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Transforming your classroom into a "Think Tank"

Talk for Thailand TESOL 2011
by

Clyde Fowle

on 28 August 2013

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Transcript of Transforming your classroom into a "Think Tank"

Transforming your Classroom into a
"Think Tank"
"a group of people who work together to produce new ideas on a particular subject" MEDO
“Critical thinking is a cognitive activity, associated with using the mind. Learning to think in critically and analytical ways means using mental processes such as attention, categorisation, selection, and judgment.”
Stella Cottrell
"Creativity - The ability to create new ideas or things using your imagination." MEDO
“Most people equate creativity with a particular kind of person. … an artist, designer, performer or inventor. Most of us underestimate our capacity for creativity. We may compare ourselves to great artists, for example, ignoring all the occasions when we have used our minds and resources creatively to deal with the situation we are in. We all have our spheres where our natural creativity shines, for example:
Co-ordinating the activities of several children so that they are entertained
Cooking a special meal on a budget
Finding the perfect present for someone”
Transforming your classroom into a
"Think Tank"
"a group of people who work together to produce new ideas on a particular subject."
MED
“Critical thinking is a cognitive activity, associated with using the mind. Learning to think in critically and analytical ways means using mental processes such as attention, categorisation, selection, and judgment.”
Stella Cottrell
“Most people equate creativity with a particular kind of person. … an artist, designer, performer or inventor. Most of us underestimate our capacity for creativity. We may compare ourselves to great artists, for example, ignoring all the occasions when we have used our minds and resources creatively to deal with the situation we are in. We all have our spheres where our natural creativity shines, for example:
Co-ordinating the activities of several children so that they are entertained
Cooking a special meal on a budget
Finding the perfect present for someone”
Stella Cottrell
"Creativity - The ability to create new ideas or things using your imagination." MED
How creative are you?
In pairs brainstorm the potential benefits / barriers to
developing critical thinking skills with your students.
Benefits
Improved attention and observation
More focused reading
Ability to identify key points
Ability to respond to a message
Ability to get your point across
Skills of analysis
Stella Cottrell
Barriers
Lack of exposure to critical thinking
Taught to conform rather than question
Mistaking information for understanding
CT might not be encouraged across the whole curriculum
Learner training

Develop questioning skills
Train students to orgnanise & evaluate information
Ensure learners add details to support their ideas
Train students to identify opinions
Encourage learners to give reasons to support their arguments

Why?
How far? How much? How often?
To what extent?
How do we know this is true?
How reliable is this source?
What could be going on below the surface?
What do we not know about this?
Which is preferable?
For what reason?
Stella Cottrell
"Creativity is a step beyond imagination as it actually requires you to do something rather than lie around thinking about it. It's a very practical process of trying to make something original it may be a song, a theory, a dress, a short story a boat, or a new sauce for your spaghetti. Regardless some common features pertain."

It is a process
Generating new ideas, imagining different possibilities
Considering alternative options
Developing these ideas - which feel right?
Use of media - voices, fabric etc
Requires an open mind
Creative problem-solving
Many quickly – thinking of many possible solutions
In pairs brainstorm as many different uses for a shoe box in 2 minutes
“What if” questions…
Think of a language learning activity you know well and write as many what if questions as you can
e.g. What if I used this with older students?
Choose one of the what if questions and think of 3 different answers to it
Suspend judgment – don’t dismiss ideas
Get other to suggest idea
Don’t evaluate ideas immediately
Stella Cottrell
“Usually, when we work on problems, we use logical, sequential, ordered thinking… ‘left brain’ thinking. However, such thinking tends to run along tramlines…

The kind of thinking associated with the ‘right brain’ requires a lighter touch. It does not respond well to being forced. It works well with direction and a goal, but not if the mind is too rigidly focused on a particular outcome. It works well when you ‘hover’ over an idea, or play with it teasing out possibilities.”
Stella Cottrell
Generative thinking techniques
Brainstorming
Free association
Day dreaming
Free writing
Drawing and doodling
Mind mapping
Synthesizing (connections between two things not normally connected)
Do something in a different way from normal
Use a different medium
Speak top people who teach different subjects
Look at things in different ways (turn things upside down)
Stella Cottrell

‘The four Cs – critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, collaboration and creativity/innovation – will be more important to organizations in the future, says the American Management Association (AMA)... “The AMA 2010 Critical Skills Survey” showed many executives admit there is room for improvement among their employees in these skills and capabilities.’

The Bangkok Post (Business) Monday 18th October 2010
Why (think)?
Because you need thinking to make plans, take initiatives, solve problems, open up opportunities and design your way forward.
Because thinking is a skill that can be learned, practiced and developed. But you have to want to develop that skill. You need to learn to ride a bicycle or drive a car.
Edward de Bono

"Good thinkers have this great ability to keep moving from the detailed back to the general, from the specific to the broad - and then back again.
When we look for a solution to a problem we often have to consider it in very broad terms first.
Then we proceed to narrow down to something specific.
In the end we can only 'do' specific things. But the broad, blurry concepts allow us to search more widely, to be more flexible and to evaluate options"
Edward de Bono
Bloom's taxonomy
Lower order thinking skills
Knowledge
Comprehension
Application
Higher order thinking skills
Analysis
Synthesis
Evaluation

"Classifying" is a higher order thinking skill and comes under "Analysis"
Clyde Fowle
Full transcript