We finished the Linchpin boards a few weeks ago. Then we finished off a full week of book talks (I never realized how into the discussions the students would get. I tried to limit the talks to just ten minutes, but some went way beyond that . . . some had fielded 10 minutes worth of questions).
Recently, we've been reading and discussing Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist. We did some activities to illustrate the key ideas inherent in the book - namely that everyone "steals" or borrows ideas in their work. In fact, Kleon argues that this is how influences work.
First, to their utter thrill, I had them write poems (two pantoums, which are formulaic poems, to tap into their creative sides and to illustrate how having restrictions or guidelines can, in fact, enhance creativity and one sonnet - talk about having restrictions!)
Second, I had them work in groups to re-create a Lego creation I had in a box out in the hallway. The teams had to pick one member to run out into the hallway to examine the Lego creation for 30 seconds. Then they had to return to their group and explain how to build the creation from the assortment of Legos at each desk. The only catch: that person could not talk.
It was a blast. And the students learned how vital creation and perspective are to creating something. I was also hoping to illustrate the point how humans struggle to create perfect replicas, but the students actually nailed the creation after about 15 minutes.