Developing Creativity in Every Learner: Using Technology to Promote Innovative Thinking in Every Class

How do we define, encourage, use, and assess creativity in our IL/IT lessons and projects? Should the question be "if" a student is creative or "how" a student is creative. And what can we do to be more creative as teachers and librarians?

Description with expected learning outcomes: Participants will engage with the following questions and gain a practical knowledge of how principles related to creativity and technology can become a part of daily lessons and activities:

  • Why is creativity is critical 21st century skill?
  • How can all learners in all content areas practice creativity?
  • Should the question be "if" a student is creative or "how" a student is creative?
  • How do we define, encourage, use, and assess creativity in our IL/IT lessons and projects?
  • And what can we do to be more creative ourselves as teachers and librarians?
  • What type of assignments, digital tools, and resources increase the likelihood of creativity?
  • What tools and techniques best help assess creativity?
  • How can typical classroom units be revised that ask for creative problem solving?

  • Introduction (5 minutes)
  • Why is it imperative we take developing creativity seriously? GoSoapBox preassessment and discussion forum (30 minutes)
  • Practice: Using one of the 3 following tools, make a product that demonstrates creativity! Tweet out your products. 20 minutes Link your products in this Padlet.
  • Concerns about creativity Brainstorming activity using Padlet (Group One)(10 minutes)
  • 10 ways to encourage creativity in every assignment - Small group discussion/reporting via GoSoapBox (20 minutes)
  • Practice lessons* - Small group work using GoogleDoc (20 minutes)
  • Review, Q&A, Wrap Up (10 minutes)

Powerpoint slides

Video from presentation:

Doug's writings:

Teaching Outside the Lines: Developing the Creativity in Every Learner. Corwin, 2015.


"10 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Library ” Head for the Edge column, Library Media Connection, October, 2012
Developing Creativity in Every Learner“ Library Media Connection, October, 2012
Concerns About Creativity, Blue Skunk Blog, Oct 3, 2007
Engage or Entertain?, EducationWorld
A Father-Son Chat (using CreativeCommons licenses with students), LMC, Nov 2007
The Gift of Creativity, Blue Skunk Blog, December 26, 2005
Teaching for Subservience, Blue Skunk Blog, June 20, 2013
Just because it's pretty doesn't mean it's creative Blue Skunk blog, January 12, 2014

Other resources:
Adobe Systems, Creativity and Education: Why It Matters, November 7, 2012
ArtsHub, Top Ten Myths About Creativity, August 19, 2013
Breen, Bill. “The 6 Myths of Creativity,”, Dec. 1, 2004
Bretag, Ryan. "Reimagining Learning." Metanoia blog, February 1, 2014.
Brookhart, Susan M. Assessing Creativity. Educational Leadership, February, 2013.
Byrne, Richard. Five Apps that Help Students Start Creative Stories.
Chapin, Tom. Not on the Test. (Song/video on YouTube)
Church, Andrew. Blooms Digital Taxonomy. Educational Origami, nd.
Clifford, Mirian. 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity in Your Classroom. TWA blog, August 15, 2013.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper, 1997.
Darrow, Diane. Creativity on the Run: 18 Apps That Support the Creative Process, Edutopia, July 24, 2013
Destination Imagination organization website
Everything You Thought You Knew About Creativity Is Wrong, Huffington Post, September 24, 2013.
Invent It Challenge PALS Global Networks.
Krueger ,Nicole What if kids hold the solutions to our biggest problems? ISTEConnects blog January 15, 2014
Krugman, Paul. Sympathy for the Luddites, NY Times, June 13, 2012
Lehrer, Jonah, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Houghton, 2012.
Lifehacker, 9 of the Best Ways to Boost Creative Thinking, March 2013
McCusker, Shawn. 5 ways to blow the top off rubrics. Free Stuff 4 Teachers,
Merryman, Ashley and Po Bronson. The Creativity Crisis. Newsweek/Daily Beast. July 10, 2010.
Michalko, Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking Psychology Today blog, January 12, 2012
Parrish, Shane. Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators. Farnam Street, December 9, 2013.
Olien, Jessica. Inside the Box: People Don't Actually Like Creativity, Slate, December 2013.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills Creativity and Innovation (Skills and Resource)
Paul, Annie Murphy Are We Writing the Creativity Out of Kids?, Mindshift, 2012
Pink, Daniel A Whole New Mind
Reynolds, Peter. The Testing Camera. YouTube
Robinson, Ken: Do Schools Kill Creativity? (TED/YouTube) (animated version)
Segev, Elad. When there is a correct answer: Exercise in creative thinking. May 9, 2013.
Sonnad, Nikkil Is your job at risk from robot labor? Quartz, April 29, 2014.

