Project Time and How My Students Made It Theirs

In our classroom we have been big fans of genius hour and Innovation Day.  yet when I realized that my 30 minute block of resource time ( a block meant for remediation/intervention and enrichment) wasn’t being used to its fullest, I knew I had a chance to change things.  So during a creative burst, our new resource time rotation schedule was born and within came something new – project time, or just time to learn.

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I love genius hour, I love Innovation Day, I love the idea of learning and creating something.  But I felt we were starting to focus too much on the creation part rather than just the learning part.  That too much time was spent creating the imagery of their learning rather than the learning itself.  So instead I asked the kids to do what we have called project time, 30 minutes once a week where they just get to learn.  Sure, they can create, sure they can make things, but they can also use the entire time to just read, study, ask questions, whatever they want to do.  I decided on a big category to help them  focus their curiosity, geography,  and with held breath I sat back.

The last two weeks have been incredible.  Students have read library books on countries, they have studied maps, they have created impromptu map quizzes, and yes, they have even created presentations.  The learning that has happened has been tangible as kids ask questions about the broader world, about their place in it.  When I asked them what they thought, the response was overwhelming; “We love it, Mrs. Ripp.  Please don’t change it.  What will we focus on next?”  (History for those who wonder).

So project time is here to stay, with a few tweaks requested by the kids.  More resources, computers if they are available, and study hall rather than dedicated spelling time.  It is a thing of wonder to see 26 students working on what they need to be working on without me standing over their shoulder.  Once again, my students are examples of what can happen when we trust kids  to take control of their learning, when we give them freedom to learn.  We should have more school like this.  I cannot wait to see what else they learn.

 

18 thoughts on “Project Time and How My Students Made It Theirs

  1. Love this idea, Pernille. What is so good about it is you didn’t try to invent something new, but simply rethink an existing structure. I think that is where the best innovations lie, anyway – that small nudge toward something better.

    I plan to share this idea with staff.

  2. There is a school in Framingham that does just what you do all day, every day. I believe its the Waldorf school in Framingham/Lexington. Anyway, I saw another article about it in a blog and they have been going for 40 years. When these kids go to college (about 60% go), they do fine in regular school because, as one student said, ‘I was taught how to think, how to learn.’ After 40 years of success, this project approach might have something we need to look at as a society.
    I am a toddler teacher, but I enjoy your comments.

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  8. This is so simple, yet, so brilliant at the same time! Thank you for sharing this with us! We’ll be trying this out during certain days in our schedule and we’ll see how we flow!

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