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.

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.”

Kira Koop

IL – Critical Thinking

Hooks, B. (2010). Teaching critical thinking: practical wisdom. New York, New York: Taylor & Francis.

The last paragraph of bell hooks’ introduction to her book states that the topics that the book discusses directly result from hooks’ conversations with students and teachers, and “emerge from our collective desire to understand how to make the classroom a place of fierce engagement and intense learning.”

The short essays that follow touch on ideas such as decolonizing the classroom, how collaborative critical thinking can be, feminism within an educational structure, and democratizing education. 
Though this is a physical book of essays (students can find an ebook available with a free trial here), I felt it necessary to include her writings in my recommendations to other learners. hooks is an extraordinary teacher, writer, and feminist, but until I came across this volume in the education section of my public library, I had had no idea that she has a career as a teacher on top of writing feminist theory. She writes efficiently: it takes little space for her to make a point, but with each sentence I encounter a new revelation. It’s because of this that I haven’t selected a single essay to recommend to you; even the essays that are less relevant to the course content I have found to be insightful and valuable for my learning process. 

Digital Literacy and Why It Matters

Jeselyn Templin


University of Derby. (2014, November 5). Digital literacy and why it matters . Retrieved from

This video is a comprehensive introduction to why digital literacy matters for everyone. It mentions many everyday things that require a certain amount of digital literacy such as filling out job applications online and syncing up your calendar to a friend’s in order to make plans.

I enjoyed this video because it reminded me that not everyone is lucky enough to have been exposed to technology throughout their life like I have. Whether it is because of their age, the amount of technology exposure they can afford, or other life circumstances, the video reminded me that not everyone instinctually knows what to do when they sit down behind a computer. This lesson was especially prevalent for me now, working in the public library with patrons of all different backgrounds. The video effectively reminds people with the privilege of natural digital literacy not to take these skills for granted.

Don’t Forget Your Emergency Plan

Aubree Burkholder
Epstein, S. (2016, October). Don’t Forget Your Emergency Plan. Retrieved from
This article enforces the need for all libraries, and personal homes for that matter, to have an up to date and accurate emergency plan. It goes on to outline the basic key steps to creating an emergency plan and the necessity to update information such as staff contact and emergency information at least annually.

I enjoyed this article because I feel that it serves as a great reminder to library staff to ensure that an emergency plan is in place and updated on a regular basis. I feel that having or not having an updated emergency plan could very well be the difference between tragedy and triumph in an emergency situation. 
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.

Ideology and critical self-reflection in information literacy instruction

Nicole Katz
Critten, J. (2015). Ideology and critical self-reflection in information literacy instruction. Communications in Information Literacy. 9(1), 145-156.

The author, Jennifer Critten, is (at the time of this article) a student at the University of West Georgia. This article was created a reflection of a semester-long information literacy course. Critten focuses her article on the “neo-Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s figurations of ideology and ideological state apparatuses as a site of critical self-reflection for students and a method by which students could become empowered to recognize themselves as not just consumers, but shapers of discourse.” Critten discusses the concept of critical consciousness and critical pedagogy as well.


I found this article to very thorough and interesting. The idea that it ultimately doesn’t matter (as much) what the author’s bias are, why they thought what they did when they wrote it, but the reader’s bias. What you (the reader) bring to the text will dictate what you take away from it and being able to see that, to critically self-assess your bias is just so valid.  Readers can easily allow their personal belief system to cloud over and interfere with what they’re reading and never really “see” what is in front of them. I rather enjoyed this article.

