Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Creative Problem Solving in the Art Room

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in at 4:00 PM

 About a week ago I wrote a post that touched on how each year I create an overarching theme that I can develop my teaching through and that I can have my students develop their skills with.  This year I firmly decided on creative problem solving and have spent the first week teaching all of my classes about what creative problem solving means and how it can be used in the art room.  I have also framed all the projects within my curriculum  for grades 1-5, to pose at least one  open-ended art challenge question entitled  "your art problem to solve".

Because I teach on a 6-day cycle with about 5 classes each day, I have had NUMEROUS chances to fine-tune and tweak the lesson structure to best have my students attain my goal of being able to answer the question "what is creative problem solving?" and creating an activity where they can creative problem solve and then share with the class all the different ways they did it.  Here is how I did it:

I had attended the NAEA conference last year and went to a seminar given by a Nebraska art/technology teacher Bob Reeker (who was GREAT), based on the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.  I had read this book years ago and loved it and was excited at the chance to see how Mr. Reeker had implemented right-brain creative activities into his fifth grade curriculum. The PowerPoint he provided the attendees with acted as the basis for my lesson.

I began by asking my students to turn and talk to discuss what creative problem solving means to them.  This was to help me gain an idea about what their prior knowledge was on the topic.  Then I told them an anecdote of how I woke up on the first day of school and prepared myself a cereal breakfast but found that I had no milk in the refrigerator.  I asked them to give me possible solutions to this problem.  I was able to get about 7 answers or so from each class.  I used the variety of answers to illustrate the point that many times we are faced with problems every day that have more than one acceptable answer and  that it is our job figure out possible solutions and then choose the one that best fits our needs. 

Secondly I showed them their design challenge: To work in pairs and invent an object that combines all or parts of 3 unrelated objects: a sneaker, a chair, and a bicycle (courtesy Bob Reeker's Powerpoint).   If you are a Daniel Pink fan this is an example of 'synthesis' in his book....

Students got about 15 minutes to work, they had to label their invention, give it a title, and make sure it was aesthetically pleasing (title, function, and aesthetic).   They were able to add multiples of the objects as well as integrate other objects, as long as they included parts or wholes of the initial 3.

Lastly the class met back up in front by the Smartboard and they each presented their inventions

They came up with some AMAZING inventions and really enjoyed sharing them with one another.  I let them go for the period with a final assignment: to exercise their creative problem solving skills by recognizing all the different problems they encounter in a day and trying to persevere and find multiple solutions them!