Fueling Future-Ready Students with 20time

Providing time for brainstorming enables student innovation and creativity
By: | Issue: June, 2015
May 7, 2015

In this web seminar, originally broadcast on April 14, 2015, educator Kevin Brookhouser discussed ways to empower students by providing them time to drive their own learning, using the simple concept of 20Time: giving students one day a week to work on a project of their choosingÑone that serves a real audience and solves a real-world problem. Inspired by author Daniel Pink and Google’s “20 percent time”Ña practice that allows employees to take time out of their “day job” to work on a side passion projectÑBrookhouser created his own version and applied it to the classroom.

Education Team

For 60 percent of students in school today, their future careers do not yet exist. The way that we research, collaborate and disseminate information will continue to change. We need to give our kids the tools to be successfulÑteaching them how to collaborate, research, organize information and formulate an argument. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Here on the Google for Education team, we believe that open technology is key to improving education.

What does it mean for a school to go Google? It’s about more than just technologyÑit’s about adopting a culture that extends beyond the classroom walls. It’s about openness, curiosity and working together. We offer schools a free suite of services called Google Apps for Education. These apps include Gmail as your email service provider and tools such as Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations for content creation. Since Google Apps are all web-based, it means they are available from any device with a web browser. And they are also great for collaborating, because multiple people can be creating and editing at the same time.

There are over 40 million Google Apps for Education users in over 180 different countries; more than 70 of the top 100 U.S. universities are using Google Apps for Education, including seven out of eight of the Ivy League schools. We’re also excited that we now have many choices of devices for schools. With several different models of Chromebooks and the new Nexus 7 Tablet with Google Play for Education, going one-to-one is easier than ever. Chromebooks are web-based computers that are great for schools because they are easy to use, easy to manage, easy to customize, and easy to scale. Students open the lid, sign in, and they are up and running in under 8 seconds, which allows your teachers to dedicate more time to teaching.

When using Chromebooks, everything is stored on the web. No matter what machine you use, when your students sign into any Chromebook, they are taken to the learning experience that you have designed for them based on your curriculum goals. Chromebooks are incredibly easy to manage through one centralized web page. All of the controls within the management console enable you to create a secure testing environment, which means that the Chromebook is approved for both PAARC and Smarter Balanced testing.

A Chromebook also has multiple layers of security built in, including sandboxing and verified boot. And because they are all web-based devices, they are secure against malware and viruses. Also, Chromebooks are what we call “forever fresh.” Google releases a new version of the Chrome operating system about every six or seven weeks, and your Chromebooks automatically get that new version. So you are getting all the updates and improvements for the operating system and the management console. Last fall we expanded our device offering to include tablets with Google Play for Education.

We designed the program to make it easy for schools to deploy devices into the classroom, to discover strong educational content, and to deliver those apps, videos and books to the right users. Google Play for Education is a single destination for teachers to find and share educational content. Play for Education makes it easy for teachers to explore Android apps for tablets, Chrome apps for Chromebooks, and books that can be enjoyed from any web browser. Teachers can explore Play for Education and instantly send the content or the apps they want to their students’ devices.

Google Certified Teacher
Director of Technology
The York School (Calif.)

Angela said that 60 percent of the jobs our current students will have don’t exist yet. I have one of the 40 percent of jobs that will exist, because I’m a teacher. But there’s a pretty big caveat to that: The way our job looks is dramatically different than when I was a student, because we have some significant opportunities to transform the way education works. And we need to do that, because we also have some significant challenges we need to face. Google is a company I admire a lot. They depend on a culture of innovation.

One example is their program called 20Time. Engineers are given Google’s vast resources to work on their own independent projects for 20 percent of the workweek. I got to visit a couple of Google campuses through a Google certified teacher program, where I observed this 20 percent time. I thought, “What if I bring this to the classroom?” I call it The 20 Percent Project. For one day a week my students work on a purposeful project of their own choosing. We have a brainstorm session that lets students come up with ideas of something that they might want to pursue.

Most people know the golden rule of brainstorming: There’s no bad idea. Of course, students know better, so I established The Bad Idea Factory, where for 30 minutes they present the worst ideas that they can think of. A couple of things happen. The first is that this is a ton of funÑthere can be a lot of laughter about how horrible these ideas are. But it establishes a culture in the classroom where students can be playful with ideas. The other thing that happens is a lot of these bad ideas turn out to be interesting. One student said, “What if I spent a month living in a wheelchair?” Immediately, every other student in the class said, “That’s not a bad idea at all. You should do that. Experience what it’s like to spend a month in a wheelchair and document your results.”

So that’s exactly what the student did. One of the things he discovered was that there was an area of classrooms on our campus that was hard to access in a wheelchair, because you had to go up a sloped dirt path. So through his real-life research and documentation, he decided to make it his goal to put in a graded sidewalk instead. That sidewalk is now there as a result of his project.

Once students develop good ideas, I have them write up a proposal. The next thing is that I have them all contribute to a blog. Now that we are using Google Apps for Education, we can use the Blogger application built into that suite. All of the students blog once a week to stay accountable to their project. They write a paragraph on what they’ve accomplished over the week, what they are working on right now, and what they plan to work on next. I make sure that they include a photo to show the work they’re doing. I also have them develop and memorize a 60-second “elevator pitch” as part of their midyear exam. I ask other teachers to pull kids aside when they see them in the hall and ask them to describe their project, and right there the student delivers their elevator pitch. Finally, at the end of the year, students provide a final presentation instead of taking a final exam. We model these presentations after the TED conferenceÑwe get the theater and the lights and I invite the entire community. It’s like a pageant of ideas.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit: www.districtadministration.com/ws041415

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