Monday, September 29, 2014

What Genius Hour kids accomplished in 30 minutes

Today was meeting day.  All of us met in the library and checked in looking for suggestions and comments. Mr. Collins and myself received some good feedback and set up a Twitter account for students to use, through us, at school to communicate with professionals. We are also working on a request, by students, to set something up to communicate with other students doing Genius Hour. We are looking at monthly Todaysmeet group for collaboration and idea sharing. The biggest complaint: lack of time! We'll work on that too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Full STEAM Ahead

The title of this blog is a play on educational terminology to demonstrate the importance of Genius Hour. STEAM is a currently used acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. The students who have chosen to participate in Genius Hour have selected questions that involve one or more of these topics. Some of the questions relate to other important fields such as writing and history. Below is a list of some of the topics our students have decided to research:

How a wind turbine works and its efficiency
Constructing a computer server
Building a trail and bridge
Painting a school mural
Interior decorating
Making a ukele
Creating a video game
Starting a fundraiser for breast cancer
Making a music video
Writing a book
Inventing a ski suit
Learning why and how we cry and many many more topics.

One of the things I was concerned about during our Genius Hour pilot, was the students losing steam or the stamina and excitement to continue. Although we have only been working on this for three weeks, the kids have maintained the level of enthusiasm we saw at our first meeting. They are beginning to learn that asking and answering one question quickly leads to another question. They are willingly organizing and planning the next steps to take to work towards their individual goals. Mr. Collins and myself are attempting to meet individually with each student and are finding that this occurs beyond the designated times. Students are coming to us during other free times and consulting with us. This is what good education is about, intrinsic motivation and the willingness to take a chance to learn something new. We hope we can keep the train moving along on this track, so to speak, and invite you to follow our journey.

Keep reading and researching,
The Noisy Librarian

Monday, September 15, 2014

Genius Hour Surprise

Wow! We started GH last Monday and were in awe of the 38 kids that showed up to participate. Traditionally, GH is held in individual classrooms once a week for an hour. Mr. Collins, our 6-8th grade Social Studies teacher, and myself are piloting it during the students' lunch/recess time twice a week so participation is completely voluntary. We hope to use this blog as a record of our trials, errors, and successes throughout the process. We also hope it will inspire some of our 7/8th grade students to blog their experiences.

Prior to Monday, students were presented with a brief overview of GH and were encouraged to look online for more information. When they showed up Monday, we had printed questions to promote brainstorming and distributed them to students. We asked students to read the questions aloud. It was our intention that these questions would foster curiosity and ignite some enthusiasm. Then we spread out sticky notes and had the kids write subjects on them and stick them to large pieces of paper. There were a variety of ideas: computer programming, dance, video games, environment, scientific questions, fashion, building a guitar, and much much more. Kids were encouraged to do a "total brain dump," on sticky notes of anything and everything that held their interest. After class we spent time trying to organize them into topics and hung them up so we could go back and refer to them if needed.

On Tuesday, we had kids fill out the "green" sheet which laid out their questions, thoughts, needs, and the process they saw their projects taking. There was no requirement on finishing the sheet, and we emphasized that it is a guideline not a commitment set in stone. We voiced that we knew the ideas, process, and questions on these sheets were likely to change and THAT IS ACCEPTABLE! Each child will each have a folder for his/her paperwork which will allow us to track progress and make the project individual to each participant.

We have divided the student folders and will begin to meet with the kids to see what we can do to help. They will have library access as well as computer access during GH. There is a lot of positive energy and excitement among all of us. It will be our goal, as educators, to keep that feeling going.

Check back for reports and examples of our progress.

Keep reading and researching,
The Noisy Librarian

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Genius Hour....the beginning

Tomorrow the 7th and 8th graders will begin to explore Genius Hour during their lunch and recess time. This is a completely voluntary activity that has created a lot of excitement. Those that choose to participate, will be given a letter explaining the process and how you can assist your child with this endeavor. Below is a short video clip that explains the background of Genius Hour and why it is becoming popular in schools.

Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian