Sunday, September 14, 2014

Genius Hour - an EdTech Project that I Want to do Right Now!!!


This spring I happened to come upon a tweet about Genius Hour. After further research into the concept and watching a video, I immediately started to think about all the potential it had particularly with the connections to inquiry. Actually it was more than just connections to inquiry - Genius Hour is inquiry. It's basically the inquiry model wrapped up and re-labeled with a really cool name. What would inspire kids more... "Hey class, we are going to explore your questions about any topic that interests you using the inquiry model..." OR "Hey class, for one hour a week you are all going to have the opportunity to become geniuses, as you explore all your own questions about any topic you choose." What would grab your students?

If you wonder what Genius Hour is in the classroom, it provides the students a lesson a week to work on something they are passionate about and discover their inner ‘genius’.

As a former Teacher Librarian, I immediately saw Genius Hour as a great opportunity for students to explore their own interests using the inquiry questioning and reflecting model, as well as digital tools to act as the vehicle for finding answers and sorting what they had found. Anyways, this year I am in a unique situation. I am a teacher without a class. Who will be my guinea pigs to get involved and get inspired in this learning opportunity?? After some discussion with my husband, who is also in education, it soon became apparent that Genius Hour is something that caught the attention of many teachers this Spring. Over the summer, teachers from Regina Public had been curating resources and partaking in their own digital PD. They even went so far as to have Skyped-in discussions with one of the writers of Genius Hour. Now I have to be honest, I felt a little jealous... Here was a group of other Saskatchewan teachers who were also interested in integrating Genius Hour in the classroom... and I didn't even know about it. The funny thing is, I didn't find out about them via Twitter or Facebook. Instead I found out word of mouth from my husband... Aghhhhh!!!!

Anyways, going back to my problem... Being that I don't have a class to try out Genius Hour on, I would like to find classroom teachers who would like to try Genius Hour (I might start off by focusing on grades 5-8, just to keep it manageable). I also think that in a project such as this, where kids are exploring their own passions, should this be left in isolation. So as part of my role as a Technology Coach, I hope to help create a community of "Genius Hour Classrooms" where teachers can share resources for guiding the genius energy and also find ways of allowing the budding geniuses to share their findings with the world or at least other peers (this is actually one aspect of Genius Hour... Geniuses must share their findings in some way with the world). Perhaps the budding geniuses could team up with other geniuses with similar projects and bounce ideas off each other, all within a digital forum.

So where to begin. What digital tools would be effective for curating genius resources? Livebinders? Google docs or OneDrive?

What tool would be beneficial for the budding geniuses to record their reflections on the findings? Blogging?

How will they share the findings? Skype? Lync? Edmodo??

Finally, how can teachers collaborate? Wikis? Google+ Communities? Twitter? Facebook? I'm just not sure what tool would be the best. Ideas??

If you know of teachers who might be interested in joining the "Community of Educators who Teach Geniuses" please let me know. I think it might be fun to start this group right away, at the beginning of the year. Later on, I also think it would be cool to get students to showcase their projects via a mini TED talks.

If you are interested in checking out my curated resources, here is a GeniusHour LiveBinder created by Joyce Kirr that I found...  She does a great job of explaining how to get started and how to manage the geniuses in your classroom.

And other links that I have curated....

Dan Pink - "The Puzzle of Motivation"
Tapping into intrinsic motivation and rewards....

Genius Hour and Getting Started from Edutopia

The Genius Hour Book (which looks at Genius Hour and other Inquiry and Problem Based Learning Ideas)

The blog, "My Own Genius Hour" for fantastic resources like another 
Live Binder, weblinks, videos etc....

Genius Road - A blog with great digital ways to bring Genius Hour alive

Ms. Bertrand's Class Blog - Great resources to help explain the concept - love her explanation of what it is.

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