Product reviews for Teaching Creative Thinking

Chris Cawsey, Principal, Rooty Hill High School, Sydney, Australia
Rooty Hill continues working on teaching, learning and assessing creativity using its Creative Inquiry Cycle to program the five core creative habits identified in the Centre for Real-World Learning's five-dimensional model of creativity - imaginative, inquisitive, persistent, disciplined and collaborative. In 2017, the school has developed tools and lesson designs to build the capacity for creativity across all subjects, with all teachers and all students. The impact on student agency over learning was recognised as a major innovation by the Expansive Education Network in the UK, and an upcoming publication on teaching capabilities and dispositions authored by Professors Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer will include the school's work on self-assessment of capabilities using the school's online platform.

The Educator, Innovative Schools 2017, Australia.

The innovative nature of the resource

In almost every conversation about economy and education in 21st century, the conversation suggests that the capability of employees, entrepreneurs and students to be creative is critical. The OECD agrees and will be testing the creative problem solving skills of 15 year olds as part of its internal PISA testing in the next few years.

Until this book, many schools and systems argued that students could only be creative in the Arts, defining creativity as a discipline-limited capability. This book with its academic coding of the dispositions and sub-dispositions of creativity, recognises that creativity occurs as a higher order capability in all disciplines, providing a close alignment with the Anderson and Krathwahl version of Bloom's taxonomy which argued that to create new ideas is closely linked to the ways experts work. The book also explains how the explicit skills of each disposition and sub-disposition can be taught across and within subjects, providing a breakthrough in teaching and assessing creative thinking that is genuinely innovative.

The impact on learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom, to what extent and in which areas

All lessons at Rooty Hill HS are designed using the work of John Hattie focused on establishing the learning intention (higher order thinking and learning focus) and the success criteria (how students demonstrate and show their understanding of the learning intention, content and capabilities of each lesson). Critical to this work in 2015-2017 has been embedding the Australian ACARA capabilities which include critical and creative thinking. All lessons scaffold the content through capabilities (eg summarising a text for literacy, understanding a graph for numeracy and creating a website for ICT). Underpinning all of these is a focus on creative and critical thinking - which is critical in secondary education - students cannot understand or comprehend if they cannot think and make their own meaning.

The value of the book is that it helps inexperienced teachers to understand the five dispositions and 15 sub-dispositions and assists more expert teachers to consider the subject based applications of the @RHHS Creativity Wheel.

As a result of working with Professor Lucas in the development of our school's ideas, the school was featured in the prestigious Australian Learning Lecture series in 2017 and the teacher featured in the video was named as one of the 30 Rising Stars of Australian education by Educator Magazine. In addition, the principal will be presenting at ICSEI 2018 in Singapore in January on assessing the Creativity dispositions and sub-dispositions to measure student, staff and school progress on the Creativity capabilities over time.

How the title supports or enhances the everyday life or work of teachers, pupils or schools

The place of teaching capabilities and dispositions, with the exception of literacy and numeracy, has been highly contested, especially in secondary schools where content-heavy curriculum dominates. This book shows how a capability driven curriculum can scaffold the teaching of concepts and content. Across the everyday work done at Rooty Hill HS, there has been a thoughtful redesign of learning tools and activities to develop the skills of students in accessing the content of each course.

The result has been a significant improvement for the majority of students in their progress as learners as evidenced by the better performance in assessment tasks which, unlike content-focused teaching, require students to use their skills and capabilities to make meaning of the tasks they are to complete. Whether they are asked to discuss, design or determine, their understanding of the dimensions of capabilities, including creative thinking, has been critical to their improvement.

Cost-effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results - not just price

The decision the school took in 2015 to spend three years developing a capability driven curriculum, with a very strong focus on creativity, creative thinking and critical thinking, in addition to more traditional capabilities has required deep professional learning, the redesign of all teaching and learning programs in every course in Years 7 - 12 and the development of My Learning Hub, an individualised online learning portfolio onto which students upload evidence of their achievement of each capability against the ACARA benchmarks and then s end them to be validated, usually by a teacher. It has also required a deep professional conversation about the assessment of capabilities, including creativity.

This work was done as one of the three strategic directions of our school plan and our strategic purpose was to deliver our overall purpose through the development and implementation of high quality creative, digital, capability driven curriculum, teaching and learning, and assessment designed to increase the learning trajectory of each student. 60-80% of our students start secondary education below grade average so doing more of the same would not work.

There was a cost to this work in terms of providing opportunities for professional learning, individual support through in-house consultancy and teacher mentors - all of which we would have done to achieve any of the performance measures we set for the school plan.

The effectiveness of our investment in this work is clear with student learning trajectories, especially for “middle students”, showing growth above the “Hattie” 9 month growth per year average. The effectiveness of the strategy for staff is that the focus on creativity and capabilities is now owned by teachers and the use of the “higher order verbs” in lesson design and delivery has created observable shifts, as noted by UNSW research underway in the school. The effectiveness of the strategy for the school was recognised in both 2016 and 2017 when the school was named in the 40 Most innovative schools in Australia by Educator Magazine.

The school will continue to use this book and its underpinning research in the new 2018-2020 plan as we explore signature pedagogies more closely and move to measure our creativity as one of the key performance measures of the new school plan.
Guest | 25/04/2018 01:00
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