<![CDATA[Integrating Technology & Genius Hour: My Journey as a Teacher & Learner - Home]]>Fri, 20 Nov 2015 21:55:57 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[New Website: Geniushourguide.org]]>Tue, 17 Nov 2015 02:27:00 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/new-website-geniushourguideorgI am so excited to announce that the book Denise Krebs and I wrote about Genius Hour is now available online! We have been working on this project of ours for years and it is finally out!

With the launch of our book, we have also put together a companion website: geniushourguide.org.
On it you will find many resources from the book, plus bonus articles and materials. Best of all, you’ll be able to engage with colleagues eager to support each other as we implement Genius Hour in our classrooms and schools. Read the welcome message for more information about the site.
<![CDATA[Genius Hour in the University Classroom]]>Thu, 05 Nov 2015 06:24:03 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/genius-hour-in-the-university-classroomThis summer I taught an undergraduate course at Simon Fraser University: 

EDUC 394: Cross-Curricular Connections

Over the past few years I have really worked on planning with the big ideas in mind and thinking about the cross-curricular connections that I can make so I was excited to share some of my ideas, practices I have incorporated, and the theoretical backing for this type of teaching with my students (all of them are working toward a BC teaching certificate).

Some of the themes we touched on were:
  • ​ePortfolios
  • Blogging
  • Year Plans
  • Place Based Learning
  • Non-Fiction Reading and Science/Social Studies
  • Metacognition 
  • Imaginative Education
  • Inquiry
  • Genius Hour
  • Global Connections and Mystery Skype
  • Assessment
  • Meaningful Technology Integration
One of my favourite parts of the course was, of course, when we talked about Genius Hour!

Of course a major part of teaching Teacher-Candidates is modelling teaching while you are teaching, so what better way to learn about Genius Hour (and open-ended inquiry) then by actually doing Genius Hour, right? So that is exactly what we did! After a brief intro (much shorter than I would do with actual elementary students), we took the time to do our own Genius Hour inquiries and then shared our learning/debriefed the experience the following week. Some topics the Teacher Candidates investigated:

What is The Daily 5?
How does Roots of Empathy work and how can I teach empathy to my students?
How do I build a strong sense of community in my classroom?
How do you blog with a class that has very little technology?
How do I help build leadership capacity in my students?
What are the Zones of Regulation and how can I use them in my classroom?
How do you make a stop motion movie?
What is the difference between Faye Brownlie’s lit circles and the kind described by Harvey Daniels?
I wonder how the new curriculum will change the way teachers teach?
How do I set up a grade 1 classroom?
What does student-centred actually mean?
How is Reggio being used around the world?
How can we teach sustainability in our classrooms?
What are literature circles?
What do kids wonder (and what types of Genius Hour projects have they done?) –Lisa had a great discussion of this on hers!
How can I use different desk arrangement styles to help my students be engaged and focused in the classroom? (I am mostly focused on intermediate grades.)
How does Genius Hour work in K/1?
How do you facilitate conflict resolution between students?
How can I create a successful classroom community?
What do I do on the 1st day of school?
I wonder if schools will one day be paperless?
I wonder how to engage students who lack motivation?
Such great questions! So there you have it...Genius Hour: Not just for K-12. It works with Teacher Candidates too!  

I also think that as practicing teachers we should be taking a little time each week to look into our own teaching inquiries!  I loved doing my graduate diploma (a few years back) because it taught me a structured way to inquire into my practice. 

These days my knew personal Genius Hour questions are focused on becoming a better writer and learning more about Reggio.

How about you?  What is your question? What are you looking into these days?
<![CDATA[The Pros and Cons of my ISTE Experience]]>Thu, 05 Nov 2015 06:08:18 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/the-pros-and-cons-of-my-iste-experience​You know how Jimmy Fallon has his pros and cons lists for The Tonight Show?

