Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Free E-Book!

Mention Pieces of Learning in a blog post or on a website and receive a free e-book!  Just post something about our products and send me a link (emily@piecesoflearning.com).  I will then send you an e-book of your choosing free of charge!  We look forward to seeing your blogs!

Monday, July 9, 2012

International Future Problem Solvers Program

Dodie Merritt, one of our educational consultants, recently led a team of young people to a competition called the International Future Problem Solvers Program.  Here, she tells us about the experience:

The International Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP) involves Global Issues Team and Individual Competitions and the Scenario Writing Competition. This year, the topics included Human Rights, Trade Barriers, and Pharmaceuticals.

In January, both Senior Division Scenario Writer Katie Gahlbeck and Junior Scenario Writer Kasey Pennington were the IL State Champions in their respective IL-FPS divisions for their short stories, The Window and ismart. In March, Senior Division Morgan Bollech medaled and became the Senior Division IL-FPS Individual Global Issues State Champion!

In early June, these three G-K FPS IL State Champions (and their coach!) competed at the FPS Internationals Competition at Indiana State University. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet, work, and compete with problem solvers from nearly every continent!

During the Opening Ceremony, Pennington (in a Lincoln top hat and beard) had to honor of carrying in the IL flag along with flag bearers from all the other affiliate states, provinces, and countries. During the Saturday night Variety Show, Kasey sang with the multinational choir after all three girls danced with a group of New Zealanders in presenting two traditional tribal dances. They were great!

Finally, on Sunday morning at the final Awards Ceremony, Katie’s on-site multi-affiliate scenario writing team took FIRST PLACE in the Senior Division! What an incredible thrill! What amazing memories!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review of Curiosita Teaching

This is a review by Ian Byrd on the book Curiosita Teaching.  To view Ian Byrd's blog visit, www.byrdseed.com.


I received a copy of Curiosita Teaching from the folks at Pieces of Learning. Here are my thoughts:


Written by Patti Garrett Shade and Dr. Richard Shade, Curiosita Teachingattempts to develop a system for teachers to build students toward creativity. The book uses a collection of great ideas from many great thinkers including Edward DeBono, Carol Ann Tomlinson, and Sir Ken Robinson.
Creativity and curiosity are dear to my heart, and I was encouraged by the large number of ideas offered in this book, especially the variety of sizes: quick ideas to implement immediately as well as big ideas to build a whole year around.
If you’re new to thinking about how to bring creativity into your classroom, this book will bring you up to speed on many concepts in the field and give you structure for incorporating creativity into teaching.


Curiosita Teaching opens with an inventory to give students. This is called a “Creative Multibilities Inventory,” and looks to evaluate the various levels and types of creativity across a classroom. This would be helpful to establish an early understanding of your students’ present levels. The “multibilities” past of this inventory also reveals what’s to come next: analyzing creativity and breaking it down into elements.


In the next section, Curiosita Teaching unpacks the abstract idea of creativity using a variety of models. The authors explain the Elements of Creativity: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. They also introduce a “Creativity Fan,” which breaks creativity into six components.
I appreciate the multiple models offered in this book for analyzing creativity and separating it into understandable chunks. As a teacher, these frameworks provide structure for an otherwise nebulous concept. I can see these also helping those students who shudder when asked to think outside the box. It gives them specific ways to stretch their thinking.


The authors then dive into specific ways teachers can support creativity in the classroom. This includes developing classroom expectation for “Knock-My-Socks-Off” products. There is also a list of questions to help promote creativity, rules for successful brainstorming, and a list of “Kreativity Killer” phrases to avoid.
I found this section of the book the most useful as a grab-and-go resource for teachers. Ideas are segmented nicely, making it easy for teachers to implement one set at a time. I could easily see teachers developing a list of “Kreativity Killers” with their class while also collaborating on a list of phrases to encourage creativity.


The next section of Curiosita Teaching looks at the larger picture of integrating creativity into instruction. While focusing initially on lesson planning, the authors go on to define a scope and sequence to help teachers purposefully introduce the many concepts outlined in the book.
In defining this scope and sequence, the authors continue sharing a wide variety of creativity ideas from many sources. These include:
* A "think tank" story-writing activity using dice
* PMQ: Plus, Minus, Question
* Creativity Product Based Learning
The book wraps up with a discussion on assessing creativity, including both self-assessments and teacher-developed feedback.


My copy of Curiosita Teaching also arrived with a matching Handbook of Instructional Strategies. While Curiosita Teaching is about looking at a larger framework, the handbook delivers pre-made lessons, assessments, and activities.
The handbook includes:
  • Four “Learning and Thinking Style” Activities
  • Seven flexibility and perception activities
  • An entire unit on animation
  • Activities to develop brainstorming abilities
  • Four activities for creative and critical thinking
Plus, all of these activities come as PDFs on a CD. There are over two hundred PDFs to print and use in your class. This is a pretty awesome resource for teachers looking for specific ways to begin integrating creativity.


Curiosita Teaching is an ideal resource for someone beginning the journey to integrate curiosity with teaching. Drawing upon many works, this book synthesizes information, arranges it into frameworks designed for teachers, and offers resources for further research. However, if you’ve already done your own research into bringing creativity and curiosity into your class, you’ve probably seen some of the specific topics presented in this book before.
The frameworks developed by the authors were my biggest takeaway, and the specific activities included in The Handbook are priceless for a busy teacher who wants to help their students increase their creativity.
Curiosita Teaching and the handbook are available in a package for $50. Separately, they’re $30 each.
For more information on Curiosita Teaching visit our website at www.piecesoflearning.com.