20 tips for putting Google’s 20 percent time in your classroom

14. Be Flexible
At some point, students will likely have to tweak their projects. One year, a group of Brookhouser’s students aimed to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest continuous BBQ. But after consulting with Guinness the students discovered they were too young to compete. Instead, they took the work they had done and turned it into an event to feed the homeless. “In the end, they felt really great about the work that they did.”

15. Connect With Professionals
Brookhouser has gotten a lot of support for the project from local businesses and expertslike doctors and architectsvia mentorships, where the professionals lend their expertise and their time to students. “I think a lot people recognize the value of participating in the education of young people,” he says.

16. Create Something Tangible
At the end of each semester Juliani’s students must have something to show for their work. It could be a report or a presentation, or something more creative. He recalls one student who used her time to learn American Sign Language to communicate with a deaf niece. For her final project, “she got up at the end of the presentation and she performed a song in Sign Language.”

17. Keep Track of Student Progress
In addition to a final presentation, Brookhouser tells every student to blog about their projects as a means of keeping him in the loop. “They include an image and that’s how I keep them accountable for what they’re doing,” he says. “I use that as a tool to keep them motivated.”

18. Some Sacrifice Is Necessary
Even though Brookhouser ultimately had to give up some of the traditional literature he usually taught, he says the trade off is well worth it. “On some level it’s painful to give up anything, but what my students are producing instead in that time is nothing less than inspiring,” he says.

19. Tech Helps, But Isn’t Required
“It’s much easier to let students explore when they have technology,” Juliani says. “They can reach out to mentors online, they can watch videos–they have so much more opportunity to learn on their own…. We’ve done it in classrooms without technology, but it really amplifies it.”

20. Share Your Success
For his final presentations, Brookhouser doesn’t just let the class listen in, he invites parents, younger students, community leaders, and media to attend. “They all have five minutes to present,” he says, “and that’s their opportunity to shine. The fact that they know they’re going to be presenting their work to others, including their peers, keeps them motivated to do their best work.”

Sign up for our K-12 newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.

eSchool News uses cookies to improve your experience. Visit our Privacy Policy for more information.