Coming Full Circle with the 20% Project

This week I had the opportunity to hear Kevin Brookhouser speak AGAIN about the 20time project in his classroom. I even got to meet him! I had heard him speak at a conference in July and hearing him speak again really brought the 20% project I had implemented into my 2nd grade classroom come full circle. It left me inspired again and gave me a new route I would like my 20% project to take.

Many of my students are now finishing their 20% projects and are starting to teach the class. Last week I had my first two students present and I was blown away. The first student taught the class about algebra. When he first told me he was researching this topic I was very apprehensive and did not know how he would be able to teach the class about such a complex subject. To my surprise, he did it perfectly. He made a video on Seesaw in which he described why he loves algebra and why he wanted to teach the class. Next, he made a poster in which he did an interactive presentation. He explained how letters are used in place of numbers to figure out the problems and that the problems are like puzzles. The students were instantly intrigued and were engaged as he gave them problems to solve together.  His first problem was x+3=6. As the problems progressed they got a little harder and he then explained that it takes a lot of practice to understand it.

 

The second student that presented taught the class about one of her passions, gymnastics. She made a poster where she explained what she wears and where she goes to practice gymnastics. She then showed the class some of the gymnastic moves she has been practicing and they loved it. It was so exciting to see her passion shine through as she taught her fellow peers.

Seeing their success has lead me to my next goal for this project. I want to bridge learning with passion, which is why I originally started this project in my room. When I heard Kevin Brookhouser speak again he was talking about how this may look in the elementary school classroom. He suggested that if you want students to create a solution to a problem and gain a sense of empathy then the teacher should facilitate the class in solving a community problem. For example, students could learn about nursing homes and build a relationship with the people that live there. During the 20% class time students would create, publish, research, and write to solve a problem for the nursing home. Maybe they could create cards or pen pal letters with the residents. They could also create things to give to the residents, etc. Once you do a 20% community project, students could then try to solve a problem they see in their own community. Whether it be teaching younger students, creating videos to help the school, or raising awareness for charities. As students finish up their first 20% projects we will start a project as a class. I hope my students learn how to be problem solvers while also letting their passions shine through and giving them a purpose for their learning. This experience has completely changed my outlook towards teaching and my classroom.

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