In my head, I am doing cartwheels of joy! What a fantastic question! This grade 5 student has taken what we have done in 3 different sections of Natural Sciences and put it together in this one, amazing question! That right there is education GOLD - when students are thinking for themselves and asking their own questions.
I decided I wanted to nurture this beautiful, inquisitive nature of children so I went in search of projects and ideas on Pinterest (I am addicted!) and I came across this video:
One thing I knew for sure, is that I wanted to give my students a lot of freedom. I wanted them to be able to come up with their own questions, do research in a way that suited them and present their findings to the class in a way they felt comfortable. There are no marks assigned for the projects (yet) and there is no time limit. I give my students one hour every Friday of official time, but invariably they tend to work on it when they finish their work in other subjects too.
I decided to put together a video using one of my FAVOURITE iPad apps - Adobe Voice - to explain what Genius Hour is to my class.
Genius hour is going to look different in every classroom depending on your students, the resources available to you and you as a teacher. In my opinion, as long as your students are engaging with something they choose to engage with,whether it be learning a new skill or researching big questions, then you are doing something right.
For me, this is how it went:
Step 1: Learners have time to do some basic research before committing to a question. This is an important step as it will shape what the student does for the coming weeks.
Step 2: They bring their question to me, and I okay it. I only vetoed 2 questions because I thought they were far too simple and could be answered in one line. The rest, I accepted, even though they weren't all great. It's part of the learning.
Step 4: Learners create a presentation. This is the stage we're in at the moment. Some of the presentation types include:
- a poster
- an Adobe Voice/ iMovie video
- a Keynote/ Powerpoint presentation
- a demonstration of the learned skill
- a blog post onto our class blog
This is an Adobe Voice video created by one of my students for a research project we did a while back - it's a similar concept though.
Step 5: Learners show me their presentation quickly. I ask them some questions about what they have learnt to check that they have understood and not just copied and pasted.
Step 6: They present to the class.
The big question some of you may be asking is, "Where do I find the time for this?" It's important to ask the question. Don't feel guilty about using curriculum time. This kind of project can easily fit into the requirements of most subjects - for example, this explicitly covers 3 of the 4 language skills. It's not like you're finding an hour to play Candy Crush with your class. It could also be used as an "Early Finisher" activity that students do when they are finished their other work.
If you decide to try this out in your classroom, please let me know. I'd love to hear how you're doing it.