Friday, September 20, 2013

20% Time, Day 3: Backwards Planning

5th period's birthday party list
Thus far this year in 20% time, my students have spent some time brainstorming all sorts of ideas - good, average, bad, and everything in between - and gotten some structure for what their 20% time projects will look like. However, managing a large, year long project isn’t necessarily something my students have been asked to do in the past. Enter today…


We started class today with a brainstorm about all the things that they would do in order to throw a birthday party. After sharing out and recording these ideas, we started to think about what the first things they would have to do in order to throw this party. Then the second steps. And the third. Then, which tasks we would leave to the very end, right before the party.


But why? Because all my kids backwards plan. They break big tasks into smaller pieces and order them. Given this context - the ‘you know how to do this’ - I was able to step back and talk about their 20% time projects. My kids will be managing a project over the course of the entire year - breaking their project into smaller chunks is going to be necessary in order to succeed. In fact, their project proposals ask them to break down their projects into month-long chunks.

It was neat to watch the level of freak-out go down this week. Students are starting to get ideas ironed out and move into their project proposals. And they’re getting excited - which means I’m getting excited!