You know that feeling you hope to instill in your students…that ideal scenario where they leave your classroom with the desire to learn more, and then they actually act on it and come back to you with some newly acquired knowledge about the topic, eager to discuss it further?
That’s the exact feeling I had after attending Charity Helman’s ‘20 Time’ workshop at the EdTechTeam Google Summit this summer. To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of 20 Time Projects before, and a quick Google search was what made me sign up for that particular session. So if, like me, you’re unaware of the idea behind 20 Time, let me give you a brief run-down so we can be on the same page. Essentially, the idea (as stated on Kevin Brookhouser’s 20 Time website, 20time.org) is that if you provide students with time to explore and create products of interest to them, they will develop autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose. To do this, you set aside a portion of your class time for the students to create a product that appeals to a real audience.
Charity’s workshop was incredibly inspiring. Hearing her share the stories of students who created such a wide range of products, including everything from a remote control snow plow, to a series of instructional videos teaching sign language, to providing a cancer centre with hand-crafted paper cranes for good luck…the possibilities truly seemed endless. As Charity outlined how the assignment fulfilled various aspects of the curriculum, my head was already spinning with excitement and filled with ways that I could present the idea of completing this project to my new school administration. Day one of the Google Summit was not even over, and I had already bought Kevin Brookhouser’s book, “The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for future-ready innovation”.
I broached the topic with my principal about a week before classes started, and was thrilled when, after seeing how well suited to the curriculum the task was, he encouraged me to try it within my grade 9 English class. Fast forward to the second week of school, when I introduced the 20 Time Project to the students and was met by sheer enthusiasm from a group of students who could not believe they get to explore a topic based on their own interests. Immediately, my class was engaged, surrounding a sheet of paper to create a Bad Idea Factory, where they shared the most outrageously terrible ideas; then I witnessed their fascination as they realized their bad ideas could actually be flipped into intriguing projects.
So far, some of the proposal ideas they have mentioned to me include hand-made fishing lures and tutorials on which work best for particular species of fish, painting rocks with inspirational words to spread positivity within the community, and a photography business that will cater to families who may not otherwise be able to afford family portraits.
Today I sat as part of the first reflection circle with my students, during which they openly discussed their project ideas and their feelings about the task at hand. I can already sense that this project is going to transform my classroom as I know it, and I could not possibly be more excited about what that transformation will entail. I look forward to sharing this journey with other educators with the hope that I can inspire them to try it, just as Charity Helmen did for me that day at the Google Summit.
Teacher- Languages Department Leader
North Hastings High School, Bancroft, Ontario
Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
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