5 weeks ago I asked the class, "What if you can learn anything you want in this classroom?" After giving a right amount of think time, my first response was "AWESOME!" And that's how I got the Genius Hour ball rolling in my grade 4 classroom. And they were hooked, they wanted to know more.
The next day, I showed them this classic Kid President video. I just love this kid. He is so inspirational and I wanted my students to know that they can be awesome if they wanted to and all they had to do was try.
Then I showed them www.geniushour.com and explained where this idea came from and how I did this with my class last year and everyone loved it.
In my class, there are 3 rules to Genius Hour:
1) You must start with an inquiry question (a really good question)
2) You must do research (if you can find the answer within a minute of searching, you'll need to find a better question)
3) You must share what you learned to the rest of the class.
I told them they will have four 60 minute classes to complete their project and it will happen the same time each week. Each week they looked forward to Day 2 (we are on a 5 day cycle) period 5/6.
There was a wide range of questions. Some students knew immediately and some needed a couple days to think about it. Some even had to change their question a few times after realizing they found the answer in 1 Google search or they couldn't find an answer. Most of my students decided to pair up.
Here are our questions/topics:
- How is the orbit made?
- What is the first sport invented?
- How do you survive in the wild?
- How do you build a self-reloading trap on Minecraft?
- What can I build with Lego?
- What is the first panda?
- How old do sharks live?
- What is the Blue Mosque?
- Learn more about Selena Gomez
- Learn about Medieval Times
- What's the fastest car?
- What is the first video game?
- How do you make Minecraft with rainbow loom?
- How do I teach my dog how to sit?
- How to make a website?
During the rest of the Genius Hour sessions, I had students researching, creating, planning, and collaborating. Learning became natural to them. There was accountable talk and they problem solved together. I was facilitating instead of teaching. Some students were off task because they needed help to organize and plan out how they will share what they learned. A few students didn't have anything to share because they spent most of their time researching. All these hiccups were just teachable moments for me to discuss time management and discuss what they could do differently next time. Failure is part of the learning process and I embrace it.
Finally it was time to share what they learned. Most students made Power Points. I tried encouraging some groups to think outside of the box to share their work but the technology was not really reliable on some days.
The sharing is still going on, everyone is proud of their work. The project that had the best student reaction so far is the one with the self-reloading trap for Minecraft. This student, who is an aspie, usually keeps to himself and needs help with self-regulation. But when he presented, every student in my class was captivated by his work and I could tell he loved every moment of it. I don't think I could have planned for this, even if I tried.
I can't wait to do another Genius Hour session with my class.