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Critical and Creative Thinking from Minds Wide Open

Critical and Creative Thinking
Staff Development Sessions


Get taught where you teach

Minds Wide Open is a NESA-endorsed provider of professional learning for teachers.

We offer a five hour workshop: Critical and Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum K-8.

We can train your staff on a Staff Development Day (SDD) or any day of the week (including Saturdays). The five hour course can also be split into two after-school sessions.

We also offer a similar workshop focussed for Design Thinking. Click the button below for Design Thinking Across the Curriculum: Deeper Learning Through Real-World Projects.


What do teachers get?

5 hours towards accreditation.

The workshops Critical and Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum and Design Thinking Across the Curriculum are NESA-endorsed for 5 hours of PD for NESA-registered Proficient Teachers or can be used as “teacher-identified PL” for others.

All teachers receive a certificate of completion to use as evidence of PL undertaken.

Extensive classroom resources - teachers can begin teaching the next day.

The Minds Wide Open K-8 (or 3-10 for DT) program is made accessible 24/7 to all workshop participants through the teaching portal CCT.Education

2 gigabytes of resources are provided to the school which the school can save to their server for all staff to access.


How much does it cost?

2019 Rates coming very soon.

We will send a quote and confirmation before the event and the invoice is issued after the event. 


Further Details

Critical and Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum K-8

Completing the Minds Wide Open: Critical & Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum (K-8)  workshop will contribute 5 hours of QTC Registered PD addressing 3.3.2, 5.1.2 and 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation.


Design Thinking Across the Curriculum: Deeper Learning Through Real-World Projects

Completing the Minds Wide Open Design Thinking Across the Curriculum: Deeper Learning through Real-World Projects course will contribute 5 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 2.2.2, 2.3.2, 3.2.2, 3.3.2, and 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation.


Summary of the courses

How can busy teachers build their capacity to develop critical and creative thinking skills in their students? This course will provide classroom teachers and school leaders with the impetus to integrate critical and creative thinking into their programs plus the means to do so with specific programming and assessment tools, as well as evidence-based curriculum-linked learning activities that are engaging for K-8 students.

This course will help busy classroom teachers and school leaders build their capacity to implement future-focused Project Based Learning (PBL) in their school by instructing their students to work collaboratively, manage projects and solve real-world problems using the Design Thinking process. 


Professional learning objectives for teachers (CCT)

Teachers will gain an array of tools and resources that enable them to equip their students to use critical and creative thinking (CCT) to solve problems and design and produce products (3.3.2).

Teachers will learn that CCT can not only be taught but it can be measured. Teachers will take away a range of CCT programming and assessment tools (5.1.2).

Many schools have included Critical & Creative Thinking as a priority in their school planning or Strategic Directions. The information in this course will give staff the means and methods to accomplish this in their school (6.2.2)


Professional learning objectives and standards (DT)

2.2.2  Organise content into coherent, well-sequenced learning and teaching programs

Designs programs which display logical sequencing of activities; includes opportunities for students to practise skills and adheres to the timelines and sequence of the program.

2.3.2  Design and implement learning and teaching programs using knowledge of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

Teaching and learning programs and/or lesson plans using appropriate knowledge of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements

3.2.2  Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.

Ensures lesson plans are not only content based but incorporate practical activities and skills practice

3.3.2  Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.

Responds to interests of students.

Promotes student-centred learning and problem solving.

Encourages critical and creative thinking by engaging students in higher order thinking and risk taking within their learning.

Uses teaching strategies that challenge students to select appropriate thinking strategies for their learning.

Promotes critical and creative thinking through inquiry learning, problem based learning and relevant projects

6.2.2  Participate in learning to update knowledge and best practice targeted to professional needs and school priorities.

Evidence of participation in professional learning activities to update knowledge and practice.



Rationale for the course

"Critical and creative thinking are fundamental to students becoming successful learners" (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, 2008).
"Critical and creative thinking are integral to activities that require students to think broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation in all learning areas at school (The Australian Curriculum).

