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Coast-to-Coast Book Design-Part 3: Brainstorming the Book

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
In part three of a four-part unit on book design, students learn about the steps for publishing a book, examine the design elements of 'A-B-C' books, and begin brainstorming ideas for their own page in an 'A-B-C' book the class will publish.

Redesign My Street! Street Design for Pedestrian Safety

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students explore issues of pedestrian safety in their community. They conduct interviews and brainstorm ideas for redesigning a street or intersection.

Designing a Mythical Creature

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students brainstorm a list of modern conundrums that could use some explanation. They then sculpt or paint representations of mythological creatures that explain the origins of something.

Question Starts: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
A "Visible Thinking" routine for creating thought-provoking questions from Project Zero. This routine provides students with the opportunity to practice developing good questions that provoke thinking and inquiry into a topic. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry. Uses question starts such as, "Why...?", "What are the reasons...?", and "What if...?"

QUESTION STARTS

A routine for creating thought-provoking questions

1. Brainstorm a list of at least 12 questions about the topic, concept or object. Use these question-starts to help you think of interesting questions:

Why...?

How would it be different if...?

What are the reasons...?

Suppose that...?

What if...?

What if we knew...?

What is the purpose of...?

What would change if...?

2. Review the brainstormed list and star the questions that seem most interesting. Then, select one or more of the starred questions to discuss for a few moments.

3. Reflect: What new ideas do you have about the topic, concept or object that you didn't have before?

Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?

This routine provides students with the opportunity to practice developing good questions that provoke thinking and inquiry into a topic. It also helps students brainstorm lots of different kinds of questions about a topic. The purpose of asking deep and interesting questions is to get at the complexity and depth of a topic. The purpose of brainstorming varied questions about a topic is to get at the breadth, and multi-dimensionality of a topic.

Application: When and where can it be used?

Use Question Starts to expand and deepen students' thinking, to encourage students' curiosity and increase their motivation to inquire. This routine can be used when you are introducing a new topic to help students get a sense of the breadth of a topic. It can be used when you're in the middle of studying a topic as a way of enlivening students' curiosity. And it can be used when you are near the end of studying a topic, as a way of showing students how the knowledge they have gained about the topic helps them to ask ever more interesting questions. This routine can also be used continuously throughout a topic, to help the class keep a visible, evolving list of questions about the topic that can be added to at anytime.

Launch: What are some tips for starting and using the routine?

Before using Question Starts, you might want to ask students what they think makes a good question. Then, when you show the Question Starts, explain that this routine is a tool for asking good questions. Start the routine by providing a topic-- Stockholm, a compass, the Equator, good sportsmanship. Ask them to use the Question Starts to generate a list of questions about the topic. Initially, it's best to work together as an entire group. Once students get the hang of the routine, you can have them work in small groups, or even solo. Or mix it up. For example, do step 1 as a whole class, do step 2 in pairs, and step 3 as a whole class again.

After students finish generating questions, you can use the questions they created in a variety of ways: pick one of the questions to investigate further, have a discussion about some of the questions, give students information to read about the topic, ask them to investigate it in other ways, or do nothing further as simply creating the list of questions is worthwhile since it gives students a sense of the breadth of a topic and sparks curiosity about it.

Students' questions can be written down and recorded so that they are listed for all to see. If students are working solo, they can keep their list of questions in a journal, or you can create a "collage" out of students' individual lists and display it on the classroom wall.

Being Politically Correct Can Actually Boost Creativity

Smithsonian Magazine

Has a new version of political correctness taken over the media? Sounds bad. (Assuming it's even true.) Originally, being "politically correct" meant avoiding pejorative terms and discrimination. But the idea was quickly decried as too sensitive; it propagated unnecessary outrage, critics said. The concept is now so fraught that some view the term itself as an insult and a way to "strangle" freedom of speech

The negative associations with political correctness are strong enough that researchers thought they might investigate some of those criticisms. One of the critiques of PC speech is that "[p]eople should be able to freely think, throw any crazy ideas, and any constraint would actually dampen creativity," Michelle Duguid, of Washington University in St. Louis, told NPR. She and her colleagues wanted to see if the notion that political correctness can stifle creativity has any merit.