Well, here is my list for my ISTE 2015 experience
Spending time with like-minded educators around the world. A while ago I blogged about how I love twitter because instead of just being able to collaborate with the teachers in my hallway, I was now able to collaborate with amazing teachers everywhere! The whole world became my hallway! Similarly, ISTE is like a face to face twitter feed! I am able to connect with all those same amazing teachers in person--we literally get into the same hallway finally! 
The hallway is super crowded!!! You have to become a professional person-dodger (new word: it works, right?) to make it from one end of the convention centre to the other!
You find yourself nodding along with all of the presenters.  You have found your people.

But it is hard to find the time to chat with your people.  Most folks are in a rush because there is so much going on. How do we ensure more real conversations are happening? With the people you know...and maybe even with someone new!

Choices! Choices! Choices!
I had dozens of workshops starred on the ISTE app (oh! there is another pro-the app). There were so many amazing workshops being offered and I wanted to go them all. I mean, when else do you get to attend workshops put on by inspiring educators from around the world?

You go to the sessions. BUT...now what?  I need a now what component!  I know what the issues are...let's talk solutions.  Maybe we need to have a discussion area for people who want to continue 'nerding out' post-presentation and discuss.  I felt like a lot of what I heard at ISTE was preaching to the choir…and…I already believe! I am with you! Now let's talk about what we are going to do next...Please! 

I had a great time at ISTE, but I left wishing there had been more time to talk about some of the awesome (and practical) things we are doing in our classrooms.  I love the big ideas but I also want to talk about the small, actionable steps we can take. You know?
Next time, I am going to make sure I spend more time having smaller-group and face to face discussions. Though as soon as I typed that, I thought “and still go to lots of sessions”…haha…It seems that what I need is a clone!
<![CDATA[The Power of 1 on 1 Conferences]]>Mon, 12 Oct 2015 20:56:16 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/the-power-of-1-on-1-conferencesI am in my third, and final, year as a Faculty Associate at SFU. During this time 20% of my year has been teaching at the elementary level and 80% of my time has been working with Student Teachers on campus or in their practicum classrooms. It has been an amazing experience and one I would recommend to my fellow Classroom Teachers who enjoy mentoring.  I have learned a lot by taking the time to step back and reflect on my own practice and pedagogical beliefs and one thing that I have really come to value is the power of the 1 on 1 conference.

As a Faculty Associate, we have pre and post conferences with our Student Teachers before and after we observe them teaching in their practicum classrooms. We also try to have a few 1 on 1 conferences during our time on campus.  This time is incredibly valuable and is when I am able to ask my students deep questions that have to do with their specific learning journey. It is when I get to personalize my feedback for them and ask them questions that I hope will move them forward in their learning.  Really meaningful formative feedback.

I used to do a bit of this as a classroom teacher but not nearly enough. But as I reflect on my years as an FA and as I think about my upcoming full time return to the classroom, I know it is something I will need to make more time for because it may be the best type of formative assessment strategy that I know.

1 on 1 conferences--not just for Writer's Workshop and Genius Hour anymore! I am planning to make it a part of my assessment plan in all subject areas!

Any advice?]]>
<![CDATA[what is the purpose of school?]]>Wed, 15 Jul 2015 22:05:16 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/july-15th-2015A little while ago by friend Oliver Schiinkten sent me a tweet asking: 
I responded with a quick tweet back:
And I said that I would probably have to write a blog post to actually explain what I really think. In the mean time, my fantastic friends (and super fast bloggers) Denise Krebs and Joy Kirr responded with their ideas here and here. So now it is finally time for me to sit down and properly reflect on my answer to this question:

What is the purpose of school?

I think school has many purposes--a place for us to learn new things, a place for us to practice new methods of learning, a place for us to ask questions and share our thoughts. A place to play and socialize with others. A place to become more literate, develop a strong number sense and get elbow deep in paint and paper mache once in a while as we test out new ways to express ourselves. A place to be creative thinkers.  School has so many purposes. It is really a complicated thing--because it isn't completely clear and it isn't just one or two things. We get SO much out of school.  

But if I had to zoom in on one aspect that I think is of KEY importance it would be: thinking.

School is where we learn:
how to think. 
how we think. 
how others think. 
what ways of thinking work best for us. 
how to share our thinking.
and what we like to think about. 

