When I started my 20% Project I had set out to find technology that would work well with specifically a Social Studies classroom. My goal was to find technology that would encourage learning in new and different ways while continuing that process after students left the classroom. I found some really good tools that will work well for a Social Studies classroom, but I also found numerous tools and ideas that would work for any subject area. I found that there are plenty of tools available for use in the classroom as well as numerous resources available to connect with students and parents after the official school day ends. All in all I would say that this project has been relatively successful for me!
One thing that I found very interesting while researching my project was that engaging students required engaging parents as well. In order for home to become part of the learning process it is important that parents become a vital role as well. In my quest to find tools that would help me engage students I also found tools that will allow me to more effectively engage parents and get them involved with what their student’s are learning in their Social Studies class. Originally I thought it would take different tools to engage the two different groups, but I found that in reality many of the tools would work well for either audience. Similarly I found that tools that worked in other subject areas would also work in mine. When I started looking for Social Studies technology I thought it would take on new and interesting things, but what I found was that there is no need to reinvent the wheel when there are so many great tools out there that will work for multiple different areas.
If I had more time to continue working on this 20% project I believe I would start looking at how well different tools work in different settings. Looking for real world experiences and comparing apples to apples with different tools I think it is necessary to narrow down all of the tools I found into a select few that really do the job well. I think it is important to not take on too many new tools at once because at some point it will bog you down and it may all crash. I think a lot of the tools I found have a lot of potential, but I would love to spend more time with each one comparing them and seeing which ones work for multiple roles and which ones best serve the needs of a Social Studies teacher.
My experience with this 20% Project has been a good one. I learned new things and found several new tools and technologies that I hope to one day incorporate into a classroom setting. It has been nice that this project was spread out over the length of the course allowing it to continually grow and develop. In total I spent a good deal of time researching my topic and was able to produce concise blogs about what I was finding. Feeling as if the blogs were just an outlet to organize our thoughts the writing really did not take time away from the research itself and I think that was a huge success for me personally.
I think that projects like this are a great idea that more teachers should be using. The fact that each student got to dive into a topic that they found interesting is huge! There are so many benefits to allowing students to chose what they are studying. Truly the only complaint I have with this project is the fact that it didn’t last longer. I feel like every week I was making more and more progress and I think it would be interesting to see where it would have gone with say a ten week course. I will say that the idea of a 20% Project is something that I will strongly consider using in my classroom one day!