Developing Creative Thinking in English Classes


Dr. Myo Win
Yangon University of Education

Mm TESOL Workshop: Teaching English in Public Schools was held in Learning Hub, Yangon University of Education on 7th August, 2016. Five workshops were conducted in the morning section. The workshop on Child Protection was conducted by Nicola Edwards and Ohnmar Htway from the British Council. The workshop titled “Developing Creative Thinking in English Classes” was conducted by Dr. Myo Win from Methodology Department, Yangon University of Education. Rhona Davis from Mote Oo Education conducted the workshop on “Making the Most of your Textbook.”  Fiachra McCleary from the British Council lead the workshop titled “Teaching for Success Continuing Professional Development for Teachers”. Po Po Thaung Win from the Teacher Tree conducted her workshop on “What is a Successful Teaching Activity? Making ECRIF Come Alive in the Classroom.” At 12 noon, there was a lunch break.
At 1 o’clock, the workshop resumed. In the afternoon section, there were four workshops. Daw Thet Htar Hlaing from Yangon University of Education conducted the workshop on “My Students, My Resources.” The workshop titled “Creating a more Communicative Classroom” was lead by Gray Reinhart from Bob Htaw Education Empowerment Programme. The workshop on “Portfolio Assessment of Students’ Writing in English was conducted by Dr Khin Pyone Yi from Yangon University of Education. A.K Gomes from the British Council held a workshop on “Learner Training”.
In the workshop on “Developing Creative Thinking in English Classes”, some classroom activities are done to develop creative thinking. In the first activity, the participants are shown a figure like a “circle” and asked to name this figure in different ways within two minutes. Out of 60 participants, only one can give 8 different names within two minutes. Most of them can give 4 different names. Most of the name given to this figure is “circle”. 25 participants named this figure “zero” and “moon”.   Strange and unusual names for this figure are elastic ring, life circle, an overlook of a bowl and pizza. According to the data, it can be interpreted that most of the participants are convergent thinkers. In other words, very few are divergent thinkers.
The second activity is to create new figures by using a given figure. The participants are shown a triangle. Some new figures they created are hat, house, umbrella, table lamp, arrow, signpost, mountains, Christmas tree etc. Participants are older than seventeen. But they are very happy to create new pictures. These two activities using pictures are the first step in encouraging learners to have different viewpoints on one thing. In the third activity, participants are given the following picture. Their task is to arrange them into proper orders. This task is done as a group work activity. Using the same picture, different groups have different orders. When the presenter asked the participants what happened to the leopard, almost all of them said it died. No one said it may lie or sleep. According to the picture of a leopard, it cannot be definitely say that the leopard died. This picture can be interpreted in different ways, at least, three ways-the leopard either died or slept or lay. Based on these alternative answers, the arrangement may also be different. The reason why the leopard was thought to die may be because of the picture of a man with a gun.
The alternative answers for this picture are as follows:
1.    A leopard chased a deer. The man shot the leopard.  The leopard died. The deer went back to grazing.
2.    A leopard was asleep. Deer were grazing. They heard a man shooting. The leopard woke up, saw the deer, chased them and killed one of them.
3.     Leopards used to chase and kill deer so few left. The man came and killed the leopards. Most leopards were dead. Now deer lived peacefully.
4.    The man shot the leopard. The leopard pretended to be dead. When the man left, it got up and saw the deer grazing. Then it chased them.
In the last activity, participants are given a set of four situations for which they have to find the solution. This activity is also conducted as a group work activity. As in activity 3, different groups had the different solutions for the same situations. Thus, participants realized that one thing can be seen in different ways.
While you are reading a passage to the class, you see a student sleeping.
You are an English teacher. While the students are reading aloud, you notice that Kyaw Kyaw’s pronunciation is bad.
You are a student. Your teacher gave you a Grade A on a test by mistake.
While you are teaching, a tiger escaped from the zoo comes into your classroom.
This activity is suitable when conditional clauses are taught to the class. Traditionally, the teacher explains the structure which composed of two clauses- if clause and main clause. To understand the structure, the teacher gives example sentences. For example, the teacher writes the sentence — If you try, you will pass and explains how to construct this structure, based on the given example. Then, exercises are given to the students to remember the structure. In this teaching procedure, the teacher does not allow the students to use the language she has taught. By doing this activity 4, students have an opportunity to use the language in the classroom. In fact, students should have a chance to apply what they have learned for their real life situation.
At 10th International Conference on Thinking, 2002, Robert Fisher said:
“We need to educate pupils for jobs that don’t yet exist.”
To be able to do so, one of the ways is to develop students’ creative thinking in the classroom.
CJ Simister (2007) How to Teach Thinking and Learning Skills. Paul Chapman Publishing,
A SAGE Publications Company, London.

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