Introducing 20 Time to Your Class

Use this page for reference when you announce the project and during the first week of implementation.

Announcement Day:
  1. Get students more comfortable with inquiry-based lessons by requiring that they figure out what 20 Time is.  Give them about 10-15 minutes to Google "20% Project" and only tell them that you'll be doing it in class.
  2. After 10-15 minutes, answer a few questions and then put the following "rules" up for them to discuss with you.  Please feel free to change/adapt as necessary.  These are rules that Kevin Brookhauser, Troy Cockrum, and Kate Petty have worked with and adapted as necessary.
    1. You will spend 20% of our class time, or every Friday, working on what we'll call 20 Time.
    2. You may work alone or with a small group.
      • Decide carefully.  If you choose a small group, you will have to compromise with your group and deal with other personalities.  If you work alone, you have complete autonomy but you are responsible for the outcome.
      • Is this person a worker or floater?
      • Can I get along with this person for the entire semester?
      • Is this person going to keep on track or distract me?
      • This is not about hanging out with friends,but making something really cool.
    3. Choose a project that is new to you and something you wouldn’t normally do in another academic class.
      • If you are stuck, do some research on other educational 20% projects and take another look at what Google has done.
    4. You must produce a product or achieve some sort of goal.
    5. Write up a proposal and pitch it to the rest of the class that includes a purpose, audience, timeline, and resources you will need to complete the project.  You will present your pitch in a "science-fair"-type poster session in front of other students, teachers, and community members.
    6. Choose an adult to be your official mentor.  I am an English teacher, I do not have a lot of experience with some of the projects you might choose.
    7. Reflect on the process each week on a personal blog.
    8. If, at any moment, you feel lost, overwhelmed, or uninspired, you must set a meeting with me to find a solution.
    9. At the end of the year, you will present your project and reflect on the process in a five-minute TED-style talk.
    10. Failure is an option.  Simply learning from your mistakes teaches you a lot.
  3. Now is the time you tell them that you will not grade their actual project.  You cannot penalize them for working toward but not achieving a personal goal or accomplishment.  What you will grade them on is numbers 4, 6, and 8 in addition to small assignments throughout.  DO NOT GO INTO THE DETAILS OF THESE GRADED ASSIGNMENTS NOW!  Their brains are already about to explode with what they've heard so far.  Just let them know that you will take the process slowly and you will give the requirements of the graded assignments as they get nearer.
  4. Give them the rest of the day's class time to think about, Google, and/or discuss with their classmates some ideas.  DON'T GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS- IT IS AMAZING HOW WE CAN INFLUENCE STUDENTS!  You really want them to come up with something unique and personal, don't give them any ideas at this stage, let them find them on their own.  It might just be the hardest thing you'll ever do as a teacher.
Announcement Evening:
  1. Send a quick email home to parents that explains what the project is and ask them to help their son/daughter brainstorm for ideas.  Parents know their children better than anyone and it is setting a great tone for the project.  Families are a great support throughout the entire process.  Let the parents know that some students may have been frustrated that they couldn't get any ideas from the teacher and explain that you really want the project to be about the students.
Rest of the Week:
You'll spend the rest of the week allowing the students to spend each class period brainstorming and researching topics; creating an implementation plan, and beginning their blogs.
  1. If you don't have a 1:1 class, reserve as much computer lab time as you can for one full week.  Create a worksheet that will guide students through the brainstorm and research process to fill out for about 2 days.  Here is a sample that you are more than welcome to use or adapt.
  2. Give students an implementation worksheet.  Do a mini-lesson on backwards planning.  Give them the date of the final reflection presentation and list the dates each week you'll be working on the project.  It would be helpful to give them the Pitch date as well.  Students can use the final date to start from and begin working backwards from there with the weekly dates for planning what they'll be doing and what needs to happen each week.
  3. Use the final couple of days to introduce blogs (or an alternative such as wiki-projects).  See the "Blogging" section of the drop-down menu above for more details.
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