Genius Hour Reflections
How crazy am I?
26 Kids, 26 Passions, 2 Teachers, and 1 Lab
Every summer my school district hosts the Know Your Impact conference. Three days of breakout sessions covering a different pillar each day. On the 3rd day, we have a student spotlight "expo" where each campus has a group of students displaying the technology that they have used the past year. It is made up of GT (Gifted and Talented) students, Makerspace projects, STEM classes, and CTE (Career Technology Education) students. This becomes a bit of a competition between the elementary campuses and this year I was asked to help out with the GT program on a large technology-based unit for one of the campuses I work with. I jumped at the chance to try out a personal project I learned about last summer called Genius Hour. I wanted to try it but I am no longer in the classroom on a daily basis so I drove right in!
First 3 Meetings Our GT program grew over spring break, our numbers swelled from 8 to 26! This meant that we had 22 new students to introduce to Google Classroom and the Chromeboxes that we would be using on a daily basis. This was a bit of a challenge especially for the first and second-grade students since they had the least amount of exposure to Google. (Fortunately for me our IT department was willing to turn on the 'populate domain automatically' function in the admin console!) It took three meetings for this to become second nature. While they worked to master logging in and accessing the classroom they began to discover their passions. The students were allowed to explore sites like Wonderopolis and Thrively to discover a topic that interested them and decide how they would share what they learned with the world.
They had to track their progress using a Google Slide deck and submit each step in a Google Form that fed into their Doc that I would use to conference with them to ensure they were on the right track. When we had all grade levels in the room at the same time it was very chaotic. It was hard to support each student at the level they needed with only 2 teachers in the room, this difficulty was compounded by the lack of substitutes willing to work for half a day while my co-teacher and I held our class. Sadly many students had to wait extended periods of time for assistance leading to playing around and wasted time. There had to be a better way.
This, the upcoming STAAR test, the class size, and students missing core class instruction lead to small group pull-out during their specials rotations. Instead of attending PE, Music, Art, and Computers, the students would come to my lab and work on their passion projects. The smaller groups were very beneficial for the students especially since we were ready to start recording their videos for the website we were putting together.
The Next 3 Meetings We are now entering my favorite part: Products! The students are now working on the final touches to their projects. We have made slime (all I can say is WOW, just watching this process was fascinating), baked brownies and bread, build Lego robots, built Makeblock robots, created blueprints, wrote books, learned to code, and built websites to display all they learned. We are in the final stages now and it's much smoother with smaller numbers!
Check back to see the final website and updates after our presentation at the Conference!