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.

Build a School in the Cloud TED talk

Mackey, Megan


Mitra, S. (2013). Build a school in the cloud. Retrieved from

A Ted talk form the winner of the 2013 TED prize. He talks of his experience giving students computers  and their self-motivation, curiosity, and success learning. He talks of his wish was to create a school in the cloud through SOLEs (self organized learning environments).

An intriguing idea but how successful was this? There is a blog post about him bringing the first learning lab in the US to Harlem in 2015.  Not much is to be discovered online. Even their own website doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2016. A documentary was recently released in England. Is it still in practice? Perhaps the larger educational system of the US is just too much to tackle?


How AR and VR Can Make Students Laugh and Cry Out Loud – and Embed Them in Their Learning

Michelle Furtado


McMahon, W. (2018). How AR and VR Can Make Students Laugh and Cry Out Loud-and Embed Them in Their Learning. EdSurge, 28.

This article discusses a teacher’s experience using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) hardware and software to teach English lessons in a College class. The teacher purchased forty AR headsets and used them to create lessons in which students could experience literature in innovative ways. As an example, for a study of poetry and lyrics he had them visit a U2 site which demonstrated interaction with a worldwide community in song creation and performance. Students were then asked to share their experiences and reflect on them. Students reported a higher level of emotional engagement in their learning than they had without the technology. After the lessons, the students were challenged to create products that would be useful using the software and hardware. They had to write up their proposals and present them to a panel of venture capitalists.

The article is a useful one, given the movement toward AR and VR technology. Students are already interacting with the world through technology with such games as Minecraft and Fortnite. This article discusses the value of incorporating immersive technology into teaching. The problematic portion is, of course, the current cost of such technology. While this may not be a viable option today in most k-12 public schools, the cost will probably come down in the years to come. AR and VR will no doubt allow more lessons to achieve the Redefinition level of SAMR technology integration.

10-Minute Teacher Podcast: 5 Ideas to Experience Inquiry in Your Classroom

Isbister, Kathy


Davis, V. (Producer & Host). (2018, September 14). 10-Minute Teacher http://podcast (Episode 360: 5 ideas to experience inquiry in your classroom). Retrieved from

Summary: I recently found this podcast from a list of recommendations from the Edutopia blog, and I have become an active listener. In this episode, host Vicki Davis interviews Kimberly Mitchell, author of the book Experience inquiry: 5 powerful strategies, 50 practical experiences. Tips involved sharing curiosity with students by telling them what you are interested in learning more about, and encouraging students to develop open rather than closed questions (where open questions invite more thoughtful responses). One of the questions Mitchell has found especially useful is, “How do you know that?” This encourages students to share their sources and examine how they come to conclusions. It is important to note that the host discloses this was a sponsored episode and she did receive some form of compensation, but I have found her work to be credible and I felt the ideas discussed were aimed at supporting teachers rather than selling books.

Evaluation: I found this to be an engaging discussion with practical suggestions that will be easy to implement. Both host and guest are interested in supporting student learning by helping students remain curious. Curious learners have more questions, which I have found to be the basis of inquiry. The quality of questions a learner has reflects their interest in a subject, and the search for thoughtful answers encourages them to continue on their personal quests for knowledge.


The Four Cs of Learning

The Four Cs of Learning

This is an interesting blog post by Jeff Utecht, who is an educator, consultant and author. He writes about the Four Cs and says there is nothing new in the list that educators haven’t been doing for years. How we view them now is new. He expands and gives ideas on these:

  • Communication: Teaching to communicate the way the world communicates
  • Collaboration: Across space and time
  • Creativity: To a global audience
  • Critical Thinking: Creating Problem Finders
Then he adds one more, the ‘C’ word of education, CONTROL. He says, “When we talk about giving up control in the classroom we do not mean giving up structure. If you are going to give the control of the learning over to the students it means you need more structure in place not less. Routines need to be in place, timing needs to be clearly delineated, and a system needs to exist so that students can have control of the learning. Giving over control of the learning to students does not mean less prep-time, less work for the teacher… the beginning it actually means more work as teachers learn a new way of structuring their classroom around student interest, student questions and take on a new role as a facilitator and coach of learning.”

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Kira Koop

IL – Creativity

Robinson, K. (February 2006). Ken robinson: Do schools kill creativity? [Video] TED2006.
(but also here:

Sir Ken Robinson delivered this TEDtalk more than ten years ago, and in it, he very cleverly mixes story and ideas to illustrate his points and connect to his audience. He addresses the notions of creativity, of failing, of the hierarchy within schools of subjects and values, as well as multiple intelligences.

