Hope this helps!
Many folks have asked me to break Genius Hour down into steps (especially in regards to how to introduce Genius Hour) so here is a little chart that I made that hopefully helps. Take your time with steps 1,2, and 3 and then let the students lead the way when it is time to Inquire, Self-reflect and Share.
Hope this helps!
For the past two semesters I have been on leave from my school district and working as a Faculty Associate for the Teacher Education program, PDP, at Simon Fraser University. It has been an exciting experience so far and I have learned so much!
Recently my Student Teachers completed their finals in the form of a self reflection based on the goals of the program. This is one of their final assignments for their first semester of PDP. At the end of their final they are asked to attach an Action Plan--this is where they reflect on the things that they know they still need to improve upon, they come up with a plan, and describe what they are going to do over the next 2 semesters to help them improve in that area. It was such a great process and they came up with so many unique and fantastic plans to improve their teaching! I was so impressed with the process that I started to do one for myself...which got me thinking: do we all need to be on an action plan?
Wouldn't this be a great practice for all of us to adopt? What if we all ended every term with an action plan for how we were going to improve in a certain area next term? An action plan, where just like in PDP, we all wrote out specific areas for improvement and then strategies we were going to try so that we could grow in those areas?
Even master teachers have aspects of their teaching to work on. We all do. Brookfield (1995) talks about the 4 lenses for critical reflection in Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher and the first lens is self-reflection. And although I think the other three are also important (the student lens, peer lens and looking at the literature) I wonder if we are doing all we could with that first lens-our own. I believe that I have always been a reflective teacher, but it is only in the last 3 years (since I began my journey in graduate school) that I began to formally and regularly write down my reflections. There is something to this writing down of the reflections. I have noticed a difference in the quality of my reflections, and I have also realized that I tend to learn more about myself while I am writing. Through the process of journaling, I am writing and then reading my own reflections and just as Hobson (2001) describes, it is because of this process that I am able to really notice certain aspects of my practice.
In other words, I think I was reflective before I came back to journaling, but I have certainly found that writing has helped me organize my reflections, find patterns and then set goals. My very own Action Plan. Just like my Student Teachers.
I have returned to the reflective practices that I left behind once I completed my Bachelor of Education, and I am so happy that I have because I know it is making me more aware of what I need to change in my current practice--I have a better awareness of what is working and what needs to be shifted.
I know that it is more time consuming to journal as a means of reflection, but I think it is worth it. It can help us come up with an Action Plan for ourselves. Something to help us continue to grow as professionals.
What do you think? How do you reflect and set goals for your professional (or personal) development?
Brookfield, Stephen. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 1995.
Hobson, D. "Action and reflection: Narrative and journaling in teacher research" in Burnaford, G., Fischer, J., & Hobson, D. (Eds.). Teachers Doing Research: The Power of Action Through Inquiry. US: Routhledge, 2001.
On February 2-5th, I was lucky enough to attend the edtech teacher iPad Summit in San Diego.
Conferences are always so great--I love learning with new people and meeting some of my tweeps face-to-face! I had a wonderful time and learned a lot. My biggest take-away though, and one that I can see myself using with my students in order for them to authentically explain their learning, was on the concept of Appsmashing! Check out the video below--it is my appsmash on appsmashing!
#RSCON4 took place a little while back, in early October. A whole weekend full of webinars led by some amazing educators around the world--I was excited! And even more exciting--the webinars are recorded and you can still watch them here! In fact, while this post is going to be about some of the highlights from the webinars I attended (or watched afterwards), I am still watching the recordings of some of the presentations that I missed so this blog entry is by no means a summary of all of my learning, since I know that I will learn more as I continue to watch the rest!
This is a screenshot of one of the slides from David Truss' presentation on Inquiry Based Learning. David is an administrator at the iHub Inquiry School (which I was lucky enough to visit last year-my blog about that here) and I absolutely love what his students are doing! Learning is made meaningful because students get to develop inquiry projects around things that matter to them (like Genius Hour on a whole other level).
Anyway, what struck my about this slide was not only how cool their projects are, but the verbs that describe what his students are doing:
He really sums it up well on this slide, when he asks the question: "What do students 'do' at school?"
Thanks for inspiring me, Dave! Learn more about what Dave Truss does on his blog.
Joan Young: Facilitating “Wow” Learning through Humor, Novelty, Awe, and Fascination
Another fantastic webinar I attended was Joan's presentation on facilitating "wow" in the classroom. Of particular note was her slide about classroom jobs. I love these new 21st century positions:
I love these ideas! And as Joan notes, it definitely fosters a sense of community. Students love sharing their learning and being the class tweeter, blogger, etc.
I also really enjoyed her advice about novelty in the classroom. Reminds me of Imagination Education. How can we engage our students through imagination?
Check out the rest of Joan's presentation here and her blog here.
Denise Krebs: The World Needs Your Contribution--Really! How my PLN Changed Everything
Another fantastic presentation was given by my friend, Denise Krebs. She spoke about how her teaching has evolved over the years (and the role of her PLN in that). Denise facilitated an excellent discussion around giving students choice.
Ideas that were discussed:
Another favourite slide was the one you see above. Trust Children. Such simple, but powerful words. Thank you Denise for inspiring us all! You can check out her blog here.
Honestly, I could go on and on...but instead, I encourage you to check out the list of recordings here and watch some of the great webinars yourself!
Thank you to the folks at The Future of Education for putting on such a great conference!
Have you watched any of the webinars? I would love it if you shared your favourite learning moments below!
I put my blog url into tagxedo.com today because I was curious to see what words (and hopefully themes) would come up as most common for me.