"... the twenty-first century with its complex environmental, social and economic pressures requires young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable, with the motivation, confidence and skills to use critical and creative thinking (The Australian Curriculum).

"Today's world looks different. Work is project-based and performance is measured by the impact of ideas and the team's ability to execute those ideas. Education systems should refocus on engaging students in this kind of work where ideal outcomes are students' capacities to connect with others, create innovative products/solutions and to implement them (Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, Fullan & Langworthy, 2013).


Research basis of the course

Creativity levels in children have been declining since 1990

The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) was developed in 1966 and re-normed five times (in 1974, 1984, 1990, 1998, and 2008). The total sample for all six normative samples included 272,599 from kindergarteners through to 12th grade students. Firstly, analysis of the normative data by Dr Kyung Hee Kim in 2011 showed that creative thinking scores in a child's life generally decrease, starting at fourth grade. (See further studies by Land and Jarman, 1998, confirming this). Results also indicated that since 1990, even as IQ scores have risen, creative thinking scores have significantly decreased in children. (The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, by Dr Kyung Hee Kim)  Source: The Creativity Journal

Creativity can be taught, nurtured and measured

James C. Kauman, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology at California State University, directs the Learning Research Institute. Kaufman is an international leader in the field of creativity, known for his research in such areas as everyday creativity, creativity assessment, creativity and fairness, and creativity and mental health. Research funded by the USA National Center for Educational Statistics.
Being creative inside and outside the classroom, Baer, J., & Kaufman, J. C. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
The neuroscience of creativity. Bristol, A. B., Kaufman, J. C. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cultivating Creativity in the Classroom.  Beghetto, R.A. & Kaufman, J.C. (2010).  Cambridge University Press, UK

Rex Jung, Ph.D.  Neuropsychologist, brain imaging researcher, and assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico. Jung's research focuses on identifying the brain regions, cognitive functions, and behaviours associated with the creative process. Research funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Thinking skills can and should be taught explicitly

Philip Abrami analysed 117 studies about teaching critical thinking to children (Abrami et al, 2008). "The teaching approach with the strongest empirical support was explicit instruction. In studies where teachers asked students to solve problems without giving them explicit instruction students experienced little improvement" (Dewar, 2009).

Mark A Runco, Ph.D.  Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies at California State University, He is founder and continuing editor of the Creativity Research Journal. His comprehensive and definitive book Creativity: Theories and Themes: Research, Development, and Practice is an overview of creativity theory and research and is one of few publications expounding on theory and practice of teaching creativity in schools.

Problem Finding, Problem Solving, and Creativity, Mark A. Runco and Roni Reiter-Palmon. Faculty Books and Monographs. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1994.

Dispositions are essential pre-requisites for learning

Shari Tishman and David Perkins (Harvard University) have explored the practicality of using thinking routines as classroom learning tools and developed a framework for pursuing cultural transformation in classrooms and schools. This work has spanned elementary through university settings, included both public and independent schools, and involved schools in the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Australia. 

Visible Thinking, Shari Tishman and Patricia Palmer, "Visible Thinking," Leadership Compass 2, no. 4 (Summer 2005).
The Thinking Classroom: Teaching and learning in a Culture of ThinkingShari Tishman, David N. Perkins, Eileen Jay,  (Needham, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1995).

'Scaffolding' greatly assists students to organise their thinking so they can independently and effectively solve problems

There are proven critical and creative thinking tools (eg Treffinger's CPS Method and IDEO's Design Thinking) that can be taught to students to empower them to solve problems creatively and independently.  

Scaffolding in Teacher-Student Interaction: A Decade of Research, Monique Volman et al, From Educational Psychology Review September 2010, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 271-296. 

Promoting teacher scaffolding in small-group work: A contingency perspective. Volman, M. & Beishuizen, J. (2012). Teaching and Teacher Education, 28 (2), 193-205.  Using Scaffolded Instruction to Optimize Learning, Martha Larkin, 2002.;;