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Getting Going with 20Time Projects

Last year, I read a couple of books that inspired me to begin 20Time Projects in my classroom.  First, I read 20Time by Kevin Brookhouser then Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie.  I read these books towards the end of the last school year and did not have enough time truly implement a 20Time Project effectively.  We attempted a 20Time Project in our AVID classes during the 4th quarter but our students had just begin developing their projects when the school year ended.  However, it was a great way to test out some issues that we could run into and ways that we would want to present the project in the following year.

This year, my partner teacher and I decided to implement 20Time Projects into our Spartan Tech Squad class.  We felt like this would be the perfect class to allow students time to explore problems that exist in our world and develop solutions to these problems.  We decided that every Friday would be a “20Time” day.  Students would have time to develop their projects and have the freedom to explore things that interested them.  Although we wanted to give them this freedom, we had also learned that we needed to start with some structure that would offer guidance and support to students as they began to discover their passions, problems, and solutions.  So, we broke the first quarter of the school year into three sections:

  1. Discovering their passions.
  2. Discovering a problem that exists in their community and/or the world.
  3. Exploring and finding solutions to these problems through using their passions.

Below, I am going to share our first six activities that we completed with our students to guide them through the beginning of their 20Time Projects.  I certainly do not claim to be any expert on 20Time projects but I have found that, by breaking down these three areas, our students are discovering and developing better solutions than we had seen in the previous year.

Activity 1: Finding Your Passion

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to give students a time to explore things that interested them.  First, there is a focus on what they enjoy doing – their passion.  Then, we tried to narrow their focus to things that they were passionate about in relation to technology.  Finally, we allowed them the opportunity to explore their interests.  This allowed them some time to see if they were truly interested in the “passions” they chose or if they might choose a different path.

Link: Finding Your Passion

Activity 2: What is Your Passion?

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to get students to focus in on a specific area of interest.  The students described their passion in one sentence then created learning goals.  Although this activity is short, it allowed students to have time to narrow their focus and explore their area of interest.

Link: What is  Your Passion?

Activity 3: Passions & Learning Goals

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to have students share their passions and learning goals with the class.  During this activity, the students shared the information that they gathered from the previous activity then responded to their student’s slides.  As a part of the assignment, the student had to create a comment and a question for 2-3 students in the class.  This was a great opportunity for students to continue to narrow their ideas, get ideas from other students, and refine their learning goals.

Link: Passions & Learning Goals

Activity 4: Problems that Exist In Our World

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to have students explore problems that exist in their school, community, and world.  One thing we noticed in the previous school year is that students really struggled with narrowing their focus to a problem.  Through this activity, students found several problems that existed and were able to read of problems that other students had found.  As with the previous activity, students were required to respond with a comment and question to the slides of other students.

Link: Problems that Exist In Our World

Activity 5: Finding Solutions to Problems with Technology

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to get students to focus in on their solutions to the problems they discovered and how their passions could be used to support it.  Students identified a problem that they wanted to solve, a technology that they wanted to learn to use, and how the technology could be a solution to their problem.  Once they had shared this in their slide, they responded to the slides of other students to offer feedback and support.  In addition to feedback, several students also realized that they were working on the same project and were able to form groups to develop their solutions collaboratively.

Link: Finding Solutions to Problems

Activity 6: Monthly Project Planning Calendar

Purpose: The purpose of this activity was to help students develop monthly goals for their 20Time Project.  At the beginning of each month, students will create new goals, list ongoing goals, describe any ideas/questions, and share their status at the end of the month.  Not only is it a great way for students to plan for their project but it is a great way for teachers to leave comments and feedback.

Link: Monthly Project Planning Calendar

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!  Have you implemented 20Time Projects in your classroom?  If so, what strategies, resources, and activities have been successful for you?  Let me know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Getting Going with 20Time Projects

  1. These are awesome resources and so well organized. I love how your figured out a way to have all of the students ideas in one place without chaos! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Hi. I am a fourth grade teacher. I implemented 20% Time in my classroom at the beginning of this school year. I read the book The 20time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for future-ready innovation by Kevin Brookhouser at least 3 times the previous year trying to wrap my head around it and Project Based Learning. I have come to the conclusion that 20% Time is the next step past PBL. It is the ultimate in student choice (it is not a contrived situation chosen by the teacher) and connects students to real world situations showing them they can and do make a difference. This is the powerful connection that make kid prodigies/innovators. I was determined that my fourth grade students could go through the process successfully this year. I followed the steps in the book and was ready and willing to flop. At this point, all students have chosen a project (some in groups and some working alone), have written Proposals, letters to prospective mentors, done some research and are prepared to work with a mentor, they are earning start up monies and comparing prices on-line.

    Projects include:
    1. Operation Butterfly: a school garden that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds
    2. Animal Rescue: helping Sandi’s Strays
    3. $’s for Breast Cancer Research
    4. Helping the PTC: school store at recess’ on Fridays
    5. A Different Kind of Language: a picture book of the first 50 words in Vietnamese
    6. Helping the Homeless: helping the children of people that have no homes
    7. Homeless First Aid Kits
    8. Helping Animals: helping Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary
    9. Cancer Heroes: Toys and games for kids with cancer
    10. St. Jude’s Hospital: Toys and books for kids in the hospital

    The kids work on their projects 4 days a week.

    I would be happy to share the step by step process if you are interested.

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