Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Try It Tuesday: Genius Hour

I'll be the first to say I love new ideas for my classroom!  

I like to switch things up and try new strategies with my students.  We reflect on these strategies, talk about what went well and how to improve for next time.  After some modeling, my students do really well with these reflective conversations. I share with them the purpose for the activity or strategy because I believe in transparent teaching.  The honesty also helps with student buy in.  Most of the time, these activities go pretty well.  However, some of them have flopped and that's okay too.  I engage my students in the conversation about what didn't go well and how to improve for next time.  I think it's important for them to see the process of reflection and realize that trying new things is okay.  New things not going perfectly is okay.  Failing is okay.  Trying new things is good for you!

In the spirit of newness, I thought I'd share one of the new strategies I'm trying next year.  It's called "genius hour".

Basically I set aside one hour a week for student inquiry and research.  It's an opportunity for them to explore their side interests and inquiries.  Of course, this will be explicitly modeled the first few weeks of school.  I'm hoping to have this be the last hour of the day on Fridays, but I want to make sure my GATE & TAGS kids can attend as well.

This "genius hour" will blend researching, writing, reading, science, social studies, and math into student lead inquiry projects.  We'll be doing lots of open ended questions and I'll be modeling creating questions.

I plan to spend the first six weeks setting up inquiry notebooks, going over norms for researching, and doing a guided inquiry activity.  I want students to spend time really thinking about what they're interested in and exploring these topics.

I will have them present their findings to the class using various technology tools (prezi, powtoon, wordles, vokis, glogsters, etc).  I plan to let them work with a partner or triad for their first project, then have them work independently on the second.  I'm planning on two large scale presentations (with grades for listening, speaking) but am open to more depending on how well this goes.

I'm excited to carve out time for them to explore their passions.  I'm excited to see what they want to research!

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