Genius Hour Breakthrough
We have been struggling since Day 1, with the whole idea of following our passions to help drive learning. It is called “Genius Hour.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMFQUtHsWhc The whole idea of time be given to explore our own areas of interest is an ideology focused on ensuring the success of the participants. I teach 11 and 12 year-olds whose primary interests are connecting with peers online, playing video games, sports and for a few academics. So when the idea of “Genius TIme” was shared with me, I thought “Why not?” and honestly I could not answer the question. So the planning began, and though my direction was unknown, I wanted to believe that they, my students would be excited, enthusiastic and willing to explore their interests as a part of the learning program this coming school year.
I presented the project, the of idea of Genius Time to my students by asking them the question, “What do you love to do?” The reactions were mixed. I kind of expected this, these kids had been trained for years now to follow a specific set of guidelines in order to demonstrate some sort of knowledge about a given topic. But here they were being asked to share those things that the love to do but have always been led to believe were ineffective in supporting their growth and development. I had to convince them that it would be possible to learn from those things we loved and were passionate about. I shared with them my love of technology, though after a week and a half of school I think they already had a sense of my love for technology and how it could be used in my classroom. But what they likely didn’t know was that my drive to integrate technology in my classroom was the push that led me to explore and learn about new technologies and apps that could be used to support my teaching practices and their learning.
I set them off, to think about those things that they would love to explore and create. They would come back to me day after day even more confused than the previous day. It was clear that they were thinking about the focus of the Genius projects but for many connecting their passion to learning was a bridge they were struggling to conceive. Many discussions and conferences would follow. That initial week saw only a few of my students find a passion that they would follow and begin to develop as their Genius project. So many would approach me, saying “I just don’t know”. I asked them to record their interests in their Genius journals, so that some discussion around potential topics could be had. I also asked them to blog about their feelings towards the project as a gateway that would keep them thinking about possible project ideas.
Earlier this week I discussed the idea of keeping it simple to start and then developing the idea into something more that could demonstrate learning. We turned our attention to documenting the process of exploration and learning during Genius Time. This would be important because an aspect of the project would be to share their learning with a global audience and it would be their documentation that would be shared. On thursday, I returned to conferencing with those who were still in the dark, struggling to find a project idea. The conferencing on Thursday was unlike those previously held. Students presented their interests with a curiosity. One student after another slowly came to a realization that a simple idea, a passion, could be turned into a project full of learning. An example of the our Genius Breakthrough, was one student, lets call her S. who presented the idea of making bracelets, selling them and donating the proceeds to charity, a simple project idea but one that now has led to learning about marketing, sales, connecting with a charitable organizations, gathering donations and more. She would realize that there was so much to learn and so much to share with others.
They, almost all are now excited about their prospective project for Genius Time and I cannot wait to see how things will develop in the coming weeks. Up next, co-developing the criteria for assessing NOT the project but the PROCESS.