It’s not an assignment, it’s a creative brief

One of the nuggets that stood out to me from PETE&C was a comment made during a presentation by the two EdTechInnovators, Ben Smith and Jared Mader (I listed Ben first because he was left off the poster at the conference). They were describing how technology can be seemless in the classroom, not something you teach, but something that just… is. And one thing that they mentioned (I think it was Ben), was that he doesn’t feel like he gives assignments anymore, he gives creative briefs.

For example, if the students are expected to learn about different types of waves, he wouldn’t ask them to write a report, or to create a powerpoint, or to make a collage. He would ask them to demonstrate their knowledge. If they chose to create a video podcast with original music and lyrics, then so be it. If fact, so much the better.

I love the idea. Make it clear what the goals are. Make it clear what you’ll be assessing them on. And then give them some freedom. I think they’d certainly appreciate having the freedom to do some self-expression, and who knows what they might learn in the process….. in addition to the actual curriculum they were supposed to learn. Bonus perk, you aren’t wasting extra in class time on this. It’s up to them.

One other example, so long as we’re on a musical kick. Check out this video Lisa Thumann shared on Twitter.

You may say, “But the video doesn’t truly demonstrate their knowledge! I mean, could a student really learn anything just from this YouTube video?” I’ll let the author of the video respond, by sharing a comment he left someone asking that very question on YouTube.

This video was a project to summarize trig formulas and to create a song parody. It’s not intended to be a a study guide.

Here’s a suggestion for doing well in trig. Read from your textbook; don’t go on youtube to get your answers.

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By | 2009-02-12T15:31:29+00:00 February 12th, 2009|Digital Storytelling, Web 2.0, YouTube|6 Comments

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  1. Maryann Molishus 2/12/2009 at Feb 12, 09 | 4:15 pm

    Yes, I agree with Ben and Jared and you. This has become the “funnest” way of teaching for me. Even my second graders can manage this. Best question to ask, “What do you want to learn about and how to you want to share what you have learned with the rest of us?” As a second grade teacher, I have more freedom than some, which might make choosing topics a bit easier, but I do think this is possible for others if you know your standards, think creatively, and also know the tools that you have available for you and your students. Last year, we created a TV show that was broadcast on our local district TV station because of one student’s idea. This year, I have three students at this moment planning guest presenters for the Moodle site they are building. Their beginning idea was that they wanted to start a Nature Club. The assessment is tricky – you have to plan ahead and carefully, but there are lots of bonuses for teachers too. For me, I get to learn with my students!!!

  2. Heidi Van Riper 2/13/2009 at Feb 13, 09 | 6:53 am

    What I like about this is how it will prepare students for the kinds of assignments and projects they will face when they enter the workforce and their adult lives. We must foster this creative side of them so that they will have the ability and the belief that they can devise creative and appropriate solutions.

    Heidi Van Riper´s most recent blog post.. How Products Are Made

  3. Tom 2/18/2009 at Feb 18, 09 | 11:00 pm

    Steve –
    Love the idea of the “creative brief”. Too often we as instructors focus too much on format or the presentation of the knowledge rather than the actual knowledge we hope our students internalize and are able to demonstrate. For example, for me, as an English teacher it’s too easy (and too tempting) to focus on whether all the parts of an effective essay are included or that the language use is edited and polished instead of focusing on whether actual knowledge and understanding are being demonstrated. The “creative brief” forces students to demonstrate ownership over the content. They manipulate it, shape it, mash it, reconfigure it, make it memorable and meaningful, (rather than simply placing content into a pre-conceived template.) Perhaps it’s a bad metaphor but it’s the difference between learning to cook someone else’s recipe really well and actually creating your own dish from scratch – which is going to be the most beneficial, longer-lasting experience in one’s development as a cook?

  4. Katie205 2/26/2009 at Feb 26, 09 | 7:02 pm

    Thanks for the great idea. I am a college student working towards my teaching degree and currently taking a class on how to integrate technology into the classroom. Needless to say, I love the idea! I think it is a great way to let student express creativity and it is also way create a huge memory in their minds and it will be easy to remember. Love the “creative brief” title too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Creative Briefs | Tech Gal 5/2/2009 at May 02, 09 | 1:03 pm

    […] We brainstormed a list of possible products, which you can see on our class blog post. The projects are still being created and will post them at their completion, but just this evening while going through the 1500 blog posts I have not read over the last 3 months I came across an article on Teach42 about the same concept. They call it creative briefs. […]

  6. Little Red Riding Hood Remixed - Teach42 5/21/2009 at May 21, 09 | 8:38 am

    […] I mentioned before how much I love the idea of turning assignments into creative briefs. […]

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