4th Grade ALP

Growing a Community of Leaders

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Highlights of the Critical Thinking Course

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Collaborative Creative-Thinking Group Challenges

During the span of this course, we had challenges that were focused around creative thinking and problem-solving. Many of these challenges were group challenges. This is a big part of ALP because it allows students to get to know each other, collaboratively work together to achieve a common goal, and introduces new ways of thinking and seeing the world around them.


Some of the students' favorite group challenges over the Creative Thinking Course were the Marshmallow Tower, the silent Card Tower, and the group drawing and story challenge (see more about this below).

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Group Drawing and Writing

One of the students' favorite activities during the Creative Thinking course was Group Drawing and Writing. Being able to work collaboratively, change their thinking quickly, and improvise were important skills needed to accomplish this activity. Students were randomly placed in groups (from 2 to 4 members). They each had their own marker of a different color and took turns adding to their group's masterpiece. The masterpiece had to be created with no communication. After students understood the intentions and directions, we started with a circle and then the next student placed one small addition to that drawing (for example they might have added a petal around the circle). Then, it is the next person's turn to contribute to this masterpiece. This continues until time is up.


After students created their group drawing in order to understand the goal, system, and collaboration techniques, we then worked on creating a group story (with some limitations). Each person in their group added to the story but only had 3 words to do so at a time. The story had to be cohesive, have a clear beginning, middle, and end and have the problem/conflict be resolved. This, as you can imagine, is pretty challenging without being able to collaborate beforehand or during the writing process. Students mentioned that although it was a difficult challenge, they enjoyed being able to create something that neither of them could have created on their own. They also enjoyed that they had to change the direction of their thinking because of what words their partners or group members wrote before it was their turn again.

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S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

One of the activities that students enjoyed the most was a thinking activity called S.C.A.M.P.E.R., which is designed specifically for creative problem solving and imaginative thought. It is both a program used with Gifted and Talented Students as well as a problem-solving technique that some CEO's use in order to look at unique ways for their company to overcome obstacles with creative solutions.

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is a mnemonic that stands for:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to another use
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse and Rearrange

In our class, we start with an object and then use all of the qualities of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. to completely modify and reimagine the object. Students only need their mind and an active imagination to do so and it can be done starting with any object in your mind. This can be further advanced by having students begin with a problem that needs to be looked at from different angles, reimagined in a different way, or used for different purposes. We enjoyed beginning our class with this activity!

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Multiple Perspectives

Part of ALP is to begin to look at the world from many different perspectives. Students need to be able to think like a disciplinarian, imagine themselves in others' shoes, and take on challenges by reimagining them from different perspectives. We do this in a variety of ways in class, but one of the ways that students enjoyed the most over this past course was our Multiple Perspectives Garden Challenge. Students were given different perspectives to think and observe from (for example a poet, biologist, historian, etc.). We took a trip to the garden, observed, and then documented our experience from our given perspective. What we noticed is that some students selected the exact same objects to observe, but the different perspectives they had led to far different thinking, ideas, and concepts of that object. We also noticed that even though some students took on the same perspective, however, what they wrote about and displayed varied greatly.
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Questions to ask your child:

  • What was your favorite aspect of the creative thinking course? Why?
  • Can you describe a time that challenged you to think creatively during this course?
  • How did you look at the world differently in class?
  • Can you describe to me how you worked as a team member?
  • How has your leadership grown? What do you still need to work on as a team member and a leader?
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Next Courses

  • Programming and Robotics (December 10th-February 25th)
  • Forensics (March 4th-May 13th)