As a way to help with the monitoring, I started today's 20% time off with an expectation that groups (or individuals) needed to document all of their research and final product using any means of publication that they were comfortable with. As long as it could be published for the world to see in an instant, I was (and still am) OK with it. We brainstormed ways to publish and came up with:
If you think of any other means of publication that would be useful, please let me know in the comment section below.
Students were required to discuss how they planned to publish their work and let me know by the end of the period. Surprisingly, many students wanted to create a website. The group researching the different types of photography is choosing to create a picture collage for each type. The group working on what it takes to make a movie is, believe it or not, making a movie about making a movie (metamovieition?). It was a perfect segue into having student document their findings without making it seem like a chore.
The next part is the fun stuff! Fortunately, a lot of my friends aren't teachers. Matter of fact, they're anything but educators of young children. Whether it is a business owner, nurse, entertainer, or more, my friend base is like the Swiss Army Knife of resources for students to ask questions.
- There is a group of students researching what it takes to be a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit - the sick babies) nurse, so my wife is gladly going to come in and speak with the group about her experiences.
- Another group wants to create their own website, so a friend of mine who works for the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians as a website designer is planning on coming in and speaking with the students about designing their own site
- The movie production crew is going to get a surprise when my wife's friend gets to FaceTime with them about what her experiences have been in the entertainment industry. Truly a treat!
- A group working on helping put an end to animal abuse will be working with Animal Samaritans directly to create a presentation that appeals to the middle school age group.
There are others, but these really stood out. For anyone looking to criticize the 20% time as a waste of educational minutes, please note that all students working on their projects have passed an "entry quiz" that proves their level of mastery with the concepts that we discussed during the week. I had a few students who didn't pass, so we huddled together and worked through the problems together and were able to get a much better understanding of the misconceptions and how to avoid them in the future.
I know it's only week 2 and we might still be in the Honeymoon Period of this whole 20% time concept, but I couldn't be happier with taking the dive into the deep end with it. Students are thrilled - no, eager- to get to work and do their research. Is it standards-based? I'm sure that I could find some placards to post that appease those who ask. More importantly, is there learning happening? Only the kind that every kid would dream of - real learning relevant to them.