Tag Archives: Creativity and Innovation

Cultivating Creative Thinking at School and at Home

Peter and Paul Reynolds of FablevisionGoing Places: How to inspire the next generation of innovators and inventors

A conversation with Paul Reynolds and Peter H. Reynolds, authors, makers and visionary leaders of FableVision.

The twin brothers were keynote speakers at the Fall 2016 opening of Inly School’s new innovation hub, then hung around campus for a tour of the da Vinci Studio and its maker spaces, a book signing of their bestselling children’s books Going Places, and a chat about creativity, innovation and what makes kids tick.

What’s the key to creative thinking? Can it be cultivated?

Paul: I’d say, ‘Be curious.’ That’s where it starts, right there. Often if you tell people to be creative they freeze up. They say they’re not creative. But if you encourage them to be curious about the world around them, then they open up and creativity follows from there.

Peter: Make schools inviting, hands-on learning environments and then go home and make your home an extension of that learning.  Going Places book signing Inly School

When we were young our dad turned our garage into a maker space and workshop where we could build things out of wood. And our mom brought home an old Savin office copier from work. They were throwing it away so she brought it home and put it in the dining room and put a table cloth over it and a vase of flowers. When we wanted to use it we just took off the table cloth.

How cool is that?

Peter: I would make copies of things and it was so old that the copies were really light so I’d have to draw over the outlines with black marker and then I’d walk down to the five and dime in town and make new copies of the redrawn ones with the store copier.

So you were learning about printing and publishing from an early age…

Peter: Exactly. Without realizing it. I was just doing it.

And completely self-directed. Although your mom was clever to provide a tool. What can parents do to foster creativity at home?

Paul: It’s important for kids to see you drawing and singing. If you say you can’t draw, that sends a powerful message. Be brave. Show them that trying new things is fun. Make your home an extension of the school learning environment and let kids know you are also part of that learning team. Ask yourself, Do we have opportunities for creation in our house?

In the early days of video games we said to our three boys, ‘I know you really love playing video games — but it’s just as much fun to make them yourselves.’ So they did, using MIT’s Scratch programming language for kids. It’s no accident then that our middle son Ben graduated this year from MIT with a degree in computer science and game design, and is now set to graduate this June with a master’s while working at the MIT Media Lab. He experienced the joy and agency of making — and we expect it will pay dividends for years to come.

Sally Sisson

 The Reynolds brothers tour the new da Vinci Studio, an innovation lab comprising the Digital Lab and Design Studio, Robotics Space and Maker Space; and the Think Tank, an environment specifically designed for students to imagine and invent.digital_design_technology_inly_reynolds

Top: Paul and Peter Reynolds make some noise in the Digital Lab and Design Studio.

Middle: Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds makes his mark on the wall-to-wall whiteboard in Inly’s new Think Tank. 

Bottom: Imagination in action! Children dive into the creative peter_reynolds_going_places_inlyprocess, experimenting in their own maker space in the da Vinci Studio.

maker_space_inly_schoolFurther news and inspiration
For more in this series on creativity, innovation, and the new learning labs and spaces at Inly, see:

Celebrating Imagination and a Library for the Future

Print and Digital Find the Perfect Home


Books on imagination and innovation

Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds

“A celebration of creative spirit and thinking outside the box.” Watch the book trailer below.

Celebrating Imagination and a Library for the Future

A look inside the Grealish Family Pavilion (Part Two)

Inly School Library Stained Glass

Book-themed door panel by the creative hands at Coastal Art Glass in Norwell MA

We’re all still in awe of this amazing new space, and it’s hard to chronicle all of the magical moments happening here every day. Books are discovered and rediscovered, read silently and read aloud; ideas and imagination are sparked and stirred; thoughtful research is conducted in an environment that’s at once stimulating and serene.

Students and teachers tend to linger here, finding their favorite spot on a couch or at a table where they can look out the windows at the changing view. Trust me, it’s hard to leave!

