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

Summary:  This is a TEDxBrisbane talk with Jesse Richardson, the founder of  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 and 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.

Can librarians help make “thinking” visible to students?

Summary: Ron Ritchart of Project Zero at Harvard University along with Church & Morrison are pushing the envelope on how students experience the act of thinking (2011). Drawing from Understanding by Design, (Wiggins, 2005) and yet going in a slightly different direction, the authors of Making Thinking Visible argue that teachers don’t often understand what they mean when they describe how a lesson made students “think” (2011). For these authors, “making thinking visible,” is an important strategy for being deep and specific about what we mean when we ask students to “think.” Using engaging and innovative strategies for creating environments for thinking (implementing “thinking routines”), can help students to gain understanding on a deeper and more cognitively informed level. Thinking begins by asking open-ended questions that are authentic and which also interest the teacher–questions that the teacher or teacher-librarian does not necessarily know the answer to (2011, pp. 50).

Opinion: A lot of these strategies and practices are already implicit in constructivist classrooms, which involve a lot of pondering and reflecting. That said, this book did make me pause and re-think teaching and learning. It did so because it really slows down the idea of thinking, and tried to value the process of thinking itself over the usual learning targets and goals (which even in constructivist environments educators can get carried away by). While at first glance this book might seem only relevant to teachers, it can also impact the way teacher-librarians consider using technology for the benefit of students. Can we help student visualize how they think? Perhaps you should read this book and find out. I’d definitely recommend.

Ritchart, R. Church, M. & Morrison, K. (2011). Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engaement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, Jay., Grant P. McTighe, and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. Expanded 2nd ed. 2005. Web.

Making personalized learning projects possible

Sasaki, Lori


Schwartz, K. (2017, December 4). Tips and Tricks to keep kids on track during genius hour projects. KQED Mindshift. Retrieved from

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.

Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies and Teaching Both

Hertz-Newman, Jenny


Bali, M. (2016). Knowing the difference between digital skills and digital literacies and teaching both. Literacy Today. Retrieved from:

This article makes the important distinction between digital skills such as the ability to use digital tools (i.e., how to download, how to retweet, how to use Powerpoint) and digital literacies, which Bali (2016) characterizes as the “issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose”.  In other words it’s important for teachers to make sure they are teaching both the HOW of using digital tools as well as the WHEN and WHY involved with using those tools.

I appreciate the way Bali (2016) discusses the contextualized teaching and learning involved in digital literacy — when would you use Google instead of another platform, when should your use be determined by issues of privacy, issues of source reliability, issues of appropriateness and long term consequences of a particular posting?  She proposes a progressive model, scaling up in complexity in both skills and literacy.


CARS may not be enough anymore

1.   GARDNER, L. (2017). Information Literacy, a Revised Plan. School Library Journal, 63(1), 20.

IIn this article, Laura Gardner discusses the ways in which she has traditionally taught her students about website reliability, and how she is altering her plans this year due to the proliferation of “fake news.”  She has noted an inability in her middle-school aged students to discern the difference between fact and opinion especially when reading information online, and she is thus spending more time helping them learn to cross-check and verify information before accepting its authenticity.  She is also instructing them about the pitfalls of posting to social media before verifying the truth of news stories, since that is a common way in which fake news is shared and spread.  

This is a very helpful article for anyone who works with adolescents or tweens, and Gardner’s recommendations are useful.  I have used the CARS method myself, and I agree that kids probably need help to know whether information meets some of the standards.  For example, they need to check not just whether that information seems reasonable – because some very dubious things can seem reasonable to middle schoolers!  They need to verify it in other independent sources.  I also appreciate Gardner’s focus on social media awareness, because that is where students get most of their news, and they need to be aware that it may not be accurate.  Students can be taught ways to verify news they read on social media and to avoid reposting erroneous information.