What is 20-Time?
One recent teaching method that integrates student agency, engagement and technology is 20-time (aka Genius Hour). 20-time is a process of sustained, in-school, interest-driven student inquiry project, which culminates in a public presentation of learning. Structure and inspiration for this work can be found from many sources including Joy Kirr and Tom Driscoll’s 20-Time in Education model along with AJ Juliani’s helpful infographic, putting an emphasis on inquiry projects that would improve the community. We drew inspiration from Chris Rosati’s Big Ideas for the Greater Good initiative in which local students developed projects to improve their community and videotaped their process.
The 20-time project was scheduled for one period per week over 12 weeks, with presentations to take place during the 13th week. Class periods ran approximately 50 minutes during the students’ study hall/lunch block, and all students had access to desktop computers. Students were not required to participate in the 20-time endeavor, but nearly 90% opted in to the program and even brought friends from other study halls to collaborate.
The process began by giving students time to explore and search for websites to construct their own understandings of 20-time. From there, we broke up the program into three four-week segments: brainstorming, researching, and action. Although student autonomy was a primary feature of this project, we provided graphic organizers to help students collect their ideas and push into deeper inquiry, plan out logistics, and aid them in getting unstuck.
Students took on a wide variety of projects. Three groups chose to run events, including a lip-sync contest, a baseball clinic, and a baseball league Opening Day Walk for charitable foundations. In total, these events raised over $4,000 combined. Other groups chose to focus on the process of creating clubs in school, such as a peer tutoring club and a nursing home collaboration club. The nursing club is still in existence three years later. Others wanted to research how to make things such as Scratch video games, a slinky toy, and even a human hamster wheel. We held the presentations on May 8 to a crowd of more than 50 community members, and several of the projects were highlighted in local newspapers.
The Right Question Institute is a fantastic resource for helping students learn the important skill of question development. Their Question Formulation Technique is a useful process that can help frame the 20-time projects while also developing a inquiry skills for discipline-based explorations.
Flipgrid is a tool that allows teachers to post questions and students to respond with 90 second videos. Students can also respond to their peers' videos with a video of their own. Flipgrid is a great tool to prepare students for their "pitch process" to the class by creating a shorter "elevator pitch." Peers can also provide feedback for refinement prior to the actual pitch.
Reflection is an essential component of the learning process and is especially useful with self-directed projects such as 20-time. Blog platforms such as WordPress provide a space for students to track and share their process and their learning. It also allows the teacher to get a grasp on student needs and when some sort of scaffold may be necessary. The "page" function of WordPress can also act as a portfolio to store benchmarks such as the pitch, the research findings, documentation of the final product and video of the final presentation.
One of the goals of 20-time is for students to share their learning with a larger audience. TED Talks are a common format and can be done as part of a community event or showcase. However, that does restrict the presentation to those who are present that evening. Screencast-O-Matic can help students both expand their audience and practice their in person presentation. Students can narrate the slides of the presentation via a Screencast and then share the video out via YouTube.