How can I give 20% of class time to my students to work on their own projects? How can I trust that they will actually be working? I can’t answer this last question other than they have to check in each week and they have something big to turn in at the end of the semester. Sometimes we have to extend the trust to receive the behavior we expect. I can say that it is easy to give 20% of time to the students when I see that the project will be beneficial to them in the long run. This project will help build critical thinking, creativity, independent learning, and so many other skills. How can I not have the students participate in 20Time.
I know that this doesn’t tell you what 20Time is though. The way that I understand it is that Google gives 20% percent of the work week to the employees to work on their own projects. This helps develop creativity and often great things such as gmail come from it. The employees are harder workers and the work is given better attention. It helps the employer to let the employees have time away from their usual activities to pursue something that they choose to work on.
In class, this translates to giving most of one class period a week for the students to work on something they would like to learn to do or to develop an idea. We start the semester out with an explanation and some brainstorming to come up with ideas. Then they must pitch their idea to the class in a Shark Tank fashion. The audience gets three colors to vote whether the student pitching is allowed to work on the proposed idea or not. The remainder of the semester is spent with them doing the work and learning. And it culminates in final presentations showing the work over the course of the semester, the documentation, and the lessons learned from the project.
Besides working on the projects they choose, they are learning about documentation, presentation, and speeches.
I got this idea from a high school ELA teacher on youtube, Laura Randazo. I liked her enthusiasm, the results she received, and it worked well with the concept of teaching I have of letting the students build their interests and creativity.
To help get the students on page I have chosen and started my own 20Time project. I will explain this in the next post.