What's even better, this ideas has made it into the education world. "20% Projects" and "Genius Hour" are rooted in constructivism where authentic learning is intrinsically motivating to students. Teachers implementing this instructional practice have created structured unstructured learning time. No matter what they call this time, all have constructivist beliefs at the core. All require that learning is relevant to life. Projects require students to learn concepts at deeper levels. This type of open-ended, project-based learning requires student to question and explore, and the most effective projects end with a product and require students to present and reflect on new learning. Teachers that want students to get the most from this experience become the guide on the side and support students to find direction, develop action plans, research effectively, revisit what they are learning and what they still need to do to accomplish their goal, and efficaciously present their projects and new ideas.
Kevin Brookhouser from the I Teach, I Think blog has some great strategies, management tips, and classroom practices that could help you implement your own "20% Projects". In listening to his Radical Autonomy: Giving Your Students 20% Time Google Hangout, it is obvious he has it figured out. In this presentation, he shares best practices and has defined the steps that can help projects like his to be successful beginning with prepare parents, students, and administrators, to having the student make final presentation very similar to Ted Talks. Visit his site to learn more about his implementation steps for successful "20% Project" and check out his TedX Monterrey Talk Don't Call it a Classroom which can be found on his blog. His site also includes student examples and instructional support for implementing your own "20% Projects".
"Genius Hours" and "20% Projects" seem to align perfectly with my first educational experiences in Montessori school, my educational beliefs as a teacher, and eMINTS, my job and my love. It is intriguing enough to wish I was back in the classroom so that I could try and implement such a progressive idea. Exploring this innovative idea in learning where I can help learners find their own "genius", expertise, and passion has me thinking...could this work with professional development? My wheels are turning; what about yours?
To learn more about "Genius Hours" or "20% Projects" check out these great resources and experts on the topic.
- 7 Key Ingredients in Successful 21st Century Classrooms: blog post from the CoolCatTeacher Blog highlighting on teachers incorporating Genius Hours and linking to other great resources.
- Engage Students and Supercharge Learning: blog post from the CoolCatTeacher Blog with link to the Everyclass Matters radio show: Radically Authentic Learning: How Classrooms Change when Student Genius Drives Learning
- Genius Hour Wiki - gathering of project examples, testimonials, presentations, resources and more.
- 10 Reasons to Try 20% Time in the Classroom - Edudemic article by AJ Juliani outlining the benefits of this instructional practice. Amazing how many of them are supportive of the eMINTS Instructional Model.
- Designing 20% Time in Education from Education is My Life Blogger AJ Juliani
- The Genious Hour Manifesto - Article written by 3 teachers all implementing this instructional practice, Denise Krebs, Gallit Zvi, Hugh McDonald and Joy Kirr can be found at the Education is My Life blog.
- Check out these Twitter Hashtags/Chats: #20timeacademy, #20time, and #geniushour - Twitter chat takes place the 1st Wednesday of each month at 6pm)
- The Genius Hour: How 60 minutes a Week can Electrify Your Job - blog post from Daniel Pink, author of Drive, that seems to be the inspiration for many implementing this type of classroom project.
- Google, 3M, HP references/data from LifeHacker