect) assumption that students would be more familiar with the vocabulary of critical thinking, but I was wrong. I now see that I missed the part of really teaching the vocabulary, and helping them understand it through real practice of these words. I think a part of my reason for being hesitant to teach the vocabulary is the fact that students will not enjoy learning a new vocabulary word: but I want to challenge myself to incorporate this vocabulary right into lessons and units, without it being a lesson of “evidence is … these are examples… “ By having students actually use the vocabulary, hopefully it will allow them to come to a better understanding of the term, and it will be something that they can remember and use in the future. Some ideas that come from an edutopia blog that may be helpful: keep a separate page or notebook for vocabulary words; have students draw pictures of what vocabulary words mean (for example to analyze means to break down into smaller pieces); come up with examples and non-examples; put definitions into student’s own words.

I’M WORKING ON…

Creating a Community of Thinkers
Perhaps because it is the start of a school year, and perhaps because it is a difficult thing to really feel I am strong at, I am leaving “creating a community of thinkers” in the middle category between strengths and weaknesses. On the first day of school I invite students to come up with their ideal classroom in a brainstorming activity, and then together we come up with appropriate expectations for the rest of the year. My students have responded well to this, and because the expectations come from themselves, they are more willing and likely to follow them. Routines are in place, and the class runs smoothly (also for class and small group discussions and activities). I do my best to constantly model the attributes of a good critical thinker: whether this be challenging the students on what they think, or when discussing current events in the morning and looking at a variety of perspectives. I do my best to vary the ways of communication depending on the needs of the students, and the critical thinking skill I want to work on: at times we have class debates and discussions, at other times it is a smaller group discussion to come to consensus. I do my best to work reflective practice into all areas of my teaching: having students self-and-peer assess using rubrics to then come up with goals, after completing activities having them reflect on what they learned, and as a class discussing how something has gone and how to improve it for next time.

Although there are areas of having a critical thinking community that I think I do well, for me this is one that I need to be constantly conscious of, carefully keeping it up, and looking for ways to strengthen it.

STRENGTHS…

Inviting Critical thinking through critical learning activities
The balance between teaching the content and teaching the critical thinking skills is one that I have been working on and pondering for a long time. Some ways that I have been using critical learning activities:

After students learn some new content, I give a statement, and have them pick a stance on it (often in the four-corners strategy). Before getting up and joining a corner they must have 3 pieces of evidence to support their stance. The four corners might be “strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree” or they might be four specific words from the lesson. This allows students to make judgements on their own, but then in their ‘corner’ come up with more solid arguments, before having to debate it as a class.
I try to give real-world challenges that allow the students to take what we have learned but have to make decisions with it. For the end of the geography unit I am teaching now students have to design a settlement, based on criteria that we have studied throughout this unit. They will need to use these criteria for sustainable settlement to justify why they think they have the best settlement.
WE are currently working on fictional writing, and before the editing phase, I ask the students what sorts of things they should be looking for: together we come up with a list of criteria for writing that meets the expectations of the writing unit so far. Students then use this list of criteria to self and peer assess.
Last year I did an activity that the students loved, but also that really challenged them to think critically. We had learned about resources (fishing, forestry, mining) in Grade 5, and then learned about the opposing stances of economists and environmentalists in development debates. Students came up with what both of these sides would wish to do with a 100-acre plot of land that I “awarded’ to the students. Students then got to pick a side, and had to research both their own arguments, but also rebuttals to possible things that the other ‘side’ would be arguing. The most valuable part of this debate was how it forced them to think not only of their own perspective, but also of how the other group would be thinking about the same issue. Students really enjoyed the final debate with an audience!

Teaching the tools: offering thinking strategies
When teaching and asking students to come up with judgements, ideas, etc., I always allow them time to think on their own first. This can be done in a number of ways; jotting down notes in their notebook, coming up with a justification, etc. Some of the tools that I have given:

A graphic organizer to summarize what was learned, and then using criteria students are better able to come to a decision because they have come to a clearer understanding.
In reading and writing the students and I come up with criteria for deciding what is strong thinking: for example, we currently are working on strong connections. Some criteria: it is relevant to the text, it makes you think more about the text, it is able to be explained with a lot of details, and you are able to explain how it helps you understand the text better. Using these criteria students can then easily look over their list of connections to pick the strongest one to then flesh out.
When coming to a decision I have taught my students the benefits of using a pros and cons list, and of deciding which things on that list are really important to you.
Before studying for a test I have showed students how to create a mind map of important terms and concepts: this allows them to better allocate their study time, decide what is important, and see the interrelationships between ideas in the chapter.
Resources:

Defining Creativity

When taking PME 811 I used various sources to come up with a definition for creativity, and defined it as something that is both novel and useful: not only is it something that is useful to whatever the purpose is, but it is also something outside of the normal. Creativity is essential when we think about the myriad problems facing our schools, hospitals, cities, economy, nation, and world. Creativity is how we can hope to think of new perspectives to solve each of these problems. Creativity is then the work that we can do to make something better, more meaningful, more useful, or more beautiful. Creativity is the process of change and development, so necessary in 2016.