It is about learning and learning is about thinking. And there are so many fantastic ways to do this. And the better we plan for opportunities for our students to think & learn the more engaged they will be and the more they will love learning and thinking. And that is really what I want out of all of this whole school thing for them: for them to continue wanting to learn. wanting to think. being curious. AND being life-long learners who LOVE this. 

That is what I think today anyway. What do you think?

<![CDATA[Appsmashing with Teacher Candidates]]>Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:17:49 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/appsmashing-with-teacher-candidatesA little while ago I blogged about Appsmashing. You can read that post about what appsmashing is and how to do it with your iPad here. 

This past semester I tried appsmashing with my class of teacher candidates. It was the end of their first term in PDP (the teacher education program at SFU) and I wanted to give them a project where they could share some of their learning/understanding of our module theme with the class.

Our module is called Literacy in the Urban Classroom (LUC) and so we started the term with a "What is Literacy? What is Urban? What is a Classroom?" project and so I thought it would be fitting to end with something similar so that they could see how much they have grown in regards to their understanding of these complex concepts.  So they got into their same groups and created Appsmashes.  

The other purpose of this project was to get comfortable using the iPads and technology for learning purposes. It is a tool that I want them to be comfortable with as they begin their new careers as teachers and I wanted them to see how they could use it as a summative assessment as well.  The student teachers really enjoyed the project, I got lots of positive feedback from them.

Check out Karen, Danielle, Amanda and Michelin:

<![CDATA[The Genius Hour Guidebook - Coming Soon!]]>Fri, 08 May 2015 13:39:56 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/the-genius-hour-guidebook-coming-soon
Click here for more information.
Click here to preorder on Amazon.
PictureClick on the Book image to preorder from Amazon

Originally posted on www.geniushour.ca

By Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi

A few years ago the two of us took a risk in our practice--we asked our students what they wanted to learn about and let them take the reins and direct their own learning. Shortly after, we began the collaborative Genius Hour website, www.geniushour.wikispaces.com, and then the monthly Twitter chat using the hashtag #geniushour.  Along with our friends and fellow Genius Hour teachers, Hugh McDonald and Joy Kirr, we began to share Genius Hour with all the teachers that would listen.  We are both so passionate about Genius Hour and found that it not only benefited our students but also changed everything for us!

The two of us wanted to spread the Genius Hour love with even more educators, so we decided that the next step was to write a book about Genius Hour.  

We have been working on this book for a couple of years now and are really honoured that it has now gone to production by Routledge and MiddleWeb.  We truly hope that it will help educators implement Genius Hour with their students. Our hope is that one day all students will have the chance to work on their own Genius Hour projects.

We are so excited to announce that The Genius Hour Guidebook: Fostering Passion, Wonder and Inquiry in the Classroom is now available for presale and will be available this Fall.

Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi
<![CDATA[We Have to Stop Pretending]]>Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:16:32 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/we-have-to-stop-pretendingThe other day my good friend, Joy Kirr, wrote a blog post called "We have to stop pretending..." in response to a blog post-challenge by Scott McLeod.  You can read the original post by Scott McLeod here.  She got me thinking when she posed the following questions:
What do you think? What are the five things you think we need to stop pretending?
At first I didn't think that I would have anything to say, I think I am a fairly realistic person and so my initial reaction, was "I don't pretend...I keep it real..." but then I thought some more and I started scribbling down my ideas on notepaper and before I knew it I had generated a long list...but here are the 5 that I think need the most attention right now:

1. We have to stop pretending that differentiation is easy.  We throw the term around like it is no big deal, but I think that it is hard work and we need to really put effort into ensuring our teaching is differentiated and then reflect on its effectiveness, make improvements and try again. It is an on-going cycle really.

2. We have to stop pretending that reflection is only for beginning teachers in a Teacher Education Program. I think that we all need to continue to reflect deeply on our teaching (in writing or some other method).  

3.  We have to stop pretending that learning only happens within the 4 walls of our classroom.  I have always encouraged my teacher candidates to think outside of the box (the classroom being a literal box) but I am not sure that I really do a great job at modelling this myself. I want to get better at finding meaningful ways to bring the learning outdoors.
4.  We have to stop pretending that students that misbehave are doing so on purpose. I don't think that any child wants to misbehave.  Every student has a different story when they walk into our classroom. We need to find ways to bring them in closer and help them learn about how they learn best. 