I quite enjoyed this talk, in part because it’s always immensely satisfying to listen to English accents, but the content was also very interesting. I personally disagree with his emphasis on “originality” – after all, the quotation “good artists borrow, great artists steal” – Picasso, probably – is generally understood to mean that most creative content references other ideas – but he did say one thing that has resonated with me specifically: to be creative, you must be prepared to be wrong, to fail.

I was thinking about this within the context of my fine art background through high school, before my BFA. My high school art teacher built “idea pages” into his assignments for us. We weren’t allowed to start a project until we had shown that we had sat down to think about and work through the process, come up with three separate plans (complete with symbolism, colour theory, media, and style) and chosen the one that worked best. It was still a high school class, and grades were still very much the method of receiving feedback, which meant that “failing” was tied into assessment, rather than the thing you created, but this process allowed us to figure out a few failures (to communicate? to create? to idealize?) before we even started. Furthermore, it removed the fear from the process: if you didn’t show through your idea page that you had grappled with failure as part of the creative process, you didn’t do it right, and you wouldn’t receive the marks for it.  

Nevertheless, his talk goes far beyond this one idea, and I hope you enjoy it.

Smartphones give new life to audiobooks

Aubree Burkholder

McClurg, J. (2016, October). Smartphones give new life to audiobooks – Retrieved from
This article explains that audiobooks are not an obsolete media, but instead are exploding in popularity and attracting a whole new generation of audiobook listeners. The article also explains that while reaching a new clientele is by far the best aspect of the downloadable audiobooks, the fact that downloadable audiobooks are a fraction of a cost of audiobook CDs are no doubt a great feature as well.

I enjoyed this article because offers a new hope for audio book lovers that the media will not fall into shadows, and has instead found a new clientele base. I myself have begun using my own smartphone to listen to audiobooks while at work or while driving.  

A School-wide Gamification Project Created by the Teacher Librarian

Gabrielle Thormann
Squires, T. (2016).  Student engagement through library-led gamification.  Library as Classroom.  Retrieved from:
This entry is an audio recording available only through the Blackboard Collaborate system.  
This middle school teacher librarian had the support and opportunity of her administration and staff to create a school-wide gamification project.  She created teams of 7th graders against 8th graders, used digital technology, specifically Edmodo to create groups for communication between students.  Stories were built in the morning with the cooperation of staff, missions and goals were set, strategy cards to assist missions, and points allotted and listed in spreadsheets.   Students were also required to turn in a paper report of their work in the games, as well as other simple assignments and activities during the game.  Squires created a video about the game, and submitted to ‘Follett Challenge’ and won a substantial amount of funds. 
I’m always interested in hearing/reading about how teachers apply theory and create projects, and so found this audio recording interesting and supportive.
Note:  Here is the link to other talks also available through Blackboard Collaborate:

Genius Hour in the Library

Debbie Gibbons


Rush, E. B. (2015). Genius hour in the library. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 26-30. Retrieved from

This is a reflection by one elementary librarian on her first year of implementing a Genius Hour in her school library. Students in grades 3 – 5 were allowed to explore, research, or study any topic during their weekly library period. The librarian, the classroom teacher, and the students all had responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the process and progress. One key factor was to encourage the students to take risks and turn “failures” into learning opportunities. The article offers a checklist to implement a Genius Hour in your own school.


In the same way that students were encouraged to take risks, the author took on a new endeavor in starting a Genius Hour in her library. She admits that not everything was perfect, and there were things that she would do differently the second year. The checklist allows the reader to learn from the author’s missteps. I especially appreciate that she revealed that there were a handful of students who looked like they were diligently working all along and then had no work to show at the end of the project. She then offers a practical suggestion for how to better support those students the next year.

T is for Transmedia

Sannwald, Suzanne
Herr-Stephenson, B., Alper, M., Reilly, E., & Jenkins, H. (2013). T is for transmedia: Learning through transmedia play. Los Angeles and New York: USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Retrieved from

Summary: The linked paper provides a comprehensive review of transmedia “play” and how this connects with learning. Particularly with libraries transforming into Learning Commons, and their increasing support of constructivist and discovery learning, this study provides helpful background information and research that supports the learning benefits of transmedia play. Educators may be familiar with research regarding functional literacy and increasingly about information and media literacy, but they may not be aware of transmedia literacy and the way that these extensions may legitimately support learning goals. While transmedia may be at times accused of being evidence of gross commercialization, this paper looks at how it serves as an entry point for children to not only learn with high self-motivation and interest, but also encourages them to participate as content creators themselves.

Evaluation: I recently learned about transmedia in INFO 237, and I think that there is nice synergy between this topic and the investigation that we have been doing in INFO 250 regarding discovery learning. In particular, I think that it is important that Teacher Librarians become well versed in supporting students as creators, and that we are able to articulate the relevance of this constructivist learning to their overall educational experience.