Genius Hour: How’s it going?

April 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey

I’m not really a reluctant writer, but I am often reluctant to publish my views. I started this blog years ago as part of a blog challenge created by Kim Cofino to connect educators and build conversations by sharing our ideas, experiences and views together. I encourage my writers to take risks, write, share, revise and publish their work. However, knowing that a piece of writing is never really ‘done’ combined with that inner voice always judging the content, I’m reluctant to publish my reflections. Realistically, there are massive numbers of blogs out there and I rarely publish posts, so why worry that anyone will read what I write anyway? With that in mind, I’m going to write a series of posts reflecting on this year of learning around implementing “Genius Hour” in my third grade classroom. Because I ask my young creative geniuses each week to reflect at the start and end of each Genius Hour, I will post reflections here as well.

I last wrote about our Genius Hour launch in September. This hour each Friday has helped me learn and grow along with my students. One benefit of this shared creative time is that it has allowed me to get to know my learners in ways I would have otherwise missed or taken longer to learn about them. In general, the majority are very social. They learn easier while talking through ideas and understanding. They build off of each other’s ideas by sharing what is working and offering suggestions. Even the independent individuals engage in a form of ‘parallel play’ while working on individual projects by consulting with others. I learned quickly who is comfortable with choice, and those who struggle without a specific assignment. Two students who weren’t easily successful as conventional students found coding with Scratch natural and they quickly became the coding experts. They shine and are frequently consulted by others, plus I’ve seen that success build their confidence in all areas of the school day.

My friend and colleague, Kate, recently shared some final videos from her grade 7 students who had just finished their inquiry-based Passion Projects. In the videos they shared the inquiry task, their process and finally what they learned. One student began by sharing, “Passion is something you do when you’re bored. So I did something that interested me.” I have discovered some personal interests and talents of my learners more deeply than from an interest survey that is completed at the start of the year. For example, Sarah who wants to make a movie in spite of learning how complex a task that is. Rayan who loves to research, learn and teach about science topics. My group of tactile artists collaborating to create a “snow village.” Gabby, the gifted writer who loses interest without an audience. Kaden the historian, building a model battlefield as he learns about the Hundred Years’ War. And my group of coders who are telling stories in animations and creating their own games. While building their coding skills as they work on sustained projects each week, they are discovering how to think, plan, the process of trial and error and how to work collaboratively.

As I reread the above, it looks like it could be enough, but I will continue to write and share my ideas and thinking on how to improve this weekly inquiry and discovery time.

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