New Year, New Tests: Common Core Assessments Are Here!

New Year, New Tests Common Core Assessments Are Here!

The 2014-15 academic school year is a big one for Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Schools in many states have been working on adopting the college and career-ready standards in classrooms for four years and it is now time to measure student progress against these standards. To put the standards “to the test” literally, states are required to administer Common Core aligned assessments.

No need to panic! New tests have been built that specifically align to the Common Core and guide students through the process of demonstrating the skills assessed by the CCSS. These tests were developed by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The consortia designed the tests to assess critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills which experts warn will be difficult for educators to simply teach to when the questions come out. Read More

Having a Creative Thinking Mindset in the Classroom

Having a Creative Thinking Mindset in the Classroom

What would the world be like if it were possible to be creative on demand? We know that creative thinking involves our brain’s ability to make sudden, strange, and beautiful connections. However, these connections don’t happen on demand. You’ve probably experienced challenges in finding a creative mindset, whether you’re in the classroom and looking to motivate students, or whether you’re looking for some innovative thinking to solve a problem on your own. What does it take to make creativity happen?

Renowned comedian and Monty Python member John Cleese may have an answer. As an expert on creativity and business, Cleese has developed a theory on how creative thinking happens: it’s all about establishing the right working conditions. When we’re feeling pressured to get things done, our brains can lock into a functional mode. In this mode, creative thinking can become impossible to access. But when we allow ourselves to play, have fun, and get away from stress, we have a better shot at experiencing that creative spark. Read More