An Epiphany Moment! You Have to Check This Out: 20% Time!

Ok. I am so beyond excited! I just found the coolest, most creative project ever! I know, my year is winding down, and I have officially six more teaching days left (not that I am counting) before finals. Most teachers are packing up, kicking their heels up, and NOT looking for new material for  September...well, except this girl. Actually, I kind of fell upon the material as I was lazily scrolling through Pinterest.

I love, love, love Lauren Randazzo, another TpT seller and blogger, who has spectacular products and amazing teaching tips and ideas.  I was reading some of her blog posts, when I came across a project she is doing with her high school students called "20% Time", also known as, "20 Time" and "Genius Hour". You can check it out here: Lauren Randazzo-20 Time. I have never heard of this project before, and after Googling, I quickly learned that this project comes from an idea of Google and 3m: These companies give their employees 20% of their weekly work time to create projects, ideas, and work with their passions beyond and unrelated to their work projects. With this time, Google's and 3m's employees created Gmail and sticky notes on this 20% time! Well, why can't a teacher give their students 20% of their time in the classroom (one class period a week) to a passion, an invention, an interest or an idea????

Let me go back...Over the last two years, the Common Core seized my curriculum and infiltrated it with rigor, higher level texts, more reading, citing information, research, complex writing, more rigorous texts, close reading, and all the other components of the Common Core curriculum; nevertheless, much of this commotion left many of my students in the dust, exhausted, bored and REALLY loathing school. I quickly watched all the creativity get sucked out of my classroom, and for a teacher who loves students to be creative, artistic and imaginative, this was quite a blow to me too.

Just like my students, I needed creativity back in my room, so this year I tried out Interactive Notebooks in my classroom.  I love, love, love them, and I plan on using them again next year.  These notebooks brought back creativity and color to my classroom; a classroom that was very dreary and dull the year before (Trying to get 8th graders through To Kill a Mockingbird is not easy). However, I was still noticing the same common attitude and complaints: "I don't want to read", "This is too long and boring", "Why can't we do something fun?". Do you know how hard that is for an English teacher to hear?!?!?! And then the light bulb went on after watching this TED Talk a few nights ago:

And there it is. Ken Robinson says it, "We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it." Guh. Double guh and sigh. Our schools today are educating students out of being creative. We want them to sit still for forty minutes and read texts that are two to three grade levels above them. We want them to be college ready in 8th grade and have abstract thoughts.  Yes, my students can cite a line verbatim with the correct punctuation and all, but they couldn't tell you want they want to be when they grow up because they have no clue, and no one has recently asked them WHAT THEY WANT. What would happen if we asked out students, "What do you want to read?" Think they would show more of an interest in school? What is your passion, interest, or what do you love to do? How about we turn that into a project....The 20% project.

Have I sparked your interest too? I can't wait to try this out next year.  Stayed tuned to my next post, where I will give you a whole bunch of websites to check out this project! If you are as excited as I was when I came across this, you don't have to wait.  Just Google "20 Time Project".

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