Several years ago, a couple of my students were making the age-old complaint that high school doesn’t teach them what they want and need to know. (“Except in your class, Ms. Reed.”). I took a moment to explain the validity of the other courses they were taking, but it got me thinking about the passivity of our students; how they don’t initiate their own learning. I had heard about Google’s 20% program (and then heard that it was a myth), but I liked the idea, anyway, of employees (and students) using time for their own projects.
So I came up with the idea of the 10% project. Each week, they would designate one hour of homework time to explore what they wanted. The project would be worth 10% of their final grade. Students would pick something that they wanted to learn, come up with a plan to learn it, and create “something” at the end of the year to the class, demonstrating what they had learned. When one student lamented, “This is hard. Can’t you just tell me what to do?” I knew the importance of the assignment. In the end, the majority of the students spend well over one hour a week on their project; several have told me after, they already knew what they wanted to do next time. As part of the lifelong learning goals, this assignment can work in conjunction with specific content of your class. What, even broadly and loosely, do the texts you have been working with ask the readers to question in their own world -- past, present, and future? Topics can be thematic, historical, and/or psychological. The final product, unlike the typical research paper that may be peer edited, but is generally just read by the teacher, is designed to share with and engage a larger audience.
1. Students will commit to learning about something that interests them; beginning the process of lifelong learning outside of school.
2. Students will learn to calendar a large project into time manageable bits, gaining the experience of project based time management
3. Students will take what they learn and use that information to make something for others; information is used as a tool to promote learning rather than something that is simply to be consumed.
4. Students will evaluate the presenter’s balance of content and form, as well as perceived time spent, creating further understanding of the importance of each component when presenting to others in school and work.
This lesson contains the following:
1 . A detailed, step by step description of what students do.
2. Suggestions of content and form former students have chosen
3. Handouts: The 10% Project, what to do; Evaluations (a specific guide to evaluating peer presentations); Student Personal Evaluation
4. Ideas for grading and assisting, and peer editing.
5. A reflection activity.
6. Follow-up activities
Time: Semester. One hour introduction, 10-15 minutes every couple of weeks, three weeks for presentations and critiques
15 pages (but 5 pages of explanation of philosophy and teaching format) 8 full pages