Disrupting Learning With A 20% Project...Day One: Good/Bad Idea Factory

I have been intrigued by the idea of implementing a 20% project for a while, but honestly, I haven't been brave enough to tackle it. Let's face it, I teach 7th graders! But fortunately, this year, I have a group of students that I felt would be a perfect fit something as unusual as this challenge...and I teach with some brave souls, so two weeks ago we launched what I hope will be an intellectual journey worth celebrating!

We launched the project with a presentation on exactly what the 20% Project was and included a video of some of Kevin Brookhouser's students describing their experiences.

We covered the rules and expectations for the project and I explained that I had shared a folder in their Google Drive with a variety of documents needed to progress through the project. We then participated in an activity called the Good/Bad Idea Factory activity modeled after the exercise I found on Kevin Brookhouser's website, I teach. I think. Students broke into small groups and had about 20 minutes to brainstorm as many topic ideas as possible. I told them not to focus on implementation of these topics or to get bogged down in what the end-product of the topics would be, just to brainstorm potential topics. 

The next day, we did a gallery walk to look over all of the ideas generated. Students had to select about 5 topics that seemed interesting. They completed this form to help narrow down their selection. After they narrowed their ideas to a final topic, they completed this form for their Proposal Pitch. This will be an activity in which they will pitch their proposal to their classmates who will then have about 2 minutes to give feedback about the proposal. I've included an article that discussed the importance of "pitching" your ideas to make them happen. Hopefully this activity will provide additional resources for students to formulate their best topic with a strong set of guiding questions.

One really engaging thing we did was the availability to host a Google Hangout with Mr. Juan deLuca from Mexico City who has implemented this type of project with his students. He explained the importance of generating bad ideas as well as good ideas because there's a fine line between the two. He also encouraged students to find a mentor to help with the project. All in all, it was a very productive first day. Stay tuned for further reports on our progress...I would say we're off to a strong start!
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