Saturday, March 15, 2014

#20Time (AKA Genius Hour), #michED and Teacher Professional Development

I spent this last weekend in Grand Rapids, MI at the #MACUL14 conference (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning).  Aside from being able to finally meet some of my twitter peeps in person (@TechNinjaTodd, @KleinErin, @bloch574 and @gcouros to name a few!) - I attended a few really amazing sessions and had an interview with one of my #michED colleagues, Brad Wilson (@dreambition).  Brad produces the #michED podcast and asked me to interview with him while at the conference.

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Brad had quite a few thought-provoking questions, which are always nice in an interview.  One of the conversations we had was discussing how @Twitter could be utilized for teacher professional development.  It really got me thinking (I will link to that podcast when it is published) and I went back to one of the sessions I attended at #MACUL14 by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher).  Nicholas was presenting on his #20Time project, also known as Genius Hour.  The premise is that you give your students 20% of their time (1 class period a week) to learn about whatever they want.  They blog about what they learned and do a presentation at the end of the year.  Nick's school is hosting a TEDx talk in June where some of the students will present their projects in a TEDtalk.

What if we used this model for teacher professional development?  What if we gave the teachers one staff meeting a month to learn about WHATEVER they wanted.  Write up their findings, turn it in (on Edmodo, a blog, whatever) and make our PD differentiated.  Would this help the school?

Has anyone utilized this model or anything similar to it in their building?  How did it work out?  What do we do about state regulations regarding hours of PD?  I would love to hear your comments.