Critical and Creative Thinking at the ASMS

It’s mid-semester a good time for reflections and plans. ASMS Learning Conversations provide the opportunity for our students to take some time to consider their achievement and growth over term one and plan for next steps in reaching their learning goals. Our Learning Conversations support students in monitoring their progress. Through working with their Learning Studies teacher students will gather examples of their work and focus on what they have done well and what aspects of their work they plan to improve. Teachers’ feedback on assignments is an important source of information in this process, focusing on key aspects of learning that indicate areas for improvement.

Learning Conversations focus on more than achievement, they also provide the opportunity for reflection on growth in capabilities development. Capabilities are an integrated and interconnected set of knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that are developed and applied across the curriculum. They help students become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens. At the ASMS we purposefully design learning experiences to develop capabilities and therefore ask students to reflect on their growth during their Learning Conversations.

Students reflecting on, adjusting and explaining their thinking and identifying the thinking behind choices, strategies and actions taken is an element of Critical and Creative Thinking (C&CT), one of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities. In our Learning Conversations students think about thinking (metacognition), reflect on actions and processes, and consider how they may transfer knowledge into new contexts to create alternatives or open up possibilities.

In Dream Design & Develop (3Ds) year 10 & 11 students focus on the innovation cycle, with students identifying a problem and designing, prototyping and marketing a solution. This involves students creating ideas and actions, and considering and expanding on other ideas. They imagine possibilities and connect ideas through considering alternatives, seeking solutions and putting ideas into action. They explore situations and generate alternatives to guide actions and experiment with and assess options and actions when seeking solutions. They are thinking in critical and creative ways. ASMS students are most creative when they are involved in meaningful, challenging and authentic activities such as our 3Ds program. You will be able to view our student 3Ds solutions to problems at our Innovation Expo (to be held in weeks 5 and 6 of term 2) and during our Open nights.

The well designed learning spaces at the ASMS are conducive to nurturing critical and creative thinking and we make the most of the innovative design of our school building. Our open spaces allow us to bring together people to work in groups of varying sizes and for varying purposes. We can easily pull in students from across classes to work through a common problem they may be experiencing in their learning. Teachers can draw students into small focus groups for tutoring and discussions or sharing ideas, thoughts and approaches. We use our spaces, physical and virtual, to encourage interaction and creative collaboration. Collaboration enhances creativity.

Open ended questions help our students to develop creative thinking by requiring students to apply, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information and knowledge. Open ended questions have many different possible answers, they provoke students to connect to past learning and experiences and transfer their knowledge and understandings to new contexts. Why is biodiversity important for health? Is one example of an open ended question our year 10 and 11 students are asked to consider.

Not every answer is going to be correct, not every solution to a problem is going to work for everyone. At the ASMS we recognise that making mistakes is an integral part of learning. That failure is at the core of the creative process. Creating a caring and encouraging learning environment where students feel free and safe to experiment with new ideas and take sensible risks is a key feature of the ASMS learning environment.

Assessing growth in critical and creative thinking is made possible through our Learning Conversations. As Learning Studies teachers work with students to prepare and conduct the conversation they are able to hear and see the growth. This year we also hope to capture this growth by having our senior leaders observe a number of Learning Conversations. Having some base line data will, we hope, assist us in measuring growth over time in relation to the General Capabilities.

I wish you all the very best for the upcoming term break. Encourage your child to take time to have a break and rest up ready for another term of extraordinary learning; driven by curiosity and challenge and inspiring passion and confidence.