Tuesday, March 19, 2013

20% Time in Ms. Quinn's Room

20% Time, also known as Genius Hour, comes from Google, where employees use 20% of their work week to devote to projects that they self-instigate. Many of Google's most important innovations have come from 20% Time, like Gmail.

So awhile ago, Daniel Pink wrote a piece about how more businesses should use the 20% time to encourage innovation and creativity. And education people sat up and took notice.

Good teachers know that when you get kids to find their passions and sparks and learn about them, the potential of the learning is incredible. So 20% Time works like this:

If students learn about something they want to learn about and if teachers provide scaffolding of skills needed for students to be self-directed, then students will create something they are proud of that shows significant growth in learning.

A student teaches herself to play piano, using Internet tutorials and the Garage Band app on an iPad.
My school board is piloting a new middle school curriculum called Career and Technology Foundations, which will become a provincial curriculum in 2014. CTF gives students exposure to different strands that make up the Career and Technology Studies courses in high school, allowing them to make good choices about what they might want to take in high school and beyond. More than this, though, CTF lets students personalize their learning to suit them. It focuses on four skills: design, create, appraise, and articulate.

I saw this as a perfect fit for 20% Time. Students need to use all these skills in 20% time. They need to decide on a topic, figure out how to learn about it, and take it through experimenting and prototyping to find out if it works, refine and adjust, and then produce a piece of work.

There will definitely be a series of posts focusing on what 20% Time looks like in my classroom. Next up? Idea-generation: how to help students figure out what they want to learn.


  1. Very cool blog I have been poking around it from Edutopia (the article on classroom space & PBL).

    Nice to see another Robert Kelly disciple out there pushing the envelope a little.

    Interesting approach to CTF in your classroom.

    Not sure if you have checked this out or not but it speaks to that idea of motivation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
    It is more adult oriented / work place oriented but certainly applies to students in HS and JH.

    1. Thank you! LOVE Dan Pink!!! It really makes sense.

      How cool to run into a fellow Calgarian on Edutopia!