Originally posted on The Reading Zone:
My colleagues and I are currently in the second year of my favorite “experiment”. Last year, inspired by Google’s 20% time, we decided to try a variation of the project with our freshman. I am extraordinarily lucky because my colleagues are fabulous and we teach an integrated curriculum (Biology, English, Software Applications, and World History). This means we control the schedule for all of the freshman every morning. We are able to divide the time up between our classes in whatever manner works best and we do cross-curricular projects as often as possible.
So we decided we wanted to try our own version of Google’s 20% Project, which encourages Google employees to spend one day per week working on a project of their own design. While we can’t devote one day every week to our experiment, we ended up with Free Form Friday. Free Form Friday is an experiment- last year we had no idea how it would turn out when we turned the kids loose and we were thrilled with the results. This year we made a few adjustments and sent the kids off to work. I’m so excited about the projects they have come up with and can’t wait to see the end results.
Introducing the project to the kids was a lot of fun. We told them that we would be giving them the option to work on a project of their choosing for the next two marking periods. There would be no rubric and no guidelines other than their project had to bring together Biology, English, Social Studies, and Technology. This always got the whispers going. As we continued, the hands would go up and the volume would rise. Our students are not used to working without limits or rules and this project is scary for many of them.