Monday, June 10, 2013

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.

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing! I had an opportunity to do something similar when I was a fifth-grader (do a presentation on nuclear power), and it opened the door to several more self-directed extended projects on various topics as I grew up. Life-long learning!

    When a nuclear power operator visited our high-school AP Physics class, I answered all of her trivia questions to the class - things I learned from my fifth grade project...