5.  We have to stop pretending that the content is so important.  Sure we need to know stuff...but instead of using learning methods and thinking strategies to get to the content, how about using content to learn the learning methods and thinking strategies?  Good news--I feel like we are starting to move in that direction as begin to talk more about the core competencies and things like Genius Hour.

Thank you Joy for encouraging me to think about this! 

Do you have something to add to this list?  I look forward to reading the comments! Or you can post your thoughts on twitter using the hashtag: #makeschooldifferent
<![CDATA[Must watch Videos for Genius Hour Teachers (and all teachers really)]]>Sun, 12 Apr 2015 06:03:43 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/must-watch-videos-for-genius-hour-teachers-and-all-teachers-really1.  Sir Ken Robinson.

I love this Ted Talk and have probably watched it 20 times! The thing I don't like about it though is that he tells us about what we need in schools, that "creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status", but he doesn't give any examples as to how teachers can do that.  I have an idea though-- start with Genius Hour and go from there! 

If you love the talk then you should also check out his book, The Element-a great read!

2.  Daniel H Pink.

Daniel Pink's book Drive is a fantastic read! I definitely recommend reading it.  I think that the information he presents on what really motivates people is super helpful for thinking about motivation in our classrooms too. I also really like his RSA animate--a great video to watch before reading the book! I love what he says about autonomy as a motivator--this is why Genius Hour works--because our students have the autonomy to pick their own inquiry questions! 
3. Alfie Kohn.

I am so happy that I was able to find an Alfie Kohn clip of when he was on Oprah!! I think Alfie's research is really helpful and...I love Oprah--so a double win for me (and you)! Anyway, watch this clip to hear a bit about Kohn's book Punished by Rewards.  I totally agree with his point about finding authentic ways to encourage kids to learn, read, etc instead of relying on rewards.  In my opinion, Genius Hour, is indeed one of those student-centred, authentic ways! 
4. Angela Maiers.

Her "You Matter" Tedx Talk is fantastic! I love what she says about the power of noticing and sharing that with your students. A must-watch for teachers. This is where we got the brilliant quote "You are a genius and the world needs your contribution"--a quote that is posted in classrooms all over inspiring kids to find their passions and share with the world. And her book The Passion Based Learning is also very inspiring! We discussed her book during our #GeniusHour chat in May, 2013. You can check out the archive here. 
I could go on and on about other Education videos that I love...but this is probably a good start! I hope you find these as inspirational as I did! 

Also, I would love to know--what would you add? Perhaps post the link in the comments so that the rest of us can check it out!
<![CDATA[Top 7 Picture Books to Help Introduce Genius Hour]]>Sat, 11 Apr 2015 20:56:05 GMThttp://www.gallitzvi.com/home/top-7-picture-books-to-help-introduce-genius-hourI love using picture books as part of my teaching! And I don't think they are only for primary classrooms! In fact I use them regularly at the intermediate level and even when I teach University students.

Picture books make for great hooks at the beginning of lessons! I think they capture our attention and get us curious about the upcoming learning! And who doesn't love being read to?

So here are my Top picks (in no particular order) for Picture Books to help introduce Genius Hour:
The Most Magnificent Thing 
By Ashley Spires

I love this picture book starring a little girl and her dog/assistant on her quest to create the most magnificent invention.  The journey isn't perfect though and she "fails" quite a few times. I think this book is perfect for teaching persistence, risk-taking and flexibility--all traits that are on the Genius Hour rubric that we use. I would read this book right at the beginning, after I have introduced Genius Hour and we are about to get started. 

Click here for The Genius Hour Creativity Rubric created by Denise Krebs.

