Ask One New Question

posted Nov 6, 2015, 10:30 AM by Doug Saunders   [ updated Nov 6, 2015, 12:09 PM ]

Henrico 21 award winner and all around awesome teacher Beth Lewis emailed the staff the other day about some great information she walked away with after having attended a Gifted conference. The conference was centered around a term I had never heard of before: Synectics. Synectics is a strategy that attempts to produce creative solutions to problems through the use of metaphorical thinking. The basic idea is that students are trying to look at familiar objects or ideas and view them in a new perspective while drawing on prior knowledge to defend their thinking process. Beth emailed the staff a super easy strategy that only takes minutes to implement!! Check out the text from the email below.

Try asking one of these questions as a warm up or as a closing activity. This can be done in ANY content area.

A generic question to get them thinking….. How is a sandwich like a crowd of people?  How is popcorn like a flower?
So imagine…..
  • In an English, reading class, asking this question: Which has more bounce, a book or tennis ball? Or Which is quieter, failure or embarrassment? Why? Which is more lasting, lost or found? (or take any character and compare them to any 2 unusual ideas)
  • in History/Civics:  Which is more fragile; a democracy or a monarchy?  Why?, or Which is stronger, a doctor or president? Or What European country is more like cheese pizza or supreme pizza? How is a Revolution like a teenager?
  • In Math: Which is more restful; a circle or a line segment? Why? Or  Which has more stretch, decimals or fractions?  or Is a variable more like ice cream or cake?  Why?   Is a set of negative integers more like WalMart of Target?  Why?
  • In Science: What piece of fruit is most like an atom? Is metamorphosis more like a classroom or a prison?
What you will find by asking these types of questions is that they must APPLY what they have learned, synthesize their knowledge, analyze and justify their answers.  All of this is activating higher level thinking skills in Blooms Taxonomy.

I challenge you to try this just once and see what kinds of conversations ensue!

Very cool. Thanks for sharing Beth!