When I was in the classroom, I HATED grading research papers/projects. It was always the same topics! It was always the same format! I mean really how many papers can you read; how many PowerPoints can you watch? As a librarian, trying to encourage research, I was hearing the same concerns that I made as a teacher.
Research in and of itself is highly interesting and fascinating. The product is what is boring us and the students half to death. I began to ponder this situation and slowly but surely a solution started to take shape. The solution came in the form of a rubric. I call it an Open Rubric because it is open ended enough to let the students be as creative as they want to be, and the teacher can still grade each student’s work equitably.
Here is the rubric: The Open Rubric
After the rubric was in place, it just became a matter of showing students different ways to present information. (The presentation is the key.) It is my belief that we, as humans, are naturally creative. It is when the creativity is suppressed for years that we begin to fill as if we are not creative. Once we started exposing students to all the different was to express their learning, the students took off and blew us away. Here are some examples:
This is a 1st graders drawing of the fireworks display during the 4th of July. She made several drawings of U.S. symbols.
This student made a book within a book. It is a great story on how to use maps and globes. The outside book is fictional; the inside book is factual.
This mask was created by a student who researched American Indians. During her presentation, she would turn to another drawing a talk about that aspect of her research.
These are just samples. We also get PowerPoints, posters, & various other demonstrations of knowledge.
Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is Intelligence having fun.” Just because we are being creative doesn’t me we are not gaining knowledge. Research is fun because you are learning things you didn’t know and affirming things you did know, but the production is where we show how we interpret what we’ve learned. So, let the students create their own production. I promise it is more fun!