Using Technology to Promote Creative and Critical Thinking Skillsvisblooms02.JPG

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Purposeful and Creative Redesign of Existing TechnologiesWith the wide variety and quick availability of technologies, users must clearly examine how content and purpose of a technology will suit his/her/group's needs.
In the image above, skills and objectives are considered upon use of a specific technology. Whether inside or outside of the classroom, users must have a specific need for using the technology and the technology must provide a way to complete the user's need. Some reasons for using different technologies in the classroom include, but are not limited to:
  • word processing and e-mail to promote communication skills
  • database and spreadsheet programs to promote organizational skills
  • modeling software to promote the understanding of science and math concepts
It is important to consider how these electronic technologies differ and what characteristics make them important as vehicles for education (Becker, 1994). In this wiki, we will be examining the technologies that support creative and critical thinking skills in our students. We will define what each skill is and how we can best utilize our beliefs and goals for learning to promote these skills in our students.
Every year a cornucopia of new web-tools, Youtube videos and software become available, and most of these tools are free. The producers of these tools may not have intended for these tools to be utilized in a classroom; however, by looking into our teaching beliefs and content areas; we educators often find great value in redesigning web tools to engage our digital learners.
In repurposing these technologies, we offer insight to a concept presented and create our own teachable moments! You know... that moment when lucid understanding occurs! As teachers, we need to see the possibilities in these new technologies and let them help us shape our students' learning. We can begin to see their potential once we know they exist.

Technology Tools

Technology will never, by itself, create critical thinkers. However, when used under the guidance of a teacher that understands how to use them, they can provide a variety of ways for students to learn, explore, and discuss the world around them. Some examples are provided below:
  • Computers (including software and internet resources)
    • Software allows students to record and/or defend their thinking
    • Internet resources (see below) guide or challenge student thinking
  • Podcast Recording Hardware
    • Students record casts of their analysis or evaluation of a topic
  • Student Response Systems
    • Students respond to questions then debate the answers
  • Calculators (such as TI-NSpire)
    • Students compare results of graphs and analyze changes in data
  • Digital Camcorder / Camera
    • observe and analyze the world
    • Students re-see and re-imagine the world they once believed they knew
  • Interactive Whiteboard
    • Helpful for whole class discussions around ideas or web content
    • Whole-class display and hands-on participation

The Importance of Teaching both Creative AND Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking and creative thinking are both important to student success, although schools tend to mostly emphasize analysis a critical thinking skill. In a traditional model, we teach our students to follow a logical argument to figure out the correct answer. All good things, but in this model, we can neglect creative thinking skills that focus on exploring ideas and looking for a wide range of probable answers instead of one correct answer. To foster learning in all students, teachers should encourage a mixture of both creative and critical thinking skills to promote success in all students.
A great deal of life involves problem solving, and both kinds of thinking are vital for finding and implementing effective solutions to problems. First, we must analyze the problem; then we must generate possible solutions; next we must choose and implement the best solution; and finally, we must evaluate the effectiveness of the solution. This process reveals an alternation between the two kinds of thinking, critical and creative. It is imperative that both kinds of thinking operate together much of the time and thus are not really independent of each other. )

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When we foster students' critical and creative thinking skills, they:
  • Ask more questions
  • Are more observant of people, nature and events around them
  • Have more fun learning
  • Apply the information and skills learned more frequently
  • Problem solving will be a natural result of their curiosity

Paraphrased from "The Whistles Stop Here: Encouraging Meaningful Creative Thinking in the Classroom" by Karen Meador

Classroom Strategies

One of the strategies to use in the classroom that will cultivate these characteristics is to stop just being the "Sage on the Stage" but to:

  • Ask more open-ended questions
  • Ask children to use all their senses
  • Ask children about what changes they see
  • Ask questions with lots of answers
  • Ask "What would happen if..."
  • Ask "In how many different ways..."

Richard Paul (a prominent advocate of CRITICAL THINKING) says,"Alternative solutions are often not given, they must be generated or thought-up. Critical thinkers must be creative thinkers as well, generating possible solutions in order to find the best one. Very often a problem persists, not because we can't tell which available solution is best, but because the best solution has not yet been made available — no one has thought of it yet." {source

Navigating through Technology to Promote Creative and Critical Thinking
Utilize the navigational toolbar to the left to better understand how creative and critical thinking can look and sound like in your classroom. Remember to keep your content and teaching pedagogies in mind to best utilize suggested technologies in your classroom.