Do you ever get that feeling of excitement when you start planning a new initiative in your classroom? That feeling of excitement, more excitement than your students have when you introduce your initiative. Well that is how I am feeling at this moment. After our hurricane research day (see prior blog post) I was reflecting on my students engagement and excitement about the topic. I then started to think about ways to incorporate this learning opportunity into the classroom frequently.
I stumbled upon a Kid President video and some information about Genius Hour. Then the fun began.
I started to learn about classrooms and teachers that have a block of time for students to engage in personal research projects. Teachers set aside 1 hour or more during the week for students to work on these projects, individually or in groups. They call this time Genius Hour, Passion Projects or Wonder time.
Here are some videos to introduce you to the concept:
This concept has been around for a while and the students are actively engaged in nonfiction texts. This might be the answer to exposing my students to more nonfiction text. My students have used technology consistently this year and I can notice who they are chaining their mindset on the use of technology. We have been engaged in using the technology to showcase information as well as find new information.
My second graders have so many questions about our classroom topics as well as individual topics that they want to learn more about. I then started to think about what this will look like in my room. I found Genius Hour project examples in all grade levels, how the project is structured differed based on the age of the students.
I work at a Magnet School and our instructional time is shortened by 40 minutes to allow for our Magnet Electives in our schedule. Fortunately on Fridays we get back that 40 minutes of instructional time. I want to use my Daily 5 time (50 minutes) and Elective Down time (40 minutes) to implement Genius Hour. I am going to name this time “Passion Project Time”. We also have our morning work time 3 days a week for about 20 minutes and I am going to have students work their projects during that time (I am always looking for more engaging activities during morning work).
I wondered what this could look like in my classroom and where to start. I stumbled upon Genius Hour/ 20% Time LiveBinder and felt like I won the weekend lottery. This LiveBinder has information that I wanted and needed to know.
Rhoni McFarlane (@rhonimcfarlane) created a Genius Hour Overview and I think structure is what my classroom needs for our Passion Project. I then started to think about where my students are going to keep this new knowledge and how are we going to learn from one another. We are engaged in a monthly book study at school and I am reading So Each May Learn by Harvey Silver and Matthew J. Perini. We are discussing the multiple intelligences each month and I want to incorporate each learning style into the project.
My final excitement about the project is the Kidblog that I created for my students. I was somewhat lost on what to do with the blog and how to make it a worthwhile experience for my students. Since we are going to have different Passion Projects in the classroom I want my students to keep updating the blog with what they have learned about their project. I then will teach the students how to comment on each other’s learning throughout the year. It is not going to be possible to have every child update us every week, but this is an opportunity for the students to have an audience during their learning process.
I am very excited to implement this new initiative and I will keep you posted on the progress.
- Have you implemented a Passion Project?
- Do your students seek out independent research time?
- What do you think about Genius Hour?