Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thinking Outside the Box: Using Google's 20% Project Model in the Classroom

We started a new project this week that is a bit outside the box. We are calling this project the 20% Project. This project is rooted in an idea brought forth by Google. Google engineers have 20% of their week where they can work on any idea or project that interests them. I have been interested in somehow incorporating this idea/model into teaching for a while. Last week, each student wrote me a proposal (topic idea, goal of project, which school subject their project aligns with, materials students will need and whether they want to work alone, with a partner or with a small group of up to 4). Students are very excited about the project. We will set aside 30-60 minutes per week on this project. The timeline for each project will vary depending on the students' interest, whether they continue to work alone or with others and difficulty of project. So far projects include: state research, math fact practice, using math concepts to build a spaceship, writing stories, improving on an earlier Lego marble maze, science projects, animal research, biography etc. Students have the option to use an iPad or Chromebook if needed. Although we are calling this the 20% Project, in reality it will be far less than 20% of our week. So far, we have lots of students working alone, a handful of students working with partners and two small groups. I'm excited to see how students take charge of their own learning. I think this project/model has great potential. Below are a few photos from our first day and the proposal students had to complete. After completing the proposal, I met with students and discussed each project. Going forward, each individual/pair/group is responsible for summarizing their progress each week in a small notebook. I'll keep you posted on this exciting project. 

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