In my English class, unfortunately, there is not much in the standards that addresses creativity. It is up to my co-teacher and me to allow students to demonstrate understanding of the material in creative ways. Most often, we have the students break into groups and create posters so that we can check for understanding. The writing they are expected to perform is based almost solely the essay format and constructing sound, well supported arguments. Creative writing is not addressed by the standards. In response, we devised an assignment the week before Halloween asking the students to write and submit a scary short story. The assignment was simply for credit or no credit so that the students did not feel added pressure. It was a way for us to keep them engaged in the writing process by giving them an assignment based on creativity to break up some of the monotony of the essays they had been asked to write up until that point.
Critical thinking, however, is ever-present in our curriculum. Students are constantly asked to analyze readings (fictional novels, short stories, academic articles, etc.) and formulate opinions that they must be able to put into writing and support with evidence from the readings. The nature of our class is such that problem solving is not a large focus, if at all. The strengthening of critical thinking skills is the driving force behind almost all of our lessons.
Communication, collaboration and discussion are daily occurrences in our class. We try to break up instruction every ten minutes in order to allow for a whole class discussion, small group discussion or one-on-one discussion. Almost every activity we do includes some form of communication, collaboration or discussion. Often, the only tasks students are expected to do individually are when they write essays. Even still, there are writing assignments in which students can work in pairs or small groups.