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30 review for The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google's formula for future-ready innovation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I won this book as a door prize at a conference. Aside from being the only door prize I’ve won to date, it’s also the best door prize I’ve ever won, because, hey, free book. You could not have picked a better person to give a free book to. Loves me the books, especially the free ones. The conference, incidentally, was SELNO, the “Symposium for e-Learning in Northern Ontario,” and it was my favourite of the few conferences I’ve been to lately, mostly because I didn’t have to travel. And then I won I won this book as a door prize at a conference. Aside from being the only door prize I’ve won to date, it’s also the best door prize I’ve ever won, because, hey, free book. You could not have picked a better person to give a free book to. Loves me the books, especially the free ones. The conference, incidentally, was SELNO, the “Symposium for e-Learning in Northern Ontario,” and it was my favourite of the few conferences I’ve been to lately, mostly because I didn’t have to travel. And then I won a door prize. So basically, the best conference ever. The idea behind The 20time Project is simple: give students 20% time, much like Google does (or did—there is some debate as to whether it still exists, but that’s beside the point here), to devote to a project of their own making. In essence, Kevin Brookhouser wants us to take project-based learning and hulk it out into audience-centred, student-led, project-based learning. And he makes it sound like a really cool idea. Brookhouser starts off saying all the right things, and more importantly, he gets right to the point. “What happens when there’s no formula to learn?” he asks, highlighting that we need to encourage creativity in students if we expect them to solve what he calls the world’s “wicked problems.” I’m inclined to agree—here’s Ken Robinson outlining the reasons our industrialized education model is not good for creativity (and why creativity is a desirable trait). I have to admit I’m not sure how persuasive Brookhouser would be for someone who doesn’t already share this crucial perspective. If you’re still stuck in the “students go in, students learn formula, students go out into workforce” mentality, then … well, the book isn’t for you. The 20time Project emphasizes that the fundamental constant in education in this century must be change. I can relate to that. In my professional year, a teacher came to speak to one of my classes. He told us that if, after teaching for two years, we don’t look back in horror at what we were like when we started out, then we’re doing it wrong. Well, I went to England right after graduating, and I taught for two years … and he was absolutely right. Oh, I was competent. But competent really isn’t enough. There’s nothing wrong with being competent starting out, because there’s no way to know any better—professional year certainly can’t teach you the best ways to teach, only show you some ropes. Those two years completely altered my perspectives on teaching, as I’m sure the next two years will. And the next two, and hopefully the two more after that—you see the pattern here? If you’re doing it right, then you’ll never stop learning, never stop changing your praxis. How do we expect our students to see the value in learning if we don’t? Related to the necessity of creativity, Brookhouser also makes a point I firmly believe is important: “Our classrooms can be refuges of creativity, giving students a safe place to experiment…” He goes on in a similar fashion about setting students up to fail. I can’t agree more. It breaks my heart to see a student refuse to tackle a math problem because they fear getting it wrong. My response when they get it wrong? “Brilliant! Let’s take a look at what you tried.” Failure happens. It happens a lot in real life. We can’t always succeed. So we need our students to be resilient. And we need them to know that failure can be OK, because you can learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. Hence Brookhouser’s concept of the 20time project: it gives students a chance to be independent (something we claim we want our children to be) and to make mistakes, as well as to succeed. He emphasizes how it’s all about connecting students (safely) to the outside world and to other people; the projects have to be some kind of service to others, not just something for the students themselves. Ultimately, are these not all commendable goals, and ostensibly why we do what we do? So that’s the first part of The 20time Project. Then Brookhouser actually outlines what a 20time project setup looks like for students and teachers. He lays out everything, from how to get parents on board to how he manages to assess students, as well as what to do when (not if, when) things start going wrong. I won’t go into much more detail here. Read the book, or at the very least, check out the companion website. The major takeaway: despite the book’s subtitle, there is no successful formula to follow here. (No formula, eh? Where does that sound familiar…?) Brookhouser shares a general plan, and gives a lot of pertinent advice based on his experience running 20time over the years, but ultimately you’ll need to tailor it to your situation. I find that inspiring more than daunting. Much of the book is devoted to the 20time projects Brookhouser launched in his English classes. He mentions how 20time can apply in other disciplines, and I’m definitely not disputing that. But the challenges teachers of other subjects might face will always be slightly different. Fortunately, The 20time Project is the tip of the iceberg in that record. This is the 21st century. Books are still relevant, but they aren’t the end of the line; Brookhouser includes an appendix with links to other websites relevant to aspirational 20time teachers. At the moment, of course, I’m not actually in a classroom. And I’m not going to claim I’ll implement 20time the moment I set foot in the classroom again—that’d be unrealistic. But the type of learning promoted by 20time is exactly what I want to encourage in my classroom of the future, and The 20time Project lays out a path to get there so clearly that I’m much more confident it can be done. So I hope one day I’ll be launching some 20time projects in my classroom; until I do, I’ll look for the opportunity to apply many of the components behind 20time as I seek to make wicked learning spaces that help students tackle wicked problems.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    I love the book's concept. I think there is a definite need to promote the type of learning that 20time represents. However, I was dissatisfied with several elements of the book. 1. On page 26 the author lists several societal problems (climate change, racism, war) and laments that our current educational system is not preparing students to grapple with those problems. I agree with him. Unfortunately, few of the projects described later on in the book appear to deeply grapple with those problems I love the book's concept. I think there is a definite need to promote the type of learning that 20time represents. However, I was dissatisfied with several elements of the book. 1. On page 26 the author lists several societal problems (climate change, racism, war) and laments that our current educational system is not preparing students to grapple with those problems. I agree with him. Unfortunately, few of the projects described later on in the book appear to deeply grapple with those problems either. In fact, most of the time you get the sense that he is advocating for this innovation to make our young people more appealing new-hire prospects for Google as opposed to activists actually doing Social Justice work. The word "entrepreneurial" is used quite often and suggests that the purpose of education should be to spit out a bunch of Zuckerbergs. 2. The cavalier fashion which with the author mentions giving kids access to technology shows an ignorance to the actual situation on the ground. I find that most of his descriptions of educational environments are quite unlike the classrooms seen in urban and rural struggling communities. I took a quick glance at his school's website and this has me wondering if he might need to spend a little more time at schools that face challenges his does not. His book would be more powerful if it engaged with the serious issues that urban and rural public school teachers need to consider in addition to simply innovating time-table and curriculum. 3. I'm from Cupertino and have spent most of my life in the Bay Area, steeped in the culture of innovation that the author reveres. It ain't perfect. The author has definitely drunk the Silicon Valley Kool-Aid and the incessant references to Google (the author himself admits that the idea behind 20time didn't originate at Google) have me wondering why I paid for this book (shouldn't Google have given me a free copy?). Again, I support the underlying concept of the book and have already started transitioning to more student-centered and student-driven learning in my classroom, but I would have enjoyed a book that was a bit more comprehensive (included diverse perspectives and practices from multiple communities), a bit more practical (acknowledging that we don't all teach at schools where everyone gets a new chromebook for their birthday) and a bit more responsible (less focused on educating the board room of the future and more focused on developing young people into caring, empathic, respectful and socially aware adults).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Douglass Gaking