States Mulling Creativity Index, Education Week, Feb 2, 2012
Treffinger, et al Assessing Creativity: A Guide for Educators. NCR G/T, 2002.
Wiggins, Grant How to Use a Rubric Without Stifling Creativity, TeachThought, September 9, 3013
WIlliams, Robin, The Non-Designers Design Book, Peachpit, 2008


Concern 1: Creativity isn't always about art. Kids can be creative in lots of areas, ala Gardner's multiple intelligences.
Johnson’s Multiple Creative Abilities
  • Writing/Presenting/Storytelling
  • Numeric problem-solving
  • Graphic artistic (drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, designing)
  • Athletic/movement (Sports, dance)
  • Musically artistic
  • Humor
  • Team-building
  • Problem-solving
  • Inventing
  • Leading
  • Organizing
  • Motivating/inspiring

Concern 2: Creativity must be accompanied 
by craft and 
discipline. Being creative doesn't mean rules or guidelines aren't present - even necessary.

Concern 3: The world is not really interested in your creativity, but that's OK. Even we don't "see" a child's vision, we need to encourage it and remember creativity can be its own reward.

Concern 4: If we ask students to demonstrate creativity or innovation, we need some tools to determine whether they have done so. Some great ideas from participants in the workshop on this, especially regarding asking kids to articulate the creative process.

Concern 5: Creativity is the antithesis of good test scores. While most tests look for "one right answer," creativity can and should be an important part of school. Is test taking or formulating new ideas the better whole life skill?

Myths of creativity (from Harvard Business School research - Breen, Bill. “The 6 Myths of Creativity,”, Dec. 1, 2004)
  1. Creativity Comes From Creative Types
  2. Money Is a Creativity Motivator
  3. Time Pressure Fuels Creativity
  4. Fear Forces Breakthroughs
  5. Competition Beats Collaboration
  6. A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization

Myths of creativity (Johnson)
  1. Only academically “gifted” children are creative.
  2. Creativity does not belong in core courses like math, science, social studies, English.
  3. Creativity is fluff.
  4. Creativity does not require learning or discipline.
  5. Technology automatically develops creativity.
  6. Teachers themselves do not need to display creativity.

10 ways to encourage creativity in every assignment
  1. Ban clip art.
  2. Ask for information to be shown in multiple formats/media.
  3. Encourage the narrative voice when writing and when giving oral presentations.
  4. Ask for multiple possible answers to questions or multiple possible solutions to problems.
  5. Give points for "design” on all
 assignments - more than just
 "neatness counts." (The Non-Designers 
Design Book , Robin Williams)
  6. Instead of simply marking a response "wrong," ask for a reason why the answer was given
  7. Take advantage of free online
 tools. See the change your image workshop.
  8. Ask students to design classroom rules, modify procedures and solve issues.
  9. Honor students’ personal
 interests and unique talents.
  10. Seek out the creative ideas of other educators.


Job interviewers ask the darnedest things, Los Angeles Times
Brain teasers and off-the­wall questions have become part of the job interview process at many companies. In most cases there is no right answer: The inter­viewer just wants to see how the applicant thinks it through. The website Glassdoor compiled an “oddball inter­view questions of 2011” list from questions that job applicants said were asked at a variety of companies.
Here’s a selection:
  • Name five uses for a stapler, without the staples.
  • What is 37 times 37?
  • Are you exhaling warm air?
  • Room, desk or car — which do you clean first?
  • How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?
  • Would Mahatma Gandhi have made a good software engineer?
  • What do you think of garden gnomes?
  • Please spell “diverticuli­tis.”
  • How many planes are currently flying over Kansas?
  • Does life fascinate you?

From Tina Selig inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity
Selig’s practical advice based on her experience in working with college students can enable progressive educators to chip away at the status quo and encourage students to engage in creative, even radical discourse, through the use of such tactics as:
  • learning how to properly frame – or reframe – questions.
  • relentlessly asking “why?”
  • re-casting what it means to be a student and a teacher.
  • using metaphors and analogies.
  • pushing beyond the first or second ideas.
  • learning how to brainstorm – for real.[1.] “Unfortunately, most people don’t extract the most out of brainstorming, because they don’t understand how different brainstorming is from a normal conversation. They think it is as easy as getting a bunch of people in a room and throwing out ideas. In fact, brainstorming is quite hard, and many of the guidelines that make it work are not intuitive or natural.” Tina Seeling
  • making use of field observations.
  • making your learning spaces allies for creativity. Seelig describes 6 different types of spaces: private spaces, group spaces, publishing spaces, performing space, participation spaces, data spaces, and watching spaces.
  • providing frequent feedback.
  • making strategic use of gaming to add interest to tasks.
  • embracing and celebrating failure. “Failure is a constant companion, and success is an occasional visitor.”