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Rubric for "FedEx Days"

Rubric for "FedEx Days"

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Colleagues: I am going with a Daniel Pink idea in my classroom in the next unit and allowing my students something that is called "FedEx Days" where students create questions they want to have answered and then present what they have found after 2 days. (The idea comes from the Daniel Pink book, "Drive" where he talks about how FedEx (and now Google) gave employees 1 day a week to work on pet projects that related to the company) So my students will submit to me questions they have about Government - any question is fine. Then they will have 2 days and all the resources they need to answer the question. They will then have 2 minutes to make a short presentation-however they want (but there must be a visual aid - ppt, etc.) about what they have found. The issue I have is I need help developing a rubric for this presentation. Has anyone ever done this before? Can anyone offer any advice on how to craft a rubric for this presentation? Thanks! -Jason

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Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate

Hi Jason,
Sounds like a good way to spark inquiry and give students more voice in their own learning.
Re: your rubrics question, it might help to start with your key learning objectives. Will you be assessing students' communications skills, their research/info literacy skills, or something else? Which skills or dispositions do you want to encourage (i.e., curiosity), and which will you actually assess?
For an example of a rubric for assessing presentations, take a look at the Buck Institute for Education free resources, including presentation rubrics for different grade levels:
Good luck--and be sure to let us know how it goes!

Jason Janczak's picture

First off-thank you Suzie for the recommendation of the Buck Institute - I am going to explore that site in depth!

Secondly, I realized the concept behind FedEx Days isn't a grade, and that grades only constrict creativity so therefore I decided not to grade these projects. I am letting the students create whatever they want (so long as it pertains to government) and its not going to be graded.

The only requirements I put on them is that the presentation needs to be over 2 minutes long and that there needs to be some visual/performance based aspect to it. That is it - now go create. The look on their face was priceless as they had all this freedom but didn't know what to do (because they hadn't had this freedom before).

While there isn't a gradebook grade, I did request the students make categories for the class so we can select things like "Most Unique", "Most Controversial", and "Most Humorous", etc. after the presentations. They were all about it.

Today is day 2 of research, they need to present on Tuesday (4 non-school days away). We will see what they come up with. I am excited to see how this experiment goes.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi Jason-
Interesting idea! In our Critical Skills Program we teach teachers to do a lot of work like this. When it comes time to create (or co-create) a rubric, we ask folks to think in three different ways. First, what is the form of the work supposed to look like, when done well? That's a conversation that is best had with the kids after they've internalized some standard of quality (sometimes that means looking at a diverse set of exemplars or talking about previous experiences). Next, think about the content students are going to demonstrate they know. How can they show that they've (in this case) answered the question with some depth and from multiple perspectives? Even though you aren't "grading," it's still a good idea to know what the content is you're hoping they'll get through the experience. Finally, we look at process- what skills or disposition will students be demonstrating while they're working, and how will you (and they) know that they're working well? We sometimes make T-charts with students- what does quality collaboration (or communication, organization, leadership, etc) look and sound like? That helps you know what to focus on both from a grading and a facilitation perspective while they're working. You can find more stuff on our website, or feel free to drop me an e-mail if you want to talk more specifically. Good luck!

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

"and that grades only constrict creativity so therefore I decided not to grade these projects."

This is fast becoming the rationale for a newer generation for teachers who don't want to be bothered spending hours properly grading projects with the necessary level of scrutiny.

Grades constrict creativity? Who ever came up with such folderol? That's certainly not a concept taught in any credible teacher education program.

Jason Janczak's picture

Laura, thank you for the feedback - those are incredibly helpful and I will use your website and rubric the next time around. Having gone through some of the presentations thus far, I think both content and skills rubric would certainly be helpful. I may be contacting you this summer to discuss my plans further with you.

Mr. Hauck, how would you recommend I run this project? What constructive do you have to offer besides constant criticism? If you were not to run this project, how would you give students to explore topics outside scope and sequence of the course but still related to the curriculum? How do you let your students explore something of intrest to them? How do you let them create? Please fill me in on what goes on in your classroom when it comes to student creativity.

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

Improvement never arrives without criticism first.

I am quite knowledgeable on the subject of creativity. My first two degrees were in the communications field-- radio, TV, film production. I taught these subjects at the university level for ten years. I was also a theater minor and a trained actor from New York acting teachers.

I could not be inspired to create unless I surrounded myself with people who wanted to do it to. In a classroom setting, I could not be at my best creatively unless the teacher or mentor was equally fired up and committed to creativity at most any cost. You couldn't just talk about it, you had to produce and not be afraid to be critiqued (sometimes harshly). My acting teacher didn't pull punches in that department.

As a teacher and a mentor, you have to MODEL creativity. It has to ooze from your pores. You teach government? You have to act before your students that it's the most important subject in the world, because so much of how they need to function as proper citizens depends on their knowledge and participation in the democratic process. We already have too much of a dumbed-down constituency as it is and politicians know it and exploit it. I need only point to the great city in your own backyard as a prime example of how corruption and ignorance compromise the process. Look at who it produced ... Rahm Emmanuel and our present POTUS! If you act like political science is what drives you, then your students will get caught up in the fervor. You are their leader. Kids want to be led. PEOPLE want to be led. They need leaders. Are you up to the challenge of leading your students into the unknown of their minds to find out who they are and what they can learn about potentially the best form of government on the planet Earth, its history, and who really drives the machine that runs the country (the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, etc)? I mean, there's the standard text book version of government and there are the untold backstories behind the headlines of false flag military attacks, black ops budgets, the CIA's widespread control since WW2, why we really were in Vietnam, what really fueled the Cold War, etc. Hey, you can even look at Howard Zinn's The People History of the United States and discuss if he was just another self-hating American or did his research have any credibility? Were WASP males of western Euro extraction as evil as some claim? Were the American Indian truly peaceful benevolent people or were they as brutal and violent as the Euro encroachers from the 16th century onward?

I guarantee you that if you have any skill as a storyteller that knows how to grab their audience, your class will be a piece of cake to teach. They'll happily research any topic because you've fired them up and that you have the courage to teach the history that isn't just the accepted standard. I'm not suggesting that you replace the basics like knowing the Bill of Rights, the three branches of American government, etc, but spice it up with that arcane knowledge that make the subject more interesting. "Behind the Scenes" is an attractive format. Try it, what do you have to lose, but the interest of your students?

But most importantly, let them decide what is right and wrong about America and its form of government. Don't proselytize. There's already enough of that going on, especially at the university level. I know, I've witnessed it.

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

Really, classrooms have been doing these for years. I don't understand why a new descriptive term had to be invented. I do get the impression that a few of the so-called "innovators" in the education blogosphere believe they're charting new territory in our profession.

Regardless, plenty of creative and imaginative projects connected to poli sci studies ... role plays to be performed and captured on video, shooting documentaries on local pols or issues of public political interest (activism), applying for one of those "legislator for a day" programs for kids. Creating your own government in the classroom. Write letters to legislators and see how many respond. Invite some in to your classroom for a Q&A and have the kids act as responsible journalists. Perhaps you've done these already.

Jason Janczak's picture

Mr. Hauck-
Normally, when it comes to classroom instruction, if you are against it, I am usually for it however I wanted to say I really appreciate your feedback and ideas about this project. You have given me a lot to think about when I revisit this lesson next year and I wanted to say thank you. Normally we are at each others throats but for this one we see eye to eye! Thank you for your feedback and thoughts about how to strengthen this for my students.
We will probably go back to arguing about mobile devices here in the future, but for now thank you!

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