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Genius Hour

February 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

Genius hour is an hour for students to be innovative and to work on their own unique projects.  I set the following expectations for the hour:

Genius Hour Exp

Genius Hour Expectations

  • make something
  • 45 minutes to make, 15 minutes to share and perfect
  • cooperate

I went on to explain what “cooperate” means to us:

Cooperate (does not mean that you have to work with a partner, but…)

  • help others if they ask for help
  • join (if someone needs you to be in their project, go for it)
  • be nice
  • be easy going
  • don’t be sneaky
  • don’t act too clever (no boasting/bragging like a  certain hare in a certain fable).

During this hour, I was conferring with students about their Duct Tape Procedural texts, iBook Capacity Centre Recounts and Minecraft Area and Perimeter projects that we are nearly complete.  So, that was the other stipulation: I was allowed to pull any kid, at any moment, for a conference.

The result for the kids:

  • “Thanks for looking at my GeniusHour work” said between students with total sincerity during sharing time.
  • Meaningful activities rich in creation, oral language, collaboration 
  • Practising being good citizens by participating in other people’s projects
  • Self expression and opportunities to go beyond prescribed school tasks

The result for me:

  • A space for conferring about iPad projects 
  • Giving my students time to explore apps and dig deeper

Tweet Genius hour

 

I got some serious grade 3 and 4 love from two of my kids:

Best Teacher

Attributions:

Thank you to  Lynda Hall @MsLHall and Todd Conaway @Todd_Conaway for telling me about and suggesting Genius Hour.

Thanks to  ETMOOC for creating a learning space where @MsLHall , @Todd_Conaway and I could connect.

I really enjoyed the blog post made by George Couros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3482 titled “You Should Read.” He has curated excellent pieces worthy of our attention. Especially, his link to the New York Times article. I was interested to discover that “children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school” so says Vicky Rideout. What does this mean for learning and attention? What does this mean for education and what the classroom might look like?

I have often said that it is hard to compete with video games and the like for children’s attention. I totally agree with the teachers interviewed that it is very challenging to capture and maintain children’s attention. I personally feel like an each and everyday. I have even developed a zany fashion sense to capture kids’ imaginations as a children’s entertainer might also do. It is amazing to see people considering that the wide spread of distraction among students could be a value judgement on a new way of learning and being. Maybe ADHD isn’t so bad? Maybe it’s the new normal that we must adjust to? Or, here is a scary thought, maybe by adjusting my teaching style of edutainment (and even my fashion choices) I am magnifying this attention issue and distractibility.

It’s also scary to consider that heavy technology use makes daily life seem uninteresting. Could the internet bring about a totally disengaged population? I am also reading the futurist novel “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (who might drive a delorean) in which the people in this dystopian world spend most of their time plugged in to an augmented reality.

Okay, back to clever Mr. Couros’ curating. So, in response to this NY Times article, was Cathy Davidson’s response . Brilliant. Consider what happens when you drop a bunch of english based tablets to kids in Ethopia. Read and find out. But, here is the spoiler: Remember Sugata Mitra’s experiments in India? Watch this TED talk about the Hole in the Wall Project to remember. Bottom line, Cathy Davidson’s response is the same as Dr. Mitra’s. Remarkable.

So, kids in Ethopia and India are learning amazing things without teachers. What might kids in Canada with their own iPads and a teacher be able to do? More or less?

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