For the past several years, I've been doing my best to have "genius hour" be a part of my class schedule. And honestly I always dreaded that time of the week. The first year I did it, I ended up with class posters about bunnies and Canada and tanks, but for me, it always kind of felt like I was allowing my kids to just waste their time by googling things for weeks and then sharing their learning by making a poster or a digital presentation. Sure my students had fun, but honestly, it did not really feel like kids were learning and I don't think the outcomes was ever anything other than superficial interest.
After taking a couple of years off, because honestly, I just kind of felt like I could not fit it into my schedule, I have decided to give it another go. But this time, I decided that I wanted the outcome to be greater, and that I wanted my students to get more out of genius hour than "googling" skills. I want them to take action and be proud of the new knowledge or skills they will hopefully acquire!
My general plan went something like this:
The results were almost too good! Here are a few of their genius hour topics:
Next week, I'm hoping to explore ways to share our learning and to take action. I'm really hoping to move beyond the poster making/PPT presentation, and to have kids reaching out to experts, taking advantage of our school MakerSpace and also really thinking of purposeful and meaningful ways to share not only their learning, but also their process (including their struggles and their successes).