20% Time: Final Reflections

If you haven’t read my first few posts on setting up 20% time in class or adjusting/managing weekly reflections, take a minute to catch yourself up!

The day has come for my students to hand in their first round of 20% projects. We have been working on them since September, and I was looking forward to being impressed.  The last two days of 20% time were spent working on both their Final Reflection and Bloom’s Rubric, which I will explain throughout this blog post.  

Final components of the student projects:**All of these components were linked to this template which was shared via Google Classroom.

  1. Project URLs or hard copy of projects
  2. Works Cited
  3. Bloom’s Reflection (explained below)
  4. Final Reflection (explained below)
  5. Updated Rubric (built as Step 2)
  6. Elevator Pitch Presentation (explained below)
  7. Peer Evaluation

Final Reflection Process:

I would not settle for students handing in a project with their rubric and calling it a day.  I want students to reflect on their progress, process for building their projects, and with working with their peers.

Bloom’s Reflection:

It is true, not all students are equally motivated. Some will design projects that will blow your mind (that they can accomplish in three months), and others will design projects that you could accomplish yourself in three minutes.  How do you justify the same grade for each?  Two words: Bloom’s Reflection.

We have all heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Click here to see the Bloom’s Verb List that I provide to my students.

Student’s Task:

Students must self-reflect on both the process of researching and designing their product, and also the product itself.  In this reflection, they need to align their process and product with the verbs from the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  For example, did they argue anything in their product? Did they design or build anything?  This section needed to be detailed and honest.  For example, if they don’t support the verb with enough detailed evidence, they won’t get credit.  In addition, all verbs, like all projects, are not equal in value. Lower level verbs, such as ones in the “Know” and “Comprehend” categories, are worth 1 point each, while “Evaluate” verbs are worth 4.

Here are some samples from student’s reflections. You can also see a sample of how I filled out my grading rubric for the Bloom’s Reflection.

Final Reflection:

In the final reflection, students are to answer the following questions.

  1. Individually (this is not written by the group)
  2. In complete sentences and with detail and honesty.

Here is what is found on their file:

This section must be detailed, written in complete sentences, and honest. This will be graded for grammar. All of your answers must be transferred to your blog post.

    • Rate yourself on setting appropriate goals (1-5).Explain your rating:
    • Rate yourself on your progress of this project. Were you happy with your pace? Were you happy with your product?
    • What is one thing that you are the most proud of regarding this project Why?
    • What is one skill that you recognize as a weakness, and something that you need to work on.Why?
  • If this project was used to justify your job to your employer, do you think it serves as adequate evidence to keep your job? In other words, would your work ethic and project help you keep your job, or will you have to start submitting resumes? Justify your answer.
  • If you were to continue this project, what would be your next step?
  • If you have group members ONLY: Reflect on working on a long-term project with a group vs working independently. Do you find it effective? Non-effective? Why?

Number five is my favorite question. Do you think you worked hard enough to keep your job?  They may find themselves in a future job where they need to provide evidence of their work and progress. Even in education, teachers must provide evidence, based on 20 components of the Danielson’s framework, to administrators at the end of each year as part of our APPR ratings.  Detail and honesty are key in this section.

For example, if you did a sub-par job and answered number five as if you were the best around, and deserve a raise, well- you will lose points. However, if you did a sub-par job and owned it in the reflection, then you won’t lose points.

I also find it important for students to identify a strength and a weakness of themselves.

Below are my favorite reflections from this year’s students:

  • “I need to learn to be productive from the beginning rather than just when the deadline is coming up.”  
  • “It´s easy to procrastinate but getting work done early will result in a less stress.”
  • “To be honest I am not really proud of the project. I like it but it isn’t something I take pride in. When me and my partner wanted to work together, the only project we could think of was writing a manual. The manual wasn’t that hard to write and it was just like a little reasearch paper. So I am not proud of doing something easy.”
  • “My weakness is organization and I recognize it mostly because it is my partner’s strength! She was really good at structuring the layout of the magazine and fixing things that I did that didn’t look great. I needed to make it more clear and concise rather than crowded.”
  • “I am proud of all of the time I spent researching sources for this project.  Not only did I learn a lot of cool and new information, it was great practice and training for the future.  After teaching myself about a topic I knew nothing about, I have the confidence to go to college next year and know that I will be able to do well on research papers and new curriculum.”
  • “One of my weaknesses is working in a group with my friends.”
  • “I recognize that I am not as “tech savvy” as I should be for my generation. I would have liked to been able to make the posts more advanced in a technological sense. The blog was very basic which can be good, but if I could have incorporated an interactive piece to the blog, that would have made it better. I need to work on this skill because the future is going to be all about technology. My physics teacher last year told me that there are 7 jobs available for every computer science major right out of school. If I want to get employed during this very competitive time and era, then I must learn how to be more fluent in technology and computers.”
  • “I think that I need to work on having more confidence in my contributions. I found myself doubting that my work was at the level it needed to be. I should work on being proud of what I produce and to realize my value in a partnership.”

