I have begun reflecting upon the books that I have been reading and this book is a great inspiration to my teaching practices; “The Google Story” by David A. Vise. You can read my reflections about this book here.
I have proven when education embraces some of the lessons learnt by Brin and Page into the life lessons being taught across the world that there is greater success and innovation. Every teacher can start this by simply asking the students about their creative ideas and providing the Google innovation “20% time” to develop and incubate these ideas.
I did this activity with some year 6-7 students at the end of 2015. I gave them three instructions and approximately 16 x 55 minute lessons to achieve their goals.
- Your project must have some link to digital technology (key learning area)
- You must keep your presentation up to date and include all progress in this presentation – this was a template I created using Google Slides and was used to monitor and assess students progress.
- At the end of the last week we will be holding an exhibition where you will be presenting to students younger and older, staff from all areas of the college, parents and invited guests from a local university – this made all students accountable to achieve something to present.
I won’t deceive you and make you think that this was all smooth sailing and without incident. Firstly I had to provide some inspiration, I achieved this by sharing links to the Caine’s Arcade video, and the Origin Energy “Little Big Ideas” competition. Students had ongoing goals and task targets to achieve the design process which were not always met by all students. This forced me to implement another teaching strategy that causes positive education experiences – Differentiation.
When differentiating I was able to allow students to make more choices about the depth and breadth of their project. Students could make it as basic or complex as they felt capable of. All students, because they made these choices, had ownership and intrinsic motivation to complete the task to a high standard. Additionally students were able to present to a wide audience with passion and expertise at the exhibition. Differentiation also provided students with the freedom to make decisions, alterations and redesigns as required. To have this autonomy over their learning proved to be a win- win for everyone.
I am extremely pleased that I made the decision to take the risk and apply Google’s 20% time innovation to my classroom and allow my students to take ownership over their learning, and the projects that were meaningful, memorable and more importantly successful for everyone.
How will you provide student directed and differentiated learning in your classes this year? I would love to hear from any teacher or school who is going to take up this challenge. Please use any social network with the tag #20%challenge