With only two days left in the second trimester before Harlem Academy goes on a two-week spring break, I decided it was a great time to try something new. I have been reading about and intrigued by the concept of a FedEx Day. The idea of a FedEx day originated in the business world as a way to boost creative thinking and problem solving amongst employees. The idea is simple: employees have twenty-four hours to tackle a project that they are passionate about and present their findings to the group. The twenty-four hour time constraint is where the term FedEx Day comes. Companies like Google and Facebook have used this concept to great success as ideas like Gmail and the “Like” button were employee projects delivered in this setting.
We have internally discussed doing a FedEx day during professional development days at Harlem Academy but so far have not conducted one. It got me to thinking, what would this look like in my eighth grade classroom? Today we’ll find out! My students will have two class periods – FedEx two day shipping, if you will – to research and produce a product that demonstrates their deep understanding of an event or idea from American History of their choosing. With minimal guidelines and scaffolding, this is an opportunity for students to not only research something they are passionate about but also to think creatively about how they can present their work to the class.
Some of the topics my Junior Historians have chosen to research include: the correlation between the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx and the Harlem Renaissance, the life and work of Congressman John Lewis, the influence the American Revolution had on L’Overture and the Haitian Revolution, the story of Central American immigrants to the United States, H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, and much more.
After the jump, you can see the directions given to the students. Be sure to check back in April to see my observations about the results and the experience.
To finish off the second trimester, you will work on an independent study project on a topic of your choosing from American History. You will have two class periods and one homework assignment to complete this assignment and turn in a “product” that demonstrates your understanding of the chosen topic/idea/event.
You may choose any topic you would like to further investigate, provided that it is clearly linked to American History from the colonial era (1600s) to present.
- How baseball helped heal NYC after 9/11
- Medgar Evers’ role in the Civil Rights movement
- The legacy and accomplishments of a chosen president
- An analysis of the outcomes of an important election in US History
- Contributions by minorities to our nation (a famous woman, African American, Native American, immigrant, etc)
- How the United States has shaped the future of another nation
Your research and presentation must include reference to:
- At least two reliable sites that are not Wikipedia
- At least one primary source related to your event/idea/topic
- Citations for all sources consulted and used (Use easybib to make citations and list with project)
You will also have your own choice on how to present the work you have done around your chosen topic. Your final assessment for FedEx day could take one of these forms (or another with approval):
- A one page summary of your findings
- A powerpoint slide show
- A poster
- A pamphlet
- Children’s storybook
- Lesson plan (like in your Junior Historians Field Manual)
Your presentation must
Clearly define and summarize the event you chose to research
- Argue that the event you researched is worthy of presentation (Why is it so important/interesting?)
- Connect to another event in US History that we have already studied or will study (9/11 & the Middle East)
- You must clearly argue and demonstrate the link between the events
- Evidence of primary source and web research in findings (quotes and paraphrases directly from sources)
- Provide a “So What”:
*My event is important because….
*My event is worthy of investigation because…
*My event is uniquely interesting because….