20 Time with Profa Baros

Post date: May 31, 2013 3:58:17 AM

*** This post was originally published on profabarostprs.blogspot.com (5/30/2013)***

Who am I?

I'm a first-year teacher ready to spread my wings and fly with my own classroom. I graduated from Boise State University in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. I earned my teaching certificate and endorsement in secondary Spanish from Northwest Nazarene University at the beginning of this year and am finishing up the last few classes required for an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. This fall, my husband and I will be moving to Las Vegas, Nevada where I'll be teaching in a K-12 charter school. I simply cannot wait to finally have a classroom of my own - where Genius Hour and 20 Time will be an important part of my curriculum!

What do I teach?

My primary position will be teaching Spanish in middle and high school. This fall, I will only be teaching Spanish 1 and have six classes. I plan to dedicate Monday-Thursday to language instruction and teaching culture on Fridays through Genius Hour and 20 Time. Because my school is in transition, roughly half of my students for the 2013-14 year will be 7th graders and the other half will be a mixture of 8th and 9th graders. Given that all my classes will be mixed, I'm excited about the ability to differentiate and personalize my students' education through Genius Hour/20 Time.

Before I begin my teaching position this fall, however, I have the opportunity to work with the Boise State TRiO Upward Bound program. This program is near and dear to my heart as I spent a summer working with them as an undergrad and was inspired to become a teacher as a direct result. The Upward Bound program is for students who would likely not graduate high school and go on to college. They have an Upward Bound class during during the regular school year, and many elect to join the summer program where they live on-campus in the dorms for six weeks and take classes for high school credit as well as participate in exciting extracurricular activities. I've been asked to teach an elective class titled "Latino Culture" for 1.5 hours each day. It will be a nice and cozy class with around 15 students enrolled. Again, I have a mixed group as the class is open to any students in the program (grades 9-12). Due to the nature of the program and class, I have a lot of flexibility and resources at my disposal, which will allow us to make the most of our 20 Time!

What is my goal for 20 Time?

Before I explain my personal goals for 20 Time, I'd like to share a video from Kevin Brookhouser's class that was and is one of my main inspirations for why I must do 20 Time. It demonstrates the wonderful things students can achieve if we just get out of their way and why it is so important for them to have this opportunity. I particularly love how the passion and pride for their projects simply radiates from each student as they share their accomplishments:

My primary goal in doing 20 Time/Genius Hour with my students is to inspire within them the desire to learn. In order for this to happen, students need to be motivated and encouraged as well as given the tools and skills that will help them succeed. I hope to bring these elements together inside my classroom and inspire students to take what they experience into their lives beyond its walls. If I'm lucky, a few of my students may even discover a passion for something that they'll pursue throughout their lives and careers.

Secondary to my lofty goal of inspiring my students, there are quite a few objectives that students achieve when participating in 20 Time/Genius Hour that administrators like to see and can be connected to various mandated standards (including the Common Core). Each individual 20 Time and Genius Hour experience will address a unique combination of learning objectives and each teacher may chose to emphasize certain items more than others, but this is a general list of what students can achieve during 20 Time/Genius hour - all of which are essential skills that students will need in the "real" world. During 20 Time and/or Genius Hour students will:

  • research a topic
    • identify a topic of interest
    • answer self-generated questions
    • find reliable and credible information about that topic, drawing upon several sources
    • make sense of that information
    • read independently and closely
    • create evidence of learning (blogging, journaling, note-taking, etc.)
    • articulate ideas to others
    • cite resources
    • draw connections between various topics
    • develop 21st century skills using technology
  • develop a project/product
    • plan their project/product
    • create a realistic timeline
    • gather resources
    • develop skills necessary for implementation
    • collaborate (with teacher, team members, and others as necessary)
    • implement their plan
    • reflect upon the process and final project
  • present
    • pitch their idea
    • share their learning (possibly in the form of a project/product) with others

NOTE: For specific Common Core standards met during Genius Hour/20 Time, check out this website.

In my case, the circumstances of each of my classes dictate which of the specific objectives listed above I will focus on with my students, though I hope to at least informally touch on each of these. Moreover, because I am using 20 Time and Genius Hour to teach culture, I also want students to develop an understanding of Latino culture. I hope that they'll have a broad and general understanding of the culture through what is presented to them by their peers and what I teach them as well as a (at least somewhat) deeper understanding of the particular topic they chose to focus on.

What will our 20 Time look like?

Due to the various circumstances surrounding each of my classes, things will necessarily look a little different in my summer Latino Culture class compared to my regular Spanish classes starting this fall.