I expected to see Genius Hour in big letters, as this certainly is a passion of mine. But I was thrilled to see that the biggest words were actually students and learning. Relieved even, because it really is all about the learning.
I love Genius Hour. I love technology and using it to create, collaborate and communicate. But ultimately, it is about the students and what they are learning. So happy to see this show up in this word cloud.
What words would you like to see in your word cloud?
Recently I have read a lot about critical friends, especially in articles and books by Stephen Brookfield, Arthur Kosta, Bena Kallick,Tom Russell, Sandy Schuck. And I love the idea--someone who you agree to sit down with on a regular basis so that you are able to examine your practice through another lens. Great idea!
But it had me thinking about the people with whom I do this anyway. They aren't formal critical friends, per se, as we have not made any formal agreement or set any rules/expectations/time frame from which to operate. However, I would like to suggest that these informal critical friends are just as important as the formal critical friend relationship.
Who are these informal critical friends? They are the people that we talk to about education on a regular basis. We may not have regular meeting times but we get together for coffee or dinner and talk about what is new and exciting in our classrooms and in education in general. It's the teacher down the hall who you go and visit after school to celebrate with because you are bursting with excitement about a successful lesson. Or, for many of us, the teacher down that virtual hallway (twitter).
Being a connected educator has enabled me to experience the perks of a critical friend without even really knowing it. As I move forward I would like to explore the benefits of a more formal critical friend relationship (anyone with experience in teacher education want to sign up for that?), but I already know that that will never replace the energy I get from all of you, my friends and colleagues with whom I discuss learning, education, passion, and life.
Thank you. All of you.
Some of my critical friends: Tia Henriksen (@Tiahenriksen), DIana Williams (@teacherdiana1) and Robyn Thiessen (@robynthiessen).
We get together regularly to discuss education.
Another critical friend, Antonio Vendramin (@vendram1n).
He is my former principal and has pushed my thinking and learning further than anyone else I can think of. I became a different kind of learner and teacher because of him and his mentorship.
Thank you Antonio.
Here he is pushing me out of my comfort zone again.
Another place where I feel like I have a group of critical friends is on twitter. On twitter, I have met so many people that help push my thinking forward. Like Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs). Denise inspires me all of time! More than she knows.
Here we are together in person. Denise drove up to Surrey, BC in the Spring of '13 and it was so wonderful meeting her and her wonderful family in person! I love twitter, but there is something really special about talking to a person face to face!
And of course, I cannot leave out Hugh McDonald (@hughtheteacher), probably my closest critical friend! I have learned so much from, and with this guy! I miss teaching with you, buddy.
I could go on and on listing people who have taught me so much and who are such important informal critical friends, because there are so many! But I will stop here as it is time for me to check out who is presenting next at #RSCON4 (http://www.futureofeducation.com/). Check out the link to find another way to get connected!
And again, thank you all for being my critical friends.
How do you get feedback on your teaching/practice/thoughts/ideas? Do you have a critical friend? Is it a formal relationship, with arranged meeting times? Or more informal, like the ones I have described? I would love to hear about them! And again, if there is anyone working in teacher education who wants to arrange some sort of formal critical friendship, please let me know!
I am so excited to announce that I have just launched a new website: geniushour.ca.
After talking with Hugh McDonald the other day, we decided it would be great to have a place online where Genius Hour (or 20% time, innovation week, etc) teachers could cross-blog their stories and share in one space! A place where the Genius Hour community can come together to share our stories and adventures.
And so, I bring you geniushour.ca
Please check it out, comment on the stories from our contributors, and consider becoming a contributor by sharing your story/blog entry! We would love to have you!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to become a contributor!
During our July #GeniusHour chat, we shared some advice for educators new to this type of Passion & Inquiry Based Learning. Check out some of the advice in the slideshow below!
Do you have any advice you would add to this list? Please comment below and share your expertise with everyone!
Hugh McDonald and I were having a conversation the other day. After two school years of doing Genius Hour with our students, we realized that the positive affects of this type of learning reached far beyond that one hour each week that we devoted to it. So, I brought it up during our last #GeniusHour chat to see if others were feeling the same way. Check it out:
So many of us agreed that by giving students that time to persue their wonders and passions, students began to wonder about everything! They became curious learners that asked meaningful questions!
On Genius Hour days, and even on other days, students began to be more excited about coming to school! We had students start coming in early to get a head start on their projects, and many would work right through recess or lunch because they were so excited about what they were doing. Kids excited about learning! It really doesn't get any better than that!
I love the above comment by Joel Pardalis. Students taking risks and thinking outside of the box. Perfect.
More great tweets:
And finally, teachers talked about how Genius Hour changed them as teachers too! This is powerful stuff!
And then the conversation even turned to how Genius Hour does indeed support curriculum and many of the prescribed learning outcomes.
I have one more tweet to share! This one was shared by Joy Kirr, a teacher that I admire so very much! her words are perfect and I think they truly summarize how a lot of us feel. Genius Hour doesn't just give students an hour (or 20% or however you break it down) to inquire into their passions and wonders...
...It changes EVERYTHING.
I have change a lot as a teacher over the past few years thanks to my school district's support, graduate classes at SFU and mostly because of the support and brilliant ideas from my PLN. Thank you all for learning and growing with me! I am so excited to continue this journey with all of YOU.
Creativity. Wonder. Passion.
"Genius Hour is a precious time, loved by all my students. It is when they are allowed to develop their own inquiry question about whatever it is that they want to explore"
An Index of All My Genius Hour Posts
What is Genius Hour?