20 Percent Time

20% TimeI’ve been feeling lately like there’s something new I would like to sink my teeth into. But how would I find the time and how would I pick just one thing? For a few years now, I’ve been talking about Google’s 20% time. I decided that I would do a little research as to how educators are implementing this time in their classrooms, so that I might possibly approach my administrator to implement this in my work week.

Just recently. I learned about Morgan’s Apps for Autism from her teacher Vicky Davis. Morgan Tweets links to apps that could potentially help autistic people. As part of the requirements for her project, Morgan outlined it here. In addition to Twitter, she uses Tumblr and Pinterest to share the resources that might influence the lives of people with autism.

Over the summer I learned about the organization that Rory Fundora’s daughter founded. Though not designed with the 20 percent time in mind, Rory’s daughter, Mallory, decided on her own that she wanted to to raise $600 to sponsor 2 children, one from Amazima and one from Project Have Hope. Mallory surpassed her goal and now manages countless resources to raise money in the name of Project Yesu to fund food, medicine and education to the children of Uganda.

So, where did the concept of 20 percent time come from? Back in 2006, one of Google’s Technical Solutions Engineers wrote about how the company was “enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that’s broken, you can use the time to fix it.”

Many educators, since beginning to use Google Apps and other Google products, have adopted this concept into their classrooms.

Kevin Brookhouser, a High School English teacher in California, implemented this 20 percent time concept for his students. On his website, I teach. I think., Kevin outlines his rules and expectations and provides some project ideas for his students. You can read more about what Kevin has designed on his site.

Thomas Galvez, a psychology teacher at the American Community School in Abu Dubai, is implementing 20 percent time with some of his classes this year. Thomas has designed project guidelines (along with a rubric) to direct his students on how to appropriately use their time. At the end of the semester, students will submit a video demonstrating that they have met the objectives of the project. You can read more about Thomas’s project on his blog.

Pam Rickard, a science educator in California, provides time every Friday in her Make2Learn Lab for students to work on their 20 Percent Time projects. Pam outlines on her site the project rules and expectations and stresses that “Failure IS an option”. Pam shares student examples via video and recommends her students take a look at the following sites for inspiration.

A.J. Juliani, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, implemented the 20 percent concept with his 11th graders. Like the other educators I’ve mentioned, A.J. described his project objectives, but this time, there was no intent to grade them. Instead, he was looking for students to report their “accomplishments”. A.J. looked at accountability, standards and curriculum and required independent reading assignments related to the projects. You can read more about A.J.’s experience on his blog.

If you want to learn a little more about Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, watch their Ted Talk as the concept was inspired by their Montessori School experience. Would you believe that 50% of all Google’s products developed by 2009 originated from 20 percent time?

I need to give some serious thought as to how I would want to spend 20 percent of my time. I’m open to suggestions.

15 thoughts on “20 Percent Time

  1. Joy Kirr says:

    I love 20% time, and the my seventh graders do, too! We call it Genius Hour, and it’s been done in high schools, too. Enjoy the journey, and check #geniushour for more info!
    -Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr)

  2. […] 1. Get together with other teachers, coaches, or administrators frequently, make a plan, and execute. To further this, I have learned based on the experience of our own Technology Coordinators in Passaic at the middle and high school that working in isolation as our PreK-6 coaches do limits our effectiveness. As a result, next year I am going to arrange for Elementary Tech Coordinators to work in groups at a few locations a minimum of one (1) day per week to collaborate, plan, submit the post-classroom observation forms, etc. Consider this a ‘modified’ Google 20% time. […]

  3. Dear Lisa,
    My name is Kameron Strickland and I am a sophomore at the University of South Alabama. After reading your post and click through some of the links you provided, I cannot wait to include the 20% time idea into my future high school math classroom. I think giving our students the opportunity to explore or look deeper into something of their choice (preferably in the subject range of math) is a wonderful idea. The EDM 310 class I am in currently gives me specific projects and post to complete, but also allows me to look deeper and stem off from the original topic on my own time. I enjoy this and wish my high school teachers allowed a form of 20% time in their classrooms. I think my future students would enjoy this and it will boost my creativity “muscles”- I have to find ways to incorporate it into Mathematics! I can’t wait to read more of your post. This one already has me brainstorming; however, I am open to suggestions and ideas!
    Kameron Strickland

  4. Hannah Still says:

    Dear Lisa,
    I am excited to implement the 20 percent time project into my future classroom. I think that it is a great idea that could be implemented in any classroom. All students should have time to work on or fix something that interests them on the web. This is a great way to get students involved in the things that like. I also loved that you included so many links into your post. I found out some interesting things in them that gave me examples of fun in classroom activities. Thank you for your post and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  5. Brittany A. says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I think 20% of your time outside of your specific job description is great because it can allow us to find new exciting ideas or meaningful things we could share with students. I also liked 20% of time being incorporated into the classroom, it gives the students a chance to go deeper into an assignment or project.

  6. I enjoyed learning about 20% time through your post. It seems like an amazing idea for teachers and students. I look forward to implementing 20% Time into my future classroom. This is a great way to teach the importance of involvement and responsibility when they put forth effort into charities and other organizations to students. Thanks!

  7. Patrick says:

    Hello, Mrs. Thumann. My name is Patrick Morrison and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I had never heard of such a concept until now but I think it would be a great idea to implement in schools. Such time given to students would alleviate a lot of boredom or frustration kids can have with school and actually make them feel like they want to be present in class. Patrick Morrison’s EDM310 Class Blog

  8. HI! I am in the class edm310 at the University of South Alabama. I think using 20% of the time is a great idea to incorporate into your classroom. I think it is great for students to get to develop more ideas. It also helps the students to look deeper into their own interests.

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