Oct 142014

Sky QMarkIt is important, as adult facilitators, that we ask open-ended questions from the very start of the season. Higher order reasoning, such as synthesis and evaluation, is stimulated through the use of open-ended questions[1]. By asking open-ended questions, you are encouraging your students to think of other possibilities and even develop self-reliance. As a Destination Imagination Team Manager, Coordinator, or Parent; it is even more important to use open-ended questions since asking closed-ended questions could cause or even be interference. Check out the information below to further understand the importance of asking and how to ask open-ended questions. For more information about interference, check out the Rules of Interference section in the Rules of the Road (pages 229-232).

Characteristics of an open-ended question include:[2]

  • Requires more than a yes or no answer
  • Requires more than a short answer, such as a specific fact or number
  • Often start with “What…,” “How….”, “Why. . .”
  • Can also be phrased as statement: “Tell me…”, “Describe . . .”, “Please explain . . .”
  • May take the participant a few seconds to think about their answer
  • There are no right or wrong answers

It is important to remember the characteristics of open-ended questions when framing your conversation with the students. Your DI team will try to pick up on any outside clue they can to figure out if you like what they are doing. For example, consider what the following question suggests.

Do you think you should go ahead and keep working on your script from last meeting?

The team, after hearing that question, may feel pressure to keep working on their script, regardless; if they think it is done or not. In comparison, consider the following more open-ended version.

How do you feel about the script that you were working on last meeting?

This version calls students’ attention to a particular aspect, without the strong indication they have to keep working on it. Anytime you feel like you are about to ask a yes-no question or suggest they work on a component, stop and try to re-phrase your question or statement. It is your role to encourage your students to complete each element of their Team Challenge, so encourage them to think about with a question. If the team says they feel good about that element, then leave it alone and ask the team what they would like to work on next.

Asking open-ended questions is great way to respond when the team is asking you a question. Remember, as the Team Manager, Parent, or Coordinator; you cannot contribute ideas or suggestions to the solution. Let’s take the example from the Roadmap to see how this can work.

Team Member asks, “Why won’t this gear turn properly?”

Team Manager responds with, “What are some reasons you can think of that could be keeping it from turning properly?”

The open-ended question encourages the students to come up with their own solutions. The Team Manager can then ask a follow-up open-ended question and keep the conversation going until the team comes up with a solution. If the Team Manager answered, then it would be interference and stop the students from engaging in higher order thinking.

How comfortable are you with asking open-ended questions? It takes practice, but asking open-ended questions will be worth the effort when you what your students created all on their own. To help get you started, here is a list of open-ended questions that you can keep at the ready.

  • How do you feel about [insert challenge element]?
  • What kind of information do you need in order to go forward?
  • Why is that happening?
  • What skills do you need to learn?
  • Describe how you did that.
  • Tell me what you want to work on next time.
  • How can you work together to accomplish [insert challenge element]?
  • What do you think will happen at tournament with [prop, background, misc.]?
  • How can you solve the problem with [insert object]?
  • Please explain to me how that fulfills one of the scoring elements.



[1] http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/engaging-students-through-effective-questions

[2] http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Sharing_Center/WA/Connect/Questions.pdf

Oct 082014
Students For A Creative Iowa

If you could support Students for a Creative Iowa by shopping, would you? Now you can with AmazonSmile!

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

How does AmazonSmile work?

When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

How do I get started?

Just click on the link above to set your AmazonSmile preferences to support cre8iowa. After that, continue shopping as normal. If you go to Amazon.com instead, the site will ask you if you would prefer to use the AmazonSmile portal.

Thank you for your contribution! Without your support, we would not be able to impact hundreds of Iowa students each year.

Oct 012014
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The ability to work as part of a team is one of the most important skills any student must learn. Not only will teamwork be required for the rest of the student’s academic career, but also when the student goes out and joins the workforce. Teamwork is also critical for a Destination Imagination® Team. Teamwork is what allows a team to turn a stressful and challenging situation into a success. As adult volunteers, it is always difficult to watch a team struggle to work together.

The best way to avoid that struggle is to start of team building exercise early and do plenty of them throughout the entire year! Below are several team-building activity resources, so that you and your team have the best team work possible.




Below are a few activities from the Duct Tape Teambuilding Games video playlist. Check out the playlist for more great ideas!


Sep 222014

Today’s workforce is expected to be able to use a variety of digital or online management tools. So why not give your students a head start and try using one or more of these free project management tools to help students stay on focus?

The below list is by no means includes all free project management software programs available, just a few that can been mentioned on multiple lists as having a free version and easy-to-use. If you have any suggestions for other project management tools, comment on Facebook or Twitter.



Your team can leave messages and notes about your project in the system, and set up email updates so you can always stay on top of what is going on even if you’re not logged in with the collaboration and integration tools.


Your team could create cards, drag and drop cards between lists to show progress, and add as many people as you need to a card. Available on computer and mobile devices.

Trello Board Example


For teams with 5 or less members, you can have unlimited projects and 500 MB of storage as well as email integration, reminders about deadlines, and the ability to  add or edit documents within the system.


Your team could create, share, and comment on tasks, projects, calendars, and documents in this collaborative environment.


Your team can view their goals, track progress, assign priorities and tasks, and get updates on the project right in the program. It also has a calendar function to graph the team’s tasks right onto the dashboard.

Sep 162014

Whether your students are researching for their Destination Imagination® Challenge or for a school project, learning how to find resources for a project is a valuable skill. Students will have to research to write papers, find jobs, and look for solutions. Below are some tips and resources to help students effectively and efficiently investigate and write about their topics.

Dustin M. Wax is a former contributing editor and project manager at Lifehack. He has the following researching tips from his article.

  1. Schedule: Write up a schedule with a series of milestones by a specific date and keep it.
  2. Start, don’t end, with Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a great place to start researching to find keywords and overview information related to your topic.
  3. Mine bibliographic: Once you found a good source, skim through the bibliography and note any resources which seem to relate to your research.
  4. Have a research question in mind: keep your research focused by working towards an answer to your question.
  5. Deal with one piece at a time: don’t try to tackle all aspects of your topic at once.
  6. Use a system: start researching with a plan to collect and organize your notes and resources.
  7. Know your resources: spend some time getting to know what resources you can access through your school, local library, etc.
  8. Ask for help: don’t be afraid to ask your librarian, teacher, or other students for help finding relevant materials for your topic.
  9. Carry an idea book: keep a small notebook and pen with you to jot down ideas.
  10. Bring it up to date: pay attention to the publication date of materials—ideally your references to come from the last 10 years or so.


Reading Resources

One resource to help students research is the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS) Research Guide. This guide is made up of 21 tip sheets that answer many different research topics. Access the CRLS Research Guide here.

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, or OWL, is a great resource to answer questions about citation, formatting, and research. Take a look at their Conducting Research segment found HERE

BBC created Top Tips for Research Skills as part of their Key Skills module. Take a look at the BBC suggestions Here.


Video Resources

What is research?


How to take great notes


How To Write A Research Paper! (8 simple steps)