Working with the Creativity Ideal

Working with the Creativity Ideal over a period of several weeks involves three things: exploring creativity in connection with topics students are studying, having students reflect on what they understand about creativity and how it works, and helping students detect opportunities to use their creativity and to see the creativity in things.

Exploring Curricular Connections

Working with the Creativity Ideal mainly involves finding opportunities in the curriculum for students to think creatively about a something they are doing or making, and to explore the creativity behind things other people have done or made. Try to use several creativity routines per week, ranging across different subject matters if you teach more than one. You can also look for opportunities in school and community life outside the classroom.

Here are the some of the kinds of opportunities you might look for.

Decision making. Decisions usually present themselves as a simple either/or choice. Think creatively about decision options, whether they are decisions students themselves face, or decisions faced by people from the curriculum -- historical figures, contemporary political figures, or literary characters.

Problem solving and invention. Find a fresh way to do an old task, e.g. book reports. Consider a situation from history as a problem and think creatively about how to approach it. Identify a problem in the school or community and tackle it creatively.

Question-asking. Go beyond asking obvious questions about a topic (usually questions of information) to ask a range of creative questions that expand students' conception of the topic at hand.

Point of view. Most everything in the curriculum is put forth from a particular point of view. Get a fresh perspective on an idea, event, or work of art by creatively identifying and exploring alternative points of view.

The design behind ideas and objects. Look at the creativity behind design of everyday ideas and things -- from punctuation to book design to Arabic numerals -- by exploring their purposes, features and intended audiences. How creative are these designs? How could the be more creative? 

Reflecting on creativity

Throughout the module you will want to have students reflect back and think about their thinking about creativity. You can do this informally through a class discussion or by using a routine designed for reflection.

Connect Back Routine This routine helps students consolidate their growing understanding of the concept of creativity. It helps them reflect on the creativity routines they have been learning and see how they are connected to the larger concept of creativity as illustrated in the Creativity Map.

I used to think..., But now I think...Routine In this routine, students write and/or discuss what they used to think about the topic of creativity. Then they write down what they now think and look at the contrasts.

These routines can be used multiple times. For one time, many teachers try to use them sometime near the middle of the Creativity Module, to consolidate and deepen learning.

Detecting opportunities: Developing awareness of when creativity is invited or present

A crucial part of developing students' disposition to be creative is developing their sensitivity to opportunities for creativity -- opportunities to use their own creativity and opportunities to explore the creativity embedded in the things and ideas around them. The Thermometer Routine -- a routine that's found in all the Vsible Thinking modules -- is designed to strengthen students' ability to detect opportunities.  

The Creativity Thermometer This routine asks students to spot occasions out of the classroom that invite creativity and that reflect creativity. This is a good routine to do repeatedly, since it helps develop students' awareness of the need for creativity. 

The next page, Looking at Students' Conceptual Development, sketches how you might bring the Creativity Module to a close.