“Creativity does not have to be sacrificed to meet educational standards.” ~Frazier/ Walker

The importance of helping students discover their creativity and providing them with the skills to become creative problem solvers is evident in the Future of Jobs Report presented by the World Economic Forum. The report states that in 2020, the top three skills that companies require for new employees are complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Unfortunately, these skills are missing in many educational curriculums.

 Benefits of the Creative Operating System

The Creative Operating System provides a framework to help teachers develop the “Mindset” and “Heart Set” to create a responsive learning environment and integrate creativity into their classroom lessons.

Teaching students the importance of acquiring a knowledge base to help jumpstart creative thinking is often challenging. It requires both diagnostic and strategic thinking. Many students want to begin brainstorming right away to develop ideas and solutions to a challenge without researching. A foundation of information helps students produce original ideas and products. It takes both an understanding of facts along with the Mindset and Heart Set to inspire creative ideas and implement them. For example:

  • A beautiful melody is created but not without understanding notes, musical theory, and how to play an instrument.
  • An enchanting story is written but not without knowing the essential elements of a plot, character development, imagery, and genre.
  • A broadway play is produced, but it takes a well-written script and a skillful director to be successful.
  • An architect completes a unique building design but not without drafting extensive plans.
  • Students develop an Action Plan for a Service Learning Project but not without first researching information and collecting data related to the selected community issue.

Creating an Experience

Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, gives the following inspirational advice to teachers, “Don’t just teach a lesson, create an experience.That experience introduces new material, not through a lecture, slide show, or video, but by integrating the arts, role-playing, a simulation, a problem-solving adventure, or a song. These lessons teach students to be open, curious, original, playful, and optimistic about the new unit they are about to begin. Engaging students in Project-Based Learning and providing them with choices allows them to tap into their interests and talents to “show what they know,” rather than simply taking a test. Project-Based Learning challenges students to think at the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Creating. By providing students with authentic problems to solve, they learn the importance of being mindful, deliberate, skillful, and courageous.

The book There Are Those by Nathan Levy (Video of Story) explains Heart Set through poetry and why our creative students are most at risk in a traditional classroom setting. The book can be read to students and adults and inspires insight and conversation.


… There are those (And they are few)
Who see much more, Then others do.
They see beyond the blue of sky, Beyond just lights,
for stars will die…
They hear much more than melody, They hear the heart of the symphony.
…. And because their cups, Hold a larger store, When they drink,
They drink much more.
… There are those (And they are few)
Who see much more, Then others do.
They see beyond the blue of sky, Beyond just lights,
for stars will die…
They hear much more than melody, They hear the heart of the symphony.
…. And because their cups, Hold a larger store, When they drink,
They drink much more.

The story, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds (Video of Story), demonstrates the impact a teacher can have on a student’s Mindset and Heart Set.


Vashti’s paper was empty. “I just can’t draw!” she said to her art teacher. Her teacher smiled, “Just make a mark, and see where it takes you…” “Now sign it!”… When Vashti walked into art class the next week, she was surprised to see what was hanging above the teacher’s desk. It was the little dot she had drawn, HER DOT! All framed in swirly gold!” 

Providing students with “Metacognitive Moments” (time to “think about their thinking”) helps them understand the importance of the right Mindset and Heart Set for “creative thinking and doing” and assess their progress in becoming more creative. Through “creative thinking and doing,” teachers develop the elements of creative thinking. The elements also connect to Bloom’s, Taxonomy and Webb’s, Depth of Knowledge. These elements, taken from the book Creative Leadership: Skills that Drive Change, include:

  • Diagnostic Thinking: Provides a knowledge base that acts as a springboard for original ideas.
  • Visionary Thinking: Is the glue that holds a project together. It is a shared goal envisioning the outcome of a project. It provides guidance and inspires students to act, persist, and do their best. In my classroom, we write our vision in the future tense as if it is completed. Our vision answers the following questions: What were our successes? Did we face obstacles, and how did we overcome them? Who were our supporters? What impact did our project have?
  • Strategic Thinking: Research is important to provide a background of knowledge that inspires original solutions. It adds depth and relevance to ideas.
  • Ideational Thinking: Understanding the rules of Brainstorming and implementing strategies such as SCAMPER, the FPS Category List, and Forced Association helps students develop novel ideas from different perspectives.
  • Evaluative Thinking: Developing criteria to judge ideas and select the best solution is a component of the Creative Problem Solving Process. Connecting the criteria to our Mission Statement/ Underlying Problem results in a relevant best solution selection to meet our goal.
  • Contextual Thinking and Tactical Thinking: These skills help develop a detailed Action Plan that will impact the goal established and provide a roadmap for implementation.

I often use resources by Fable Vision and Peter Reynolds to discuss the elements of the Dashboard. Each of his videos is unique and inspirational.

For Teachers: Professional Development

Keepers of the Flame Mindset and Heart Set
He Is Me – Being Playful

For Students: Great Discussion Starters that lead to Metacognitive Moments

The Reflection of Me – Being Courageous
Above and Beyond Being Original and Deliberate
Sky Color – Being Original
Ish – Heart Set, Mindset, Open, Optimistic
Word Collector: Heart Set, Mindset, Driven
Say Something – Heart Set, Mindset, Courageous, Driven, Deliberate
Be You – All of them (Read by Peter Reynolds)
I am Human – Optimistic
I am Peace – Being Mindful

“To nurture creativity in your classroom: Value it; Model it; Plan for it; Provide time for it.”

~ Frazier & Reynolds

Teaching Strategies

Here are strategies I use to integrate the Dashboard components into my lessons:

Being Open:

Integrating Brainstorming

Higher Level Question Techniques Conversation Buddies

Being Curious:

Independent Study

The Future Problem Solving Category List (Perspectives)

Creative Encounters: Wonder Projects Maker Space

Being Original


The Importance of Incubation

Time Forced Association

Being Playful 

Visual imagery

Creating Tableaus

Integrating The Arts Role-Playing

Being Optimistic

Goal Setting

Creating a Vision

Service Learning

Being Mindful

Mindfulness Experiences

Zen Diagrams

Relaxation Strategies

Being Deliberate

Design Thinking Process

Creative Problem Solving Process

PMI (Pluses, Minuses, Interesting Ideas (DeBono)

The Giraffe Heros Service Program (Stick Your Neck out and Make a Difference)

Creating Timelines

Being Driven

Creating a Vision

Teamwork Activities

Being Courageous

Growth Mindset

Service Learning 

In Closing

Think about the following quote in relation to integrating the CoS Dashboard into your classroom lessons to help prepare your students for the skills required in the 21st Century job market:


“Teaching for creativity entails creating a community of inquiry in a classroom, a place in which asking a good question is just as important as answering one. Building this climate includes organizing curriculum around processes of creativity, providing students with contents and processes that allow them to investigate and communicate within disciplines, teaching general techniques that facilitate creative thinking across disciplines, and providing a classroom atmosphere that is supportive of creativity.”

Alane Starko


Kathy Frazier is the gifted education specialist at Orange City Schools in Ohio and an adjunct professor at Kent State University. She has an Educational Specialist Degree in Elementary Education and K-12 Gifted Education and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She was awarded Ohio Gifted Teacher of the Year and International Future Problem Solving Coach of the Year. Kathy is a co-author of the Future Problem Solving Teacher Activity Units, Power Up Your Creative Mind, and Into the Future! A Kids Guide to Scenario Writing. She has made numerous presentations on Creativity, Problem Solving, Entrepreneurship, and Service Learning at world, national, and state gifted conferences. . Kathy has been involved in community theater productions both acting and directing for the past 15 years.

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