Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Unrealistic Summer Plans

Below is a list of things I want to accomplish this summer...I'm thinking I may have bit off more than I can chew.

1)  Determine which math videos I have still work with the CCSS, then create the videos I need to fill in the gaps.  I'd LOVE it if I could start school and have all the videos made for the first 3-4 units.

2)  Teach my son how to play Rummy.  I love playing cards with the family :)

3)  Create/Find explorations to go with as many CCSS as possible.  I'm going to need some help here, and I plan on relying heavily on my tweeps (@lisahighfill, help a girl out!)

4)  Sit by the pool...and read random Juvenile Fiction books, b/c that's how I roll.

5)  Plan a "Celebration of Learning" that makes cross-curricular learning a priority.  I'm basing this off an idea from Todd Nesloney about a "Math Fair" instead of a "Science Fair".

6)  Read Teach Like a Pirate and Energy Bus.  TLaP has been recommended by lots of people I respect, and EB was recently recommended by a good friend (thanks Julie Hughes)...I need to mix in some educational reading along with my not-so educational reading.

7)  Think about/plan/organize a Flipped Classroom Writing Project.  This idea arose from last night's #flipclass chat.  A lot of people were talking about their students blogging, which isn't uncommon.  What I found most intriguing was that most of the teachers were NOT English teachers.  Science, math, etc. were the norm.  I got to thinking, wouldn't it been cool if we could connect classes of different content areas and different grade levels...Wouldn't that be an authentic audience?  I still have lots of ideas in my head about this one...stay tuned!

8)  Play with my kids.  Even though this is number 8 on my list, it's number 1 in priority...I've gotta play with my kids more, while they still want to play with me!

9)  Figure out exactly how I'm going to weave writing into math on a more consistent grade level partner and I are expanding our math & sci/ss time to include our writing and I want to make sure I use it effectively.  This might tie into #7 on my list.

10)  Pick up my tennis racquet again and actually get out and play (it's been too long).

I'm fairly certain I left something (or somethings) out, and I'll probably end up coming back to this list as the summer gets rolling, but I wanted to write it all down so I don't forget about all the ideas I never have time to do during the school year, but just might have time to do in the know, when teacher's are on "vacation" and don't do any work.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Genius Hour (part 2)

After deciding on topics for Genius Hour, it was time to start getting down to the nitty gritty.  As I mentioned before, I decided to attempt Genius Hour in May...not normally a time you'd want to try something new, but I am so glad I did.  My students spent the first couple weeks researching and planning out what they wanted to do.  They were so engaged!  I think I might have had to redirect 1 or 2 students...that's it!

From there we spent the next few weeks prepping for our presentations.  Most of the students presentations were simply showing off their knowledge.  Here is where I ran into my first couple if issues...

Issue #1 - Be very clear about your expectations with your students.  If they aren't supposed to be walking around the school asking other teachers for supplies (which seems common sense, right), then be sure to tell them.  Learned that the hard way.  Your kids are going to be excited...really excited...but not all the adults in the building want to hear about it, especially if they're interrupting their teaching.

Issue #2 - If your student's want to build something that might be considered a weapon, you should probably get the principal's permission...oops.  I didn't think a pen bow & arrow would be a problem, but I guess I was wrong.

Issue #3 - Genius Hour is messy, so be prepared to need 10 minutes at the end for clean up, otherwise you might get an email from your administrator wondering what you're doing, and why it's such a mess.  Yup, learned that one the hard way too.

I've worked through all these issues, and NONE of them would stop me from doing it again.  My recommendation is to be prepared...really prepared...and prep anyone and everyone who your students might be in contact with about Genius Hour & what it's all about.

And now for the exciting post...the results.  My next post will be all about how the presentations/projects turned out.  You can find it here.

Genius Hour (Part 1)

A few months ago one of my twitter buddies Karl Lindgren-Streicher (@LS_Karl) had an Innovation Day at his school.  The sheer excitement from his tweets was infectious and I knew I wanted to try it out.  If you want to read more about how he ran his Innovation Day, check it out here.  Innovation Day, in a nutshell, is a day where the kids come to school, but don't go to any of their regularly scheduled classes.  Instead they come to school knowing that throughout the course of the day they will be learning, creating and sharing something that THEY want to learn about.  Unfortunately, I didn't catch wind of this until May, and that there was NO WAY I could get something like Innovation Day together before the end of the year.

So I decided to do a little research and I came across Genius Hour.  Genius Hour (at least to me) is like a mini-version of Innovation Day.  The students get a small chunk of time each week to learn about something they want to learn about.  Seeing as I had finished my writing curriculum, I thought that might be a good fit for our writing time for the last month of school...and boy was I right!

I started Genius Hour by showing the YouTube Video "A Pep Talk from Kid President".  After that I put up Angela Maiers quote, "You are a genius, and the world needs your contribution."  We discussed what it meant, and how passion plays a role in their education.  I could see the kids doubting me already...

Then I put up 4 giant pieces of paper with the headings:
- I want to learn about how to...
- I want to learn about why....
- I want to learn to...
- I want to learn to solve...

Then the kids put up sticky notes under each one.  Already I could tell this was going to be quite an experience because they were coming up with some amazing ideas.  I was also a little nervous because I knew I couldn't help them with a lot of their ideas...I certainly couldn't teach someone how to create a mod on the computer.  But that was part of the excitement...they had to figure it out on their own!

The next step was picking one thing they wanted to spend the next 4 weeks learning about.  Below I have some of the topics:

- I want to learn to play the guitar
- I want to learn how to sew a blanket
- I want to learn how to build a dollhouse
- I want to learn how to make a mod on Minecraft
- I want to learn how to bake a chocolate cake
- I want to learn more about the history of the Bengals
- I want to learn how to build a pen bow & arrow
- I want to learn about prehistoric sea creatures
- I want to learn how to make crayon art
- I want to learn how to whittle wood
- I want to learn how to make a volcano
- I want to learn how to air brush
- I want to learn how to make a pineapple upside down cake
- I want to learn how to become a better catcher

There were more, but that is a pretty good list of what my kids came up my next post I'll talk about everything that happened between the introduction and the actual presentations.  You can find my next post here.

Genius Hour (part 3)

I'm simply going to say that our Genius Hour presentations were incredible.  The students were extremely proud of their work.  Below are some shots from our presentations.  In hindsight, I will probably rework our presentation rotations, I felt like they didn't run as smoothly as I had hoped.  But that was my problem, not my students.

Crayon Art

Sea Animals

Making a "Mod" on Minecraft

How to Build a Dollhouse

How to Whittle Wood

Drills to be a Better Catcher (she made a whole video on it)

How to Make a Blanket

How to Make a Pen Arrow 

Origami Master

History of the Cincinnati Bengals

How to Bake a Chocolate Cake

How to Play the Guitar

How to Make a Catapult

Different Forms of Art

How to Make a Volcano

I tried to compile a bunch of the projects.  Here are all the ones I could photograph :)

This was one of the most meaningful things my students accomplished this year.  They worked hard, and were very proud.  This is definitely a keeper!