Torrance Incubation Model Helps Teachers Quickly Plan Engaging Lessons

Kathryn HaydonEducators, Guest Post

Torrance Incubation Model Helps Teachers Quickly Plan Engaging Lessons

By Kathryn P. Haydon

Educators, Guest Post

Guest post by Dane Sannicandro, a third-grade teacher at Rippowam Cisqua School (RCS) in Bedford, New York. Dane is part of RCS’s grassroots creativity cohort and has been trained by Kathryn Haydon in creative teaching practices, including the Torrance Incubation Model. 

Congratulations! You’ve won a ticket to one of the following exclusive workshops:

1. An interactive, discussion-based group that is rich with multimedia and creativity, with opportunities to expand your thinking.

2. An authoritarian presentation, where the instructor dominates the conversation and has you respond to their questions, ideas, and opinions.

Which sounds more appealing to you?

Which do you think is more appealing to students?

This is the plight of lesson planning for teachers every day. Of course teachers would love to create lessons modeled like the first choice for every lesson. The hard truth is that teachers need to plan numerous lessons each day, and time is scarce.

Cue the Torrance Incubation Model of Creative Teaching and Learning (T.I.M.). Pioneered by Dr. E. Paul Torrance, this framework outlines three straightforward steps for creating a meaningful lesson plan that draws on a child’s creative side. In fact, all steps must include one of 18 research-backed creativity skills.

The first step is heightening anticipation, where the teacher quickly draws the children in with something engaging. The second step, deepening expectations, is the heart of the lesson: what is being taught, why is it being taught, and how is it presented? Lastly, students consider the larger impact of what they learned during the extending the learning step, where their learning develops or “incubates.”

As a member of the Creativity Cohort 2.0 at Rippowam Cisqua School, I used this model to introduce how to write a thank-you letter. Arguably a boring topic in 2018 (or any era for that matter!), T.I.M. guided me in creating an engaging, meaningful lesson. In each phase, the creativity skill that I incorporated was See Things From a Different Angle.

To heighten the anticipation, the lesson began with a short one-minute-30-second NASA video showing Apollo 11’s ascent to the moon, ending with Neil Armstrong’s famous “one giant step for mankind” quote. You are probably thinking what the students were thinking: How does this relate to letter writing? Simple: A quick Google search provided a real thank-you letter Armstrong wrote to his team at NASA. The allure elicited from this question is what drew the students in.

The big idea, which began the deepening expectations phase, was that thank-you letters can be written for big and small reasons by all types of people, even famous ones. Then, we brainstormed the elements that thank-you letters must have and generated many different reasons to write them. Our list included thanking someone for helping, teaching, caring, visiting, or giving. The last activity was to then write a thank-you letter. Some letters thanked teachers, others thanked friends, and many thanked parents.

To further “incubate” on what they learned, students extended the learning with a homework assignment. They were tasked with asking what kinds of thank-you letters their parents or guardians write. Finally, each student was asked to write and deliver a thank-you letter to someone at home, such as a parent, sibling, or babysitter. Pulling in real-world examples from real people in their lives reinforced what students learned.

The benefit of T.I.M. is that it outlines three easy steps for creating meaningful lessons. It’s a tool that assists teachers in quickly planning lessons that improve student engagement and harness their creativity.

So, I ask again: which type of lesson would you rather be a part of?



Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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