A Year of Genius Hours: Launch

September 20, 2014 at 8:35 am | Posted in Genius Hour, Learning is Messy, Planning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Wonder WallWe started with a Wonder Wall. I learned a lot about my students from this alone. For example, what excites them and the individual interests they have. Also, that they are hungry for a voice and choice. After posting one ‘wonder’ several learners asked, Can I write more than one? After learning ‘more than one’ was permitted, I had to end the questioning at a point due to space on the board and our schedule.

Yesterday everyone made a word web in Popplet on his or her iPad. The popplet web should show things they are interested in or want to learn. I introduced the task by creating one of my own showing interests based on things I did in my free time when I was a third grader. See a student example below.

Aiden's Web

Our next step was to Diamond Rank all interests and ideas that were possible on our school campus. I wanted to try the Diamond Rank because it allows the user to bunch ideas rather than create a rank order, which can slow one down when having to make distinct decisions so early in the process. Ideas from the interest web were selected and ranked.


The learners then cut and glued their interest web and diamond rank into their Genius Journals. I chose to use paper journals over an iPad journal for this first project as the iPads are new to many of the students. The semester 2 project documents and images will likely be kept in a digital journal, perhaps in Penultimate or in a shared Google folder.

During our next Genius Hour we’ll take this planning into Tuning In, from Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle. I’ve used Kath’s cycle in the past for complete units of inquiry. Here I am using it as a planning guide for our overall Genius Hour process:

  • Tuning In- What do I already know about this topic, skill or idea?
  • Finding Out- What do I need to find out to begin?
  • Sorting Out- What do I know so far that will help me with my Genius Hour project? What can I use from Tuning in and Finding out?
  • Taking Action- What is my beginning plan? (This is only a starting place because as I learn and reflect I will adjust my plans and my thinking.)
  • Making Conclusions: What did you learn? Tell what you learned about your project, your learning process, your strengths, about the world.

I found a video that reveals one way to implement Genius Hour, and it closely matches the process I outlined above. I plan to share this with my class at our next session to provide an introduction to the process that we are embarking on. Another resource that I’ve found very useful is from a class that I found on the Global Genius Hour Project wiki.


Innovation and Reflection

February 17, 2009 at 7:32 am | Posted in Collaboration, Planning, Project-based Learning, Shift | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

Rainforest projectsRecently our fourth grade science teacher wrapped up her Rainforest unit by giving a TurningPoint “clicker” survey to students allowing them to reflect on the content and project-based learning approach for the unit. (BTW, if you have experiences with TurningPoint where it is the BEST tool to use, please let me know?) Over the course of 7 weeks, groups of students moved through 5 centers/projects, spending a week (2.25 hours each week) on each project. Each center/project was content-based with the tasks involving drama, technology presentations (ppt), writing, drawing and 3 dimensional art.

During the survey, students showed that they most enjoyed the writing and tech presentation activities- the two centers using laptops. They also responded that they would have liked more time in each center and they preferred group-project learning to more traditional whole-class learning culminating with a test. Kim felt that fewer projects with more time per project would be more beneficial- the unit was very wide and not deep enough. On the whole, the experience was positive enough that we are now planning a similar approach to the next unit with adjustments based on the feedback from students and our own reflections.

What made it a success? First, Kim’s willingness to collaborate and innovate her facilitation of student learning for a standard content unit. Also, her foundation of guiding research questions, project rubrics plus project descriptions and questions. The research guide page in our school Moodle site provided a foundation for students at the start and for ongoing reference. Classroom support from parents and myself helped Kim facilitate group focus, reflection and troubleshooting. Finally, the opportunity for reflection by students and teacher and application of these observations on future planning is what ensures future success.

As wonderful as the experience was, I am always thinking, “How can it be better?”  I would add collaboration with others outside our campus. For example, email questions to expert scientists and environmentalists or create group projects with classes in other countries (similar to a Flat Classroom Project.) I also feel I need to learn more about project-based learning to more effectively implement and utilize the projects to optimize student learning, beginning with improving and creating more engaging unit and project questions.

Learning to tag

May 1, 2008 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Blogging, Learning is Messy | 6 Comments
Tags: ,

Being a busy person like everyone else, I tend to learn new skills on a “need to apply” basis. To participate in the 31 day challenge, I’ve created a Technorati account and am now writing a post to see if I can tag this post. Day one, one new skill! Thank you Silvia for your guidance!

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.