Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wonder and Explore: Google 20% at Scioto Darby Elementary

Can you imagine being told that you can spend 20% of your time at work pursuing you own personal interests?  You can research, create, build, develop, experiment...anything that is of interest to you.  Your learning is self-driven and you will not be evaluated on the final product.  You will learn for the joy of learning and share your learning with an authentic audience.

Doesn't it sound inspiring?  I can tell you from experience that it is.  The students in my school are participating in the Google 20% experience.  Based on the practice at Google where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time at work pursuing a project that has nothing to do with their job.  Interestingly, Google Scholar, Google News, and GMail resulted from Google 20% time.  We spend a few hours every month working on our projects.

In September, I started out by asking my students to identify topics that were of interest to them.  I asked them what they were passionate about.  My colleague had done Wonder projects in the past, which were free choice projects.  I tweaked her form and sent this letter home with my students.  The students made Wonder and Explore journals to keep track of their learning.  In addition, they have Wonder and Explore folders where they can keep loose papers.  We had our first Google 20% time in October.  My kids LOVED their time.  Some students worked in small groups while others worked independently.  One of the boys made a solar oven.  Several girls worked on learning a new language.  Some students chatted with the art teacher and focused on  learning new drawing techniques.


In November, I asked them to reflect on their learning.  They had the option to continue with their original project or explore something different.  I also asked them to prepare something for December to share their learning.  I created this very simple form to guide their thinking.  We had our second Wonder and Explore time right before Thanksgiving.  Some students continued their work, others expanded their projects, while others decided to pursue a completely different interest.  Some of the projects this time around include:

  • The history of Batman 
  • How do optical illusions work?  
  • How do lava lamps work?  
  • Continuation of drawing still life objects 
  • Extension of severe weather 
  • Learning a new language 
  • How are rocks and minerals formed?  

You can see we have a wide variety of interests.  Our next Wonder and Explore time is next week.  I'm excited to see what the kids create.  

I've gathered some resources that helped me get started.  








I'll be posting more as we go through the year.  Has anyone else tried doing Google 20%?  I'd love to hear about it.

4 comments:

  1. That ... is wonderful, and I am bookmarking your post here to remind myself about it. Thanks for sharing and for showing how to nurture high interest and inquiry.
    Kevin

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  2. There are a few teachers who have presented their work in our writing project who have taken this project into their high school classrooms. It's been fantastic!

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  3. Great post! Great ideas. I love the dedicated time and thought you've put into it. Turning it over to the students is so empowering.

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