Creative thinking strategies are innovative teaching strategies that help students learn not only the basic skills, but also a more conceptual knowledge. They encourage students to learn beyond memorization, to use deeper levels of thinking, to have their own understanding and application of information.
Every single student has certain strengths in addition to his weaknesses. By using creative thinking strategies, teachers can harness these strengths and improve them.
Of course, coming up with creative thinking strategies can put extra strain on a teacher. A teacher must be very innovative and also understanding of every student's needs.
I am deeply convinced that creative thinking strategies should be incorporated into every lesson plan at every level of schooling. They can help all children succeed, even those who may not have succeeded otherwise.
Though activities offered below are controlled by the teacher, they still give students the opportunity to inject something of their own, to use their own thinking abilities. They require learners to make additions to utterances in one or two ways. They either expand sentences that are already complete, or they complete unfinished sentences. The major innovation here is that the students are free to expand or complete the sentences in any way they choose using their imagination, within the grammatical restraints of the English language.
SENTENCE EXPANSION EXERCISES
The class is divided into small groups, and a moderator is selected within each group. The moderator provides a model sentence, which the students in the group expand any way they wish, adding adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, clauses or any other elements that are syntactically and semantically are acceptable. The sequence is as follows.
- Each group listens carefully to the moderator for the model sentence and for the examples illustrating the exercise.
- After the moderator provides the sentence, one student adds a single element to expand it; a second student adds another element, and so on.
- After a number of expansions, a new model sentence is given, and the entire process is repeated.
Model Sentence: Those girls completed the assignment.
- Those three girls completed the assignment.
- Those three girls over there completed the assignment.
- Those three young girls over there completed the assignment.
- Those three young pretty girls over there completed the assignment.
- Those three young girls over there completed the English language assignment.
- Those three young girls who are sitting over there completed the English language assignment.
- Those three young girls who are sitting over there completed the English language assignment five minutes ago.
Here there are some more model sentences for Expansion.
- The children like sweets.
- The boy has done his homework.
- That team may win.
- The film is very interesting.
- The cat jumped.
The grammar point practiced is determined by the particular element used in the sentence expansion. This type of exercise is supposed to develop the students' ability to use a variety of constructions in a meaningful way.
SENTENCE COMPLETION EXERCISES
Again the class is divided into small groups and a moderator is selected in each group. The moderator gives the first part of a sentence, and the students are free to complete it in any way that makes grammatical and semantic sense. The sequence is as follows.
- The moderator gives an example of a partial sentence, and then completes it in several different ways.
- When the teacher gives a new partial sentence, individual students complete it in a way that is grammatically and semantically acceptable.
- After a single partial sentence has been completed in several ways, the teacher offers a new sentence for completion. This process is repeated with five or six unfinished sentences.
Incomplete Sentence: We all decided ____________________.
We all decided to go to the museum.
We all decided to stay at home.
We all decided he was wrong.
We all decided where to go.
We all decided that it was rather early to do it.
Here there are some more Partial Sentences for Completion:
- Mary wants him ____________________.
- I think he would like ____________________.
- May be we should ____________________.
- It is not difficult ____________________.
- I really like someone who ____________________.
The grammar point or points practiced are those contained in the elements used to complete the sentence. This exercise, as the previous one, is supposed to develop fluency and creativity rather than practicing specific points of grammar.
It should be noted that examples 2 and 5 above are meant to engage the feelings of the students and to solicit responses that are personally meaningful to them. Such relevance becomes more and more important as communicative exercises are introduced into the language learning process.
In the exercise below the students are asked to use their own imagination in developing the story line. The teacher reads a text in the form of a story and stops without providing an ending. The students are asked to produce the ending.
Although very real constraints remain in the form of models and guidelines, such exercises represent one more step in gaining independence from pedagogical controls in the production of utterances in the target language. The sequence is as follows.
The students listen carefully as the teacher reads a story aloud. The story will be interrupted before an ending is provided.
The students, working in small groups, compose an ending to the story in three or four sentences. They should not write out the sentences in detail, but try to produce the concluding passage orally, relying on notes as necessary.
Steve mowed slowly in front as they started down the hill. It was difficult for Michel to stay at the path and support John at the same time. Nonetheless, they all made progress for some hours until they could see their camp somewhere in the distance. As they were very tired they decided to rest a little and sat down on the path side. Just at that very moment they heard a loud rumble overhead. Boys looked up and:
Riddles and problems require learners to analyze, compare, and evaluate different aspects of a situation. Riddle solving shifts the attention from form to content by focusing the students' energy on finding a solution. The enticement or finding a solution should minimize any inhibitions or worry about producing error free utterances and foster a genuine desire to communicate messages using imagination. The sequence is as follows.
The teacher presents one riddle to the class. Each student spends a few minutes attempting to find a solution individually.
After four or five minutes the class is divided into groups to discuss possible solutions. Individuals within a group may have their own unique solution, which they can compare with the others. But each group should reach a single solution.
One student from a given group explains his/her group's solution to the class. This solution is compared to the solution reached by other groups.
A SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
A woman goes to a store and buys a piece of cheese. Then she goes to a pet shop and buys a cat and a mouse. She has to bring the cat, the mouse and the cheese to her car. However, she can only carry one thing at a time.
If she leaves the mouse alone with the cheese, the mouse will eat it. If she leaves the cat alone with the mouse, the cat will eat the mouse. The owner of the pet shop says he'll make sure nothing happens to anything she leaves in his shop while she is carrying her purchases to the car.
In what order does she have to transport the three items?
In conclusion it should be mentioned that, of course, coming up with creative teaching strategies can put extra strain on a teacher. A teacher must be very innovative and also understanding of every student's needs. He or she should incorporate such strategies into every lesson plan at every level of schooling for his/her class to do better in the long run. Creative teaching strategies can help all children succeed, even those who may not have succeeded otherwise.