Here are more photos from the official building opening this fall, including those from the Going Places book signing with authors and keynote speakers Peter and Paul Reynolds. Stay tuned for more photos and moments as each chapter unfolds…

Inly School Library Scituate MA

Author Peter H. Reynolds and Donna Milani Luther greet Inly Library visitors

Montessori School Library Scituate MA

Rooted in the Imagination Station one floor below, the Library Tree is graced with glass leaves that sparkle in the sunlight

For more on the Inly Library and Going Places book signing, check out these two posts by Shelley Sommer on Sommer Reading: A Book About Blogs:

A Photo Tour of the New Inly Library 

peter_reynolds_inly_school_book_signing

More Pictures and Authors Peter & Paul Reynolds

Also see Part One: Print and Digital Find the Perfect Home

The Importance of Creativity and Innovation in Schools

by Donna Milani Luther

8th Grade students tinkering at NuVu

8th Grade students tinkering at NuVu Studio

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.” This is the imperative for schools in this century.

There is a great deal of buzz in the world of education right now about creativity and innovation and why these skills should be incorporated more into K–8 school curricula to build for the future. We are preparing students of today for the jobs of tomorrow—jobs that don’t exist yet, in fields that will be created to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. And yet many schools are still using what Sir Ken Robinson describes as the “industrial age factory model” for education, which doesn’t meet the growing demand for creativity and innovation.

Interestingly, a number of schools are adopting a more Montessori-inspired classroom model to help meet this demand. The AltSchool in California, for example, founded by a former Google engineer, is described as “Montessori 2.0” with a strong focus on technology. Closer to home, a former MIT graduate, Saeed Arida, created NuVu “The Innovation School,” a full-time magnet innovation school in Cambridge. At NuVu, students learn in a hands-on environment with coaches who help guide the creative process, from inception to completion. NuVu’s pedagogy is based on the architectural studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative design projects. Within each multidisciplinary Studio, students explore problems rigorously by focusing on one project for two weeks. A Studio Coach mentors students to develop their project through an iterative process over the course of the Studio. Students confront the small and large contexts within problems as they are exposed to complex, ‘messy’ situations. The NuVu Team continuously evaluates students through deskcrits and final reviews.

I am proud to say that our 8th grade students, for the second year in a row, have spent two weeks at NuVu. This spring, our students were assigned a project called  “Wheelchair Hacks” and asked to come up with creative modifications to wheelchairs. To see their clever creations, you can click here. Final projects included everything from a wheel-cleaning device to a height adjusting chair. It was exciting to see our students come up with clever modifications and explain how their process worked from beginning to end. They all hit road blocks but, like in real-life, figured out ways around them to get to their end goal.

AltSchool and Nuvu are just two examples of how education is coming around to the century old forward-thinking of Dr. Maria Montessori who took what had been in education and imagined what could be. Today at Inly, in the tradition of Montessori, we are imagining what can be in the world of education because we fundamentally believe in the power and potential of children. This is why we want to ensure our school environment fosters their capabilities, creativity, and innate desire to learn and explore.

As many of you already know, Inly is currently planning to build an innovation lab, reimagined library, and six new classroom spaces next year. The innovation lab will be known as the “DaVinci Studio” and will be a central location for our robotics, 3D printing, digital video creation, and tinkering projects. Along with these offerings, the DaVinci Studio will have an idea space, which will have whiteboards on the walls and surfaces for students to imagine, draw, and plan. I believe this space will allow our students to expand and grow in new and exciting ways.

Creativity and innovation should be at the core of a curriculum and instrumental to the way children learn. Paramount to the continued success of schools is ensuring that learning spaces mirror the collaborative work spaces of the real world and enable students to problem-solve, think differently, and challenge the status quo. The authors of The Third Teacher put it succinctly when they said we should “design learning environments and use design thinking to strategize cultural, pedagogical, and organizational change.”

At Inly, our new building project will enable us to accomplish both things that Roosevelt charged educators to do: ‘‘build a future for our youth and build youth for our future.”

CEF: Why K12 Schools Need To Embrace Creative Problem-Solving

The Creative Education Foundation on John Hunter, brainstorming techniques, and hope for future generations of creative thinkers and innovators.

The Creative Education Foundation (CEF), co-sponsors of Inly’s Omran ♦ Nelson Speaker Series event with John Hunter on April 9th, have trained thousands of people in creative problem-solving and brainstorming over the years. In fact, the founder of the foundation “invented” both brainstorming and creative problem-solving, techniques that have become the foundation of creative processes around the world. CEF clients include Visa, Stanley Black & Decker, HP, Microsoft, Hershey, Boeing, Staples and Ocean Spray. The group has a wide reach, having conducted Visioning Workshops at Disney World’s Epcot Center and CEF YouthWise programs in South Africa. Current projects include a brain science research study with Dartmouth College and consulting in Dubai to help educators use creativity in their work.

