Characteristics of Effective Learning – Creative and Critical Thinking.

1Continuing on from the Characteristics of Effective Learning, the last area is ‘creative and critical thinking.’


This area of the characteristic of effective learning can be covered by resourcefulness and reflectiveness from Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power.  Another way of covering this is by allowing children to have their ideas and going with it.

How can this be done?



I first encountered TASC (thinking actively in a social context) in my second year of teaching. It disappeared after a few years but is now back!  I can see why it is back.  With all the changes with curriculum, it has fit right back in with my practice and to top it off, it supports the characteristics of effective learning.




A couple of years ago, I joined my school who had just started using Cornerstones.  There are four areas to the Cornerstones curriculum, one of which is Innovate.  Innovate is the opportunity to offer children creative experiences that allow them to apply their skills, knowledge and understanding.

Children are given a mission and through different tasks they reach a final outcome.  This allows children to think of their own ideas, solve problems and find new ways to do things.


This Year  3 topic about chocolate and sweets allows children to think of their own ideas to plan a smoothie, solve problems in terms of the Starsmooth International starter point and find new ways to do things by analysing packaging. 4

Children will have been taught the skills to lead up to this and this is a chance to use these skills. Fantastic resourcing from Cornerstones! Even though we have come away towards our own curriculum, teachers still find the quality resourcing useful so we still buy into it.  I find that it also supports the creativity of the teachers so check it out at

Big Questions

Starting a topic with a big question is an approach many schools are taking. Big questions cannot be easily answered by students when the question is posed. They are often set at the beginning of the term/lesson and can only be answered by the end of the term/lesson.  Children find out answers and learn skills so eventually they are able to answer the question. The only issue with this is that teachers can still take over and we need to begin to pass some of the onus on the children.

Mantle of the Expert

A strategy that I used years ago.  The teacher poses a problem and the children take on the responsibilities of an expert team in order to find a solution.  There is planning available on which shows how the starting points fit in with the curriculum.


But I am not here to sell things, just to share ideas so any ideas on starting points in order for children to have the opportunity to use their own ideas.

Share your ideas below on how you get children to use their ideas so it is not just us teachers making all the decisions.  I’m only one person but…



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