Student-Created Lesson Plan for 20% Time

I took a risk today. It paid off. I like to try things. Some work. Many don’t. This one did. I teach 8th grade, and at this time of year, we grind to engage and to challenge. Building on the successes of the year, this is the time to really show what they know.

I asked students, in lieu of a pitch proposal, to design a lesson plan for their 20% Time as if the class would do it. I asked for seven components of the lesson plan:

  • Title
  • Learning Targets–A learning target is what a student will learn or be able to do including a rationale of why it is important
    • For resources, refer to common core standards (Google it) or refer to the shared doc–Argument On Demand Assessment for learning target styles.
    • If it is easier, use the phrase: Students will be able to…
  • Materials–Include all materials that the student would need
  • Schedule–Include dates and where the student should be on certain days. Be specific. A calendar would be impressive.
  • Procedure--This is the step-by-step process that the student will need to be successful and achieve the learning targets
  • Product–Explain what the product at the 20 Time Fair will look like
  • Assessment–How will you (as the teacher) know if the student is successful? Do you need a rubric? Do you need the student to produce something?

They had pre-written these ideas in a couple of different forms, and we pulled them together today. It was spectacular.

Watching students try to decide what they were going to learn and how they would assess it was wonderful. Watching them struggle and then succeed (to varying levels) made me feel like a teacher. Not everyone hit the mark, but the thought that went into why they were doing their project and how they would know if they were successful was enlightening. Students know a lot more than we give them credit for. They know what is quality and what isn’t.

Below is an example of one lesson plan. He’s going to code. His rubric is better than I could have done. He’s thoughtful, and will be fully engaged in 20% Time. And that’s the goal.

Ready, Set, Code

April 20, 2017

Ready, Set, Code!

Learning targets:

  1. Students will be able to design a game plan using flow charts and graphic organizers.
  2. Students will be able to transform the plan into a functioning game using the Unity game engine that will be playable at the end of this project

Materials: A computer with the Unity game engine development environment installed, plus paper for planning.


  • April 21: Begin planning
  • April 27: Continue planning/start scenery
  • April 28: Finish scenery
  • May 5th: Start programming
  • May 12th: Continue programming
  • May 19th: Finish programming/do blogs


  • Planning using flow charts and graphic organizers
  • Laying out terrain in Unity
  • Implementing game programming

Assessment based on 3 criteria: Planning, implementation, and creativity.


  • 4 – Extensively used graphic organizers and flow charts to map out the game before even touching a computer
  • 3 – Utilized flow charts and graphic organizers to plan
  • 2 –  When told, used graphic organizers to plan sometimes
  • 1 – Started programming without planning, went back to plan later
  • 0 – No evidence of planning


  • 4 – Game works flawlessly
  • 3 – Game has 1 to 3 bugs present, one of which minorly affects gameplay
  • 2 – Game has a major bug that affects gameoplay
  • 1 – Game has several major bugs, game is unplayable
  • 0 – No functioning game


  • 4 – Game idea is unique, has never been though of before

  • 3 – Game idea is creative

  • 2 – Game idea is a “spin-off” of an existing game

  • 1 – Game is a copy of an existing game

  • 0 – Game is exact replica of existing game

I’m a proud teacher today, not just of the ones who nailed it out of the park, but the ones who struggled and kept going. And you know what…I’m proud of myself for trying new things, giving kids a chance to stretch, and struggle myself.

It was a good day.


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