Friday, September 20, 2013

20% for Students at School

Edutopia recently wrote a post about student centered, passion based learning, Why 20% Time is Good for Schools. “Through 20% time, we give our students a voice in their own learning path, and allow them to go into depth in subjects that we may skim over in our curriculum. ” Another term for this concept is Genius Hour, a time where kids can explore their “native genius” at school.

Here at Blach we have our own version of 20% time happening; it’s the elective I’m teaching: My 14%. I have 27 students every day after lunch working on an area of personal passion. What they have chosen to learn about varies immensely. From dark matter and programming/coding to convertible furniture, game design, and indoor green spaces. They blow me away! Here is the link to all of the students’ websites that document how they are spending their time and what they are learning. I am also looking for a mentor for one of my students who needs help designing an Android app. He is well on his way, but needs some guidance. If you know the programming language and have a little bit of free time, please let me know!

What I’ve learned from “teaching” this class has been fascinating. Our first assignment was to create a visual representation of a brainstorm of their personal interests and passions. I got the sense that the kids read about half of the instructions, saw the first possible tool and tried to complete the task as quickly as possible. We had a great conversation that this was a class about their learning, not pleasing me and checking things off of a to-do list. We have great kids who are excellent at school learning. I want to help build skills for lifelong personal learning. This does require a slightly different skill set and mind set, and that is what I am trying to develop through My 14%. Please feel free to give the kids feedback on their websites and if you are interested, please stop by the computer lab any day after lunch.

Here’s to passion-based learning!

Contributed by Sandra McGonagle, Blach Intermediate School Principal

Documenting Learning. Electronic Portfolios: Engaging Todays Students in Higher Education'
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