Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#20Time, Day 2: Some Structure

I started off 20% time in my class two weeks ago with the Bad Idea Factory - more on that here. Well, last Friday came along and it was time for week 2 (day 2?) of 20% time. But I took off from school a little early to head down to the first ever edcamp in Palm Springs, CA. And then flew back on Sunday. And collapsed for an epic nap upon returning home. Hence the lateness of this post.

Day 2 of 20% time was all about structure. Not structure in a ‘you’ve got to do all this’ way, but an attempt to provide some form to the crazy - and awesome - brainstorm that came out of the Bad Idea Factory. Students left the excited had left excited, but without any real idea what the project entailed. Day 2 was channeling of that excitement.

So, what is that structure? Like most things I’m doing with 20% time, these structures are heavily borrowed from Kevin Brookhouser and Kate Petty. Students can work alone or in groups of up to 4. Their work for the year of 20% time should be something they normally don’t get to do at school. Failure is absolutely an option - the final product is not graded, so dream big! Some sort of a product must be created - I don’t want a list of ideas at the end of the year. And finally, their 20% project must positively impact a community or group of people in some way.

So if the final product isn’t graded, what is? Good question! Their daily reflections - document linked here - will be graded. Both Kevin and Kate have their students blog their reflections. That would be one more layer of stuff for me - I get the power of public reflections, but this year they’re going to Google doc their reflections. One less thing. My student’s project proposal - linked here, heavily borrowed from Kevin - is graded. The outside interview my students must do with the community they will impact is graded pass/no pass with revisions available for those who struggle with this section. In December, students will give a two minute ‘what I’ve done so far, where I’m going’ presentation about how they’ve used their time during the fall semester. This will be graded pass/no pass, but shouldn’t be overly burdensome. Finally, my students will give a TED-style presentation in May that encapsulates their year of learning that will be graded. This speech is going to be big and awesome.

We went over these guidelines and graded/ungraded sections, then I returned my students to their initial brainstorms. Given the increased schema that they now had about their 20% time, planning restarted anew. Some groups and individuals started filling out their project proposals while others wrestled with the content of projects.

This Friday we’re going to talk backwards planning then return to planning the project. I’m hopeful to have a handful of project proposals to review by the end of the period!

Postscript: I attended Kate’s 20% time presentation at edcampPS. It was cool to see the amount of interest that folks down in SoCal had for doing 20% time in their classrooms!

Postscript #2: I’m building the 20% time section of my class website as I go - feel free to check that out here.