Outside. The Box.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Traditional thinking is all about “what is“. Future thinking will also need to be about “what can be“. (Edward de Bono)


I wanted to share how I encouraged thinking outside the box with my students (ESL students).Maybe it will inspire some of you.


You need no technology. You need no big preparation ahead. Just a box and, some colored paper and some post-its. And, of course, engagement.


I made a simple box and placed inside the following:

“bias and prejudice”

“no challenge”

“safe steps”

“own experience”

“limited understanding”


Kids were intrigued. “What is in the box?”…so I encouraged them, “Come, come closer and see for yourself”.

They began taking out and reading the cards. We had a discussion – kids connected the ideas with their own experience. Then I asked them, “What then should we place OUTISDE the box?”


The answers began pouring…as you can see. 









“new challenges”




Using student input is more powerful than you imagine. Those words were on our class wall and both students and I referred to them when things got complicated and when it was easier to give up. 

You can build on this lesson – now that we have tech tools, I would do it slightly different. Maybe use a powerful quote, video, use Scribblar or another application in the process. This is just a first step. The next is actually modellling creative thinking in the (almost every) lesson you teach. 

Thank you for reading!

*Photo credits: 


  1. Hi Cristina, I have never liked the expression "think outside the box", but your physical demonstration of it is fantastic. How about "break down barriers" for next time?David

  2. Hi David, I used the expression as it is common in the English language and my students (7-10 year olds, second-language learners) will encounter it more often. I think the barrier / bridge metaphors work better in a more social/cultural context (e.g. discrimination, bias, prejudice, media stereotypes etc). Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. Hi Cristina, yes, that’s what I was thinking, literally build up barriers of chairs etc., with those who suffer isloated on one side, then they are broken down. Could be quite a lesson!

  4. What a creativity….consider it stolen:-)

  5. Go ahead! :)That is why I make it public!

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