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PENRITH Critical & Creative Thinking Workshop

  • Penrith Panthers Club 123 Mulgoa Road Penrith, NSW, 2750 Australia (map)

Teach your students to think for themselves.

“I think the whole day was engaging and fabulous.  You’ve given me lots to think about and put into place.  The resources are invaluable.”


“Absolutely loved the hands-on Rube Goldberg Machine activity at the end - great for really getting our creativity working. In the best exemplary fashion- the licence for creativity that comes with a suitcase of junk tipped out onto the floor and the words "use anything in the room for your creation..." in immensely liberating!”


“Great workshop. It makes you think!  Even after a long day of teaching, it was an enjoyable PL.  Great resources and to have everything at hand is FANTASTIC.”


“Very informative and practical. Thank you!  5 Stars!”


“This PD was interesting and engaging.  I enjoyed the multimodal approach.”


“Excellent.  Best PD I have attended in years.  Practical and realistic. “


“Excellent Quality Presentation with lots of interesting ways to present including ensuring availability with mic, watching videos, singing songs and physical activities. Its great that the information reflects AusCurr and is underpinned by educational research.”


It’s just awesome – a quality program.
— Chandra Mindy, Years 5-12, Penrith Valley School
It is one of the most interesting and engaging workshops I’ve been to. So good and worth every cent I spent.
— Christine, K-6 Teacher, Charlestown PS

These schools have already made the jump

See all the schools - in part or in full - who have participated in Minds Wide Open training and/or are actively using the Minds Wide Open Program and classroom resources.

Click the pins to reveal schools!

Well presented, informative, relevant, fresh and practical strategies that can be used immediately in the classroom/school. Delivery of PD catered for a variety of learning styles. All learners engaged!
— Jacki Beale, Year 3 Teacher, Mulyan PS


Book now. Pay after event

We understand it's a time-consuming process to get approval (and the boss doesn’t always say “yes”) which is why our policy for teachers is BOOK NOW to secure a place, PAY AFTER THE EVENT to avoid complications and NO CANCELLATION FEES if life happens!



Learn on the day, start teaching the next!

Premium custom made classroom resources by James Phelps, designed to make teaching easier and students instantly engaged. All these and more included complimentary in the registration price!

Great delivery. Engaging & interesting. Excellent resources for us to take back to school and ACTUALLY USE.
— Jane Jeffries, Year 1 Teacher, Muylan PS, Cowra
Great workshop. Amazing resources. James was a great presenter with a lot of useful experience.
— Sophie, ES1 and Jess, S1, Canowindra PS
Crunches Spread-02.png
Fantastic! Getting us to think creatively helped to put us in the student mindset and showed the positive impact (instant) of the crunches.
— Laura Arman, Years 7-10, The Canobolas Rural Technology High
The tools/resources were excellent and I’m excited to implement at our school.
— Kelly Judd, Stage 1 Teacher, Coniston PS
Very Informative. Can’t wait to implement this into my classroom, lots of fantastic resources to take away.
— Kellie Osgood, Year 1 Teacher, Wilton PS
Great course and a lot of resources to use with both staff and students.
— Anthony Bozza, Walcha Central School
An interesting useful presentation with plenty to both use next week and to prompt further reading/thinking. Also fun and hands-on.
— Louise Drielsma, Years 7-12, Armidale High School


Critical and Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum (K-8)



NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)

Completing the Minds Wide Open: Critical & Creative Thinking Across the Curriculum course will contribute 5 hours of NESA 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 in NSW.

NESA Course Code: C24126

Click here for NESA course details.



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.



Teachers will gain an array of tools and resources that enable them to equip their students to use Critical & 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)


Excellent Quality Presentation with lots of interesting ways to present including ensuring availability with mic, watching videos, singing songs and physical activities. It’s great that the information reflects AusCurr and is underpinned by educational research
— Matt Mycenzie, Years K-12, Thalgarrah Env. Ed. Centre



"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)



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.


A very balanced course. I appreciated the theory flowing to the practical. You are helping me work SMART with array of resources.
— Megan Turner, Tamworth PS


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.;;

Excellent knowledge, resources and practical activities to use with students. Excellent tutor-really knew his stuff!
— Trent, Anthony, Kim, Jared, Year 5/6 Teachers, Boambee PS


An excellent and inspiring workshop. Amazingly enjoyable & professional delivery and content. Thoroughly recommend this workshop.
— Margie Beange, 7-10, Quakers Hill High School SU
Thanks for a wonderful session that I can walk away feeling inspired by. Lots of great activities and resources, very helpful!
— Michelle Simmonds, Year 3/4 Teacher, Lugarno PS


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