A Simple, Open-Ended Assignment: Explain When You’re Creative

A Simple, Open-Ended Assignment: Explain When You're Creative

Explain When You’re Creative

by Danielle Shanley, Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the New Milford Public Schools

Below is an assignment recently given to a 10th grade classroom. The assignment was inspired by Ken Robinson’s The Element.

As you may remember, Ken Robinson defines The Element in the first book you read earlier this year with the same name. Within that text he explains that we all have talents and gifts. When those talents and gifts work in concert with our passions, we are functioning within a productive, sweet spot called The Element.

He firmly believes that we are all capable of being creative, and he reaffirms that within this book. He also criticizes schools (that often separate arts from core subjects) and workplace environments that notoriously stifle the natural, creative juices we all possess.

Robinson suggests we need to know our own minds, realize our own potential talents, and allow ourselves to be stimulated by the work ideas and achievements of others.  He suggests that if someone is not creative, it’s because they haven’t been allowed to be or haven’t been shown how to be.  Most importantly, he believes that creativity, not standardization is the key to successful futures for individuals, schools and business organizations.

Assignment Part 1

Watch this video with Sir Ken Robinson prior to completing Part 2.

Assignment Part 2

You will share your “creative” experiences with the group.  Be prepared to answer/explain letters A-E below.  Present in any format you’d like (including but not limited to): a written document, a poster, a collage, pin board, a chart etc.

  1. Tell the group about your creative self. Explain how you are creative (what’s your medium?).

  2. Tell when you feel the most inspired?

  3. What stifles your creativity?

  4. Tell us about (at least) one other person whose creativity you admire, and how he or she inspires you.

  5. Explain what you believe schools need to do better for students to promote, enhance their creativity. Provide an example of something that would have helped you to be more creative or something/someone who did help you.

Assignment Part 3

Be an active participant in small group discussions on March 28. Arrive prepared; be an active listener; give feedback, and ask questions of your group members.

Underclass Academy Students – Marking Period 4 Assignment

Rolling Deadline (no later than _____)

Name the file: your last name_first name_charity, e.g., Sheninger_Eric_domore234

Additional Resources

Research and evaluate a non-profit/charitable organization connected to your passions.  These resources might help you:




In the assignment you will be evaluated on three criteria:

  • A description of how you developed a passion for a particular cause.

  • A description of the charity you’ve selected and how it supports your passion/cause.

  • The reason(s) you chose this particular charity/non-profit over others who might support the same cause.

A Student Work Sample

So, what did the results look like? See below for one of the better examples.

YouTube video

A Simple, Open-Ended Assignment: Explain When You’re Creative