The Inly connection? Donna Milani Luther, Inly’s Head of School, has served as a designated leader and consultant for the CEF since 1984. She and John Hunter both presented talks at the CEF’s annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) Conference in 2012 (sparking the idea to bring Hunter to speak at Inly). In 2013, the CEF moved its headquarters to the Inly School campus.

We recently had a chance to chat with both Stephen Brand and Kitty Heusner of the CEF about their work with school administrators and educators and their philosophy on the importance of creativity in K–12 education.

Stephen Brand, Director of Programming, CEF

You help adults in organizations tackle complex business problems. How does this work apply to K–12 education?
Over the years we’ve trained thousands of people in creative problem-solving and brainstorming, helping them uncover ideas and solutions to daily or long-term challenges. Whether you’re in a business or a nonprofit organization or running a K–12 school, many of the principles are the same.

For instance, we now offer a course called “Creativity in the 21st Century Classroom.”
We bring together teachers and principals, professional development staff and curriculum directors and we show them how to apply these proven methods in the classroom. We show them how to actively use creativity, brain-based learning research (i.e. multiple intelligence theory), and learning styles to accelerate learning and help them prepare for the Common Core State Standards with foundational skills that integrate creativity, collaboration, and action on ideas generated.

How does this tie into your overall mission?
Our mission is about “engaging and developing the next generation of creative thinkers and innovators.” Part of the CEF vision is enable educators to initiate change in their schools, revitalize communities and enhance methods and systems with new, yielding results that reflect the very problems identified to resolve. We’re most interested in helping administrators realize the power of using creativity in schools in developing a culture of innovation, creative approaches to student engagement and building the creative thinking skills of their students Independent, magnet and charter schools are initially investing much more in creativity in their schools. What we offer is fits more easily in independent, charter and magnet schools as they seek to differentiate their learning experiences from the typical public school. International schools seem to be quite intrigued with infusing creative thinking in their schools as well.

With the public schools, it’s going to take early adopters to jump on this. It really takes a forward-thinking superintendent or principal in a public school to embrace creativity as a core component in their efforts. Our hope is to get more and more schools, public, private, urban, suburban, to embrace this creative approach to education and find better ways of motivating students and allowing the ideas of students to drive their learning.

Does your research focus on adults or students?
Both. We’re currently working with Dartmouth College on a study to see whether learning creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills would change the actual brain structure of middle school students. This involves taking functional MRIs and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data. In our academic journal, the Journal of Creative Behavior and at our annual conference we address creativity in education as well as creativity in business, organizations and even governments. Right now we see the K–12 education space as critical. Our world is becoming increasingly complex and we want to help schools and administrators focus on preparing future leaders to brainstorm creative solutions to complex problems in whatever fields they explore.

Katherine O. (Kitty) Heusner, Ph.D., Chair of the Board of Trustees, CEF

What do students need to succeed in this century? In the future?
They need critical thinking and problem-solving skills to navigate the changing world around them. One of our hopes is that CEF can reach out to schools that are often underserved to develop programs that promote creativity as a necessary skill for success. One of the ironies in education is that the ones who need help with creative problem-solving the most often receive the least.

Is this type of teaching and learning possible in traditional schools?
Yes, I think it is. When I hear people say, ‘We can’t do anything with creative thinking because we have to focus on the curriculum content,’ I think, ‘Wait a minute. It’s not about stopping to teach creativity as a new subject, it’s about infusing strategies into your teaching that foster creative thinking and present the content in creative ways.’

The reality is that most people have not experienced this type of learning themselves, and so it’s difficult to really see the possibilities. That’s why it’s important to work with the total school community—to work with administrators to help them model and support the change, to work with teachers to develop the skill set and mind set, and to involve parents to understand the importance.