However, when taking this definition of creativity, I was pushed and challenged and puzzled. How does critical thinking fall into this scope? It is to be used the same as critical thinking: it must be enmeshed within content learning: one cannot solve problems and think of alternative solutions without KNOWING about it. Whereas critical thinking is widely accepted as being useful, not everyone agrees with creative thinking. Perhaps they would nod and say “yes we want our students to have it”, without actually accepting it. Some challenges that come with being creative: there is a strong bias against it (either consciously or unconsciously: read the article below for more information); it involves chaos and disorder; and most of us have a strong desire to be useful or of service, and being creative doesn’t always feel like we are doing that.

According to the Critical Thinking Consortium, Creative thinking has 3 components:

COMPONENT

EXPLANATION

Purposeful

In order for someone to come up with a creative idea, TC2 states that it takes purposeful time and dedication. Ghiselan, however, argues that creativity does not require dedication and discipline.

I think that it must be a balance: there are times that a creative idea may just ‘dawn’ on you, but at other times it will take effort and work to perfect whatever you have created.

Unique

It must be novel and original: different from what has already been discovered or created.

significant

It makes a difference in the world.

However, significance is not something that is always evidenced right away: often this isn’t discovered until much after the creation.

When thinking of how I show evidence of the 3 components of creative thinking, I was stumped. When I asked my coworkers for feedback on this, the resounding answer was: “you are creative in your planning!” However, this is something difficult to quantify, and so perhaps that is why I am still left wondering whether I am creative at all. A few examples of when I did something creative (notice the ‘small c’ of creativity) in my planning:

When teaching my Grade 5s about the simple machines, I demonstrated each of them, had the students build each machine, and then invited the dads (and grandfathers) in for an afternoon of demonstrations, sharing of real machines, and a scavenger hunt. This was purposeful in that the students had to learn the content about machines, it was unique in that it was not a typical way to present their information (and certainly not to a typical audience), and it was significant (not only did the students demonstrate their knowledge well to their fathers, they also built strong relationships, enjoyed their learning more, and applied their learning to a variety of machines)
A creative idea that ‘dawned’ on me one day as I was teaching about resources, was to have the end product be a debate between the ‘economists’ and the ‘environmentalists’ about a plot of land that the students came up with. Again, the purpose was two-fold: teach the students about the multiple perspectives of fishing/forestry/mining, as well as improve their oral debating skills. It was unqiue in that we took a plot of land from nearby the school, and made it a more real-world learning opportunity for the students. For me the greatest significance in this activity was seeing the students come to the ‘aha’ about the variety of perspectives. Although they were sure that their own arguments were the best, when coming up with rebuttals they got nervous “what if the other group has better arguments than us?”, and after debating (and having a vote), they were amazed by how on any issue there is multiple ways to look at it.

Although I agree with and value the creative thinking definition, after taking 811 I was still not fully convinced that it was the only way to go. It wasn’t until I read the article by Gini-Newman & Case that I could fit all of these ideas together into a logical framework that fits my philosophy of teaching. C3 is an integrated teaching approach combining critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative learning. By using all 3 simultaneously and separately, it leads to a more practical, effective way of teaching: it encourages rigorous thinking that is both productive and responsive, done alone and in concert. The three are different, have different purposes, yet complement each other and should reinforce each other.

As an aside, I have to admit a bias of mine is my love of The Critical Thinking Consortium articles. I don’t just blindly follow and admire an organization/idea, but I have criteria for basing this on. In order for me to admire it, it has to be real (what they describe is what I actually observe in my classroom), it has to be useful (again, I can take what I read and make direct applications in my classroom), and it has to be written clearly and to the point (without a lot of extra theory or jargon). TC2 fits this criterion perfectly: hence the lineup of books and binders on my shelf from them. I highly recommend the book “Creating Thinking Classrooms” (see picture attached).

Now that I’ve learned more about criteria I’m finding myself using them in more areas of my life to make more balanced and thoughtful decisions.

