On the first Wednesday of each month a bunch of fantastic educators get together on twitter
for a chat
about Genius Hour
. The past two chats have been amazing! We had a lot of experienced #geniushour teachers and a lot of newbies too! It was a great mix! We had great conversations, but it was moving so
fast that I thought I would summarize some it.
We talked about assessment and giving feedback. Most agreed that they did not grade Genius Hour projects, but instead provided formative assessment only. After re-reading over 50 pages of archived tweets, here are some highlights:
- 1. Hugh McDonald reminded us of the wonderful creativity rubric that Denise Krebs made a couple of years ago. Hugh and I both use it with our students so that they have something to self-assess with and also as a jumping off point for their blog-refections. We love it!
- 2. Many teachers talked about blogging as a way for students to reflect on their projects, the experience and what went right/wrong. It also provides, as Greg Miller reminded us, the opportunity for peer feedback as well.
- 3. A lot of teachers, Joy Kirr included, also mentioned the importance of informal conversations with students during Genius Hour. She has meaningful, one-on-one chats while students are learning!
- 4. John Stevens talked about using google docs as a method for giving feedback. He also uses google forms for students to submit project ideas. Check that out here.
- 5. Jas Kooner and some others mentioned that they like to give written feedback to their students. She also spoke about the importance of peer-feedback. Many chimed in and agreed. I would love to see any documents/links regarding the way in which people do this. In my class, we comment on each others' blogs as a way of giving peer-to-peer feedback. Any other ideas? Comment below!
- 6. My students also reflect on their Genius Hour projects on their ePortfolios (in the same way that they reflect on every subject). Some students have done great step by step reflections! This way you can track their progress and chat about it with students whenever you have time.
- 7. Lindsey Bingley explained that she gives students "oral feedback, through short conferences during Genius Hour". Sitting down with students for a few minutes to quickly conference is also something that Hugh and I do with our students. This is probably the easiest way for me to touch base with all my students.
- 8. Julie Jee talked about doing monthly journal entries with her high school students.
- 9. Rory Newcomb talked about framing her feedback in a 5-4-3-2-1 format. She blogs about it here.
- 10. Robyn Thiessen told us that her students fill out an action plan each week where they write about what they plan to do and then they self-assess afterwards. She also reminded us of the Global Genius Hour Project and that it can be used for students in other classes to give feedback to each other. Great idea!
There you have it! 10 ways to give feedback. Do you have any others? Comment below!
A lot of us shared that we struggled to find the time to connect with every single student. I liked Angela Maiers
' advice: "Commit to 5 min a day - make a schedule five learners in five minutes everyday, non-negotiable". This was echoed by Kevin Ashworth
when he said that he will often quickly conference with students about Genius Hour, during non-genius hour time! Chris Kesler
suggested having students reflect from home, if time is an issue in your classroom!
Another interesting point of discussion, brought up by Troy Cockrum
, was that of bringing in mentors; parents or community members who could assist students with their projects and provide insight. This is something I am definitely going to look into! This year, Hugh and I had students with skype with some experts for Health and Career class. Why not have them join for Genius Hour too? I love it!
We also talked about ways in which students can share their projects. Some common responses:
- Ted Talk style speech about what they did/learned
- iMovies and other videos documenting their journey
- Show their model/creation/invention and talk about it
- Powerpoint, Keynote and other slide shows
- Create a website or page on their existing website
- Picture collage/photo journal
Thank you all for participating in the chat and for giving us some things to think about when we implement our next round of Genius Hour.
PLN, did I miss anything? Please comment below! Would love to hear from you!
I have been planning this blog post, since having a very interesting conversation with twitter pal, Heidi Hass Gable (@HHG)
, a couple of weeks ago. We talked about the benefits of WiFi and how my teaching has evolved since my school went wireless. So, I have been thinking about this post since then and was planning on writing about my transformation from "teacher at the centre of it all" to another body blending into the crowd...you have heard it before-- "The guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage". That sort of thing...and it is all true and it has been an amazing journey!
But then the nature of this post switched...
My friend and teaching partner, Hugh McDonald (@HughTheTeacher)
gave our students WiFi as the topic for their
blog post this week...and now my perspective doesn't seem as important anymore...instead here is what our students
think about how WiFi and how it has changed their
Ruqaiyah is in grade 6.
I absolutely love her thoughts on sharing her learning; "In our class we have e-portfolios and we put our best work and achievements online so the world can see them and inspire other people such as teachers. Sharing your knowledge with people is a really important thing because you can help someone create something amazing just by sharing your ideas". How brilliant!
Another 6th grade student, Sarah
, wrote, "We need wifi in school because it’s You can talk to other people around the world about the project that we are doing like the globel read aloud about a book called the one and only ivan which is amazing talking to other schools about it".
And here is Indy's blog:
, a grade 7 student, points out that "With wifi you have a variety of ways of getting research done, you have pictures and videos. In math now we are making a arcade game and we need to learn all the learning outcomes. Most of the people in my class don’t know how to do circumference. So they search it on you tube".
Students taking charge of their own learning? Sounds good to me!
, a grade 7 student brought up a few different benefits, one being presentations. She stated, "We also use it a lot for presentations, such as PowerPoints, creating websites or just writing something on Word. It’s more interesting to be able to learn it by creating it and using many cool features than just writing it on a poster. Other students that may be watching the Powerpoint will be engaged in it and taking a lot of information in".
I could keep going and going, or if you are interested please check out all our blogs at kidblog.org/mrszisclass-2
. We would love to hear your comments!
The children have spoken, and they see the benefits that WiFi has had on their education: the sharing with a global community, the ability to create and share their ePortfolios, iPad math games, etc. It is a part of the way we learn now and gives us so many opportunities.
