The Power of Making Connections

We have all tried to teach students to make connections between things that have obvious connections. But what about between things that don’t have obvious connections?

In his book Brain Rules, expert John Medina talks about a six-year study of more than 3,000 innovative company executives published in 2009. One of the biggest common factors among these entrepreneurs was an ability to see connections among things that others did not see. They did this by constantly asking questions, especially, “What if?”

Take two things that are completely different and ask your students to make connections between them. What they say will likely impress you! 🙂

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Categories: Stage 2: Active Processing, Stage 3: Critical Thinking

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Love the suggestion to look at connections between unexpected things. This reminds me of a few experiences:

    – Dr. T. Roger Taylor offered a workshop in my area over a decade ago that still influences my lesson planning. One of his standard unit planning ideas was a divergent/creative thinking section. I was working on a unit plan about Mexican history/heritage, so mine were related to that. For example, one of the parts of that section had the stem, “Get ideas from ____ to improve _____.” For example, “Get ideas from quincenera celebrations to improve prom” or “Get ideas from Dolores Huerta to improve the school’s ASB” or “Get ideas from the folk tales we read to improve your personal narrative drafts.” There are dozens of other stems, but you get the idea.

    – San Jose Area Writing Project teacher consultant Jay Richards once gave a workshop about a strategy he uses with whole-class novel study. He has students pick minor characters in pairs, and then he circulates a lunch bag with the words for random objects written on slips of paper. The students pick one (no trading!) and must write for a few minutes individually about why the minor character is like that object. Then, they share their ideas with their partners and write again. If I remember correctly, the students revisit this writing at the end of the book to see if their analogies held up. We talked about Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, so it was Uncle Hammer as an umbrella and Little Man as a mirror and Papa as a drink pitcher. Excellent activity to get to higher-order thinking skills and character development / justification / text dependency.

    Brief post today, but I appreciate the reminders. Thanks!

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