Resources:

  • Ghiselin, B. (1985/1952) “Introduction.” In: The creative Process : a symposium. Ghiselin, B. (Ed.).
    1-38. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
    Gini Newman, G. & Case, R. (2015). “Critical, creative, and collaborative dimensions of thinking, pp. 45-60, Creating Thinking Classrooms: Leading Educational Change for a 21st Century World. Vancouver, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium.
    Starko, A. J. (2015). “What is Creativity,” pp. 1-24. Creativity in the classroom: Schools of curious delight (5 ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
    https://janinevanmaren.wordpress.com/811-innovation-in-teaching-learning/
    Hennessey, B.A., & Amabile, T.M. (2010). Creativity. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 569 – 598. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100416
    Mueller, J.S., Melwai, S., & Goncalo, J.A. (2012). The bias against creativity: Why people desire but reject creative ideas. Psychological Science, 23(1), 13–17. doi: 10.1177/0956797611421018

Being Creative:

When I saw the task for this module, and the suggested creativity tasks, I immediately thought of “what can I make that I can use?” and “where will I find directions of how to do this?” I’m a goal-oriented perfectionist, a practical and purposeful individual. Doing something creative is not part of my daily routine.

I challenged myself to leave the step-by-step, and task aspect of this behind, and instead turn it into something enjoyable. For me the thought of writing a song gives me anxiety. Yes, I could have tried it, but I doubt I would enjoy it. So, I then started to think of what I do enjoy. Where my brain flows the easiest. Where I have space in my brain, away from my routine. For me this is outside. Going for a run, biking, walking along the dam behind my house… and so out I set. I took my Nikon along (that I’m still learning to use), some markers, and my pencil crayons. The crunching under my feet inspired me to look down and see some misformed, but brightly colored yellow leaves. Aha. I picked them up. Sitting in a patch of sunshine, I picked up a marker. Once I began it sort of just ‘came’ to me… I wanted to decorate them.

As I drew I marvelled at the small lines in the leaves, at the sunshine on my back, and my pen started working of its own accord. As I worked I was forced to change my plan: the pencil crayons I had brought along did not work to add color, but only bruised the leaves. One of the leaves I grabbed was ripped… but I kept it anyways. Just because I liked the contrast.

And so, perhaps I wasn’t creative in the full sense of the definition (what I did may have been novel, but not useful). But yet when I think back on it, perhaps it WAS useful. I got to go outside, to slow down, to admire nature, and to look for the beauty around me. I got to learn more about myself as a creative, and how I best work. Doing this activity has inspired me this weekend to take my camera out with me to take some more fall pictures (task-oriented, yes. But I’d like to learn how to use my camera better. 🙂 )

Some challenges that hinder creativity in a learning classroom (and my own life):

Having enough time to really be able to delve into a creative task
Having the freedom to really let yourself ‘go’, and think of new ideas or do new things
Assessing creativity when it is such an open and subjective concept.
What I learned from this activity about how to help others nurture their creativity:

Students will need FREEDOM to explore, without having an end goal or task.
Students will need to be taught habits of mind that encourage creativity (open-mindedness, trying again, flexibility).
Students need to be in an environment that is comfortable, enjoyable, and conducive to creativity. (How can I get my Grade 8s out of our classroom and into nature more has become my question now…)

When doing the readings for this module I was wondering how to infuse creativity into my Grade 8 class… a high-energy, easily restless bunch of students. The criteria for choosing them were:

Relevant to learner: They needed to see its importance.
Feasible: It needed to occur in my classroom (as the weather is cold), with supplies I had on hand, and with the topics I’d already planned for the week.
Encourage self-regulation
Engaging: because my group is so easily restless, this was the key.
As Beghetto stated, it was also essential that the creativity was enmeshed with the curriculum, and not done as just a tack-on activity to what was already planned.

TRY 1: Create a mind-map of the big ideas in a Geography unit.

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What did I try

Using the idea from “Mind Mapping” in the list of resources in this unit, I decided to open it up a little bit more than this. The students had just read and discussed together a section in the Geography textbook about some of the impacts of settlements on the environment. As a way for them to make sense of this information, I asked them to use either pictures and/or words to create an infographic of this information. I stressed that there was no right/wrong way to do this, and that the goal was for them to show what they learned in a different or creative way.

Response from students

As you can see on this picture, the students enjoyed the chance to get out of their desks, and show their learning in a way other than writing. At first there were MANY questions, as Davis stated there might be, but after repeated encouragements that they could take this in any direction they wished, they began.

The students hung their final posters up around the room, and were quite impressed with all of the different ways of showing the same thing: there were word-bubbles, comics, diagrams with labels, and just pictures… some even done upside-down!

What went well (I’ll keep!)

· Allowing the students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

· Using pictures in combination with wrods brings a better understanding.

