Phil Schlechty often tells us that engagement begins with a product, performance, or exhibition that the student cares about. What that looks like and how teachers go about leveraging it is as varied as the needs, motives, and values of students. This blog is about one educator’s experience designing for Product Focus.
Ann Witherspoon is a district instructional technologist at Frank Seale Middle School in Midlothian ISD, Texas.
Ann designed a school-based take-off on Google’s “20 percent time.” This phrase refers to a practice in which Google would allow its employees 20 percent of their time to work on projects of specific interest to them. Students at FSMS were allowed to sign up for a school version of Google’s 20 percent time led by Ann. What transpired is really quite amazing to see. Students spent their time dreaming about products they would like to see created and then creating presentations to demonstrate their products. In some cases, such as one student author who wrote two novels, students actually created their products. In other cases, students designed products they would like to see created. The learning and creativity is inspiring. Check out these examples:
The work is impressive enough, but listen to the students reflect on their experiences in this video:
What would YOUR students come up with if they were allowed to have “20 percent time”?
The Engagement People