Minor Changes and Additions

So the kids are working diligently on their projects even outside of class.  There are a few teams of two and three and they are figuring out times to meet outside of class so they can continue to work on their project.  I love it!!! Lots of thinking going on which makes me happy! 🙂

I had a student who was absent and I was finally able to get her project idea.  She wants to learn how to decorate cupcakes.  She loves cupcakes and has a few mentors in mind who can support her in this.  I hope she brings in some samples!!! 🙂

Another students has been questioning her subject choice and asked if she could change it today.  She has been waffling back and forth between a few ideas and I know that it has been frustrating her.  This is OK as that is all part of the process of finding your passion.  And it is not a problem to change the subject as we have really just begun the process and she has plenty of time to reach her goal.  She was going to run a baton camp for kids, but determined that she would like to learn how to write calligraphy instead.  Sounds like a fabulous idea to me!  It is such beautiful writing and I know it requires a lot of skill and patience.  I look forward to seeing how she accomplishes her goal.

More soon! Thanks for reading! 🙂


First 20% Work Day

Today was the students’ very first day to work on their project.  It was a fabulous hour!  Loved it!

One of the groups decided to change their project and instead of dog sitting to raise money they are going to do a recycling drive here at school.  The money will still be donated to the Leukemia Society.

Other groups or individuals realized that their project was much too large and had to pare it down just a wee bit to make it something they could manage.  I think it is great that they recognized this and have already made that modification.

At the very beginning of the hour I gave them the planning packet.  I went over all the dates that they would have to work and they wrote those down on the packet.  I also told them it was on the Haiku page which I made public to them today – they can get the file, pull it into Drive and make their own copy to edit.  I told them they needed to take time to plan and then they could work.  I think about half of them jumped right in to the work…love the enthusiasm but I had to reign them in and refocus them to planning first so they knew what their goal was and how they would achieve it.

It was a very busy hour.  Lots of talking and ideas being shared.  As we say in the homeland…Fandabidozie!!!  I love hearing them communicate and bounce those ideas off of one another.

I am pretty confident from walking around and talking to them that they all had their plan complete or almost complete by the end of the hour.

They have until their bedtime on Fridays to complete their blog to reflect on how their 20% time went – that is their homework.  Even if they are working in a group they must reflect individually each week.  I am eager to see how they feel about all of this and how things are going from their perspective.  Their blogs can be found here at Kidblog.  I will be approving their blogs over the weekend and they will be published by the following Monday for public reading! 🙂

Until next time! 🙂

Project Ideas…So Impressed!

Today I got to hear their ideas and I am so very impressed!  Here’s what they shared with me:

Develop a Crafting Camp for children with special needs.

Compare and contrast different types of basketball shoes to determine the best kind to buy.

Raise funds by developing a website to generate money donations and give funds to an orphanage.

Google Maps for a grocery store app that would help you determine your route around the shop and show you bargain prices based on your shopping list.

Fundraise to donate money to support the endangered sea turtles in South America.

Work with an organization that rescues abandoned horses and develop a camp for special needs children to get them riding.

Training for a half marathon.

Develop a baton camp for children.

Research restaurants and develop lists for healthy food choices by restaurant.

Writing a fictional story.

Learning more about mythology.

Learning American Sign Language.

History Mash-up Game which would include other curriculum and be an app.

Skin cancer awareness program.

Start a dog sitting business to generate money to donate to the Leukemia Society.

Write a book.

Sustain a handstand for ten seconds, because he can’t do one at all. 🙂

Researching and teaching others about electromagnetic pulses that control movement in prosthetic limbs.

So excited for the next few weeks.  They will be working on their plan tomorrow and I will be meeting with them after they have completed their plans so we can discuss and I can offer my support as they go on this new journey!

20% Project Excitement is Building

Today I did a very brief check in with the students to see how they were doing after yesterday’s introduction to the project.  The excitement is definitely building, which I am really pleased to see.  I will admit to being a bit worried after yesterday’s introduction.  I asked if there were any questions that came to mind after they had some time to process and time to do a little more digging into what the project is all about.  There were just a couple of clarification questions…one was why are we presenting to the eighth graders from PMS? So I had to explain that they would be coming to our school and also presenting their very own projects and their parents will be coming to see them…kinda like a special Open House evening and that we are going to be looking in to food trucks to raise a little money.  Now that I think about it, nobody asked what we would put the money towards.  I am sure that question will arise and we will decide what to do with it together. 🙂  Anyway, after our very brief three minute chat, the kids showed me their feelings through their thumbs and lots were high in the air with enthusiasm.  Still a few iffy thumbs, but they are becoming more positive and some were even diagonal between “not sure yet” and “great”.  A good sign!

As tomorrow is the day they are going to have some time to work on their project plan and I am going to share the weeks ahead with them and the times they will have to work, I also asked how many of them were pretty confident in their idea.  I think all of them but two raised their hands, so I take that as a fabulous sign.

