Welcome to the Critical, Creative Thinking workshop,Brief intro’sHopefully, by the end of the session you will have a few extra strategies that you can easily use in your own subject areas.Mentionppt etc. emailed and post its feedbacks Not setting ourselves up as experts, but as teachers interested in the topic – we want to share some of our thoughts and experiences about what we’ve found effective In the classroom.I have been interested in thinking for a while, for 2 main reasons:Things have changed since I started teaching – we are no longer seen as gatekeepers to knowledge (if we ever were) – now ‘knowledge’ is available with one click.‘cult of the right answer’.Annie anecdote – our discussions etc. – Her campaign to make changes, inspiring, practical etc. – Many ideas covered here from her – hope for future website etc.Colin to share his interest in the subject.There are 3 main questions Colin and I will explore today:
Question 1What is creative, critical thinking?
This is my definition – I hope it makes sense and correlates with how some of you view this.Like Bloom’s taxonomy, which now has creativity as its highest order thinking skill, I think that creativity needs to be added to the idea of critical thinking, it loses a really important aspect without it.Maybe some of you would like to join me in getting the IB to add “Creativity” to their learner profile?
Q2Because we want to avoid this!Becausecritical, creative students are intrinsically motivated.Because critical, creative students make critical creative adults.Because critical, creative students continue learning throughout their livesBecause Universities and employers want people who can think and adapt to new situations.
Here’s what IBM has to say about what they see as important attributes for future employees.Colin to add edexel info & experience etc.
Q3 – is it hard etc.As teachers, we’re always under time pressure, so you will be pleased to hear that no, it isn’t hard, it doesn’t require any curriculum change – you can just tweak your current practice.Also, the strategies that we are going to share today can be adapted for all subjects.Here are Island Time students completing a “Creative Thinking Challenge” – with only 25 straws and 50cm of tape, build the highest structure that will support and hold a marble for 30 seconds. Everyone in the pic very motivated and focused, and experimenting with strategies.
Firstly, as teachers in HK, what are we up against? Well, we have great kids don’t we – they are hard working etc.Tensions though – high parental expectations, grade chasing and ‘right’ answers – for regurgitation in exams (all familiar with that, right?)Do students see themselves as empty vessels or as makers of meaning? Which perspective is best for them? Which perspective is best for us as teachers?My feeling about the difference - that compliance is reacting to extrinsic factors and motivation is reacting to intrinsic factors. Or, more succinctly, compliance is because you have to, motivation is because you want to. Obviously, wanting to do something is always going to be more powerful than having to do something.
We’re also up against ‘the Google generation”Students have access to so much information, without necessarily having the skills to assess the validity of the information they have access to.They can search, but not necessarily re-search – the former is passive – just cutting and pasting, finding facts – does it develop their understanding? Does it stretch their thinking? The latter implies active participation, making connections with the information they find.The upshot is that we have students who have knowledge, but this doesn’t mean that they think critically, creatively or independently.So, is there a reason why these skills are lacking, and as educators can we do anything about it?
Oneminute to fill in as many circles as you can.So, how did you do?How many of you coloured in the whole circle – your strategy being to try to do it faster than anyone else? How did that work for you?
Here are year 7 student responses to the same task – not a coloured in circle to be seen. It seems that when we’re younger we think more creatively.As we get older (go through formal education?) we lose this ability – but as teachers we want students to be able to think creatively and critically, to make connections, to think in a cross curricular and trans-discipline way.Basically, thinking means making connections.
Some of you will be familiar with the this study – Sir Ken Robinson cited it - Breakpoint and Beyond, George Land and Beth Jarman – 2000Pre-formal education–1,600 3-5 year olds tested for creative problem solving – 98% were in the “Creative Genius’ categoryThe same 1,600 students re-tested at 8 – 10, after a few (5) years of formal education - Those in the C. Genius’ category had dropped to 32%The same 1,600 students re-tested again at 13 – 15 – now spent quite a long while (10 years) in formal education – C. Genius category now only 10%Most shocking – 200,000 adults over 25 tested – only 2% fell into C. Genius category.The way that most of us completed the circle task shows us something about the way we approach tasks and solve problems, they have become very similar. Our thinking practices have somehow converged.
So, I want to try and keep these neural pathways open, I want students who can think creatively and critically, who are not just passive consumers, but active interrogators of the information around them.I also want independent, motivated thinkers – and students who understand their own thinking processes – having advanced metacognition.These are the 3 behaviours I value in my classroom.I have tried to use these words as a basis of my lessons. On my good days it works really well.
I like to think that my students did have opportunities for thinking, but they were not explicit and it sometimes probably happened more by luck than judgement. I was hoping to make this less of an ad hoc process.So, keeping these words in mind I tried to make conscious changes in my teaching style and lesson planning. Here are some of my students who agreed that I could ‘experiment’ on them with different thinking strategies.
Myriad of strategies –you are probably aware of many – you will have favourites. Explain which ones work best for me & why.We used some of these team teaching a recent year 10 Maths class.Colin to talk about the lesson.
Ryan’s thinking Keys. (Oldies but goodies)A really useful strategy is using different ‘thinking keys’ – there are 20, and I have included a few of the most useful (as well as a website where you can find them all) in the pack we sent to you.I have successfully used these as starters, as plenaries, as energisers, as well as based whole lessons around single keys, or a combination of them.
