Friday, February 1, 2013

20% Time

With CDNIS recently recognizing 100 Days of School, I suddenly realized just how busy and pressed for time I've been this year. An amazing amount of learning (and work) has been happening in Grade 6, so much so I lost track of some of my goals. Ever since attending Chris Betcher's session on Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom at Learning 2.012 in Beijing, where he shared the notion of 20% Time, I knew I wanted to try this in the classroom and, way back in October, I set this as one of my goals.

I was also inspired by Dean Shareski's talk at Learning 2.012 in which he highlights the various meanings of rigor, which include terms such as strict, severe, harsh, cruel, rigidity and stiffness. Contrast this with creativity, where you will notice terms such as "bending of rules", innovation, flexibility.

I was sold and I've managed to get this thing going finally.

Two weeks ago I introduced the idea to my students and last week we started a Google Doc to gather ideas. This week we've started getting into our projects.

I'm very impressed by the diversity of tasks chosen by the students. I have a small group of boys learning how to knit (!), some girls planning to make a movie, another group of girls remixing music, one girl creating Harry Potter fan fiction, yet another creating a figure skating magazine, one of my musical boys using Finale to compose music, another group of boys creating games, and more! As I walk around the room discussing their projects there is a buzz of excitement. Engagement. Creativity. Innovation. Not harshness, rigidity, cruelty or severity. So far, I'm loving it. It's not directly tied to our written curriculum, but when one of my students excitedly and proudly shares a remix of Maroon 5 and Gym Class Heroes, something is working and I need to not care too much about documents.

I'm not sure where all of this is going. I've decided to release all control to see where the students take themselves. The only "rules" I've put in place is that they need to create something and they need to share their creations to the class in a whole class presentation.

Stay tuned. I'll be contributing to this blog more often since just as they are involved in their creations, I've stated to them that my goal is to create here, in this space.

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