The 20 percent time rule has come to school, keeping students engaged with a project of their own choice.
At Kankakee Junior High, the rule which is usually associated with Silicon Valley work spaces is now a way to encourage creativity and productivity among students. They spend 20 percent of their time in a language arts class on projects that interest them after their teachers read about another high school teacher who introduced it into her classroom.
“We figured to get them engaged, we would let them work on something they wanted to work on, and that would make them more interested, more willing, more engaged to produce something they were passionate about,” said Lee Anne Brandt, a seventh grade language arts teacher. She brought 20 Time to the classroom with her co-teacher Jennifer Berns.
Her students spent time on Fridays on their 20 Time goals, developing a 60 second elevator pitch for their peers, and then coordinating their progress with teachers. They made a presentation in early October.
“Our focus wasn’t on the product so much as the presentation at the end. The basis of the grade was the presentation, not the project,” said Melinda Kimmel, aseventh grade language arts teacher. “We had their clean up their grammar, but we didn’t guide them too much on that.
“I know that sounds weird because we’re language arts teachers,” she added with a laugh.