Summer Blog Series Post #3: Higher Order Thinking, Creativity, and Brainstorming

The ability to come up with ideas, to elaborate, and to think about objects or topics in a new way all involve what we refer to as “creativity.” At All Kinds of Minds, we believe that students should be encouraged – both at home and in school – to find areas in which they can discover forms of creative output that are meaningful to them. Providing activities in which students engage in brainstorming and creative thinking may help to uncover unrealized strengths in a struggling student and to provide a successful form of expression for a student in need of recognition.

Neurodevelopmental factors:

Creativity and brainstorming are two aspects of higher order cognition. Brainstorming involves the generation of original ideas or perspectives. Creativity involves the process of thinking in a new or innovative way. Brainstorming and thinking creatively are important components of our ability to generate ideas.

Students who are skilled in brainstorming and thinking creatively will find these abilities beneficial to many other endeavors in school including problem solving, decision-making, and understanding concepts.

Here are some possible signs that a student is competent in the areas of creativity and brainstorming:

The student …

  • Comes up with his/her own ideas during activities
  • Writes imaginative stories or draws original cartoons
  • Takes risks and is willing to get out on the fringes
  • Finds new or unique ways of solving problems

Here are some possible signs that a student is struggling in the areas of creativity and brainstorming:

The student …

  • Has difficulty generating new ideas
  • Wants to be told what to do
  • Has trouble choosing topics or using imagination in class
  • Is unwilling to engage in active thought
  • Has difficulty in art, music, or dance classes

Strategies to help students struggling in these areas:

  • Help students generate ideas necessary for doing an assignment, such as providing prompts to help in the selection of a topic or help them get started on a brainstorm. Providing a few cues or prompts may give such students the initial support, or scaffolding, they need to succeed in the assignment. For example:
    • Provide the first sentence of a paragraph.
    • Start one or more math problems.
    • Read the first paragraph of text.
    • Have cue cards handy, for example listing the steps of writing a paragraph, etc.
  • Incorporate guided higher order thinking activities in order to promote students’ creativity, brainstorming, and critical thinking. For example, an English teacher might ask, “Why do you think E. B. White called his book Charlotte’s Web instead of Wilbur or Zuckerman’s Farm?” while a Social Studies or History teacher might ask, “In social studies, “How might America’s history have been changed if Lincoln had not been assassinated?”
  • Develop activities that promote students’ ability to think ahead, or predict possible outcomes. For example, implement collaborative activities in which students start with the same beginning and work in teams to predict outcomes, or all students start with the same outcome and work in teams to determine what led to the outcome, etc.

We’d love to hear what strategies or activities you’ve used to help promote brainstorming and creativity in your classroom or at home.  Leave a comment below with your ideas!

Related links:

Learn more about our summer series

  1. More strategies around brainstorming and creativity
  2. General information about the neurodevelopmental functions related to creativity
  3. Related research on creativity
  4. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on the importance of fostering creativity in schools

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2 thoughts on “Summer Blog Series Post #3: Higher Order Thinking, Creativity, and Brainstorming

  1. Thank you for sending me your blog link. I am an avid “All Kinds of Minds” fan having attended a Schools Attuned weeklong training in June of 2004.

    My heart warms when thinking of the many youth who have benefited from the information I have gleaned through this training, the Schools Attuned extension classes, and Dr. Levine’s books.

    Currently, I facilitate a high-tech literacy acceleration program called READ180 (Scholastic Inc.). My passion is accelerating the reading and writing skills of middle school students struggling far below expected proficiency levels. I also highly depend upon the Schools Attuned materials for developing students’ eight neurodevelopmental constructs.

    Your recent post caught my interest because I believe creativity is an essential part of fully educating today’s students. Integrating literacy, technology, and the arts is the theme of my educational website and creativity blog that I designed as free resources for my students and the teachers I train. Ken Robinson is one of my heroes as well!

    I just wanted to stop by and thank you for all you do!

    JoDee Luna

  2. As a school counseling student, I once took a job teaching third grade math at a local elementary school.

    I wasn’t that good at teaching math and the students weren’t very interested in the material. They would easily get restless and out of control.

    The only activity I successfully used to keep their attention was what I called “Class discussion”. I would post an open-ended question on the board and give the class a chance to respond. Any response given following the rule of raising one’s hand and waiting to be called on was praised. One of the students stood at the board and marked down points for each student who contributed a comment to the discussion. I also tried to make sure each student contributed. I would give some sort of prize to the student with the most points.

    I was always pleasently surprised. This group of kids who couldn’t sit down and weren’t interested in learning math would take a seat and contribute wonderful, creative answers to our class discussion.

    Afterwards, they were much more open to learn math as well.

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