Saturday, July 9, 2016

Genius Hour

So I was just perusing Twitter, doing the usual email myself 47 links of awesome ideas when I came across "Genius Hour." It changed my Fridays! Genius Hour allows students to explore their passions. THEIR passions! Google started this awesomeness calling it 20% time. They would allow their employees to work on their own side projects for 20% of the time. We may or may not GMAIL with one of those 20% time projects! I was so excited that I went down the rabbit hole of {related pins} on Pinterest till the wee hours! I was so excited. I knew I HAD to do this in my classroom. Go here to learn more about it. Go here to a live binder of so many resources!

The first thing I did was have the kids brainstorm their passions. This was really difficult for some of them. Many asked me to just give them something to do. Bringing out their creative, personal side is the biggest reason I love Genius Hour! 

Here are some of the questions I asked:

After we brainstormed I gave them this Project Proposal from Creative Classroom Tools.

Genius Hour happened on Fridays after our quiz. During this time, students researched and completed an inquiry project based on their passions. It could be anything they wanted but had to include the following:

1. The project had to be inquiry based. They had to have questions. If it was google-able, they had to think deeper.

2. Projects had to be research based. Not just internet but at home and in the community. I even paired up a couple of our teachers as a go-to to ask questions.

3. They had to create something and share it with the world!

Now to the good stuff! Their projects! Keep in mind that I did not take any grades for this. They were so excited on Fridays! It was amazing to watch their curiosity and passion take shape as they worked. They were engaged like I had never seen before. Some worked alone and others grouped up in twos or threes. We had a lot of conversations each Friday about their progress and plans. I think these little conferences really helped in keeping them on track. 

This group was passionate about "wacky trivia" and made a Kahoot! that the whole class played! It was super fun!

Kids built models and learned about cooking. One student wrote a NOVEL! Another put together a flyer and letter to our Principal asking to have a basketball camp. In one cooking video, you can hear the grandparents in the background trying to help and it is precious. One student started a blog and another made a YouTube channel. A super shy student who had barely said two words to me all year got up in front of the class and danced. DANCED! So unexpected! I talked him into being in the talent show. Talk about sharing with the world. How brave!

These guys made a cookbook of cupcakes and brought us cake when they presented! We had several who learned how to bake.

We had a lot of art. Kids learned how to use different tools and mediums. It was inspiring. 

And then this happened and I knew Genius Hour had changed my classroom!

One student couldn't decide what he wanted to do. We talked about just being interested in something and being passionate about something. He and his family went to their hunting camp a lot. That is what he was passionate about. He told me how he wanted to make a floating fishing house for their lake. He was asking how he would present it! Ha! He was telling me all his ideas about how to make it float and what he would put on it. He missed the part about let's make a model of it to present...and I got an email from mom asking if there were more instructions because her child wanted to spend his savings on supplies. Whoa! So I assured her she did not have to spend any money and explained more about what we were doing. Her next email made my heart full...
"I just wanted to tell you thank you for the project.  He really got into it! He finished it last week, that's a first! I left to go to an appointment last Wednesday and came back to an awesome creation! He sat there with Garrett listening to music for almost 4 hours. I feel bad for accusing him of having someone else do it! I told him he must of had my Dad or mom come over while I was gone. Here are the before and after pics of when I left and when I got back. Since this is done he has now challenged his Dad to a deer stand creation."  
How awesome is Genius Hour?! By letting them explore their own passions, I saw them become innovators, problem solvers, and be more creative. They were so confident and excited to share what they had created. Those skills spilled over into our math learning practices perfectly. It looked chaotic and unorganized but hey, that is how we make young people that will change the world!

I will leave you with a group that was passionate about DIY videos so they made a couple of their own complete with bloopers!

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