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.
- 20 Time in Education Inspire. Create. Innovate. has lots of ideas and examples.
- Shared Evernote notebook (created by pettyk)
- Google+ Community has may resources.
- My Pinterest board is being built slowly.
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.