Helping Students Make the Leap from Inquiry to Creativity
Guest Post: Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad is a speaker and author (Everyday Instructional Coaching: 7 Daily Drivers to support Teacher Effectiveness). He is the Chief Education Officer at WeVideo and is a former teacher, vice principal, professor, district curriculum and instruction director, and education supervisor at NASA. Follow him on Twitter (@drlangraad).
Ask Students to Create
When we ask students to create, we often give them a topic and then set them loose. Some students will start by researching on Google while others might plan out what they’ll create or talk to their friends about what they think. While we want students to be excited to jump into this experience, we also want to ensure they have all the support they need to engage in complex thinking throughout the process.
Before we ask students to start producing, it’s essential to build context for why they are creating. Students will be far more willing to be self-directed, and display determination and grit, if they understand what problem are they solving and why their voice is needed to address it.
Inquiry-based experiences are typically built from a core concept. That concept then serves as a foundation upon which students develop their questioning skills or hone their ability to think more critically about the idea. But inquiry can also be used to better support the creative process by harnessing the imagination and curiosity of students.
Sometimes it’s fun to take the Rube Goldberg route and just tinker, make, and see what happens. But to deepen the learning experience, we want to prompt students to think about questions like, “Why should I make this?” “What problem am I solving?” “How will this help society?”
Exploring these questions empowers students to think with greater complexity, create additional questions, and challenge their initial thinking.
Educators can use the tool below to help identify questions that guide students in the creation process.
Creativity Assisted Inquiry Tool
Launch: Your teacher has shared some information with you that is intriguing. You already have some initial questions. What are they?
Imagine: Review your questions above. Let’s build on the one question that most intrigues you, but this time let your curiosity run wild. The prompts below may help tap into your natural inquisitiveness.
– Create a metaphor that represents the central idea of your question.
-Share your metaphor with a classmate and ask them to build on your metaphor..
– How would your concept or the outcome change if it were in the context of a different time or place?
-What was the pre-concept/pre-story/backstory of this concept?
Create: Choose the prompt that is most intriguing to you. Articulate your thinking about this concept using video to tell your story.
Reflect: How did your thinking change from the first time you were introduced to the concept to after you created your video?
Expand Student Thinking
The prompts in the tool above are designed to expand and deepen students’ thinking and learning. Instead of being didactive, this approach provides a framework for developing natural curiosity and inquiry through the appeal of creating a compelling project. Additionally it can be used to enable students to show the skills they have gained about the topic and helps them to ask even more interesting questions.
Challenging Thinking Leads to Creative Solutions
Challenging students to ask more (and more interesting) questions leads to heightened creative solutions. This process supports students as they refine their thinking and strengthen their inquiry skills.