NPR reports:

They sat down students in groups of three to brainstorm ideas on how to use a vacant space on campus. Some of the groups were all men, some all women, others mixed. Control groups got to start right away on the brainstorming, but the test groups were primed with a script.

The research team told those groups that they were interested in gathering examples from college undergraduates of politically correct behavior on campus. They were instructed to, as a group, list examples of political correctness that they had either heard of or directly experienced on this campus.

The researchers assessed the ideas each group generated after 10 minutes of brainstorming. In same-sex groups, they found, political correctness priming produced less creative ideas. In the mixed groups however, creativity got a boost. "They generated more ideas, and those ideas were more novel," Duguid told NPR. "Whether it was two men and one woman or two women and one man, the results were consistent." The creativity of each group’s ideas was assessed by independent, blind raters. The work is forthcoming in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly

The researchers suspect that the safe space created by political correctness helped people be more open with their ideas and reduced the uncertainty people felt about how they should act. “Having that [political correctness instruction] was almost like a framework that helped guide the interaction and understand what was expected of them,” study co-author Jack Goncalo, of Cornell University, told the Atlantic. “And that predictability made them more comfortable." 

Another test the researchers performed found that, when people were told that everyone is guilty of stereotyping, they felt more comfortable expressing their stereotypes. When they told groups, on the other hand, that "the vast majority of people put effort into not stereotyping," NPR reports, the study subjects tried harder to avoid it themselves. "I think most people want to be unbiased, and there are ways we can try to make that happen," Duguid says.

This One Is for the Birds

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design a model for a bird feeder and then build it.

Redesigning Resumes

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design an eye-catching PowerPoint resume.

Race the Track! Jump the Gap (Lesson Four)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson that introduces students to basic physics concepts and the idea of variables, using Mattel Hot Wheels tracks and steel balls. The students explore force and motion.

Community Centered Neighborhood Development

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students use the design process to find if there are alternatives to suburban sprawl.

Redo the Playground

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which middle school students draw on memories of their elementary school playground to design a playground that's closer to ideal.

Teen Smoking: Designing a School Anti-Smoking Publicity Campaign

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students create the visuals for the campaign, based on their research into the effects of smoking.

Falling 101

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Falling 101 – investigates why and how things fall, and explores common student misconceptions about gravity, inertia and air resistance.

The Museum Environment and Preservation

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson plan using discussion and brainstorming to discover the destructive impact of environmental factors on manmade artifacts and structures. Offers a concrete understanding of the complex science of preservation. Part of the online exhibit The Star Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem. Targets grades 6-8.

Save an Endangered Species

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created "product design" lesson in which elementary students create a conservation advertisement.

Empowered Barbie

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students redesign Barbie products to make them 'more empowering and positive for girls.'

Designing the Future of Technology

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students choose a form of everyday technology (e.g., phone, camera, video game console) and research how the technology evolved. Then then give presentations on their ideas for a new design.

The Sun Does What?

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which young students design a device that will prove that the sun's position in the sky changes through the day.

Got Gas? How Much?

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students demonstrate the biochemical process by allowing baker's yeast to ferment and release carbon dioxide gas. They design a device to capture and measure the gas.

‘Tis the Season for a Reason

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
‘Tis the Season for a Reason — investigates common student difficulties in understanding the cause of the seasons as well as common pitfalls and helpful approaches. 

Affiliations at AAM 2018

Smithsonian Affiliates

Are you headed to the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting in Phoenix? Three Smithsonian Affiliations team members will be attending and have organized several opportunities to meet with Affiliates. On Monday, May 7, brainstorm possible programs and events with the Smithsonian and fellow Affiliates around the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing in 2019. […]

The post Affiliations at AAM 2018 appeared first on Smithsonian Affiliations.

Mushrooms Can Save the World

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lessons in which students consider solutions to environmental problems based on the role of fungi in ecosystems.

Habitat for the Other 90%

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design a product or service that meets the needs of people living in a particular natural habitat. They also keep in mind the needs of the habitat.

Ancient Mesopotamian Problems: Modern-Day Solutions

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which high-schoolers lend a hand to the seminal civilization by applying modern technology and engineering.
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