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.

Butler, Vienna

How design thinking can empower young people. (2013). In Edutopia. Retrieved from

SUMMARY: This video shows how a homeless shelter called People Serving People has educators who work with young teens in a meaningful way. They took the kids through a meaningful design thinking process of what room in the shelter they wanted to spruce up, or “put their mark on.” They decided on the lobby and brainstormed ideas about what they wanted to do, and came up with a map. They interviewed people about the places they wanted to go in the neighborhood or liked spending their time. They worked with a young professionals of a company that created/designed logos and visuals to create this map. They were engaged in the process of making this map utilizing a computer program. This design thinking process allowed them to experience how things come to fruition as steps, and they used the info they learned to make decisions in real life about places to go, or would like to live.

EVALUATION: This real life example of students experiencing inquiry and design demonstrates how meaningful and empowering this was.  They were able to come up with questions, interview people in the community, make a collaborative decision, and have input on what the map would look like. They had a voice every step of the way and learned that their opinions, decisions, and actions matter; they had an effect on the community by creating something for the people in their neighborhood.  This experience gave them a small taste of how they can actually be agents of change, and be active participants in learning.

Genius Hour in the Library

Frey, Jennifer


RUSH, E. B. (2015). Genius Hour in the Library. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 26-30.


This article is about how a librarian went about implementing a librarian led genius hour for students in grades 3-5. The article takes you through the planning to the approval and implementation phase then addresses what worked and what’s next. The librarian worked with teachers to lead this project so there is a lot of collaboration going on.


I really enjoyed this article since I was interested in genius hours and wanted to know more. I thought this article was especially helpful since the focus was on librarians leading it. I liked how she shared her plan and what worked and the students reactions.

Teaching Social Studies with Video Games
Maguth, B. M., List, J. S., Wunderle, M. (2015). Teaching social studies with video games. The Social Studies, 106(1), 32-36. doi: 10.1080/00377996.2014.961996
This article highlights the use of interactive video games as instructional tools in the classroom.  Students used the game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings to build up a civilization.  This game was chosen because it could be aligned with state standards, had an easy to use interface, and good enough graphics to keep students engaged.  The teacher assessed student learning by having students write reflections related to academic content standards such as geography, trade, economics, etc.  Students were required to make connections between class discussions and the video game.  Teacher and student found the game to be a success in allowing students to practice academic content in “real world” scenario that was engaging.  The article even attributes this teaching strategy as an example of learning through play—a theory of Vygotsky and Piaget.

This article highlights the importance of information and technology literacy in our classrooms.  While this article did not highlight the role of a teacher librarian, I can only imagine how much more beneficial the outcome would have been if teacher and teacher librarian had co-taught this assignment.

Information Literacy and Twenty-First Century Skills

Reece, Madison


Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into Practice, 47(3), 220-228. doi: 10.1080/00405840802153916

Robin (2008) defines information literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, and synthesize information” (p. 224). Information literacy requires a specific set of abilities to effectively locate, evaluate, and utilize information. The author addresses digital storytelling and it’s place in the world of twenty-first century technologies. 

The author provides an interesting perspective on twenty-first century skills and information literacy. Twenty-first century skills can be obtained when students learn to conduct research on their own, ask critical questions, think critically, and organize ideas in meaningful ways. Librarians and educators should exhibit strong leadership in the fields of technology in order to provide meaningful learning experiences for students. 

School Libraries Work! 2016 Edition

Sannwald, Suzanne
Scholastic. (2015). School libraries work!: A compendium of research supporting the effectiveness of school libraries (2016 ed.). Retrieved from 

Summary: The 2016 edition updates the previous 2008 version, and it includes new research and trends such as makerspaces. This is a seminal document that Teacher Librarians should study and become familiar with, because it summarizes well the power of school library programs. It may also be shared with other members of the school community as an advocacy piece to help inform them. Of importance, the report not only shares statements about the importance of staffing and funding school libraries, but it bases these assertions on summarized research. Some key ideas shared include the following:

  • Libraries are transforming into learning commons.
  • School libraries consist of (1) The Place, (2) The Professional, and (3) The Program.
  • Successful school libraries contribute to ELA achievement, reading performance, information literacy, 21st century skill building, and overall student success.
  • Successful school libraries require commitment from district and school administration.

Evaluation: I had a difficult time picking a category for this resource since it spans a lot of topics, but I ended up picking “CO” Collaboration since I think it is a strong document supporting the value of collaboration with school libraries. This is a powerful reference resource for all Teacher Librarians!

Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

IL-Creative Thinking
IL-Critical Thinking
IL-Integrated or Separate
IL-Other Literacies
ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
ET-Learning Styles
ET-Standards-based Education

Torrence, Martha. “Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come.” Montessori Life Summer 2012: 18-23.
What future will our children face, and how can we best prepare them for it? What changes in the educational landscape are essential in order to prepare them? Education has changed throughout the years, always with the best intentions, but not always with the best results. Changes like “No Child Left Behind” has led to relentless testing and the idea that the only knowledge worth gaining is testable and measurable; and that successful students are repositories of knowledge rather than processors of information, creative thinkers and problem solvers.
With the introduction of Common Core, 21stCentury skills have become a major focus. These 21st Century skills shift the role of the child to become central to the process and an active co-constructor of knowledge rather than a passive vessel waiting to be filled.  These ideas are beginning to sound like what has been going on Montessori classrooms for decades; student-directed learning, where the center is the child.    

I decided to add this article to the blog because as we started learning about QuickMOOCs and student-directed learning, the more it started sounding like a Montesorri classroom to me. I think that traditional education needs a major overhaul and I’m not sure that Common Core is the right answer. Although there are aspects of Common Core that are a great improvement ( 21st Century skills), there are others (enormous amount of standardized testing) that defeat the idea of education reform. I am very interested in alternate ways of educating and testing children, and I find the Montessori approach fascinating. 

World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements

Anna Taylor

ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL-Critical Thinking

What if you showed kids failure because life has failure? They learn from it.

John Hunter has shown his students how to learn from failure through his teaching method: playing a game called “The World Peace Game”. Take a look at this short clip below to get the idea.

John’s students are typically 4th graders and use resources like “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu to help learn how to create peace through war and chaos. This game is able to explore creative thinking, empathy, compassion, sacrifice, critical thinking and collaboration. John gives the students the floor to make things happen and serves as a guide and supporter, or as he says “clock watcher”. Pretty amazing. Take a look at the great TED video to find out more and check out his book for even more inspiration!

Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse

Vaile Fujikawa
Thibodeaux, B. (2013, March 14). Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse. Education Week. Retrieved from:

Summary: Very inspiring video about a new take on learning at a school in Texas. Lots of hands on, see how things work, do it yourself type learning in environments that differ from traditional learning spaces. Instead of a teacher telling a child how something works the student gets to look it up or build a model of it herself.
Evaluation: What a great place to go to school. I wish these kinds of opportunities were available for all kids everywhere. It seems like it’s kind of the trifecta of learning: you get to hear it, you get to do it, and you get to see it.