“Twenty Percent Time” is a concept of which many have not previously heard . This approach allows kids to spend each Friday (twenty percent of the school week) researching a topic of their choice. Studies have shown that if teachers allow students one a day a week to research matter of their own liking, then the students would be more willing to learn the mandated material during the other four days.
Mrs. Pietz, a Yankton High School teacher, decided to take a new approach to her Non-Fiction class this school year. After reading an article over 20% time and doing more research, she took it upon herself to modify this teaching method for her classroom.
Mrs. Pietz implemented this new learning style during the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year. She designated class time on Fridays to allow students to have the opportunity to research a topic or career that interested them. At the end of the semester each student then presented information on their topic for a final grade.
The students showed initial excitement, and, even as the semester came to a close, there was an overwhelming enthusiasm for the project. This 20% time had given the students the opportunity to explore hobbies, careers, and other interests that they would have not had time to research otherwise.
As the semester came to a close, the students prepared a four to seven minute presentation that was presented in the YC Alumni hall. This offered the students a more realistic speaking experience than one would face outside of the classroom. Many friends and family members attended these presentations which offered the students an audience that expanded beyond just their peers. With 20% time, the students were able to explore topics which may benefit them beyond high school.
Rachael Eskins, one of the seniors that enrolled in the Non-fiction class, dedicated her 20% time to photography. Through this opportunity, she said she was able to learn “a lot of new things about the camera and what it entailed to work with the camera.” In preparation for her final presentation, she decided to take a photography class and photograph her cousin’s four-year pictures. Rachael took advantage of this 20% time to learn more about an activity that had always interested her. Other students also benefitted from this time and learned about their interests, including baking, painting, the military, and a variety of professions.
Since Mrs. Pietz experienced success with this approach the first semester, she decided to continue with the 20% time in the classroom the second semester as well. She stated that “after seeing how it went first semester, I made adaptations to make it work better in the classroom”. She found this teaching technique to be a great way to prepare the students more for the “real world” and help them find out what they want their careers and majors to be.