· Giving the students the freedom to create was a good learning-curve for me, as a structured and organized teacher I was forced to give up all the reins.

What I’d change for next time

· At the beginning of the activity the students were frustrated, and some had trouble getting started. I need to remember Davis & Wearing, where they emphasize that enabling, positive emotions and expectations are so important. I should have taken more time before allowing students to begin to really model this way of thinking, and give examples of what to do if students were stuck.

TRY 2: Build a specialized cell out of random materials in Science.

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What did I try

A little hesitant after the last try at creativity, I decided to jump in once again to perfect this. For the geography assignment I may have been TOO structured, so I wanted to try to give more inspiration. I kept this task aligned with what we are learning about in Science (the structure and function of specialized cells), and challenged the students to use any of the random arts/crafts supplies that I had gathered to create an example of a specialized cell. The only requirement of this was that at the end they would have to present their creation and explain how the structure of their cell helps it with its function.

I made sure to reassure students, and leave it very free without too many directions. I had all of the supplies and resources sitting ready, and I allowed them to work wherever in the class they wished (Davis, Wearing)

Response from students

The students loved the fact that they got to use craft supplies (a novel occurrence for a Grade 8 student), and were allowed to choose what kind of cell they wanted to build. It was great to feel the positive energy in the room, and to see ALL the students engaged and really excited about what they had created. As Ken Robinson stated, the goal of education is to kindle their flame for learning: and I think in this activity it was enjoyable, and a good learning experience.

For me the balance between creativity and curriculum was very clear when hearing them explain after what supplies they had used, and how the shape or structure of this cell would help it accomplish its function (which was the curricular aim of the lesson).

What went well (I’ll keep!)

· Using novel materials and resources, and having them available to the students.

· Encouraging freedom in where they worked, how they worked, etc.: This gave the students more safety and I noticed they were comfortable trying many different things. One girl had her red blood cell covered with glitter. When I asked her why the glitter, she promptly explained how those were oxygen particles being transported.

· Allowing time for ‘play’ and fun made our whole day better.

What I’d change for next time

· This activity was not assessed, and it should/could have been. Perhaps this could be done as a peer-assessment using a small rubric (of their discussion at the end), or a quick exit-slip in combination with their actual product and the process that they took to get there.

· I want to improve at learning how to give criteria for judging creativity and value, while not letting this put pressure on the students that will take away from the positive emotions associated with creativity.

Resources:

  • Beghetto, R. A. (2010). Creativity in the Classroom. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.). The Cambridge handbook of creativity (pp. 447-463). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Davies, D., Jindal-Snape, D., Collier, C., Digby, R., Hay, P., & Howe, A. (2013). Creative learning environments in education—A systematic literature review. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 8, 80-91.
  • Robinson, K. (2011). “Learning to be Creative” pp 245-283. In Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. John Wiley & Sons.

Creativity Assignment: creativity

Reflection

What a great learning experience these past months have been! When I look back to my first discussion post I can see that my understanding of both critical and creative thinking have deepened and changed and been challenged.

This mind-map shares some of the big ideas I took from this course:
https://www.mindomo.com/mindmap/b0e02b48fb0942498c403f7049822fb1

I started this course by stating that I felt quite comfortable with critical thinking. I’m someone who does a lot of thinking by nature. The biggest switch that came for me over this course was the fact that even though I’M a thinker, does not mean I am explicitly teaching my students to be critical thinkers. I have so enjoyed practicing all of the strategies listed in this module with my students: seeing them be challenged and pushed and forced to think deeper. I really notice that the more often we have done this thinking, the easier it gets for my students to do. Yesterday I was amazed with the responses I was getting when I did a quick academic controversy debate. The picture below illustrates the importance of this type of thinking in 2016: there are so many challenges facing us and our students, and we need to equip them to deal with each of them and look for ways of moving forward.
screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-10-33-01-am

I started this course with an idea of creativity that was focused on a final product: a quilt, a painting, or something else that could be seen or touched. However, this definition has been stretched. I now see creativity as more of a process, rather than an end product. I now see creativity as something that can be interwoven with the curriculum. I now see that I have more potential as a creative, and as a teacher that can allow creativity.
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Because creativity was something I was never very comfortable with, this semester I have challenged myself to try to implement it as often as I could. I had successes, I had things I wanted to change. But yesterday as I watched the kids wandering the forest, discussing which leaves looked most like a stoma, and then putting together their final creation I was reminded of the fact that there is so much good about taking time to go outside and wander in the forest. I was reminded of how much they learned in the process of finding plant parts, and that I didn’t need to be focused on how their final layout turned out.
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But, I am nowhere near where I want to be… the journey is just beginning!
Great learning with each of you, Janine