What do you think is most important take-away from Hunter’s film and talks?
That one person in one classroom can truly make a significant difference in children, one at a time. John Hunter is an inspiring example of a teacher who did not in any way abandon what his students needed to learn—but rather saw a way to do it that would create enthusiasm and interest and, more importantly, develop critical in-depth learning and skill development that goes far beyond the content area that he may have originally been planning to teach. By allowing students to imagine themselves and play the roles Prime Ministers, Secretaries of State and even Arms Dealers, they became more engaged and motivated to understand the content as they lived the content.

How would you describe John Hunter’s approach to creative problem-solving?
What John has come up with is adaptable and adoptable for this changing population. It facilitates effective creative-thinking techniques—the key principle being that you do the divergent “open gathering” ideas separate from the “choosing among” ideas. We observe his students engaged in this type of learning in the film (World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements). They were encouraged not to jump early to conclusions but to jump thoughtfully to conclusions after they had gathered a variety of ideas and listened to each other in wonderful ways. It is creative thinking and problem-solving in action at its finest!

Further Reading:

John Hunter and His Montessori Message: An interview with Inly’s head of school

John Hunter Presents “World Peace Game” Film and Talk on Experiential Education

Culture of Creativity at Inly School

 

Unveiling Inly’s New Strategic Plan

InlyNextLogoThe theme of March at Inly School seems to be creativity and innovation. In early March, we were delighted to unveil our new Strategic Plan at the ribbon cutting ceremony of Antico Commons (the plan is available on our website or by clicking here). In front of a group of Inly families, faculty members, and friends, our three guest speakers spoke about the different components of the plan, “InlyNext.” The timing of the unveiling was fitting—since the Antico Commons is the newest learning space on campus and was designed with “InlyNext” in mind.

The Antico family (minus their eldest son, Tucker) at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of Antico Commons

The Antico family (minus their eldest son, Tucker) at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of Antico Commons

As many of you know, Montessori education is extraordinary for fostering creativity and innovation. It provides structure that leads to freedom, prompts open-ended thinking and questioning, and presents opportunities to explore the iterative process. I’m thrilled that the Antico Commons is going to help us blaze the trail as we move forward in fostering this kind of creative work at our school.

In another creative endeavor in late March, our K–8 students participated in a Creativity Cans project in the Meehan Family Artsbarn. Seated in mixed groups on the floor, our students received what I like to refer to as the “same point of departure.” Each student was given their own personal Creativity Can and asked to design a creature with the contents found within. Over the course of an hour, the students designed their creatures. Some students knew what their creatures would look like right away, while others needed time to try a few different things before committing. It was an amazing process to witness. (To see a video of the event, click here.)

A collection of Creativity Can "creatures" designed by Inly students.

A collection of Creativity Can “creatures” designed by Inly students.

While every Creativity Can contained the same materials—glue, colorful popsicle sticks, string, craft paper, pipe cleaners, wheels, etc.—no two creatures ended up looking alike. As we move forward, the creatures will be used for Writer’s Workshop and other writing prompts for the spring term. These writing assignments will vary in sophistication based on level. The extra materials have also been used by Annemarie Whilton, our Art Teacher, to create collaborative creatures with the Children’s House Students. The Lower Elementary students are also working with Ellyn Einhorn, our school Naturalist and Science teacher, to create outdoor habitats for each creature around campus.

The Creativity Cans Project was generously funded by Faber-Castell and the inventors of The Creativity Cans. We were fortunate to have the CEO of Faber-Castell, Jamie Gallagher, visit Inly School this week to hear more about how we approached the Creativity Cans project. Jamie sat down with a small group of teachers and students to hear about our Creativity Cans project. He was deeply impressed and hopes to work with more schools in the future.

“More and more surveys are revealing that creativity scores are going down and the importance of creativity is going up,” Jamie explained, “That delta is very clear—and that’s what we’re trying to go after.”

Creativity and innovation are two growth mindsets that our students will need in this century to be successful. They will need to know how to adapt, how to iterate, how to brainstorm. They will need to understand that their ideas are important and valuable and unique—and therefore, could help solve future world problems that have yet to arise. Having a space for innovation and hosting activities that encourage creativity are two ways that Inly School continues to prepare our students to become global citizens with next-century skills.

In more creativity and innovation news, in the next two weeks, our Middle School students will be attending NuVu. To read more about this cool experience, please see: 8th Grade Students Get Crash Course in Solving Real-World Problems at NuVu.