What do you do with an Idea? 
By Kobi Yamada

Perfect for taking Genius Hour from inquiry-based and passion-based learning to the level of compassion-based learning! In this story a little boy has an idea (represented as an egg) but he doesn't know what to do with it. He carries it around for a long time until he finally learns that ideas are meant to change the world.  I think this picture book is perfect for teaching the creativity traits: originality of ideas, ambiguity and risk-taking--all of these are also on the Genius Hour Creativity Rubric.  It would also be handy to read to your class if you feel like they are needing some fresh inspiration after doing Genius Hour for a while.

Rosie Revere, Engineer 
y Andrea Beaty

Rosie is a fantastic character! She loves making things and embodies so many of the characteristics that we would attribute to Genius Hour and The Maker Movement. I also love the handkerchief that she wears, the same one as the woman in the iconic "We can do it" image.  Rosie is inspired by everything around her and I think this book can be used to introduce the discussion on inquisitiveness, risk-taking and generating ideas (Again, these are traits from the Genius Hour Creativity Rubric). It also teaches an important lesson about failure and persistence.  

Iggy Peck, Architect 
By Andrea Beaty 

This picture book looks similar to Rosie Revere, Engineer and is indeed written by the same fantastic author, Andrea Beaty and illustrated by the same talented illustrator, David Roberts. I love reading about Iggy Peck and his passion for architecture. I think this book would be great to introduce the concept of passion as well as being used to understand the intrinsic motivation trait on The Genius Hour Creativity Rubric.  The book can also be used to share with students how sometimes our Genius Hour projects can be about building, creating or inventing something (helpful if your students are stuck on research-only type inquiry questions). 

It's Okay to Make Mistakes 
By Todd Parr

This book is fantastic! I only recently came across Todd Parr books so I have yet to use them with an audience but I just love his illustrations and his style.  This picture book helps us learn that it is okay to make mistakes, and that sometimes things do not go quite the way we thought they were going to but that is part of trying new things! "It's okay to make mistakes sometimes. Everyone does, even grown ups! That's how we learn." Exactly! And this is an important thing to learn if we are going to do Genius Hour.  I would use this book to talk about risk-taking and self-reflection: two of the many traits on The Genius Hour Creativity Rubric.  I would also connect this book to everything we do at school and probably use it right at the beginning of the school year and then again when we are about to start our Genius Hour inquiries.  

The Dot 
By Peter H. Reynolds

I adore all of the Peter H. Reynolds picture books. The illustrations are wonderful and they all have important lessons in them that connect well to the classroom.  The Dot is one you may have heard of already because SO many teachers love this book and it also has its own day--International Dot Day on September 15th.  The book begins with Vashti sitting in her classroom with a blank piece of paper on her desk.  Her teacher encourages her and says "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." Vashti gives the paper a "good, strong jab" and leaves it with just the dot.  She returns to the classroom on another day and finds that her teacher has framed her dot.  This book reminds me of an amazing teacher I had in high school.  Ms. Morrison did something similar for me: I said something during English Lit 12 and she stopped and exclaimed how profound my statement was. She wrote it down on a piece of paper and I didn't give it another thought. The next day when I walked into the classroom there was a small, new poster on the wall above the chalkboard. She had written down what I had said with quotation marks around it and my name underneath. I remember being shocked and feeling so proud that she thought I was quotable. I think that gesture is what led me to my getting my BA in English Literature. She made me feel smart, capable and confident.  I have never forgotten that moment and I have tried, like Vashti's teacher and like Ms. Morrision, to do that for my students too.  I have used this book as part of an Art lesson, and that is how I would probably use it in future years too, but I think we can also make connections between Vashti's journey and the Genius Hour journey. 

Q is for Question: An ABC Book of Philisophy
By Tiffany Poirier

Need help thinking about BIG questions? I think that this picture book, written in ABC format (A is for answers, B is for Beauty, C is for Cause, etc) can help us think about our questioning. I would read this book to the class but also make sure that it was on-hand for students to flip through when they need inspiration as it is a lot to take in after only one read through.  I absolutely love how Poirier encourages us to have philosophical discussions and debates with our students and I think this book is a great place to start those discussions.  This book connects to inquisitiveness and generating ideas on The Genius Hour Creativity Rubric. 

So there you have it--7 of my favourite picture books to use during Genius Hour
Are there any others you use to inspire students during Genius Hour?