You are important...you are essential...you have a voice and you matter.
So how are you choosing to matter? What is your genius?
What matters to you?
What are you going to share with others?
How will you make a difference?
These are some of the questions that Genius Hour teachers are asking.
Goals of this project:
• to promote, support and model creative thinking and innovation (generating and implementing new ideas)
• to allow students an opportunity to discover/investigate one of their passions and reflect on/share their learning with others
• provide students an opportunity to develop skills that are valuable in any learning situation (research, experimentation, collaboration, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking)
• to provide an opportunity for students to become effective communicators (share their Genius and Passion Projects with others)
These goals are in line with the overall educational system goals of developing human potential and improving the well being of each individual.
21st Century Learning and goals for a quality education system:
(this was taken from a B.C. SD38 draft document)
To develop students who are:
• thoughtful, able to learn and to think critically, and can communicate information from a broad knowledge base
• creative, flexible, self-motivated and who have a positive self image
• capable of making independent decisions
• skilled and who can contribute to society generally, including the world of work
• productive, who gain satisfaction through achievement and who strive for physical well being
• cooperative, principled and respectful of others regardless of differences
• aware of the rights and prepared to exercise the responsibilities of an individual within the family, the community, Canada and the world.
Day 2 Classroom Genius Hour:
I could feel their excitement and most were engaged in personal discovery.
Review...Questions?...Ready...go! Some students were unprepared; with materials or what they had planned to do. Also some were easily distracted but it looked like it was due to their interest in other projects. The problem is that their distractions prevented them from working on their own projects.
As I circulated, I tried to direct students mainly by asking questions eg. what are you working on right now? What do you think? How is it going? What will you do next? What do you need to continue to work on this? What are you going to do about this problem? There are still some students who are not really aware of what they are actually doing (what their question is) and how to start moving in the right direction. I am trying not to direct them with specific answers...(which is difficult) and instead allow them to work through and solve these type of problems. For example, one student decided not to use the iPad for video recording because he couldn't figure out how to download it...(he did not spend much time or energy trying to figure that out) so he decided to use the laptop instead. I asked him to show me his progress, then suggested he compare the effectiveness of this recording (which is his focus) to using the iPad or other recording tools. I will be interested to see his next steps.
I found it relatively easy to use the 5-minute feedback strategy and got to briefly chat and check on about 4/5 of my students in the hour and a half time period.
I also asked all students to reflect on personal blogs to help them with their next steps. Here are a few samples comments written on our class site:
I am pleased to see some students already taking steps to move their learning forward.
To begin the class split into 4 groups to brainstorm their own Learning Intention for Genius Hour. I thought it would be more meaningful if students determined their own purpose. We compiled each group's ideas and decided on the following:
I can explore and demonstrate passion using my creativity and imagination.
We also brainstormed to create our class blog name to join the Genius Hour Project. The vote was close so we will include both names. We are: The Geniuses of Division 2 aka Purple Narwhals.
Brainstorming in action!
Next each student is creating their own blog page on their personal weebly site. I asked them to discuss their ideas for their project, and include any questions, worries or concerns. They are also to complete the inquiry question and planning form.
(thanks- adapted from Paul Solarz from the Genius hour wiki site).
This creates a spreadsheet to keep track of project ideas and gives me a jumping off point to have dialogue with each student.
It is interesting to read some of their questions.
For example, Big Mac Sauce wants to know what curricular area the learning intention falls under. I am impressed that students are aware of their learning goals and are taking the initiative to understand why they are doing what they are doing. On the other hand, it is my hope that students will want to learn for learning's sake and the passion for the project and not because of a grade on the report card.
More thoughts about Genius Hour and Passion Projects
I enjoyed listening to a webinair with Angela Maiers, Ted Talk speaker and author or Passion-Driven Classroom. She is part of a movement believing that kids can create change and make a difference in the world. They need to believe they matter, that they are important and have a voice, and that the world needs their abilities.
One teacher said her young children came up with the name of the generation Gen-ius! Generation not 'I but us'...so clever:)
My students are welcome to work with partners and I have one group of 3. I have asked my students what their genius is and what matters to them? How they will share with their learning community? What they need to share with the world and how they will make a difference will come as we work through this project.
credit to: http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/archives/creativity/
What do Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Steve Jobs all have in common?
Well, these are some of the people that Division 2 students thought were geniuses. What characteristics do my students think they have in common?
creativity imagination passion intelligence
never give up hard working determination
This is how I began our lesson yesterday: "Imagine being able to choose your own subject to study, your own project ...pick whatever it is that you want to learn and work on this during class time." Immediately I felt the bubbling of excitement from my students and I knew I had made the right choice in trying Genius Hour.
I asked my students to take the evening to think about their passions, interests and skills; re-watch their Passion Animotos that were done earlier in the year , and to think about their personal 'sentences'. I felt fairly confident that they were going to make decisions on their topics that night.
Today I asked them to turn and talk about what they thought 'being a genius' means. Then they assessed their own traits using the self-assessment rubric, originally created by genius teacher, Denise Krebs. I wanted to use this as a pre and post assessment tool.
I showed the kids two video clips (see below) I found from Hugh MacDonald's class site. Then I asked them how many had changed their minds about what project they were thinking about doing. About half the class put up their hands. Their weekend homework was to share their ideas and ask questions on our class site, ready to commit to one idea for next week. Lily asked if it had to be one of the school subjects and I replied, "No it doesn't need to have anything to do with school. Hmm, now I wonder if that was going too far. Then another responded, " I don't suppose I can bring my horse to school..."
This is the conversation I see so far:
Ms W's First Reflections:
How I feel?
Yes, I finally decided to take the plunge and dive into the world of Genius Hour! It is a tad daunting, because it is something I haven't tried...not that I fear trying new things (my colleagues know that I am always doing this)...but I know that I am heading to relatively unknown murky waters. I will have less control of the outcome and I am anxious about the self-direction and motivation of some of my students. That said, I just feel that this is the right thing to do for my students. They deserve this chance to play, to dream, to create and well just to put it simply...to 'muck about'.
I have learned in my 25 years of teaching that it is way more rewarding as a teacher and for my students to ride the waves of paradigm shifts and new initiatives when they are changes for the better. I know I have much more studying to do on the topic but I am impressed by what I have read and watched to date, for example, Angela Maiers and Sir Ken Robinson. My students are familiar with choice in the representation of their learning, with project and inquiry-based learning and are dipping their toes into the sea of AFL, taking more responsibility for the awareness and direction of their own learning.
I love trying new things but usually feel a greater sense of adequacy...I do have the philosophical connection though. At the beginning of the year we all produced passion animoto projects with our 'sentence' at the end. Believe me, there were no moans about this homework! Here are these passion projects. What a great way to get to know my students. It also gave me a glimpse of the power of students choosing their passions and identifying their skills. I will continue to document my reflections through this blog while traveling on this journey.
My genius support network helped me get started. I love, love, love working and learning from the Hillcrest grade 6/7 genius leaders: Mrs M, Mr. H, Mrs. V, and Ms F, who are always willing to listen, share and collaborate. I have also received guidance, knowledge and support from 'genius' administrators such as Lynn Robertson, David White and Yrsa Jensen. I have always valued adapting ideas from my primary teaching colleagues and have learned a great deal from teachers like Gail, Carla, Laura and Laurel. The online support from teacher leader geniuses has been invaluable, especially in our district, Gallit Zvi and Hugh MacDonald, and from the past, those leaders who I have worked with and learned from, such as Joanie D, Kathy P, Leah C, Joanne H and Robin F, to name a few. There are also those in cyberspace, whom I feel I know personally because of their Twitter and blog posts over the past year. As well, there are endless edublogs, Tedtalks and articles to read and listen to. From the abundant professional opportunities, (for my own sanity), I had to pick and choose the few to attend...beginning at the end of last August when colleagues met in our library over juice and shared their thoughts about Dan Pink's book, Drive, and among other topics, discussed passion-based learning, then attending an after school talk by Shelley Wright on her inquiry-based projects, attending an after school district dinner meeting with speaker George Couros and most recently attending Gallit and Hugh's workshop on Genius Hour on our STA Convention day.
Continue to read the discussion of ideas and prepare how students choose their genius projects. Kids come up with the greatest ideas. Here is the latest from Lily Seattle, "For my genius hour I'm going to take requests from my fellow classmates and ask for a very detailed description of what they want and I have to make it just like they described. The reason I chose this is that if I get a job making art for other people that pay me, I can get some experience from this. I will have 3 open "commission" slots and once I finish one I will take a request from the next person that asks (or if I make a list)"
It looks like Denise Krebs' resource will be helpful.
I feel like I am starting a new and exciting adventure...now how many people can say that about their jobs after 25 years!