About six weeks ago I turned my Media Literacy wheel class into an open exploration/#geniushour/#20time class. Are there any other names for this kind of learning? That is the story here.
My students are in the eighth grade, and I have about 20 of them for a trimester (about 12 weeks), and then I start again with another batch of 20. This year I only made the switch to a pure #20time class before the last trimester, so my first two rotations got the regular Media Literature course that I have taught for 3 years now.
I told the class what our new class was going to look like. After my rambling explanation there was a long silence. It was as if they were waiting for a punchline.
Ha ha! Of course I am joking! Why would I let you choose what you want to learn about? Now, open your books to page 34!
No, really, after the long silence, and after answering a few questions, I showed them John Spencer's short cartoon called This Could Fail. The kids seemed to revel in the freedom that they sensed. Not only were they able to choose their own topic...anything at all, but they were free to fail! Too much great news all at once!
Of course this "free to fail" concept has brought up plenty of discussion in our class. Drawing a distinction between iterating an idea and not following any kind of plan became critical. But I am on a tangent. I would love to talk about that more another time.
I was starting a new course, brand new to our school. So I had the opportunity to name it whatever I wanted.
Candidate #1: 20time - The first time I heard of this idea was from Kevin Brookhouser, and his book (The 20time Project), is my roadmap. But for my course this is really 100time. The math does not work.
Candidate #2: Genius Hour - Hmmm. I can't put my finger on why I passed up on this one. Technically, the class is an hour and 20 minutes long, but that's not it. I don't know, maybe genius is a word I shy away from.
Candidate #3: Design Thinking - I liked this one right away, and it is a very central theme of our work. I wanted it. The kids were lukewarm on it, so I put it to them to find a name.
They chose to name the class This Could Fail (TCF)!
For the record: I knew that TCF would never fly as a long term name, printed in handbooks and schedules. We are not there yet! As the class will officially become part of the grade 8 class schedule next year, the name will become Design Thinking.
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