When I was a teacher in the TAG (Talented and Gifted) program I had to administer a creativity test to all 3rd grade students in the district as part of admission into program. That test, along with achievement and cognitive tests, were equal components in the program admission.
I loved administering the creativity test and so did the kids! The test asked students to draw a series of pictures using only partial shapes; adding details and identifying what they drew. Every year, there were always a few students who asked if they could do the test again. They just knew they could do it better! This realization showed us that teaching kids to think creatively was not only important for learning but could also be fun. Working with classroom teachers, my partner and I created lessons and programs that allowed students to be creative.
We started by teaching kids the tools needed to be creative thinkers. Creative thinking builds on the concept that a single question can have multiple answers. It doesn’t focus on right or wrong answers but on the importance of giving students the opportunity to express their ideas. This idea was especially liberating for our student with special needs, quiet, anxious and ELL students. Being allowed to give non-ordinary responses, especially in a group activity, allows ALL students to participate.
How to Teach Creative Thinking
Once the TAG admission tests were completed, we used a similar Creativity activity to show kids the “tricks” or “creative thinking tools” to be creative. We taught them 5 creative thinking tools; the SAME 5 components of good writing: fluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration and evaluation.
- Fluency – Being able to think of lots of responses to a single question or response.
- Flexibility – Being able to shift thinking from one way of thinking to another.
- Originality – Trying to come up with answers that are clever and unique.
- Elaboration – Adding details to a basic idea to make it more interesting and complete.
- Evaluation –Teaching kids how to weigh alternative ideas. This was especially important when kids were working on team projects.
Once the kids understood the basic components of creative thinking the LEARNING really began.