I put the kids into a very tight box for each assignment. There are many restrictions for most projects. Minutes, number of words, amount of sources, objects they must use, and options they can choose–I actually control quite a bit of what they must accomplish. Each box they are placed into is very different and so they have to struggle and be creative to find an innovative way to get out of each.
I used to do “Genius Hours” and “20% Time” before they had names, books, and blog posts. I stopped. I found that freedom did not make them more creative then placing them into a tight box and forcing them to figure their way out.
It is not that kids can’t think outside the box, it’s that they are only ever given one type of box to escape from.