What do you think? Has it changed the way you teach or the way your students learn?
October 3rd was our last #geniushour chat (click here to learn more about Genius Hour)
We had a fantastic conversation and some great ideas were shared. Since that chat (click here to see all archived chats)
, I have had a few more people ask me about how to introduce Genius Hour. So I thought I would compile a list of all the wonderful strategies that were discussed.
Here it goes…
- Danielle Porte tweeted about doing a guided Genius Hour to start her class off this year. I love this idea! What a fantastic way to be able to model the inquiry process for your class!
- Similarly, Katy Gartside tweeted, “this week they are brainstorming ideas with parents for their indiv proj. Then we'll share, post on wall & they can add ideas” Then they did a group project. I love how she involved the parents into the process!
- Robyn Thiessen’s students have passion portfolios and they store their thoughts and ideas for Genius Hour in them! She introduced inquiry to her young students (yes, it can be done in primary!) through ME projects (delving into topics like what are your values and what are you not...I just love that this is with grades 3s and 4s).
- Denise Krebs' students are researching and presenting their Genius Hour plan before they begin their actual projects. Denise also put together this Genius Hour creativity rubric that students use to show their growth
- Joy Kirr gets her students into the inquiry process by asking them to think not only about what they wonder about, but also to reflect on what really bothers them! What a fabulous way to get students to start thinking.
- Katrina Ling tweeted, “I set up a wonder wall too for #geniushour, we watched videos and brainstormed ideas. There are some kids invention videos from Ellen show.” Watching videos is a great hook! Kids love to see what others have done and it gets them thinking hey I could do that.
- Hugh McDonald also shared how he likes to introduce Genius Hour with YouTube videos that inspire curiosity and talk about Genius. Some videos he uses are:
This year, Hugh and I introduced Genius Hour together. We showed our students the above videos, got them thinking about their passions and wonders and, finally, we modelled it. We both spent some time on a weekend creating our own little Genius Hour projects. Neither of us had ever made a movie using iMovie for iPads and it was something we wanted to learn more about, so we both learned how and created a short iMovie each. Perfect for sharing a little of our lives with our students and for modeling the inquiry process! Thank you Dean Shareski
, Antonio Vendramin
and Jodi Pulvers
for the inspiration.
Hugh's Genius Hour 60-1 Second Clip iMovie
My Genius Hour 60-1 Second Clip iMovie
I am sure there are many more ideas out there from other great teachers about how to introduce Genius Hour. Please comment below if you would like to add to this list!
And I hope this has helped any of you out there that have wanted to start Genius Hour, but didn’t know how. Happy Inquiring :)
Last school year, my students created ePortfolios for the first time. I had never done a project like this with a class before, but because of my interest in technology, I thought this was a wonderful project for us to do! In the BC curriculum
it states that students should “select images from their own portfolio for class presentation
and/or public display, and give reasons for this selection” and to “compare a developed artwork to their initial drafts and explain how their ideas have changed and developed,” in regards to Art. Well, I believe it is important to be able to do this in all subject areas, not just art. So I explained to my students that we were going to look through all of our work and choose the things we were most proud of; the projects that we learned the most from, and the assignments that really showed our learning and we were going to put those works onto a website where we could showcase them. They were very excited to start and what I love about this project is that I did not have any samples to show them (as this was new for me) and so they really got to make their ePortfolios their own! Again something that we all strive for in education, to have students take ownership of their learning! This is also echoed by the Ministry of Education
as they encourage us to help students build “key competencies like self-reliance, critical thinking, [and] inquiry". We decided to build our portfolios using weebly
because it is a very user friendly site and my students were familiar with it because our class website
is a weebly site which I created. The picture below will take you to one student's ePortfolio where he has kindly linked all of my students' ePortfolios.
They were a success! The students loved creating their own websites and I loved seeing them reflect upon previous projects and assignments! Many students even created extra pages where they discussed items of importance to them that were not a part of our learning over the year (such as a page devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr—one student's hero, and a dolphin information page). They taught themselves how to add music to their websites (something I did not know how to do, but was thrilled about because they were teaching themselves and each other how to do something new!! Another skill we want our students to have—self-sufficiency and the ability to learn on their own).
If you haven't tried creating portfolios (electronic or otherwise), I highly suggest you give it a chance next year. They are a wonderful way to allow students to be creative, express themselves and become more reflective of their learning and growth.
One regret I have is that we did not start the ePortfolios earlier in the school year. We only began in third term, and therefore we only had a few months left of school to document. Next year, we will begin at the start of the year and we will continue all year long (and hopefully even into future grades, as my teaching partner, Hugh McDonald
, show them to the rest of the staff at our school as well as the high school our students feed into. Our vision being that students would begin these ePortfolios in Kindergarten and continue them right through high school.
I also regret not giving the students time to peer-assess their portfolios. While we were working on them, they did, of course, collaborate and help each other out at times, but they weren't given specific time to share. Sharing with peers and giving feedback is, of course, a key part of any publishing process and in our rush to finish them before the end of the year, we overlooked that step. Next year, we will move slower (and stop along the way to share) and I expect their ePortfolios to be even more amazing!
It has been suggested to me by many people on twitter that I use evernote next year as a way of keeping track of the students learning and then the website as a way of showcasing the best. I am currently leaning towards that route for next year (as I can see the value of having the two types) and am going to spend a day with AnneMarie Middleton
(fellow Surrey school teacher) working through how to make this work, before making up my mind.
But I wonder…have you created ePortfolios with your students? What format do you use? What will you use next year? Why? I would love to hear from you!