Creativity + School-to-Career Experiences

At the May 19th Massachusetts School-to-Career Connecting Activities conference, school partners in the Massachusetts Creativity & Innovation grant program displayed the projects that they have developed.  Displays included projects about robotics, design & innovation, math, physics, biology and the arts.   Participating schools have designed curriculum that engages students in “design thinking” and in the opportunity to experiment, tinker and try-out ideas, with the idea that sometimes there will be visible great results and sometimes failure and a chance to keep experimenting.

The creativity theme intermingled with the traditional themes of the Connecting Activities conference — career exploration, employer engagement, creating high-quality work experiences for students.  How does the theme of creativity fit into this work?   Several different connections –

1.) The creativity projects provide examples of approaches for connecting authentic, challenging, creative work into classrooms, allowing students to experience and build personal and career skills in design thinking, innovation, technology, the arts and more.

2.) The creativity projects highlight the ways that creative thinking is relevant across many fields of study, career areas and aspects of life.  Creativity is important in classrooms, personal life, community and career; in science, technology, engineering, arts, math, entrepreneurship, retail, food, media, education, nonprofit organizations & more.

3.) The  projects highlight the idea that there is a cluster of skills – communication, collaboration, leadership, critical and analytical thinking, research, persistence and more – that support creativity and innovation.  The featured speaker, Ayora Berry from PTC, also highlighted the idea that the best creative thinking happens when people combine broad knowledge and experiences across many subjects and topics with in-depth knowledge of a particular topic.   Students need opportunities to develop breadth of knowledge and experience at the same time that they are beginning to discover favorite subjects and career areas where they will focus in-depth study.

4.) Formal and informal apprenticeship is a key part of most creative career paths.  Many teachers, supervisors and career counselors have a gift for helping students to see the long-term career skills embedded in all kinds of entry-level job and early work experiences.


Where do everyday examples of creativity show up in the work-based learning placements sponsored by Connecting Activities?  Here are some examples drawn from sample Work-Based Learning Plans.

Business and Entrepreneurship

  • Creating marketing materials
  • Developing product ideas

Retail and Sales

  • Arranging clothing for display with an eye for color
  • Designing signs for retail displays
  • Mixing and matching items for display
  • Suggesting products that can meet customer needs; expanding options; thinking outside the box


  • Writing
  • Developing story ideas

Cable Television

  • Creating interesting topics for video production.

Culinary Arts

  • Adding your own spin to a recipe.
  • After reviewing with their site supervisor, creating your own recipe from scratch.
  • Designing the presentation of a dish you have made.


  • Working with color and shape to enhance garden and landscape design.
  • Working on signage for a park.

Graphic Design / Sign Design

  • Graphic design of signs, posters, brochures, flyers, other materials
  • Thinking outside the box with various tasks assigned


  • Developing games and craft projects
  • Storytelling


  • Developing ideas for a new organic farming project for a science department.
  • Creating meaningful and engaging study guides, vocabulary lists, assessments/quizzes and other materials
  • Creating bulletin boards and displays
  • Creating insightful, relevant questions on a specific text for use in classroom small group discussions.


  • Creating flyers to educate others on health and nutrition topics
  • In a nursing home activities program, modifying planned activities as needed to facilitate resident participation.


  • Creative approaches to visually presenting information.
  • Creative problem solving
  • Creative organizational strategies
  • Creatively using social media to market and promote products, services and activities


What other examples do you have? As you are helping to shape student work experiences, think about ways that you can highlight the potential for creativity in these experiences.

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