Click here to read the rest of this post & watch the recorded presentation on my book website, www.GeniusHourGuide.org_
On June 29, 2015 I had the pleasure of presenting at ISTE 2015. ISTE, or the International Society for Technology in Education, puts on a major conference every year. This most recent one was in Philadelphia, PA and I was so excited to be able to share my Snapshot presentation on Genius Hour there...
This is cross-posted:
Click here to read the rest of this post & watch the recorded presentation on my book website, www.GeniusHourGuide.org_
View other ISTE presentations here
I 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.
This 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:
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?
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!
I 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!
A 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?
A 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:
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.
The 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
1. 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!