Daniel Pink asks what drives us. Sir Ken Robinson asks us to inspire creativity in our students. The latest in education is asking us to teach our students to create their own questions, do their own research, and form their own conclusions with their learning. Why? The world is a collaborative, communicative place and it is the world of online tools that has made it this way. Our students' workplaces will be places with teams at tables, not individuals in cubicles. They will be asked to be innovative and create the next tool, not to push bureaucratic paper. We must teach them how to think on their own without being told what to do. We need to teach them to be autonomous learners. Only one who can guide his own learning can effectively contribute to a team.
One way to teach autonomy that is quickly catching fire throughout education is the concept of 20-Time. The concept is simple. Allow students 20% of class time, or one hour per week, to work on and explore one topic of their choice.
3M started it in the 1950's with their 15% Project. The result? Post-its and masking tape. Google is credited for making the 20% Project what it is today. Google asks its employees to spend 20% of their time at Google to work on a pet project...a project that their job description doesn't cover. As a result of the 20% Project at Google, we now have Gmail, AdSense, Google News, and my favorite, the Google Teacher Academy. Using 20 Time in the workplace allows innovative ideas and projects to flourish and/or fail without the bureaucracy of committees and budgets.
20% Project: A lot of time has been spent with both success and failures to mold the 20% Project template series above. If you'd like a structured template for instituting 20-Time in your classroom, the 20% Project is for you. Check out the 20% Project writeup, the 20% Project Template Series, and the 20% Project Community. For an indepth guide on integrating 20-Time in your class- Kevin Brookhouser's 20Time Project is a must read.
Genius Hour: For those not ready for a commitment (teachers or students) try Genius Hour. Students search a different topic each week with a few informal presentations at the end of the hour.
How about 10 Reasons? Check out AJ Juliani's post "10 Reasons to Try 20% Time in the Classroom."