This summer, we have 5 weeks to work with (plus a week-long break for July 4th). Thus, I'm going to start right into 20 Time so we can make the most of our time. I'll explain to students the ideas behind 20 Time (I'll go more into detail about this in my next post) and tell them they are allowed to study anything they would like to related to Latino Culture. Each student will be provided a poster board with which they will create some sort of visual display that represents the most important or interesting thing(s) they learned. I am purposely going to be vague about what this display will look like - my students will be much more creative than I am, but here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • road map showing how one idea led to another throughout their research
  • build a model on top of the poster
  • create a collage
  • use the poster as the cover of an oversized book
  • drawing or painting
  • movie poster

I can't wait to see the creative ways that students decide to use their posters! At the end of the opportunity, students will have two opportunities to showcase their work: In class, they will present their creation and explain what they learned, why they chose to focus on this, how they chose to represent their learning, and answer questions from their peers. They will also be able to display their at the last event of the program where all the students in the program get to show off their work.

I plan for students to be able to complete their entire projects in-class, though I anticipate some students may want/need to work on them outside of class as well. Throughout the class, I want students to document their learning and progress through journaling in their notebook. Each week, they will write an entry about what they learned (citing resources) and reflect on their learning. As for what they're going to be learning, I'm going to be fairly flexible. Some students may want to learn a little about a lot, while others may want to learn a lot about one thing. That's fine with me. Moreover, because we are on a university campus downtown Boise and students are living on-campus, we have access to more resources and more flexibility than a normal class might allow. (For example, if a student would like to watch a particular foreign film, I can check it out from the university's Modern Language Resource Center.)


Right now, I'm considering two plans for how to approach 20 Time this fall. Luckily, I have all summer and a test-run with my Latino Culture class to figure out what I'm going to do.

My first idea would be to have students spend first semester researching topics they're interested in, including ones related to Spanish-speaking culture, and then do a project related to Spanish-speaking culture during second semester driven by their interests and passions.

  • First Quarter: I plan to introduce Genius Hour to my classes after the first few weeks of class and allow my students to research whatever topics interest them whether or not they are related to Spanish class. My intention is to allow students to discover what they truly are interested in without any influence from what I 'dictate' that they learn. Throughout the quarter, they will have opportunities to informally share what they're learning with one another. At the end of the quarter, I'll conference with students about what they would like to learn more about and begin brainstorming how we could connect that to Spanish-speaking culture. By doing this, I hope that their culture projects stem from something they are intrinsically motivated to leran about and are truly interested in.
  • Second Quarter: I want students to begin researching Spanish-speaking culture using their interests derived from first quarter. For instance, a student interested in food and nutrition might start researching common diets in different Spanish-speaking communities and evaluate how healthy they are. I will begin guiding them toward brainstorming projects they could do related to their topics of interest. Again, they will have many opportunities to share what they're learning about with one another. At the end of second quarter (first semester), students will complete a project proposal of sorts that will identify a project they would like to work on throughout second semester (and possible one or two alternative projects should their original idea fail to work out).
  • Third and Fourth Quarters: We will being projects during 3rd quarter and continue working on them throughout the rest of the year. The first step will be for students to plan their project in detail and "pitch" their project to the class and community. Then, they will implement their plan and create their final product. I plan for students to present this to a large audience, though I haven't decided on the format. Right now, both a TED Talk-style presentation appeals to me as well as a "culture fair" - but I've got a long time to figure out the details.

While I believe this plan would be very successful and interesting for students, I have a nagging concern that I may deprive some students of the opportunity to complete a project that is truly connected to their interests and passions by requiring that the project be related to Spanish-speaking culture in some way. I'd really like to see what my students can come up with on their own without any restrictions. Thus, I came up with an alternative plan that would allow students to complete two projects - one related to Spanish-speaking culture and the other purely their own:

  • First semester: I will introduce students to culture, and then provide them the resources to research Spanish-speaking culture on their own during 20 Time. After having some time to research Spanish-speaking culture, they’ll choose a culture project to complete during the rest of first semester culminating in a culture fair with all of their projects on display for the school and the community. I’m even thinking of having students complete a scavenger hunt at the fair as they visit other projects and learn about culture from their peers. If they have extra 20 Time after completing their project, they can use it as a “Genius Hour” to research and explore their interests.
  • Second semester: During second semester, students will complete a second 20 Time project, except that it can be about anything they choose. After completing the project during first semester, I think students will be excited to have the opportunity to do another one on a topic of their choosing. Moreover, I’m hoping that their experience during first semester will give them ideas for how to approach their project during second semester. Finally, while first semester will be more condensed and focused, I want to make the projects during second semester a big deal, including researching the topics that they are interested in, developing a plan and proposing a “Pitch” like the one described on 20TimeInEducation.com, carrying out their plan, and presenting it like a TED talk that will be open for other students, faculty, administration, and members of the community to attend.

The only drawback to this plan is that there is less time for students to engage in "Genius Hour" to learn how to engage in inquiry-based learning without the pressure of trying to complete a project. I may have to adjust my timeline some, but I'd really like to make room for it like I had in my original plan.

The next steps for 20 Time...

For the next month or so, I'll be focusing on my Latino Culture class. My next post will be on June 14th when I introduce 20 Time to my students and we get started. I can't wait to share with you how I'll get them started, their reactions, and how our first day goes! Stay tuned!