    I needed a project for my Intro to Entrepreneurship class. It is difficult to set up a project where the expectations are clear, but the students get to explore their passions creatively and get results. The #20time format gets it done. This book has everything I needed to get it organized so that the students could produce a good product. It is a quick read full of great ideas for setting students up for success. The appendices and the online resources include templates you can use and adapt to I needed a project for my Intro to Entrepreneurship class. It is difficult to set up a project where the expectations are clear, but the students get to explore their passions creatively and get results. The #20time format gets it done. This book has everything I needed to get it organized so that the students could produce a good product. It is a quick read full of great ideas for setting students up for success. The appendices and the online resources include templates you can use and adapt to fit your needs. I was able to read this in July and start the projects with my students. We are now 3 months in, and everything is going as planned!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dan S

    Kevin gives us just the right amount of information in a clear and engaging way. I also appreciate all the links to additional resources--and I'm finding a wealth of helpful docs, videos, and blogs at his website, 20Time.org.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    Thought-provoking. Inspiration included, as well as practical ideas for classroom implementation.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John F Garrett

    Great book for teachers looking to motivate kids to it only learn but apply their learning.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elsof

    Quick, to-the-point guide for implementing a 20time project in your classroom, along with resources and most importantly, all the reasons why you should.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read this because my school made me, but was glad I did. My only disappointment was that he offered no useful suggestions for implementation in a traditional-curriculum, mid-grade math classroom (e.g. Algebra II), but it did inspire some ideas for alternative approaches I may take in certain units. He also offers some good language for encouraging students to think past grade-focused and failure-phobic mindsets, and I look forward to fostering more open-mindedness among my sometimes very fixed I read this because my school made me, but was glad I did. My only disappointment was that he offered no useful suggestions for implementation in a traditional-curriculum, mid-grade math classroom (e.g. Algebra II), but it did inspire some ideas for alternative approaches I may take in certain units. He also offers some good language for encouraging students to think past grade-focused and failure-phobic mindsets, and I look forward to fostering more open-mindedness among my sometimes very fixed-minded students. Also a very quick read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ward

    I found out about this book via Twitter, and it changed the way I taught my classes. He also has a great website with accessible documents to help first time 20time teachers. We are halfway through my first year doing 20time projects, and I am in awe of what some of my kids are doing. The real test will come in May when they present and tell us what they learned from working on the year-long projects.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aandjnicholscox.Net

    Fantastic book, this book really opened my eyes to how we learn and the problems we create as teachers that make learning boring and mundane within our classrooms. This book has started me on a journey that I hope never ends. Trying to find ways to engage my students and make them want to seek knowledge.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joy Kirr

    So glad I backed Kevin Brookhouser's book. The 20time Project is simple, concise, and invigorating. I'm in my third full year of implementing Genius Hour, and I've still got so much to learn. Kevin reinforced many ideas I've been playing with, and now has me determined to ask even more of my students. Want to start student-driven learning? Get this one and jump in!

  12. 4 out of 5

    M

    In 20time, Brookhouser offers a rationale for project-based learning, and he thoroughly outlines a path for readers to implement their own version of the program. For educators and leaders who are interested in pushing young people to new levels of achievement and tapping into intrinsic motivation, this succinct book is indispensable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Garreth Heidt

    Without this book, my 20Time projects would never have gotten off the ground and my students would be the worse for it. Practical, important. Any teacher looking for help getting started with 20Time/Genius hour at the HS level needs this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kay Pham

    A book with a great idea for the classroom and for personal challenges

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelley Wyman

    Love this concept for our schools!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Good overall review of this project. Kevin does a good job first showing his failures, and letting you see how to successfully implement this project.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brad Steigerwalt

  18. 5 out of 5

    Claire Fortenberry

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Cornman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Thomas

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Bradford

  24. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam Wightman

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pam Holcombe

  28. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

  30. 5 out of 5

    M. Cap

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