Genius Hour and other models of student inquiry are necessary if we are going to spark the thinkers of the next generation to great heights of innovation, self actualization, and self-regulation of their learning. The next step we as educators, parents, and schools must take (and more and more are taking now) is to celebrate this genius any chance we get on a grander scale than just the classroom or school level. The more our students realize they can make and control their positive digital footprint in this world the less likely their genius ideas will escape them.
My fear is students will shrug off potentially brilliant, creative and genius ideas as something that someone else “probably” thought of or something not worth mentioning or exploring because it doesn’t fit into model of learning laid by their teacher, parents, or school.
If platforms for celebration on a world wide scale like blogging, twitter, Facebook, quadblogging, ect. cease to exist in the world of a student in our classrooms then what are the different stakeholder groups in education doing to help students find a positive way to educate and image themselves in the digital reality they live in? What will they really know about their creative idea or innovation if the same people they know and trust are the only ones giving them feedback or are asking them questions about it? How powerful will it be for them to realize a simple idea or dream of theirs can impact others in another school, town, city, province, territory, state, country, or continent? How engaged as a learner do you think they will be after that?
When I think of these questions I always come back to a simple but meaningful quote I heard in a simple but meaningful video by Derek Sivers (@sivers). It was shared with me on Twitter and is a video I use now to introduce Genius Hour and the importance of sharing their learning discoveries. “It may be obvious to you but amazing to others.”
Why would we not want to take the leap to learn more about how we can positively use social media in our teaching? Get your feet wet by jumping in, questioning, and learning these platforms alongside your students or if you are a parent… your kids. By learning how to use a broad and powerful tool to share learning you are empowering students to share and be amazing in someone else’s life.
Check out this article on Blogger Martha Payne. She is a 9 year-old student who grew dissatisfied with lunches she was receiving at school and decided to document it through her blog neverseconds. Through the attention her blog gained she was able to donate over £115,000 for Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity that feeds impoverished children around the world. Imagine if she was not empowered to share what she was learning about the lunches being fed to her at school? I first learned of this story through twitter which helped her simple genius idea of sharing her lunches with the world into a change for the lunches she was served and a way to help others around the world. How powerful is that?!?
Here are some genius reflections done by my 11 and 12 year-old students (@mcdclassroom) on our Genius Hour projects over the last 4 weeks. As impressed as I am about their projects and their willingness to blog and share their learning; I am more impressed by their conversations and willingness to take a chance, give feedback, ask a question, or lend support to someone else’s learning. If you get a quick moment could you and/or possibly your class read, respond & share their blog entries. It would make my students day to know others outside our class are reading & getting something out of their posts. It helps them realize the positive way they can have an impact on their learning through reflecting and using social media in a responsible way in attempt to be “amazing” in lives of others.
Thank you so much to the many who share their obvious with me!
I just had to comment on this post because I was actually just speaking to my teaching partner about Genius Hour today. I’ve seen your tweets about Genius Hour for a while now, and Karen Lirenman has shared a ton of information with me as well. I struggled though to figure out how I would make this work in the classroom. How would I have the time? I loved the concept of students exploring their passions, but I wanted to make it about curriculum as well. It was actually after watching one of the Genius Hour videos last night that I realized just how many expectations are met through this inquiry-based reading, writing, and media literacy task. My teaching partner and I are going to change our literacy centre approach over the next month to make it all about Genius Hour. We know that our students will LOVE this, and we’re so excited to see the students so engaged in learning. Thank you for inspiring us!
What additional tips can you share as we start our very first Genius Hour? Thanks Hugh!
I so sorry I didn’t see this here until I went to write my next post. I really should check this more often. Time is something that I thought about when I first started with Genius Hour. However, I realized that Genius Hour was too good of a learning opportunity for my students that I made the time.
Instead of trying to cram it in on top of everything else I decided that I can do it instead of some of the things I was doing. For example I use to do this within Health and Career. I create an assignment related to careers, they research, they present, they hand it in, and then we were done with this learning and onto something else. There was little questioning because I was the one creating the questions. Learning outcomes that I am able to reach with Genius Hour include oral language, research skills, questioning skills, making connections to what they are reading, presentation skills, and health & career outcomes relating to career and time management.
My biggest tip is for you to be okay with a lot of different learning projects going on at one time. You have to be okay with the mess to start because it is messy with everyone seemingly going in many different directions. Most students will be on the ball right away but there are always a few who are not ready and not sure where to begin. This is where you can step in and with some helpful questions help guide them into formulating an inquiry question they want to explore in Genius Hour. Soon they will realize they are missing out on free learning time. Another thing is our students willingness and pride they had when presenting their learning. They were keen to do it. It is our students favourite time of the week. They are about to revolt on weeks when we miss it.
Show a couple inspirational videos and engage your students in conversation about what it means to be creative to be a questioner, and be a learner. Enjoy!
Hugh, thank you so much for the additional information! It’s great to hear how you fit this in, as well as how you guided those students that struggled. I know that many of my students would have ideas right away, but I know that others would struggle. It’s always good to know what you did in this case.
My biggest concern is with the students that work for 20 minutes and then feel like they’re done. Even with suggestions for what to try next, they’re reluctant. Have you experienced this before? What would you suggest?
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