I'm now on my second term of the 16% time experiment, and I've made a few minor changes. There were two big problems with my first attempt; we didn't have time (only 3 or 4 hours per term) to really get in to some of the more impressive sounding projects I (or they) suggested and many pupils had no idea how to start answering some of the questions posed. This is a top-set group and yet I repeatedly had to suggest googling a maths word they didn't yet know!
I still think that these big projects are within their grasp, but I think we started too big and students who have not done anything like this before just got lost.
Scaling it back
- Project suggestions are now reasonably 'completable' in 1-2 hours.
- They come with minor prompts and questions, to scaffold the directions they could take.
- There is a difficulty rating on each project.
- If they want to do a different project, I have a form for them to work through that gets them to write their own criteria for success and scaffold the project themselves.
We've had one lesson in this style and it was a lot more purposeful an environment and more accessible to the lower end of the class. I'm not sure if this will be quite as inspiring as before though. I'll let you know how it goes.
Here are my new suggested projects so far:
Revision Complex Numbers Arithmetic Proofs Euclid Different bases Estimation and Large Numbers Magic