5 Tips to Improve Your Critical Thinking

Hoff, Jane
IL–Critical Thinking
5 tips to improve your critical thinking – Samantha Agoos. (2016, March 15). Retrieved 2016, from
5 Tips to Improve Your Critical Thinking
Summary:  This TED-Ed video uses visually appealing animation to support verbal explanation of the importance of critical thinking skills in everyday life.  As we are exposed to an vast sea of information, through interpersonal interactions, digital media, and environmental conditions, we are faced with a tremendous task of making decisions.  While critical thinking is not the only way to make decisions, the application of the 5 step process in sense making and decision making attributed to critical thinking has proved to be more frequently successful and more desirable quality of successful people.  This video was designed to share with students to help guide them in developing successful critical thinking processes and skills, as well as understand the purpose critical thinking serves.

Review:  Yet again TED- Ed does not disappoint.  This concise video offers a meaningful explanation of critical thinking with engaging tie-ins to everyday activities that is clearly directed to a young adult or teen audience.  The video also offers a well-illustrated and easily navigable 5 steps for approaching thinking critically.  While this might not be the best video to show K – 6 students, it may serve a tremendous value in demystifying the learning objectives and targets in critical thinking for older students in middle school and high school.  This video will most certainly focus the key elements that educators would need to emphasize to their students in critical thinking iteration even in lower elementary grades.  This also has a full TED-Ed Lesson option (found on the right side menu panel).

Critical Thinking: Educating Competent Citizens

Hoff, Jane
IL–Critical Thinking
Admin, E. (2014, January 29). Critical thinking: Educating competent citizens. Retrieved 2016, from
Critical Thinking: Educating Competent Citizens
Summary:  In this article, which first appeared on the blog ElesapiensJanuary 29, 2014, critical thinking as a process is explained.  The article explains eight fundamental aspects to the process of critical thinking: Reflection, Analysis, Acquisition of Information, Creativity, Structuring Arguments, Decision Making, Commitment, and Debate.    Additionally, the article pairs these eight fundamental aspects with five soft skills that are universally important to the world citizen: Humility, Courage, Responsibility, Commitment, and Respect.  The basic idea is that critical thinking skills are fundamental to self-sufficiency and capable problem solving in everyday life. Critical thinking skills are not limited to academic pursuits, and the more young students correlate critical thinking skills with everyday life pursuits, the more success they will see in academic achievement, life-long learning, and over all life success.

Review:  Where many in our field might find the explanation of critical thinking gratuitous, it does add to the bounty of information that can be effectively transferred to our students for their understanding of expectations and learning targets in the classroom and in everyday life.  Deconstructed in this manner, this article encourages the educator to more effectively describe and define critical thinking as a process to students enhancing their ability to navigate the academic world, their local community, as well as the global community in which they will certainly be playing a larger role in the very near future.

Through the looking glass: Examining technology integration in school librarianship

Deligencia, Nick
Green, L. S. (2014). Through the looking glass: Examining technology integration in school librarianship. Knowledge Quest, 43(1), 36-43.

Beginning with a description of the SAMR model and a review of its popularity and widespread use, the article then questions the validity of the model.  An open letter to the SAMR model’s founder is described, which critically evaluates SAMR in a manner that many teacher librarians are (or should be) teaching to their students.  The author delineates findings about the SAMR model’s creator, what it contributes to the thinking on the subject (how is it different), whether it is research-based and whether its methodology can be vetted, and whether it is a sponsored product.

A comparative evaluation of the TPCK model follows.  This section cites ways in which the model is often shared and used among educators that is, in fact, not consistent with the model’s intention and design.  The article concludes with a recommendation to “visit the Technology Integration Matrix maintained by Northern Arizona University <>.”

Worth reading; thought-provoking.  I’m a little nervous about posting this here, given the professor’s implicit (and my own, previously explicit) endorsement of the SAMR model.  And yet, this article gets at the core of teacher librarians’ roles in information literacy.  How effective are we if we’re not applying the information credibility checks that we’re teaching our students?

This is not an indictment of the SAMR model, per se.  The article is more critical of the application of TPCK than SAMR, but it is most critical of any unquestioned and unexamined propagation of any model.

IL-Analysis and Synthesis, IL-Critical Thinking, IL-Technology Instruction