"Clearly, no single tool for thinking would have sufficed. Creative work in the real world requires the ability to define a problem using one set of tools, to investigate it using others, and to express the solution using yet a third set. We call the serial or simultaneous use of multiple imaginative tools in such a way that one (set of) tool(s) acts upon another (set) transforming or transformational thinking." (Root-Bernstein, 273)
If I asked you to name the counties in Maine, could you do it?
If you were born and raised here, I bet you could. I also bet that you would break into song.
That is the essence of Transforming!

"Most of us probably engage in a little transforming every day. If you have ever used a mnemonic device to try to remember something, you've engaged in a transformation" (p.277).

So from the simple (like Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for remembering the notes of the treble clef) to the more complex (like remembering the counties of Maine because they are set to music), transformation is about playing with your information and trying to see it from a multitude of different viewpoints.

For example, if I said, "Conjunction Juntion"... what would you reply?
If you are of a certain age, it would almost certainly be "What's your function?"



Schoolhouse Rock was a classic example of transformation! It's how I memorized the preamble to the Constitution (which I can still sing today, almost 40 years later!)


Or how about naming all 50 states in alphabetical order? I can do it thanks to a song I learned in 5th grade..."Fifty Nifty United States."



But transforming can be even more surprising and startling. In fact, "the more unexpected the transformation, the greater the likelihood that a surprising insight will result" (p.285). For example, the book describes how two urinalysis graphs that look almost exactly alike can be transcribed into music in order to hear the differences between them.

"Transformational thinking produces other benefits, too. A century of educational research has demonstrated that skills and concepts learned in a multimodal way are more likely to be used broadly than are ideas learned in problem-specific contexts" (p. 289). This is much like what we are trying to do with our Web 2.0 tools. We are letting students explore, create and transform learning, within our disciplines.

References:
Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of genius: The thirteen thinking tools of the
world's most creative people
. Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin.