Thursday, April 16, 2015

Genius Hour

I am very excited to have begun Genius Hour in my grade 3 class this past Tuesday! I don't think I've been so excited to try something in my class since I introduced Daily Five into my curriculum a few years ago! I can't remember exactly where I heard about Genius Hour, but somehow it lead me to A. J Juliani's online course about it. Then I searched it out on Twitter, in Facebook groups, Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers and whatever else I could find! Many helpful educators lead me to the Genius Hour LiveBinder and other amazing resources.
 Everything about Genius Hour just makes sense to me! Give my students time to work on something that they feel passionate about and watch their intrinsic motivation  drive their work. So I dove right in. I prepared my bulletin board (Thanks to Jen Runde for her design and sharing some of her ideas!)

I made sure to hype to my students all week that something special was coming! When the Hour finally came, they were very excited. I asked them if they knew what a genius was. I got answers like, "a very smart person," "someone who invented things..." I explained to them that the original definition of a genius was someone who creates or produces something so that means that they could all be genius'! I explained how Google uses 20% time for their employees and, like Google, we were going to have Genius hour!

Then I asked them all to close their eyes and think about something that they loved, that was important to them. They wrote in on post it notes and put it up on our Genius Hour board. 

After explaining a little about what we would be doing during Genius Hour every week, I showed them this video to give them a better understanding. 

After that, the students started working on a document that I gave them to brainstorm. There were 3 questions... 
What are some of the things that you are passionate about? That you love?

 How do you like to spend your time when you're not in school?

 If you could read/learn about anything in the world, what would it be?

At the end of the class, I read them a wonderful story:

For homework for the next Genius Hour, they had to go home, discuss with their parents and start thinking about ideas that they might like to learn about. 
Today, after having 2 days to start thinking and discussing, I gave them another post it and had them post new ideas that they might have had since their original post.

Today I also had individual "meetings" with half of my students to see what they were thinking about and help them come up with Inquiry questions (that's definitely the hard part!) It went amazingly well and we came up with some great ideas that my kids were really excited about. I read them another great story as well!

Tomorrow I will meet with the other half. I want to make sure every student is well prepared to begin our next Genius Hour on Tuesday. I feel like if I spend the extra time this week, it will help start the projects on the right foot. 

Every week they will have to fill out a reflection sheet about what they did in class that day, what did they learn, what did they have a hard time with and what do they have to do to prepare for the next Genius Hour. 

I forgot to mention that each child got a new purple folder and purple notebook to keep their things for Genius Hour because purple is the color of Genius! (Well,,,, that's what I told my kids!)

Looking forward (and a bit nervous!) for next week's Genius Hour!

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