In addition to answering questions during class I had two students communicate with me one-on-one.  A student who was absent yesterday and missed the introduction took it upon himself, after his mum shared my email with him, to check out what this project was all about.  He came to me with his idea, concerned that the amount of time we have left this year would not be sufficient for him to reach his end goal.  So I asked him to think about what he would like to accomplish and see if there was a mid-point that he could potentially reach.  I also explained to him that he might not reach that mid-point goal, but that it was totally OK.  He seemed to like this idea and hopefully is thinking it through tonight so he has a good idea for tomorrow.  He wants to study the electronic pulses in the brain and how they can be controlled…I am sure I will understand more about that tomorrow after I see and hear about his plan.  I confess to it being a little “Greek” to me when he first shared it with me. 🙂

The other student emailed me asking to make my Haiku page public.  They know I have one as I shared a video from it and that the documents they will be utilizing are stored there.  I am going to make it public tomorrow after I have had a chance to explain about the other videos on there and that I don’t want them watching them.  I have an assignment in class to do with those videos.  They can watch them as much as they want after I introduce them.  Anyway…she wanted to know if she could learn how to train for a marathon.  Very cool!  The students are all so very different; it is going to be an amazing variety of ideas.

We shall see what tomorrow brings! 🙂  Until then…

Elation and Trepidation

Today I introduced the project to the students.  It was very interesting and very quiet!  I didn’t say much about it to begin with…just asked them to Google “20% Project” or “20% Time” and have them explore videos, posts, articles, etc…about the project and ideas.  They were so QUIET.  Now this is a class that is generally quite enthusiastic so the extreme quiet threw me for a loop.  I thought for sure they would start to talk about what they were seeing and finding online…nothing!  You could hear a pin drop!!!

After they had some time to check it out I tried to gauge their reaction by having them give me a thumbs up, thumbs horizontal or thumbs down as they were still very quiet.  I would say there were about ten students who gave me a thumbs down.  About the same who were in the middle and the rest were excited about the idea.  So, I asked what their fears were just to see where their heads were – I knew they would need more time to wrap their head around it like I did, but I wanted to hear their initial gut reactions.  The main fear was not knowing what topic to pick.  Subsequent fears that popped up were the grading process, rubrics, and if they would have to do it alone.

I started to alleviate fears by showing a short video of some tenth graders at York High School in northern California (previous post).  This video has the students share what their project is about and I thought this could help my students start generating an idea of their own.  It is also a great video because it shares the very varied ideas that the tenth graders came up with.  One of my students asked if they could work together in a small group like they had seen in the video.  I said they could, absolutely, but that their project must be something they are all equally passionate about and not one person saying, “Let’s do this!” and recruiting helpers.

Another fear that came out of the conversation was about the grading.  I shared with them that there would be two rubrics…one that goes along with their weekly blogging and one that goes with their final reflection presentation (previous post).  I also shared with them that FAILURE IS AN OPTION!  If they choose something and don’t achieve their goal, I won’t be holding that against them as they will still be learning huge lessons, not only in the CCSS, but in life.  It is important to learn how to deal with bumps in the road, maneuver around them, and come out on top!

The most prevalent fear was their not knowing which topic to choose.  For some students this is waaaaay too open ended and never having this kind of opportunity before has put them into a wee bit of a tailspin.  They want you to tell them specifically what they are supposed to be doing.  But this will not happen here!  I have given them two days to talk it over with friends, brainstorm with their parents (I told the students I would be emailing their parents the information), and just think.  Thinking is key.  They are going to have to discover for themselves (with a little help from friends and family) what their passion is…or this will not work because their idea must sustain them for the entire time of the project.

I did the survey again and got about two thumbs down, four that were in the middle and the rest were feeling groovy!  A huge improvement from earlier.  I hope that after they have had some time to think, talk, and develop some ideas they will feel even more comfortable and the excitement will build.  I know that I am super excited and can’t wait to see what they come up with as their topics.  I heard a few snippets of conversations, but I will wait until they submit their ideas formally before I share what they will be doing on this here blog.  I will find out in just two days!!!

I also emailed the parents today so they would know what their students were talking about when they bring it up in conversation.  And as these are seventh graders, it is a good conversation starter for the parents because they may not bring it up at all.  Teenagers! 🙂

More later! Thanks again for reading! 🙂


20% Projects – YouTube Video

I realized last night after I had posted that I hadn’t really explained the concept of the 20% Project. This is a project that allows the students to follow their passion for 20% of the week. They can choose to learn something, create something, work on a service project, etc. It is based on Google and their 80/20% work week. The Google employees get 20% of their work week to pursue other ideas.

There are other videos on YouTube where you can see other students’ ideas for their projects.

This video is one that I found on YouTube and it is from York High School and is their project ideas from 2013.

The amount of standards that are met while the students are working on this project is incredible…reading, researching, writing, listening and speaking…so many!!!