As educators, we want to instill creativity, freedom, deeper thinking and understanding in our students. Genius Hour is an instructional practice that I believe a lot in. Genius Hour allows students to research, plan, and set goals for what they want to learn about. Think about yourself as a learner... do you like to be told what to learn or does your learning really come alive when it is a topic you are self-motivated about? Passion and topics that we care about are what drives us as learners. One of the things I like to do as much as possible, is teach my students for the real world, and in the real world you can learn whatever you want, wherever you want. Genius Hour is where authentic learning and school can connect.
Coming from being a fifth grade teacher to now a first grade teacher, I knew I still wanted to incorporate this into my classroom, but I was trying to find ways to change and tailor it to be at a "first grade level". All of a sudden I stopped thinking about them as "first graders" and I thought about my students; my actual students, the 16 kids that I have been with since September. I thought to myself of all of the amazing things they have accomplished so far this year; they have 1:1 Chromebooks, and use #GAFE regularly to enhance their learning. They are bloggers with their own individual blogs, and they work really hard. They have met every single challenge that I have given them. I knew this would be no different, so I decided I was going to see what these Firstie Geniuses could do!
Leading up to the start of my Genius Hour and to get them used to researching and creating driving questions that were relevant to them, I was doing something I called Wonder Wednesdays. This is basically a time where students would come up with something they wondered about and practiced researching it. We used research tools like Google, Kidex, Kiddle, and Wonderopolis to help us.
Yesterday was our very first Genius Hour in my class and I was pleasantly surprised at the excitement of my students and the outcome that I got!
We started out by watching this video by Kid President to motivate them to be awesome. I love this video so much! Not only does it motivate the kids and make them laugh but I think it is such an inspiring video that motivates me as well!
Before we did anything else, they all put on their "Genius Hats"!
We then talked about what passionate means and brainstormed what we really love and care a lot about. We had a variety of different passions in our class; art, science, dogs, coding, numbers, ect.!
From there we worked on turning our passions, into a driving question that we will be building our "Passion Projects" off of and stuck them to our Wonder Wall! Questions like: How can I make a model volcano? How can I draw a realistic eye? How can I train my dog? How can I get better at coding? How can I make a homemade dog toy?
For my Genius Hour, there are three things that they must do:
2. Reflect and document their process (which they will do via their blogs)
3. Share it with us and the world
I am excited to see what comes out of their Passion Projects!
Each and every one of them is a #FirstieGenius!
, by Stephany Hesslein