Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Developing Creative Thinking

The webinar organized by Pearson and hosted by Antonia Clare (co-author of SpeakOut) was quite informative and useful.

Apparently according to a research conducted by a US organization IQ level increased by 10% from generation to generation as well as creativity. However, it was discovered that this continued until 1990 and then the level of creativity in children started to decline. This was thought to be a result of educational system. Thus nowadays we are facing a creativity crisis.

What shall we, as teachers, do to make our learners creative? Antonia suggests shifting responsibility for learning back to our learners by motivating them to fully engage in the process of their own learning. Antonia offered quite a few tips on how to do this.

First of all, what is creative thinking?

Antonia shared Alvino's (1990) ideas:

1. fluency (generating lots of ideas)
2. flexibility (ability to shift perspective, variety of ideas)
3. elaboration (building on existing ideas)
4. originality (coming up with something new)

How creative thinking compares to critical thinking?

Creative Thinking 
Critical Thinking
generating ideas
lateral thinking 
idea generation

suspended judgement
many alternatives
vertical thinking
an answer

So how can we encourage creativity? We should provide our learners with a framework to colour it in (even if they colour over the lines. If we allow our learners to think outside the box they are used to, they will be able to become more creative than they are.

The first activity Antonia suggested is called 6 word stories.
Students are given some sample stories that are made up of 6 words and are asked to identify themselves with some of the stories. Then they can work on their own stories.
Samples suggested were:
Found true love. Married somebody else.
Ditched the map. Found better route.
Engulfed in work. Expelled from friendlist.
Evening. Excess vodka. Morning. Excess inertia.

The second idea is to use WritingExercises which is a site that generates the first line of a story and then students can work in pairs and write the story. It is important to set a word limit to make the task manageable for our learners.

Another idea is to use 5 Card Stories, which a site that randomly selects 5 pictures from Flickr and students can be asked to create a story using based on all the pictures selected by the website.

Giving half proverbs to students and asking them to finish the proverbs and to think of events in their lives that prove or disprove the proverbs is another option for encouraging creative thinking in our learners.

One more suggestion is to ask our learners to think of 5 memorable events in their lives that they would like to make into a film and take notes. Then students can work in pairs and tell their partners about their ideas for the film.

Two other activities involve senses. One is to ask students to think of emotions (or first they can look at some pictures and guess what emotions people are feeling) and to write a poem about that emotion.
_ _ emotion_ _ is like...
It tastes like...
It smells like...
It sounds like...
And it feels like...

The other one is to ask our learners to think back to their childhood and remember any particular smells that remind them of their childhood. Then they can talk about the stage of their life with which the smell is associated. Antonia suggested using TalkingMemories website as an extension to this last task.

Another idea is to use BBC Travel to read or watch articles/videos called "One perfect day in...". Students can read or watch the story of a traveller and then record their own "One perfect day" story on Voxopop.

Our leraner can also choose pictures from ELT Pictures that represent themselves and tell a story of who they are using the pictures they selected or, alternatively, other students in the class will have to look at the pictures their mates selected and try to guess what their peers wanted to tell.

Finally, Antonia shared a ScoopIt page that she created for this presentation.

I really enjoyed this webinar and am looking forward to more webinars organized by Pearson.

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