Last year about this time, I blogged on the revisions I made to my 20% Project for the school year. This summer, I did some reflection and talked to other 20 Time teachers and made more revisions to how I am going to implement the project.
1. Specific Day for 20 Time
At the end of the school year, I solicited feedback from my students on what should be changed. They said they wanted a day specifically dedicated to 20% time. I gave them autonomy to work on what ever assignment they wanted to work on each day. When students when got behind on an assignment or had a pressing deadline approaching, they would work on that rather than their 20% Project. At the end of the semester, many didn't accomplish as much as they could have because of this and many said that they simply ran out of time. When I pointed out the amount of time they actually had, they realized the had enough time, but just didn't use it as well as they could have. In essence, they asked to be given less autonomy and be told what day to work on their 20% Project. So, to start the year at least, I'm giving them a specific 20 time day each week.
2. Negotiate Points
I gave 30 completion points to any student that was able to give a presentation about their project and keep up with their blog posts consistently. I chose 30 points because it was enough points to motivate those students who needed that little extra incentive, but not enough points to be the main motivator or really hurt someone's grade much if they didn't produce an adequate presentation.
This year, I am going to have students negotiate their point total. They will get to grade themselves, but have to defend their assessment. I want students evaluating themselves and their effort. I don't really want to "grade" the presentations at all, but I got tired of watching some students try to work the system to get maximum points with minimal effort. We'll see how this works out.
3. After School Presentations
I had the students give a Ted-style presentation to end the semester. They give the presentations to the class. I invited other teachers, parents, and community members to show, but no one else did. This year, I'm going to schedule the presentations in the evening at school. I'm going to set up our large projection screen and make the presentation a more formal event. I will promote it and maybe even broadcast it. My 8th graders will do theirs toward the end of 1st semester, my 7th graders toward the end of 2nd semester. I want the students to share their great ideas and be proud of themselves. Giving them that opportunity will hopefully help get more parents and community members to attend the event.
4. Blog and Email
I still plan to have the students blog weekly, but I will also have them email me after they blog. I want them to blog so they can work on gaining an audience outside the classroom, but at the same time, emailing me weekly makes them feel a sense of responsibility to me personally as opposed to simply an anonymous blog post reader.
Those are the changes I intend to make for this year. I love the 20% Project and the students' ideas, but am pretty confident I can get more out of them. I believe these changes will help me get the most from each student. Let me know your comments.