In a previous blog, I introduced a few general methods for incorporating creative thinking in the classroom. This entry will provide some specific techniques. Linda Flanagan, writing in the online educational newsletter of KQED,  MindShift, states: “Imaginative thinking hones creativity and improves students’ social and emotional skills.”  So rather than approaching the lecture method of traditional teaching, educators can transform their methods and encourage students to be active, relevant participants in their own learning. When students are excited about something, learning becomes a joy rather than chore. Make learning  a dynamic process!

Let students be partners in their learning.  Teachers in any discipline can encourage students to develop questions that exceed simple fact, especially how and why questions. These types of questions invite more creative, imaginative thinking.  Learners  can also make decisions such as the length of a project like an essay or research paper. Providing some parameters, teachers can have their students select the due date for an assignment. At various points in a month or semester, have them assess their own progress, providing reasons for their decisions. Be sure to stress that learning occurs outside of the classroom. Provide opportunities for relevant field trips and speakers who have real life experience with the particular subject.

Another, perhaps more radical way to foster creativity, is to “flip the switch.” The flipped classroom “turns traditional education on its head.” In this system, students learn new material outside of the classroom, thus becoming more active participants in learning. The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University defines flipped classroom: “Students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use class time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge, perhaps through problem-solving, discussion, or debates.”  In a blog in Edutopia teachers report the benefits of this model, which can allow students to move at their own pace by watching videos at home  “They can review what they need when they need to, and  the teacher is then freed up to work one-on-one with students on the content they most need support with.

One of the key elements in promoting creativity is shifting from passivity to activity. Engagement is essential..