Creativity & Critical Thinking

Oakes, Constance

Topic: Inquiry and Design (ID)

Bibliographic Citation:  Richardson, J. (2014, October 17). How to think, not what to think [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dluwVks444

Summary:  This is a TEDxBrisbane talk with Jesse Richardson, the founder of schoolofthought.org.  In his talk, he discusses the need to stop teaching students information and to start teaching them how to think.  His thinking is that we need to teach children how to think creatively. By doing so we will be teaching students not only how to think, but how to be adaptive and how to innovate in order to solve problems.  Along with this, we need to teach critical thinking skills to teach students to be able to change their thinking and be able to be wrong which then leads to growth.

Evaluation/Opinion:  I found this TEDx to be engaging and I liked his view that thinking creatively and critical thinking skills are two sides of the same coin.  The School of Innovation is intriguing as is yourlogicalfallacyis.com and yourbias.is. I agree that this is what we need to be teaching our youth so they will be ready for the world we are leaving them.

Looking at shiny things: Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen

Summary: It is easy to subconsciously think that students have a slightly different brain than we do. But do you ever wonder if you yourself would want to participate in the lesson you just planned? Julie Dirksen explores this idea with a light and yet practical touch. Designed something like a fun textbook, “Design for How People Learn” explores research on how and why people learn and boils it down into practical tips. It turns out, if you get information overload pretty quickly and often gravitate towards bright and shiny things, so do your students! Dirksen makes the argument that we need to appeal to the visceral, emotional and intuitive sides of people’s experiences as well as the “intellect.”

Opinion: What is interesting about this book is that it is not only geared towards teachers, it is also geared towards any professional that is hoping to impart knowledge in some way shape or form. For that reason, and many others, this book is a refreshing take on how to really make something stick. This book got me thinking more creatively about how to increase storytelling, and other more visual, visceral, emotional and intuitive elements into my teaching practice. Not every part of the book is relevant to a teacher-librarian, but it is easy to skip around and find something that could be useful.

Dirksen, L. (2016). Design for How People Learn: Second Edition. San Fran: CA: New Riders.

A foundational article that reads like it could be written today

Cothran, T.
ET
Wiggins, G. (1989) The futility of trying to teach everything of importance. Educational leadership. 47(3), p. 44-59. Retrieved from http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Wiggins.pdf

Summary: Sadly, this 1989 article reads like it could be written today. Whether in 1989 it was a reflection of changing thought on our educational system or a challenge to the status quo, I’m not sure. Wiggins argues eloquently for an inquiry driven process to learning, noting that students can’t possible learn everything there is they need to know by 12th grade. Rather, it should be our job to teach them to question, to check their own assumptions, and the skills to find the answers they need to solve a problem or provide a deeper understanding to something of interest/need.

Evaluation: I think this is an insightful article. I find it a bit distressing that we haven’t moved forward in this direction more in the 30 years since it was written. This was before we saw the explosion of access to information brought about by the internet and our personal handheld devices! In Wiggins arguments, there a couple of key take-aways for me. He talks about standards and how standards should reflect a process rather than content. This makes me think about how the AALS standards are written. I’ve often reflected in my lesson designs that if you are building a strong unit, learners will access those standards throughout their learning process depending on where they are in their learning journey. That’s not to say that some won’t need to be pushed to go deeper, but it’s an argument for meeting learners where they are and helping them become stronger.

He is clearly advocating for teachers as facilitators of learning. He even calls for teachers to be an “intellectual librarian.” This makes me consider how we, as librarians, model this kind of process in our spaces. What can we do (even with our fixed schedules etc.) to engage learners when they encounter our spaces (physical or virtual).

I particularly appreciated his parallel of learning as related to sports or the performing arts. As someone with a theater background, I can honestly say that my most connected learning has come about when developing theater pieces. Depending on a show, history comes alive and I can see it and it’s importance — it’s not just a bunch of names and dates on a page. Scientific arguments and mysteries may be revealed. I question the status quo and want to know more. It’s also a collaborative learning process. If you are an actor, you are deeply immersed in the why and how of your character. A designer is immersed in creating a visual or aural world. All of these pieces come together (aka all of these people collaborate) to create something that is larger than any one of them could on their own. It reminds me of Dr. L’s advocacy for a meaningful culminating activity.

