A little inspired by the work of seminal thinking teacher^^, Edward de Bono (no relation to Gumbi, methinks^^), I decided to spring something a little more creative on my unsuspecting advanced class.
Starting out from the highly likely scenario of them being alien archaeologists visiting Earth in a (probably not so) distant future where humans are extinct, I presented them with objects and asked them, in their capacity as experienced archaeologists, to
A) describe it in detail (colour, materials, shape, size) and
B) try to deduce what it might have been used for, then
C) from this, draw conclusions about the kind of society this was.
For an example, I waved a white, wire coathanger at them, gave them one or two ideas as to what it might be and elicited a few more. (Well, pestered them for more, let's say.) When they started giving up, I threw them a few more ideas, to prove how many uses there really could be, hopefully opening up their imaginations to the possibilities. Then, split them into small groups and gave them 5 fairly random objects each to let their imaginations play with...
(Note: the things that were obvious were harder to be inventive about than those they couldn't name...)
After a slow start, they far exceeded my expectations. One group deduced that humans had been a highly religious race of tiny beings, perhaps 20-30 centimetres tall. (I overheard a highly surreal argument going on about the significance of the chopstick in trying to determine their height.)
After giving them enough time to come up with a reasonably logical, if bizarre, ancient human society, I asked the groups to mingle and share information and views. This part was a lot of fun because they took their roles so seriously!
I'd written "creative thinking" on the board in a fairly eccentric way. Under this I'd written de Bono's name and the name of his "Six Thinking Hats" idea. I drew the hats and wrote the most basic meaning of each below it:
white: objective facts
black: negative points
yellow: positive points
I briefly explained who de Bono is and the idea of chaning hats to see things from different viewpoints. We'd just tried on mainly the white hat (descriptions of the alien objects) and the green hat (possible uses). To some extent they'd also looked at the pros and cons of each possibility, so the yellow and black ones too. And in explaining to the others, they'd had a fairly blue view.
As a class, we then went through another topic (foreign emmigration, as it happens, but any would do) and looked at the facts as they're known, possible solutions, pros and cons of each solution and how people feel about the solutions, and then summarised what we'd done and came to a few (obvious, but well-thought-through) conclusions... (Will they take up my suggestion to write to the government about it? Hmm...)
Outcomes: as they got the hang of all thinking together in one direction at a time, they excelled. They seemed to grasp the concept of the hats easily and enjoyed the challenge of the topic.
Perhaps it even opened their eyes a little to their own possibilities...
Anyway, some possible uses for a coathanger:
-as a primitive archer's bow
-eat with it
-wind chime (need two)
-a fun spinning game for kids
-a fun balancing game for kids
-for hanging up leaves to dry and then eat
-template for miniature aircraft wings