ExerciseThe A – Z Key Here are my year 9s using this key to think about poetry.This key is easy - write A – Z down the margin, using each letter as the first letter of your word or phrase - fill in as many as you can Your Topic: Music – bands and singers since the 70s (content rather than concept – but can still see how intrinsically motivating it is)3 mins individualNow with a partner, compare your responses – do you have some the same and some different? Does different mean wrong?What if you were only allowed to have one entry per letter – which one would you choose? Why? Which one of your responses do you think shows really secure knowledge?Are there any letters you couldn’t fill? – Were these common to the class? Why? Why not?A variety of ways to use this, just with content – you can make this as easy or as difficult as you want. Add challenge by including concepts, not just content.My experience:If using to check understanding of a novel, all students seem to start with novel content – characters, setting, themes etc., but quickly move onto literary techniques, SHC, authorial intentions, even essay writing strategies. Watching their convoluted (and creative) ways to try and complete the difficult letters like X and Z is entertaining!In the maths class yesterday, students were challenging each other if they thought others’ words weren’t appropriate, or if they had what they thought as a higher value word – E.g. matrices is better than mathematics etc. Their justification discussion was putting them in the position of having to make connections.
Here are my year 10s using a combination of the forced relationships, predictions and commonalities keys. 3 mins – How many ways can you continue the sequence? Discuss patterns noticed and strategies used.What is powerful about Thinking Keys? When you have introduced a few of these keys and students are familiar with them, they have opportunity and power to choose own way of working – intrinsic motivation.Actively make choices about using different strategies, creatively combining etc. – the process of deciding which ones are more useful for a task is useful thinking in its own right.Have a range of responses & interpretations – all have validity – not one right answerWhere they have similar responses – reinforces idea that not one way of doing things
Questioning is also an important thinking strategy.Island Time – cross curricular year 7 programme – this year we have looked at Health, Identity, Truth and Belief and Innovation.We are now doing the innovation unit, and we have started by looking at the renewable energy sources we have at Island School.This questioning strategy – 8Ways Thinking –is basically a framework of 8 different focuses for helping students create their own questions. I would argue that being able to formulate their own questions shows a deeper level of thinking than just being able to answer the ones we pose. (Or get the right answer to the ‘guess what’s in my head’ question game).I’ve added the acronym SWAN – PENS as a memory aid for the students, Sights PeopleWords EmotionsActions NatureNumbers SoundsAlso asked them to add in the ‘what if’ and ‘ridiculous question’ keys (renamed the Ridikkulus spell after H. Potter by my year 7s) – if it helps them remember it, then great!We went to the school roof with paper and pens to look at the solar panels and a wind turbine – here’s the turbine.I asked them to use the prompts to help them come up with questions about the energy sources.
Here’s Humzah ‘investigating’ the solar panels – he had a lot of questions about the colour of the solar panels – are they blue because they reflect the sky? Are they all blue, or just the ones in HK?
Note range of Qs – much more engaged, creative and ‘critical’ than ‘usual’Note the Ridikkulus Question – no 7 – not so ridiculous!
Here are 7D using *Ways Thinking to formulate some questions – note the concentration!What is powerful about 8Ways Thinking?Getting them to formulate their own questions creates curiosity and intrinsic motivation – they want the answers to their own questions.Broadens the type of questions they get used to using – means developing and consolidating different ways of thinking.The emphasis is on the thinking and questioning; actively encouraging ridiculous questions helps students challenge the cult of right answers.
Here are students in a team taught Maths lesson – Colin and I. Low ability maths students – they are using thinking strategies to examine maths differently – more motivated as trying the ‘no right answer’ and 8Ways Thinking approach here.Use the 8Ways Thinking strategy (and any other that takes your fancy from the pack) when completing the next set of activities.Hand over to Colin.
Student response to maths and its relationship to real life question.
Thanks etc.Hope we have answered the 3 questions andgiven you some ideas to use in your lessons.Please share any thinking strategies that you use on pink post-its, and any comments/suggestions on purple post-its.Also – ESF evaluation form of whole day – please complete before you leave and put in box by the door.
Creativity is the Most Crucial Factorfor Future Success“More than rigor, managementdiscipline, integrity or even vision –successfully navigating an increasinglycomplex world will require creativity.”IBM 2010 Global CEO Study(60 Countries – 33 Industries –1500 CEO Participants)
Is it hard to teach creative, criticalthinking in our classrooms?
8Ways Thinking – Renewable Energy Questions1. Do solar panels make a noise that is beyond humanhearing?2. Where does the word ‘solar’ come from?3. How many wind turbines would completely power IS?4. Why do people hate wind farms in the UK?5. Wings and turbine blades look quite similar, why?6. Is the angle they are positioned at important?7. Ridikkulus Question – could you make a portable solarpanel and use it to provide personal power?
Take AwaysWhy should we use Thinking Strategies?• They help foster curiosity and creativity in ourstudents, as well as the ability to makeconnections.• They encourage metacognition, independence andintrinsic motivation• They challenge the cult of ‘the right answer’• They can be used alongside the current curriculumand be adapted for use in all subject areas.