Elevator Pitch

The last thing I asked students to do was to present their projects to the class. They had to talk about the process involved, and showcase a preview of their product. Students had three minutes to present, and they were able to use the media of their choice for their elevator pitch. They WERE NOT allowed to come to the front of the room empty handed and talk.

Here is the sign up sheet to see how I organized their pitches.

Finally, the list of my favorite projects (or parts of projects) from this year:


  • One group wrote a paper about Marine Engineering. Their global component is a Google Form assessing the overall public knowledge of Marine Engineering. Here is the map they created of their data.
  • A student developed an experiment which tested the intelligence of two crabs and their ability to learn how to travel to food faster. Here is the video summary of her experiment. She also wrote a report and created a summary Google Presentation of her findings.
  • Two students developed this blog on shark migration. NOTE: They are using the same platform as  I am for my blog (EDUBlog), and yet they were able to navigate and figure out the blog faster than I was!
  • One student wrote four Buzzfeeds. Two of the Buzzfeeds were polls, and the other two were the outcomes of the polls. This project was out of the box and truly inspired the other students (and me) when she presented to the class. In fact, I am currently working with my students on a Buzzfeed!  Link 1    Link 2     Link 3   Link 4
  • Two students wrote a Sustainable Seafood Cookbook, taking recipies and replacing the fish with one that is similar in flavor, but sustainable.
  • One student wrote a children’s book, and also made this trailer to promote her book debut. Note: She used pixton.com for all of her images- I am obsessed!
  • I have one student who is extremely artistic, too the point that your jaw drops with every new drawing or project. She always blows me (and the class) away. She really wanted to learn about working with paper mache, and designed a project to build a shark that outlines the internal anatomy. She wants to go into the nursing field, and thought it would be beneficial to concentrate on anatomy. This video is a preview of her project, and shows how she created the small fish (that she used as a prop) to place into the shark’s mouth. This project also included a detailed Slides Presentation that outlines the functions of the anatomy of the shark. Her work was recognized by the Wall Street Journal for doing all of her video work off of her phone.
  • Traveling Tank. Two students worked together to design a curriculum for a fish tank that will actually travel between the elementary schools in our district. They students created  a Teacher’s Guide to help set up the tank, as well as a multi-disciplinary curriculum.
  • Book of Poetry. One student published a hard copy book, Ripples in the Wave, which contains 30 pages of poetry influenced by the ocean.
  • Trashfish. Three students designed a robot fish prototype through TinkerCad that would filter plastic out of the water. Here is their explanation video. The students then printed it out on our 3D printer.
  • Ocean Law for Dummies. One student, who wants to go into law, researched the Ocean’s laws that were implemented in both the Bush and Obama Administration.

My Final Reflection on the Process

20% time in my class is constantly evolving. This year forced me to be creative in order to maximize my time with checking student progress this year, given that I have 75 students doing projects.

My suggestions/changes for the next round:

  1. Elevator pitch as part of the proposal.  Students will present their ideas to the class, so that the class can give feedback and potential troubleshooting.
  2. A visual proposal on one slide of a Google Presentation. I want them to generate one slide on a Google Presentation, and the only words can be the title of the proposed project. I want students to add images/visuals for each component of their project. This will ensure that when they present to the class, they will have a very clear idea of what they want to do, vs just reading off of a slide.
  3. No more weekly reflections. Instead, students/groups will be given a specific row on a Google Spreadsheet, where they will write their goals for the next three weeks. I will print the sheet to utilize in my “micro meetings,” so that they are able to show me progress during 20% days. This single adjustment actually saved me, and the students, hours of wasted work time. #bigtimesaver
  4. New Bloom’s File. This chart will be provided to students on the first day of the project to help them design their projects.
  5. STEAM Rubric, or a “Ice cream sundae” Students have the option to add English, History, etc. À la carte.  A Works Cited Component, a Global Component, a Technology Component, a Quality Component, and a Science Component, would all be requirements.      

Come see my presentation at the NYC Metro Summit on March 19th, 2016!

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