What are we asking kids to do? Designing research projects that ignite creativity

Van Duzee, Alyssa

(CO) Collaboration

Miller, A. (2018, March 09). What are we asking kids to do? Designing research projects that ignite creativity. Retrieved from https://knowledgequest.aasl.org/asking-kids-designing-research-projects-ignite-creativity/

The term “research” is often synonymous with boring, tedious, and dull. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This article challenges people to shift their thinking and make research more relevant to students.  If we want students to challenge themselves and think critically, we need to ask ourselves two major questions when we are planning research projects:

  1. Do our assignments offer choice and autonomy?
  2. Is there a greater purpose and relevancy to our assignments?

Research needs a purpose and students need to understand that purpose. If we can keep these questions in the back of our minds when collaborating with teachers and designing research lessons, students will become more engaged, thus resulting in deeper and more critical thinking and learning.

Making personalized learning projects possible

Sasaki, Lori

ID

Schwartz, K. (2017, December 4). Tips and Tricks to keep kids on track during genius hour projects. KQED Mindshift. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/12/04/tips-and-tricks-to-keep-kids-on-track-during-genius-hour-projects/?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20171210Mindshift&mc_key=00Qi000001WzPsREAV

This article outlines one teacher’s advice and experience around Genius Hour, or “20 percent time projects.” The teacher shares anecdotes and examples (including a student video) of the challenges and successes in implementing this kind of student-centered learning.

There is not a comprehensive explanation of the entire project, however the article touches upon various important stages, such as defining the problem, staying organized, and assessment. The tangible tools and tips (with lots of links to resources) for managing personalized learning projects helped to make this kind of learning process seem both inspiring and realistically do-able.

Great Video on Behaviorist Theory

Jeselyn Templin

CO

G., C. [Caitlin G.]. (2015, September 20). The breakdown: Behaviorist theory . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywfwHL18nFM

Summary:
Caitlin G’s video on Behaviorist theory effectively breaks down the finer points of both Behaviorism and Constructivism by explaining their relationship to one another and how they differ.

Evaluation:
The way she breaks down Behaviorism and Constructivism is very accessible to novices in the field. I appreciate the examples she uses, like Pavlov’s dogs to explain response to stimuli, to make sure her viewers understand what she is talking about. By the end of the video I felt well-versed in the basics of Behaviorist theory and ready to research more in the form of scholarly articles.

Seven Surprising Benefits of Maker Spaces

Brandt, Alisa

Barron, C., & Barron, A. (2016, August 2). Seven surprising benefits of maker
    spaces [Blog post]. Retrieved from School Library Journal website:
    http://www.slj.com/2016/08/technology/seven-surprising-benefits-of-maker-spaces/

ET – Maker Spaces

IL – Motivation

This article reveals the seven physical and psychological benefits of maker spaces in libraries beyond meeting curriculum standards.
Focusing on making brings people into the present moment giving them a break from focusing on the past or future too much. Making is physical and gets people moving, stretching, and standing, which gets blood flowing. Making is dependent upon self-directed engagement and gives people motivation to complete a task rather than having to do a required task. This means that people are learning what interests them and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Making uses hand-based activities which gives people a deeper connection to their brain and the development of skills such as visual thinking and problem solving. Making improves mood, giving people a boost of happiness. Maker spaces in libraries create a sense of community and connection which can prevent loneliness. Making “prevents the habit of wastefulness” by salvaging old materials and creating something new (Barron & Barron, 2016).

Evaluation: We are all familiar with the ways that makerspaces in schools enhance student learning and help to meet curriculum standards. It is also helpful to understand the ways in which making, whether it is simple or complex, provides so many mental and physical benefits to makers. In a time when people are increasingly disconnected from others and from the physical and mental processes that keep humans healthy, making provides an opportunity to gain some of this back.